1 Practical Way to Unlock Your Social Media Potential

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Previously, we showed you the basics of the three most popular social channels for endurance events. Now, we’re getting a little deeper.

Consider this: Most small business owners (like race directors) are spending about 20 hours each week on marketing, with much of that time earmarked for social media updates.

That’s a ton of time, especially when a lot of race directors aren’t really sure whether their efforts are paying off and contributing to their goals. Our next webinar will focus on building a solid social media strategy that saves time and makes your efforts more successful. Register for the quick, 30-minute session here.

There’s an easier way. A much easier way, in fact.

First things first: If you haven’t taken our social media quiz, do so quickly. This next piece will make much more sense once you figure out where you might want to improve.

If you know where you stand with your event’s social media, you’ve learned the basics of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you’re ready to really start saving time, we’ve got one word: scheduling.

Scheduling is one of the most important parts of a healthy social media strategy. It will not only save you and your team many, many hours, but will also instantly boost your social reach as you’re (accurately) anticipating trends and riding the wave of benefit.

After all, social media is, at the end of the day, “media.” Media professionals, whether magazine editors or television producers, have lived and died by editorial calenders since time immemorial. Now that you’re set up on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram, just consider yourself a regular Rupert Murdoch.

How to Schedule Social Content and Unlock Your Potential

1. Grab a spreadsheet, any spreadsheet: Use Google Sheets or Excel or an old-fashioned white board. Whatever it is, you need access to a grid so you can begin to plan out your social content. You’ll want to list out the channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, maybe Vine or Snapchat, if you’re fancy), list out the days of the week (along with the dates) and leave room for the actual content. If you’re advanced, program the character counts (for Twitter) into the content fields to keep yourself on track. Leave room in your character count for images. Lots and lots of images.

LOOK: Use this template to customize your calendar.

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2. Get your strategy on. At a minimum, you want to update all of your channels at least once a week. About two to three times a week is the sweet spot for events that have the resources and want to more aggressively grow their channels. Decide what frequency is sustainable for your organization—even if it’s less often than you’d like—and update your calendar to reflect this number.

Now, the fun part! Using what you know about your past participants, current registrants and the endurance industry as a whole, plan an interesting mix of content to meet your goals. Your number one goal might be a registration number or a revenue target, but think of other goals you can meet to help you hit your big goal. These smaller goals might be a certain number of unique visitors to your website, or an additional 100 Facebook likes, or a month-over-month increase in Twitter impressions.

What types of content works well? How can you provide more of that on a consistent basis? You’ll also want to add in some different content types to fill your calendar with interesting posts that your followers will want to see and, hopefully, share with their friends who might become your participants.

LOOK: Use these sample Facebook posts to learn how to mix up your content and engage your followers.

 

3. Lay it all out. Now that you know what you want to accomplish and what types of posts your current followers enjoy most, be very detailed in planning when and how you’ll get posts on your channels.

Every event is different, but think of an ideal week or month having posts that fit into these categories: registration push, participant or past participant story (or, other generally inspirational athletic stories), fitness or nutrition tip, social media daily trend like #TBT and/or a major/non-traditional holiday post. Other post types that work well for endurance events are running/swimming/cycling industry news, retweets from industry publications like Runner’s World and ACTIVE.com as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at race planning.

LOOK: Here’s a sample week:

  • Monday, Instagram: [Image of your race course, or a beautiful monument or lake that will be viewed from your race course] Make this the view from your morning run. Only 12 days left to register for the Apple Picking 5K!
  • Tuesday, Twitter: RT @ACTIVE.com You can’t see your back muscles in the mirror, so why train them?  [Quick tip: Choose your retweets wisely! Select posts with great images to engage your followers.]
  • Wednesday, Twitter: 2,000 of the coolest Chicagoans can’t be wrong—don’t miss out on this year’s Apple Picking 5K! Register NOW!
  • Thursday, Twitter: #TBT To our very first Apple Picking 5K. Can you believe it’s been six years?!
  • Friday, Facebook: A very special #FlashbackFriday from Caitlyn! How inspiring is her body transformation, all thanks to training for our event. Keep up the good work!
  • Saturday, Instagram: [Image of candy] #NationalGummiWormDay is the perfect excuse to cheat! What’s your favorite cheat snack?
  • Sunday, Facebook: Group squats are our fav #SundayFunday activity! We’ve got a few spots left in our weekly training group, email us to snag one!

With the text content in place, source amazing images to accompany just about every post. Stock images have a bad reputation, but lots of companies (including yours truly!) rely on them for digital messaging. For endurance events, though, the best source of great social images is probably your iPhone. Now that you’re a bonafide member of the media, start thinking like a journalist. Snap photos at your events, at your planning meetings, at training sessions—anywhere, really. Just make sure you’ve got permission to post and think about which images will be the most compelling to your audience.

4. Execute. Not in the electric chair way. Rather, now that you have a plan, make it happen. If you use social media managment software, you can schedule your messages in bulk. Even if you don’t, with the content (text and images) in place, it’s easy to use free services like TweetDeck to schedule tweets and Latergramme to schedule Insta posts. Facebook allows you to schedule future posts directly from your page.

Scheduling is only part of how you can get the most of your social media—in much less time. Register for our short, 30-minute webinar to easily learn:

  • Differences between creation and curation, and how to use each to create an effective social media strategy.
  • How to save valuable time by building and automating a social media calendar.
  • Why targeted messaging is the best way to increase your post conversion.
  • Data-driven tactics to quickly pinpoint and target all your key audiences.

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Whitney Teal

Whitney has spent the last 10 years writing and editing blogs for magazines and news websites. She's a complete nut about perfecting the French "r,"frozen yogurt and summer music festivals. For media and millennial chatter, follower her on Twitter @WhitneyTeal85.

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