This is the bonus article in our 4-part social media series, where we’ll cover planning your editorial calendar, creating a posting schedule, and measuring results to improve your strategy year after year. If you need a recap, see our previous installments in the series (1, 2, 3, and 4).

Creating an editorial calendar

Planning your social media and other website content (blogs, landing/sales pages, updates) for a full year (or at the very least, the next 6 months) might seem overwhelming at first, but editorial calendars help you save time and boost productivity in the long run.
In article #1 we asked you to think about the kind of content you’ll use to connect with pet owners, as well as the platform you’ll use to reach them. While your overall content plan may focus primarily on social media, you should also think about how everything you write and send out into the world fits together, as highlighted in the third article on SEO. That’s why content calendars are so crucial to your successthey help you map out your ideas to ensure a cohesive marketing plan.
It can be helpful to break this down into 2 steps:

  1. First is an Annual Content Marketing Calendar that lists the campaigns you plan to run throughout the year. As noted above, this can include seasonal promotions and appointment reminders, but also any events you’ll be attending that will inspire content for posts, blogs, and website updates.
    There are many such calendars you can find from a quick Google search that generally include a spreadsheet featuring monthly worksheets that show any content planned for each week or day. Use whatever is going to work best for your practice and practice management system—but do try to use something.
  2. You may then want to dive deeper into the specific content you’ll need to write, using an Editorial Calendar that again features a monthly worksheet for each week or day of the year. These also tend to list content planned for all the social media platforms, blog posts, and emails you’ll use to promote each campaign.
    Again, a Google search will provide a variety of out editorial calendar options. Depending on what you find, or if you’ll be creating your own, the content items (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, blog, email, video, etc) can be listed on the left-hand side column for each week or even day in every month. This provides a checklist to ensure each item gets done and allows users to view how it all fits together in a campaign. A few keywords of what you’ll write about can then be put into each day of the week. It may include any or all of the following:

    • Social media posts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or others of your choice. Remember as discussed earlier, the majority of your social posts should lead to your website or blog. They should also include relevant keywords.
    • Blog articles or updates planned for your veterinary website. In addition to improving search engine optimization (SEO), this can be great base material to write about or promote on social media.
    • Email/e-Newsletters: Email is still king! Regular send-outs to those who have agreed to hear from you is a prime opportunity to educate, communicate and optimize your relationship with clients. Remember to always link to your blog, website or a relevant landing page to drive conversions.
    • Articles you might be writing for journals, etc. and other places that demonstrate that you are an authority on pet care and animal health.
    • Live events: This can include any pet-related podcasts or Facebook Live events you plan to run throughout the year.
    • Videos: With a smartphone, you can capture decent quality video just about anywhere to help spread the word about your practice. Want to go for a more polished look? You can always hire freelance videographers to help tell your story. Keep in mind, you’ll definitely want to schedule a contractor ahead of time, so plan this in your calendar alongside all of your other activities.

Both can again be downloaded from a favorite free source on the Internet, developed in Excel, or some combination of the two. Whatever your preference, the goal is to get your content plans written down to simplify the writing process year-round.
In article #2 of this series, we gave you a ton of tips to help optimize your social media platforms and your content. Refer to this as you plot your editorial calendar to stay on task. Keep in mindif you have a WebDVM website with access to ClientEd, some of the work might already be done for you!

Post, post, post

In an ideal world, social posts should be shared daily, but that’s not always realistic for your practice. Posting every few days or even weekly is still good, so aim for what makes sense for your unique situation. The same goes for blog posts and email distributionmonthly is okay, but more frequently, say every two weeks or weekly, is even better. You can also set expectations with your audiences that you’ll be posting more frequently during your campaigns as outlined above.
In article #2 we talked about focusing on one social platform at a time. Here are a few key reminders from that article to help streamline and optimize the content posting process. Most of these apply if you’re pushing out a post, blog, website update, promotion or any insights that your followers can benefit from:

  • Find a trustworthy resource blog to hone your skills and stay informed.
  • Use a free scheduling program like Buffer or Hootsuite to plan your content in advance and automate posts. For something more advanced, check out WebDVM Social.
  • Save space using a link shortener like Bitly, which also tracks analytics and clicks.
  • Use relevant #hashtags to build a community around a specific concept or event.
  • To avoid copyright infringement, use a free image resource like Pixabay or Pexels.
  • Always give credit when using information that’s freely available on the Internet or other credible sources.

Measure results

If it’s worth researching, writing and posting, it’s worth measuring. Track your social media engagement rates with free, built-in analytics like Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and Instagram Insights.
To monitor success on your veterinary website, use Google Analytics to measure traffic performance and compare any improvements against the baselines from your past research.
Conversions are of course another measure of success and as discussed in article #3, help boost your Google rankings.

Rinse and repeat

Measuring your results will help flag any weaknesses in your strategy (boo!) or… (do you hear that applause?) highlight wins and things that are worth repeating. As such, stay vigilant but also be flexible. Markets change, your practice will change, and as we said in earlier articles, social media changes. By following this four-part process, your practice’s ability to respond efficiently to changes and new opportunities will grow stronger every year.
The good news is, once you’ve done this for an entire year, it will be so much easier in the future—but you’ll still need to keep up to date on the latest and greatest social media has to offer year after year.
LifeLearn has a team of experts that are also available to help you. If you’re a LifeLearn client, talk to your LifeLearn Customer Care representative to see how we can be of assistance. If you aren’t a LifeLearn client, you may want to learn more about services such as WebDVM and ClientEd that offer built-in solutions to help you in areas such as client education and communication. Book a demo or contact a LifeLearn Practice Specialist today! We look forward to seeing you online!

Other articles in this series:
Social Media Guide Step 1: Creating Your Veterinary Social Media Strategy for 2018
Social Media Guide Step 2: Tips and tricks for optimizing and simplifying social media
Social Media Guide Step 3: The why and how of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social Media Guide Step 4: The star of the social show – Content