It's time to hit the beach (safely) and enjoy the sun with your closest friends. Enjoying your summer 6 feet apart from your besties is going to be super hard if you can't get a handle on your social media. So let's talk about the dreaded content calendar!
What is a content calendar?
There are many ways to put together a schedule of your content, and depending on your industry, you may be able to create content as far as two months in advance. Now, this isn't a set it and forget it, because even the best plan still sometimes changes overnight, remember COVID? Right. So the goal here is to create the best monthly strategy and then nurture it every week.
Three kinds of content to schedule.
Complete posts can be fully scheduled, including copywriting, graphics and photo/video. These posts should be considered evergreen content, meaning they are not date specific and would make sense anytime. Creating campaigns is a great way to use this method because you can ensure you will be discussing all of your content pillars.
Partial posts typically are just photo/video content plotted into a scheduler every month (without using autopost) and leave you the freedom to do your copywriting weekly or daily. This method gives you more spontaneity while still making sure you are hitting your frequency goals. Make sure to be batch shooting your images and creating a bank of visuals for anything you intend to schedule.
Live content. Yes, you can plan your live content, and you absolutely should. Just because you record it live doesn't mean you can't anticipate it or even create a weekly series. Mark it in your calendar so you can build your fully scheduled posts on other days.
But what am I going to say?
Since we know you are basically in your bikini already, let's not complicate this. Choose your content pillars or focuses. Over a month, you might need 3 or 4. Think of these like buckets that you will fill with great ideas (maybe think of them like sand buckets). Each bucket represents a big idea that is something you need to paint a full picture of your brand.
What you are going to put inside of these buckets can be as wild as your imagination goes. From a blog post, Q+A live video series, infographics, inspired photography or funny memes. What's important is that the creative content supports the big idea. Planning this all out not only helps you start on those tan lines, but it's going to create a strategic and thoughtful blueprint for your social image.
My favourite planning tools.
For FB and IG, I've recently fallen in love with Creator Studio. If you are using a lot of UG content, something like Planoly can help you organize things visually. Hootsuite is helpful if you need one place to do everything, the drawback is it's not specifically good at anything. And if you just need a fun place to organize ideas, I'm a bit of a Trello fanatic. Good luck, and enjoy the summer ON and OFFline!
Photos are essentially light entering a lens, so you need to find your light. That means if there is a window in the room, you want your subject to be facing the window, so the light is falling on their face. If you have them stand in front of the window, they will be backlit. This will cause them to appear very shadowed. Natural lighting is the best, but artificial may be your only option in some circumstances.
If you are in a situation where the light is very low, make sure to keep your camera steady. With less light, your camera needs more time to collect visual information, so if you move your hand it will create a blur in your photo. A pro tip is to get a friend to use the flashlight on their phone to help light the subject, making sure not to overhead light the face and create unwanted dark shadows under the eyes.
When you are composing your shot there are some basic rules to adhere to: symmetry, the rule of thirds and using angles to create interest. Having a perfectly centred subject is excellent for social because when you crop it for different placements, you will have the most flexibility. The rule of thirds is handy to leave negative space to add graphics and ad copy. Using angles is a good trick to make a boring photo a bit more dynamic.
There are a few essential tools you need to master to correct a poor photo. Brightness will up the entire value of the photo's light and dark areas, which is excellent for general editing. The better options for correcting lighting are to use your highlight and shadow adjustments. These tools will allow you to independently add more depth to dark areas of the photo or turn down overexposed regions.
Most traffic on social media is happening on mobile, so no matter how great your image looks on your desktop, you always have to consider how it reads on a phone. Smaller images usually require more depth. You can add this by increasing the contrast on your image, so it pops more. Be careful with the contrast tool because this will also exaggerate lines under eyes and chins.
Having eye-catching colours in your image is very important. Using the saturation tool, you can add more vibrant colours. You can use your tint control to make your image cooler or warmer, bluer or more yellow. A good rule of thumb for colour correction is to watch your skin tones, if they are starting to look weird or unnatural then you have likely gone too far.
Filters are a super-easy way to add a style to your images and create a uniform look. Most filters on Instagram are a bit much when used at full force. If you hold down the filter button, it will present a slider. From here, you can choose a much milder strength to your filter. This will give you what we call an undertone. Even adding 10-15% of a filter can help to create cohesion in your Instagram feed.
If you want to mix up something brand specific and create something truly unique, then you want to make a preset. These are used in more advanced editors like Adobe Lightroom. They offer you full control and customization of your image. You can create these on your own or purchase them online and then tweak them later to match your style perfectly.
The biggest place we still see mobile photography being relevant is Instagram Stories or any expiring social platform. This is a great place to test new looks, ideas and creative directions. Viewers have fewer expectations of the production value and prefer a more natural experience of your brand. Keep in mind this isn't a place to ignore brand guidelines, it's just a platform to be less precious with them.
Why has it returned?
Can we talk about the last couple of weeks? What an incredible moment in history where we are being called to protect our neighbours by staying home. Self-isolation has forced many of us to explore alternative methods of communication. Two weeks ago live video was considered pretty uncool and way too big of an ask for people's short attention spans. Well... that changed.
Social Media is a tool and it's only as good as the way we use it.
Right now video chat has become a critical way for many of us to maintain our workflow. Through live video we can stay connected to our customers in a very real and honest way. If you do go live keep the conversation relevant to how you can serve your customers. Not sure what they need? Ask them. What you don't want to do is position yourself as an expert on the current state of the world. People are overloaded with information from reputable news sources and government agencies. Use your live video to remind people of your company values, what you are doing for your customers in the meantime and maintaining a hopeful future for when the world gets back on track.
How to prepare.
You can save your live video so people can watch the rebroadcast: on Facebook you can keep it on your feed indefinitely and on Instagram you will be able to keep it for 24 hours. Live video is not for everyone, but it's truly accessible. It allows us as businesses to connect with our clients on a very human level during a time when 6ft is as close as we can get. Stay strong and be well.
Created by T Squared Social. We are a Saskatoon based social media agency with a focus on education, content creation and management. We love making great content and helping people with their social media.