Content Planning, Research & Scheduling: 4 Tools for a Successful Social Media Strategy

September 29, 2021
Neal Taparia

Many companies are overwhelmed with social media because they don’t have the tools or knowledge to create a successful strategy.

If you’re struggling with content planning, research, and schedule for your social media accounts, then this post is for you. We’ll show you how to use these three steps to plan out all of your posts in advance so that you can spend more time engaging on each platform.

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Who should use content planning, research, and scheduling in their business?

These three steps are useful for every brand, regardless of the size. The key is to find and use the tools that are best suited for your needs.

Look at the following checklist to start:

1) Content planning: Choose one tool to help you keep track of all your content ideas. This tool can be any of the following: Evernote (free), OneNote (free), Google Calendar, or Trello. Then, take time each week to plan out upcoming blog posts with your strategy in mind.

content planning template

(Image Source)

Think about what topics will generate traffic, spark conversation on social media and help bring leads and customers through your sales funnel.

2) Research: Write down all your research topics and put them in a folder. Then, use that week’s top content planning tool to document everything you find on the web i.e social media searches, Google Alerts, blogs, forums, and other related sites.

3) Schedule: Once you have time in your calendar for posts, then schedule them using one of the tools we’ll discuss below. The key is to be consistent by posting at the same times so that followers can look forward to it and see next to no gaps between each post – which looks more professional.

Tools for content planning, research and scheduling on social media

1: Sprout Social ( free trial / multiple plans available)

Sprout Social homepage

Sprout Social lets you schedule messages across multiple platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and many more.

When you log in to this tool, it will show you all of your scheduled posts from a “home” screen. You can also use the search bar at the top to see what’s trending, monitor mentions, engage with followers, etc.

Sprout has tons of features that make social media and content work well together, which makes content planning and scheduling easier for brands. For example, you can schedule posts i.e once a week or every Tuesday at 3 pm – it’s up to you. Plus there is a content calendar so that clients know which social media platforms they will get posts on each month.

This tool is best for personal brands that want control over what’s posted on social media i.e daily, weekly or monthly options.

2: CoSchedule ( $29 / month )

CoSchedule homepage

CoSchedule lets you connect all your social accounts in one place so that you can schedule messages across multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest -and many more.

What’s great about this tool is that you can create custom views of your calendar so that you can know exactly what’s happening for each client. You can also share read-only versions of your calendar, which means that you’ll easily be able to show clients what your plans are when it comes to their accounts. This enables communication that is much needed when it comes to social media scheduling.

Let’s say that one of your clients is hosting a podcast and wants specific posts to go out before and after the podcast. By using a custom view in CoSchedule, you will be able to plan and review the exact time and dates when such posts will go live – as well as share this with your client for his/her final go-ahead.

These are some of CoSchedule’s extra features that make it stand out. If there are multiple team accounts within the same account, you can also track the progress of each team member.

Plus, this tool integrates very well with multiple other platforms, including WordPress, Zapier, and Google Drive. What’s great about CoSchedule is that if a customer wants specific control over each social media platform then they can choose that option as well.

3: IFTTT (free forever/pro version available)

IFTTT homepage

IFTTT stands for “If This Then That.” It’s a tool that connects different apps or tools so they work together.

To use this app, you’ll need an account on IFTTT but the sign-up is easy. After you log in you can create chains by picking one of the services listed on the left side (“this”) and a trigger on the right (“that”).

For example, if you want Facebook to automatically share all your posts with Twitter then simply add a trigger on Facebook and a chain on Twitter to make it happen. For more examples of chains then click the “my chains” tab at the top of the page.

There are a lot of apps and tools that IFTTT connects to but here are my top three:

Post on WordPress from other social media platforms.

To set this up, go to your IFTTT, search for WordPress, and simply click “Connect.”  You are able to connect as many sites together as you want, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn among others – simply choose one and enter your login credentials. Then you can start creating a new post or link it to an existing one.

Automatically add Instagram photos to Evernote.

To do this you’ll need an Evernote account first so that when you sign into IFTTT it will recognize your email. Then go to the “services” tab and scroll down to the web section – click on Evernote and confirm your account by providing your login info.

Once that’s done, you can start creating a new chain. Choose Instagram as the trigger then choose “Add to notebook” under actions. Finally, select the notebook where you want those posts to appear then click create.

This means that each time you post to Instagram, you’ll get that same post in Evernote. This makes it easy to share your Evernote notebook with others or even use it to post on other social media platforms.

Get Pinterest notifications on other social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.

To set this up, go to IFTTT then hover over +New at the top of the page, and select either Facebook (to have something posted every time you’re mentioned) or Twitter (to get a tweet whenever someone pins something from your blog). Then you can create a new chain – choose Pinterest as the trigger then “Post a tweet” or “Publish to Facebook.” If you’re doing any sort of Pinterest affiliate marketing (or want to get started with it), IFTTT can definitely help with this.

What’s great about IFTTT is that it allows customers to incorporate multiple tools into one platform so they can save time and energy on various social media tasks. If you don’t have any ideas for this tool, there are plenty of recipes to get you started.

4: Buffer (free for up to 3 channels/$5 per channel per month)

Buffer homepage

Buffer is an easy way to schedule social media updates across multiple platforms at once. Customers can add multiple posts at once then schedule them in batches for specific days and times. The best part of Buffer (business plan) is that you can integrate this tool with Google Analytics so you’ll be able to see when your audience is most active. It’s very easy to use but if there are any issues then there’s an awesome help center.

Buffer offers a ton of features including:

  • Custom link shortener
  • Custom video thumbnails
  • Instagram first comment
  • Instagram tagging
  • Multi-channel campaigns
  • Post shuffle queue
  • And much more

Points to keep in mind when using these tools for social media management

1) Always remember that social media isn’t the end-all solution to your marketing needs.  

If you have a brick-and-mortar business then social media can be an inexpensive way to get the word out about your products and services, but never forget that it’s just one aspect of a larger brand management strategy.

To take advantage of its full potential, incorporate different tools and platforms such as blogging and email marketing. All of these tools combined lead to a great user research experience, which makes it easier to improve with each and every piece of content that you put out there.

2) Don’t accept connections from everyone on social media – only add the ones who are worth your time.

It’s an unfortunate fact that there are people out there who want to do nothing but leach off of your hard work and good name, so it’s important to be aware of this danger when you’re on social media sites.

Spam is rampant online, so set a limit for how many users/businesses you’ll connect with or unfollow those who don’t follow back as quickly as possible. On Twitter, make sure that you review the accounts of those who want to follow you before accepting.

Being careful before publishing anything online is important now more than ever. One wrong move can undo years of hard work.

3) Take the time to understand your audience.

Before you begin drafting a social media campaign, research those who will be reading or sharing your content. That means having a solid idea of what they want to see to keep them interested.

These insights will also help you plan your social media posts and optimize content before you start creating your social media calendar.

graphic showing a group of people thinking or coming up with ideas

(Image Source)

If you’re new to social media, this is a great time to ask your leads and customers what they want from your presence on these platforms. A social media monitoring strategy can give you the edge over your competitors. You can also read posts by others in your niche if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas.

4) Remember that quality will always outperform quantity

Make sure you’re putting your best efforts into each piece of content. It’s better to spend more time making something worthwhile rather than rushing through the process and releasing sub-par material.

Tons of low-quality written tweets or poorly designed blog posts might seem like a good use of time if you’re just starting with social media marketing, but once potential customers realize that they can access these types of low-value items elsewhere, all hope for success is lost as your voice will be the same as everyone else.

Whether you want to take people off social media and lead them down your sales funnels or get them to take another action on your website, it all starts with high-quality content.

5) Invest in a good social media management tool.

There’s no denying that social networks have become a major part of business today, so if you want to take advantage of their popularity then it only makes sense to use tech tools (such as any of the above) for your efforts.

Social media is becoming more and more popular as time goes on. Since more people than ever before are spending time on the Internet, it would be foolish to ignore this market and their actions while they’re browsing their favorite social platform.

Key takeaways from this post

Social media is a great tool to use if you’re trying to connect with new customers or just want to spread the word about your business. By using the best tools for the job, you’ll make your life easier and reach more customers that can benefit from what you have to offer.

It’s important to remember that there are also things to look out for when using these sites, so do your best to keep yourself protected while taking advantage of the opportunities social media has to offer.

Engage with others on social networks by uploading photos and other types of content that will interest them. By doing so, you’ll be giving those users what they want in return for their time – just make sure you don’t forget what your brand needs as well when planning out these campaigns.

Neal Taparia
Neal Taparia is the co-founder of Imagine Easy Solutions, a portfolio of online educational services that reached over 30 million students yearly. Neal sold the business to Chegg (NYSE: CHGG), where he stayed there as an executive for three years. He's now pursuing a new initiative, Solitaired, which ties classical games with memory and attention training.

About the Author

Neal Taparia
Neal Taparia is the co-founder of Imagine Easy Solutions, a portfolio of online educational services that reached over 30 million students yearly. Neal sold the business to Chegg (NYSE: CHGG), where he stayed there as an executive for three years. He's now pursuing a new initiative, Solitaired, which ties classical games with memory and attention training.