Managing Your 2021 Digital Marketing Plan
We are starting month 3 of 2021: how is your social media program doing? Are you posting those weekly blogs? If things are off to a bit of a rocky start, don't fret. You aren't alone! That's why we thought now would be a great time to share the post powerful tool in our planning arsenal: the Digital Marketing Workbook.
This masterpiece of collected information not only helps us prepare for the coming year, it transitions seamlessly in to our blog and social media planning workbook as the months go on!
Wait! Before we do a deep dive, there are a few things we have observed about social media strategy shifts that we want to bring to your attention as you plan ahead for your content.
Post regularly, but not without purpose. Prior to the pandemic we agreed with the assessment that a daily posting schedule was the target for brands to succeed on social media. During the pandemic, however, was not the time for hopping on the daily marketing holidays (no offense, #HotDogDay) and flooding follower feeds every day with irrelevant information to what they were most concerned about. Users were flocking to the social media platforms to stay connected with friends, family and community during isolation; and we watched a lot of brands - big and small - face negative sentiment from users who felt their messages "missed the mark" during those difficult times. Instead, honestly look at the information you have to share and back in to a frequency that works for what you have going on. If you are sharing the same text-heavy graphic or the same special that you've shared for the past three months - it's not really a special. You will lose followers if you aren't adding value to their feed in the form of interesting news, limited time opportunities, fun updates and stories from your team, or beautiful photography to help them "escape" their life for a few precious moments. Don't forget that it's called SOCIAL media, not market-at-me media. So while the algorithm rewards frequent posting, if the posts you are sharing aren't getting audience engagement, shares and comments then your time may be better spent focusing on quality and not quantity.
Pay close attention to the platforms that are working best for you right now. Before the pandemic we regularly saw high reach, engagement and growth for all of our clients on Facebook, over Instagram. Yet the political and social challenges that spread through the platform caused a large number of users to abandon it for visual mediums like Instagram and TikTok, where the click-bait news and community arguments were less prominently on display under the graphics and video snips meant to entertain. Because of this, our managed accounts saw anywhere between 75 and 150% growth on Instagram even though we shifted to a less frequent posting schedule; whereas Facebook only saw growth in low double digits across the board. Because of this, a few of our brands have shifted focus to Instagram as their primary platform, which alters how we curate and plan content for them. Beyond knowing which platform is working best, also take an honest look at the content that is performing well for you. Look at what your community is re-sharing on your behalf; what content types are getting the most engagement, and do more of that. Don't simply reuse the same copy and the same images or graphics each week because that's easier for you. Your insights are telling you exactly what your audience wants to see from your business, so make sure you take the time to listen to them.
Now that we've covered that; each year that we use this tool it evolves, and seems to get better and better as we go along. This post is going to take you behind the scenes on how we utilize our Digital Marketing Workbook, and we’ll even share with you the exact template we use so you can try it out for your own business.
The Workbook Template
Our templates are built on Google Drive to allow for easy access and collaboration for both our team and our clients. We do this for four reasons:
It works for both PC and Mac users.
Not everyone has Microsoft Office products installed directly on their computer, or available through Microsoft Onedrive.
Google access is free, so it works for all budget sizes and has no limit to the number of users our clients can have collaborating on our shared projects.
Multiple users can be working in the same document or workbook at the same time.
Tip: Don’t want to use your personal email for work stuff on Google Drive? Create a free Google account using your work email! You’ll get all of the great Google products, minus the Gmail inbox.
Interested in learning about G Suite, Google’s business solution? Check out the information on our Resources page!
Ready to check out our template? Click here! Be sure to follow the instructions to create your own copy, or you won’t be able to edit it.
The workbook has six worksheets, or tabs, for you to navigate. You’ll find them just above the bottom of your browser window.
This worksheet includes step-by-step instructions on how to create a copy of this template. Be sure you make a copy of the workbook before you start using it, otherwise your information will be shared with others utilizing this template!
This becomes the basis for our annual plan, and it’s reusable! Add your business’s top holidays and key dates for the year, and copy this worksheet’s contents for future plans so you have everything all in one place!
Information to include:
Monthly Themes - Jot down some ideas for monthly themes that coincide with your sales and promotional trends for the year. These can help direct your email marketing and blog content calendars, and will help you target applicable “marketing holidays” to boost your social media calendar.
Major Holidays - Here you can capture mainstream holidays that your country (and your business) recognize year after year. For us in the US this usually includes holidays like New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc. Religious holidays like Easter, Hanukkah and Christmas should be included, if your business publicly celebrates them.
Tip: By just listing the holiday and not the specific date, you don’t have to worry about the information being incorrect for future years if the calendar date of the holiday moves from year to year, like Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Minor Holidays - Here you can capture special events that your business celebrates like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, your business’s anniversary, etc.
Notes - Draft key notes and operations information here such as special holiday hours or planned closures so they can be included in your communications plan for the year.
Most businesses don’t blog daily, so our blog planner accommodates up to one post concept per week. Add more rows to the worksheet if you blog more frequently; or remove a few weeks here and there if you target 1-2 posts per month.
Then start drafting content ideas based on your monthly themes, so when it comes time to write the posts you already have a general idea on the topic!
Facebook & Instagram 2021:
These worksheets are designed for advanced social media planning, where one or more members are drafting posts that get approved by another party. It works equally well for a solo user who likes to be organized, too!
Tip: The Occasion column (Column B) is the same for both the Facebook and Instagram tabs. We recommend filling in your major and minor holidays from the Annual Overview tab, along with any marketing holidays you want to capture, on one of these sheets and then copying and pasting this column in to the other social media worksheet before removing any rows. Do the work once and benefit from it twice!
By batching your social media posts - doing multiple at once - you don’t have to disrupt your schedule each day to craft a daily social media post, or worry about large gaps between posts because you get busy with other things. Unless a time sensitive topic comes up, we are usually able to plan posts for a brand 1-2 weeks out in a single session. This includes researching the pages or profiles we want to tag within each post, and the relevant hashtags to use for Instagram.
By drafting posts here in advance and adding the planned links or visuals directly to the spreadsheet, it makes it easy to:
Collaborate on your post schedule,
See how the flow of your content will go,
Allows you to easily reuse content and concepts, and
Helps you remember key holidays and other upcoming events that you want to include in your conversation.
Plus, once all are drafted you can simply copy and paste the text into your favorite social media scheduler! We’ve written about our favorites here, and did an overview of Facebook’s Creator Studio here.
Tip: When dropping the photos you will use into the worksheets, be sure to insert them “in to the cell” and not “over the cell” - and only place one photo per cell. The difference? If you place them “in the cell”, when you hide rows the images will be hidden as well. If you put them “over the cell”, when you hide rows all of your images end up clustered at the top of the spreadsheet. We made this mistake so you don’t have to!
Then when a new month begins, hide the rows of the old month so you don’t have to scroll down to find the current content. At the end of the year you have a comprehensive collection of your social media posts for the year!
This is a simple worksheet for drop-down menu options. We started with the Status options for the blog and social media tabs, but you can easily add others that you want to incorporate in your customized workbook!
Here are some helpful resources to help keep you going with your 2021 digital marketing plan all year long:
National Day Calendar - Our favorite go-to resource for random social media marketing holidays! They have a printed calendar that you can order for your office that made our list for unique gifts, or you can peruse their diverse collection of holidays to find ones that are a good fit for your business.
TimeAndDate.com - They have a comprehensive list of US holidays for 2021. View it here, or find your country’s list of holidays here.
Monthly Themes - There are two different resources you can use for monthly theme inspiration. One is National Day Calendar, found here. Select the month you are interested in, and choose to view “National Month Observances. A second resource is by Dummies, and has some awesome monthly content ideas for inspiration in an easy-to-view format.
We hope you enjoyed coming behind the scenes and seeing how we prep for the new year with our partners. Have any ideas on how we can improve for the 2022 planning session? Let us know!