A couple of times in recent conversations with friends, the following has come up: I don’t seem to be capable of batch creating content. What I mean is that I can’t simply set aside four hours, sit down, and create all my LinkedIn posts for July.
I’ve always admired entrepreneurs who can do this. But I’ve tried everything: monthly themes, a posting formula, editorial calendars, even borrowing others’ templates to create my own schedule. And I can’t make this system work for me.
I used to think I just preferred to be spontaneous with my content. Being averse to planning is at the core of my identity, so this is just me doing me — all accurate. But this doesn’t quite capture the truth of what’s going on.
See, I DO use monthly themes, a posting formula, and I DO borrow others’ templates to create my own schedule. The problem is not that I’m averse to planning, full stop. The problem is that I know when I create content more than a week in advance, my heart isn’t really in it.
Because I can’t predict what challenges, vulnerabilities, and wins I’ll be experiencing four weeks from now, I can’t put myself in the right frame of mind to create.
When I create content, I naturally draw on my current experiences. This is my happy, comfortable place and when I’m in this place, that’s when my creative “muse” shows up. So, I plan my monthly themes and I stick to my posting formula, but I create posts a week in advance, at most (and many weeks, like this week, I’m creating the day of).
This is what works for me. And it shapes the work I do for my clients. So when clients ask about using a scheduling app for LinkedIn or other social media platforms, I don’t mince words. If your goal is to use social media to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and gain leads, scheduling apps won’t get you anywhere. Do you know what will get you closer? Consistent engagement. So let’s explore the why and the how.
Why does consistent engagement work?
As with many questions of this nature, there’s a short answer and a long answer. The short answer to why consistent engagement works is that social media platforms want users to use the platform. So they reward people for engaging by setting up their algorithms to track and boost content based on engagement metrics.
Maybe this is obvious, but to consistently engage with connections and followers on LinkedIn, you have to be on LinkedIn (this is the platform I’ve studied the most). This means there’s no “set-it-and-forget-it” option. If you use a scheduling app (like Loomly or Buffer or Sprout Social), then it’s conceivable that you’re never on LinkedIn.
What’s the point? Maybe you think someone could stumble across your post and send you an email. I’m sure it has happened. But what’s more likely is that they’ll stumble across your post, comment on the post, and then forget about you because you never saw their comment or responded to them because you aren’t engaged.
The long answer to why consistent engagement works is that social media platforms are another way to build business relationships and what works when building relationships is engagement. Essentially, social media platforms are 24/7 networking events.
Sure, you can treat social media platforms differently. You can treat LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok as billboards. You can “post and ghost” and run ads and this might work for you, if what you sell are relatively low-priced products. But I have never seen this strategy work for a service-based business.
If your business depends on building solid relationships, then you need to be present, available, and authentic. And the only way to show your audience that you are these things is to spend time engaging with them.
Additionally, there are two other reasons consistent engagement works: when you’re engaged, you’re listening and when you’re engaged, you create high quality content.
Let’s look at the first point here: when you’re engaged, you’re listening. Go back to the networking analogy. Imagine yourself at an in-person networking event (a what? I know. In-person networking is coming back soon!). How do you show someone you’re engaged in the conversation? You listen actively. When they say something of interest, you reply with something that moves the conversation forward.
The same can happen on LinkedIn. You listen (with your eyeballs mostly) to what your audience is talking about and you find ways to weigh in, by commenting, creating your own post, or both. Because you’re listening well, it’s easy to come up with content in response. This is the beautiful thing about being engaged: ideas spark other ideas.
And this brings us to the second point: when you’re engaged, you create high quality content. If you persist in batch creating content months in advance, you’re creating content in a vacuum. You may worry that what you’re writing won’t be relevant in a month, so you focus on creating “evergreen” content. Okay, there’s nothing in principle wrong with creating evergreen content.
But for content to be engaging, it needs to connect with what others are experiencing. So my strategy is to create evergreen content with current conversations in mind. As long as I’m engaged with my LinkedIn audience, I’m plugged into what is on everyone’s minds.
How to be consistently engaged
Now that we’ve explored why consistent engagement works, in copious detail, I’ll leave you with some brief thoughts. This section is brief because this isn’t rocket science. I don’t have any magical words of wisdom (at least none that you haven’t heard a thousand times before) to help you become consistently engaged on social media. The bulk of the work is in figuring out a system that works for you.
As far as I can tell, you need three things to be consistently engaged:
- A social media platform that doesn’t make your skin crawl (personally, I like LinkedIn)
- A system that you can commit to (e.g., I will spend 20 minutes per day, Monday-Friday, reading and commenting on others’ posts)
- A willingness to treat that platform as a networking platform (i.e., if you can’t imagine meeting your goals via an in-person networking event, then you won’t likely meet these goals using social media)
When I work with my content marketing clients, I tell them, our team will take 90% of your content marketing work off of your plate. The 10% left for you (and your team) to do is hard work. It will require your time and your attention. Ultimately, though, it benefits you to do this work.
See, there’s a really important reason we leave that 10% to you: we simply can’t be engaged for you. We can create posts for you. We can share best practices for how to use LinkedIn. We can support you in many ways. But we cannot be YOU on social media.
So, ditch that LinkedIn scheduling app and get engaged!
And if you want The Pocket PhD to take care of that 90% (ghostblogging + content marketing) let’s chat!
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