Here’s the video transcript:
Facebook fanpages are the most important social media site for almost every musician. We all know we should keep them updated, but it’s hard to stay motivated day in and day out, especially when we see that Facebook does not prioritize pages on our fans’ feeds. Currently less than 13% of the people who have liked our page see any given post. If fans don’t interact with our page, it eventually disappears completely from their feeds. Those are not inspiring facts.
Before we get started today I want to let you know that this show is very different from other shows. It’s full of very specific information and steps to take in order. If you’re like me you’re watching to this video while you’re doing something else. I know you probably don’t have time to stop and take notes of the steps and the tools needed to accomplish the task of scheduling your Facebook fanpage for the next 6 months. So I created a free PDF of show notes for you. It has an outline of all the steps to take, in order, and links to all the tools I recommend. Click the link below to download it, save or print it, and then either follow along as we go or come back to it when you’re working on this project. I highly recommend that you listen to the entire show before you start trying to apply the steps, so you have an overview of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
When a potential new fan wants to find out more about your band, where are they most likely to search first? Either Google or Facebook. If they search Google they’ll be sent to your website. If they search on Facebook they’re going to look for your fanpage. Even if your fans are very young and don’t use Facebook much, the people who book your band do. They expect to see an active Facebook page as proof that your band is popular.
So we must have fanpages, we must keep them updated,
and we don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.
Currently online marketers are saying that to keep a fanpage updated and ranking in Facebook, you should post AT LEAST 5 times a week. Many of the most popular brands post multiple times a day, every day. That’s a lot of tapping and typing when you could be playing music, or is it?
You could drain your creative energy thinking about what to post and creating that post every single day, one at a time, for the rest of your career. But that’s not very fun or smart.
The better way to post to your Facebook fanpage is to schedule one post every day for the next 6 months. Then if you want to add more ‘in the moment posts’ you can (and should), but you won’t have to waste time daily thinking about what to post because every day will be covered.
The good news? Creating and scheduling 6 months worth of posts is not as much work as it sounds. The work goes fast because you can batch the tasks.
Here’s what works for me:
(I recommend that you go over the process to get an understanding of what we’re doing before you try to implement it. Then go back over the steps one by one and do them in order.)
Step One: Create an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is a plan of what you want to post each day. As you are creating the calendar you don’t think about exactly what you’re going to say, or what image you’ll use. You don’t even come up with a headline or URL. It’s simply a one or two-word description of the topic you want to post on each day.
Here’s how I create my calendar:
1. Choose a document type
There are several virtual calendars available, such as Google calendar. Most people will probably use a spreadsheet document created with Excel or Google Docs. You can also use a paper calendar, like the ones banks and retail stores often give out free at the end of each year. As long as you can add a note onto each day of the year, use whatever document type works best for you.
I use a physical paper document. I download and print the current year’s calendar with 3 months to a page and space to write on each day from FreePrintable.net.
Once you’ve chosen your document type you want to start adding a note to each day for what you want to schedule. These should be just one or two words like “Christmas” or “YouTube”. You’re not trying to figure out what to say or which image to post at this point, you’re simply noting which topic will be posted on that particular day.
2. Add Holidays
Holidays are great times to put a special image and message to wish your fans well. The holidays I use are: New Years Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, National Day of Prayer, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Sweetest Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. You may also want to include Groundhog Day, Presidents’ Day, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Tax Day, Arbor Day, Mother’s Day, Pentecost, Father’s Day, Columbus Day, Pastor Appreciation Day, Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, Daylight Savings Time Changes, or any other holiday related to your faith, music, or location.
3. Add Band Special Days
This includes days such as band member’s birthdays (if you want to call attention to them), the anniversary of the release of your first song or CD, the day the band was founded, etc.—any day that is significant in the band’s history.
4. Decide on Regularly Scheduled Posts
Is there something you offer fans each week or on the same day each month? Some bands hold an online weekly Bible Study, others always post a new blog or music video on a specific day each week. For example: I post a devotional from The Christian Musicians Devotional every Thursday. If you do something regularly, add those dates to your calendar.
Now you’ve added the dates that are not flexible, so it’s time to put the flexible dates in around them.
5. Schedule Advertising
What do you have to sell? Music, t-shirts, handcrafted merch? You need to tell you fans that you have this stuff for sale. It’s a really good idea not to schedule advertising on Fridays and Saturdays because these are the days you’ll most likely get shows. Rotate what you are selling based on the number of things you have to sell.
For example if you have 1 CD, 2 t-shirt styles, and stickers I would post the CD one day the first week, a t-shirt one day the second week, the stickers one day the third week and the other t-shirt one day the fourth week. Then I would start over with the CD on the fifth week. Repeat this throughout the entire year.
6. Promote Your Website, Other Channels, and Social Media
Where else does your band exist on the internet? Promote one of those places about once a week. For example if you have a website, a YouTube channel, a SoundCloud channel, and are on Instagram mention one of those things each week, like you did for your advertising.
7. Add Confirmed Shows
Add each show only after it has been confirmed. You don’t want to be announcing shows that never happen. Obviously adding shows will occur over time, so it’s best to schedule the most flexible posts on Fridays and Saturdays, you can delete or move them as needed.
8. Create Surveys
The key to getting your fanpage seen by the most possible people is to get them to interact with your page. Surveys are a great way to do this. If your calendar looks pretty full you may only want to do a survey once a month. If the calendar still has a lot of blank spaces plan to do a survey every other week. At this point don’t worry about what you’ll be surveying, just write ’survey’ on the calendar.
9. Fill in with Funny Memes, Jokes, and Quotes
By the time you’ve scheduled everything else, there should not be very many dates left open. Fill in these dates with entertainment for your fans. At this point don’t be concerned about which joke or meme you’ll post, just write ‘meme’ on the calendar. This will be the most flexible post and can be moved or deleted as needed.
Step Two: Create Images
Now your calendar should have something marked on each day of the entire year. So it’s time to start choosing an image for each of the posts. Does that mean you need 365 images? No, don’t panic. Many of the images you need will be repeated regularly. Videos and websites use thumbnails as the image.
Why are images so important? “A picture is worth a thousand words” is statistically true on Facebook. Images generate much more interest than text, videos increase engagement even more, and live video gets the most engagement of all. Remember that engagement is when a fan interacts with your page by liking, commenting or sharing—it’s what you need to keep your page in the fan’s feed.
Here’s the process I use to create images:
1. Determine Which Posts will Create Their Own Thumbnails
When you use a URL in a post, most of the time an image thumbnail will be generated automatically. You do have the option to delete the image and use your own. I recommend that to get started you use most of the auto-generated images. You can always create and use different images in the future, but for now you’ll have to create many other images. You can always come back and create special images for specific posts as you have time.
Go through the entire calendar and mark a “W” by the posts that will use the URL from another website such as Twitter or SoundCloud. Put a “V” by the posts that will be videos and an “LV” for live videos. I’d like to see you use either a video or live video once a week, but not all bands can do that. What you don’t want to do is to mark more live videos than you can actually accomplish. Sure it’d be awesome for the entire band to get together on Christmas Day and wish your fans a Merry Christmas using live video, but that probably isn’t practical. Be realistic.
Now you need to come up with an image for every post that is not marked with a “W”, “V”, or “LV”.
Be careful when creating images. You cannot just take anything off the internet and use it—just like your music, there are copyrights involved. The sites I use to get free images that are licensed for commercial use are Pixabay and Pexels. Both sites have stock photos as well as background images. There are quite a few other free image sites, but I can almost always find what I need from these 2 sites, so I check them first to save time. If you use another site, be sure to check that each image is licensed for commercial (not just personal) use. If you use your own photos, make sure the content is safe for you to use. For example: pictures of anyone who is not a band member require a signed model release form, and a photo of anyone else’s artwork also needs a signed consent form.
The easiest way to create images is to use Canva.com. It’s super easy to use and free (or very inexpensive if you want premium images). You can import your own images too. Of course you can use any image creating program you like, Photoshop is the most popular. I use Inkscape because it’s free, but there is a steep learning curve.
The ideal image size is 1200x627px. Facebook accepts .jpg, .gif, and .png files. JPG works best on images with blended tones, like photos, while GIF and PNG are better for images with flat tones, like logos, graphics, and text.
Store all the images in one file to make it easier to schedule your posts. I like to group my images in folders for each category, such as Holidays, Advertising etc. to make them easier to find. I also store the file I used to create the image there, because I resize and reuse them for Twitter images.
2. Create Images You Can Repeat
Not every post needs a different image. Even if you post it every month, not all your fans will see it—remember that only about 13% of the people who like your page see each post. What you say above the image is going to change every time you reuse it. So reusing images is completely OK.
You can create one image and use it for your regularly scheduled posts (see #4). Create one image for each merch item you sell, then use it every time you post about that item (see #5).
3. Create Images You Can Vary
Some images can be similar with only minor changes, which can speed up the time it takes to create them. For example: if you decide to post band member birthdays, you could use one Happy Birthday template and simply change the band members face and name (see #3). You could also use the same image template for confirmed shows, simply changing the venue name (#7).
4. Create One-Off Images
The last images to create are the ones you’ll probably use only once a year. These would include the holiday images (see #2) and some special band days images (see #3).
5. Use Other People’s Images
Some of the images you’ll want to use have already been created by other people. These include the funny memes, jokes, and quotes (see #9). They can be shared from other people’s Facebook posts or saved from Google searches. Remember to check to make sure they’re available to use for commercial purposes. If you find a joke or saying you like that is not labeled for commercial reuse, you can always create your own image with that saying, if the saying is copyright free.
Now that you’re done creating images, it’s time to decide what you’re going to say about them. This will be the text part of your posts.
Step 3: Create Text and URL’s
Now we want to create a document that has all our URL’s with the text and optional hashtags. Once we have that document completed we can easily cut and paste our posts into Facebook.
The text of your post is going to appear above the image. A hashtag can follow the text with the URL after that.
There are many guru’s giving advice on the length of the text, and they don’t all agree. Experiment and see what your fans respond to. I recommend you start with most of your text being one or two sentences. Occasionally add text that is extremely short, one or two words and then some that is much longer, several paragraphs.
Most people do not do searches using hashtags on Facebook. You can of course include them once in a while for emphasis or to be funny, but they’re not necessary.
Many people panic when it comes to writing text for posts, especially when trying to sell anything. But you don’t have to be ‘salesy’. Remember that your fans don’t know what it’s like to be a musician, so things we find normal are very interesting to them. Tell your fans the stories behind what you’re selling and you won’t have to do a hard sell. Most marketing gurus are saying that 1 in 10 posts should be selling something. If you’re talking about what your fans really want to hear—interesting behind the scenes stories, you can post much more often about what you have to sell.
Here’s the steps I use to create text quickly:
1. Choose a document type
Spreadsheets are ideal for this document. I use Excel, but use whatever spreadsheet you’re most familiar with. This is not the time to use a physical document (paper and pencil) because we will be cutting and pasting from this document in the next step.
2. Get URLs for posts
The URL is the link fans can click to go to wherever you want to send them online.
Not all your posts will have URLs, for example the holiday posts and some of your funny jokes or quotes will not need a URL. Other posts will repeat the same URL, such as when you are selling merchandise, or sending fans to your YouTube channel.
Add the URLs to the document you created with a brief description of the URL. Also add the shortened URL if you prefer to use that.
Here’s my document with the URLs added.
Experts have done studies on shortened versus the full length URL. The experts don’t agree. Here’s an example of the different kinds of links—all these links send fans to the same page that sells The Christian Musicians Devotional on the Christian Band Help website. Some say the full length URL builds trust because the fan can see where you’re trying to get them to go. While others say a TinyURL or Bitly type of URL looks better. Still others prefer a Pretty Link, which is a website with a shortened link after that. They say the Pretty Link builds some trust because it has the website in the link but also looks better because the rest of the link is shortened. For our purposes, I’m not sure any of that matters. I’ve used all three types as well as the WordPress shortlink and have not seen any difference in fan engagement between them. Feel free to experiment for yourself and use what you like best.
3. Determine the number of text variations for each post
Several of your URLs and images will be repeated, but the text should be varied. For example: You might post that your band has a particular t-shirt for sale once a month. The image of the t-shirt and the URL to the page where the fan can buy the t-shirt will remain the same each month, but the text telling a background story about the shirt will change. Count how often you will use each URL for the next 6 months and put a space in your document for each use.
4. Write text for each URL and its variations
Now actually write what you want to say for each post. I find it easier to write all the posts for one URL at a time. Don’t skip around because it takes longer to come up with the new ideas. Remember that fans will not see these posts all at once, like you are—they will be spaced out over 6 months, and most of your fans will not see every post. So it’s OK to write similar posts for the same URL.
If you are using hashtags put them at the end of the text with one or two spaces in between. Follow the text and/or hashtags with the URL.
I like to create surveys within the survey app, so I don’t create the text for them on this document.
This document will grow to be several pages long. That’s OK. It doesn’t have to be pretty, we’re just using it to cut and paste to Facebook. Here’s the first page of my document filled out with all the text and URLs.
Step 4: Schedule Posts on Facebook
Finally we are ready to actually schedule all 6 months of your posts onto your Facebook fanpage.
Some people like to use apps to schedule Facebook posts and manage their pages. Hootsuite is the most popular app and has a free version. MeetEdgar is very popular among online marketers, but does not have a free version. There are other apps as well. Go ahead and use them if you like, but here’s my 2 cents: I tried using third-party apps and found that I wasted a lot of time. First I had to learn how to use each app. Most of the time they gave me several bells and whistles which were interesting but really did not change what I posted or when. I spent time looking at the data and analytics, which in effect wasted more of my time. Now I use Facebook’s own scheduling tool and their insights for analytics—simple, straightforward, all the information I actually use, and easy to do.
A little extra something to consider: several digital marketing gurus say that posts made with third-party apps do not rank as well in Facebook as using their own app. From my own experience, this seems to be true.
Here’s what I do:
To get started log in to your Facebook page as an admin. Then click on this area where it says “Write Something”. Next go to the document you created with the text and URLs for each post. Highlight and copy the text you want to use. Bring it back to your Facebook page and paste it. If there is a URL in the text, wait just a second for it to generate an image and description. If you don’t want to use the image and description you can delete it by clicking on the “X” in the upper right hand corner. To use your own image, click on the small camera icon in the lower left hand corner and then click on “upload Photos/Video”. Find the image you want to use in the image folders we created earlier, click on it and then click “Open”. It will take a second or so for your image to be added to the post. After it’s uploaded click on the small arrow in the right hand corner and the click on “Schedule”.
Now you have the option to choose a month by using the arrows on each side to move forward or back. Then you can click on the specific day of the month. You can choose the hour, minutes, and am or pm by clicking here and using your keyboard to type in numbers. When everything is correct click “Schedule” and you’re done—your post is scheduled!
To see all your scheduled posts go to the very top of your page and click on “Publishing Tools”. Then click on “Scheduled Posts” over here on the left. Now you can see all your scheduled posts.
If you need to reschedule one, click the box on the side of the post. Then go up to “Actions” and click “Reschedule”. You’ll be able to make changes using the same choices as when you originally scheduled the post. Click “Reschedule” when you’re done.
If you need to edit the text of a post, say you found a spelling error or didn’t like what it says, click on the highlighted post. After the post pops up click on “Edit” down on the bottom. Now you can correct the text and hit “Save” when you’re done.
That’s how simple it is to schedule posts using Facebook’s scheduling tool.
The last thing to post is your surveys. When you’re writing text for surveys, you can ask your fans questions about merch decisions (For example: What color should your next t-shirts be?), which song title they like better for your new song, or get them to vote on which songs you should play at your next show. The topic of the survey isn’t really important as long as it meets the goal of getting your fans to respond.
There are several free survey apps for Facebook, the most popular is: Facebook’s My Surveys. Other popular choices are: Facebook’s Simple Surveys, Facebook’s My-Polls, and How to Add a Survey Link to Your Facebook Site.
These apps do not allow you to schedule surveys (at least not under their free plans). The easy way around that is to ask your question and then give each answer a number. Ask fans to comment using the number. Here’s an example.
This way of doing a survey is not as eye-catching and usually gets less interaction, but can be scheduled because it does not use an app.
So, your choice—schedule a survey the simple way or use an app and remember to do it on the day you assigned it to your calendar.
Now you’re done!
6 months worth of Facebook fanpage posts you no longer have to worry about. Facebook allows you to schedule 6 months ahead. So bookmark this article and come back in 6 months to do it all over again (but it will be even more simple because you can reuse many of your images and text).
For the next 6 months you should only have to add the live videos you scheduled, surveys done through an app, newly confirmed shows, and any other ‘in the moment’ announcements you have. Of course, if you’ve done your job well you’ll also have to spend time responding to comments.
Thanks for sticking with me today. If you follow through on this project you’ll save time for the next 6 months, so you can play more music not be stuck doing music marketing on social media. Remember to get your free show notes that outlines the steps to take and tools to use by clicking the link below.
Be sure to check out Christian Band Help’s Facebook page at Facebook/ChristianBandHelp.
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