Planning Your Social Media Posts, to Gain Back Your Time

Social media; we love it and we hate it. Only this morning I fell down a winding Instagram rabbit hole, watching videos of ‘cats doing funny stuff’ and getting stuck in the endless flip of people’s stories. In the blink of an eye I’d just scrolled for half an hour of my day and I know I’m not the only one getting sucked into that social media time-warp. 

Here’s the thing. That’s exactly what all social media platforms are designed to do, suck you in and encourage you to spend lots of time scrolling and liking and sharing…and watching the paid content. That’s how they make their money. 

If you’re using social media for business but you’re finding it’s becoming a time-suck planning your social media posts ahead of time is the best way to get more intentional with the time you spend on social media

Let’s take a look at this grey area for a sec. There’s the time you spend on social media because you’re promoting your business there and there’s the time you spend on social media because you’re looking for an escape, you want to know what your friends are up to and damn it, you want to watch those funny cat videos. You know what, that’s ok! Embrace the cat videos in your down time, I sure as hell do. 

Planning your social media content, so you can gain back your time | How to plan social media content | How to plan your Instagram posts

 But the line is often blurred between work and life when it comes to social media and it can help to make that line a little more solid. Things that I’ve found that help with this is planning out my social media in one block of time a week, meaning that I save time in the week by not having to figure out what to post and what to write. It also means I avoid those moments when I post just because I feel I haven’t posted in a while, so I whack up any old picture and caption... Guess what? Those posts are never effective.

After doing a live chat on this in my Facebook group for my Make a Plan > Make it Happen course I remembered how much experimenting and trial it took to get to how I plan out my social media posts now and I hope the pointers in this post can help you cut some corners with figuring out how to make social media work fro you and your side-hustle. 

Before we get into planning your social media posts, there are a couple of things I want to talk about that will make your life so much easier when you get into the planning.

Image bank

Once a month I’ll dig into my Instagram Inspo board on Pinterest to get inspired for one of my photography mornings. I’ll list out what pictures I want to take and plan ahead for a batch-photo taking morning/ day. I’ll capture and edit a load of photos in one day that will top my image bank up for at least the rest of the month. I’ll also grab my camera if I’m heading anywhere new incase I see something that would make a great picture for my blog or social posts. By batching together my photography time, I can create a bank of images to go to when I’m planning out my social media posts.  

Caption bank

Similarly, I have a caption bank. Whenever an idea comes to me for a caption, I’ll make a note of it there and then in my phone notes. When I’m back at my laptop (because the inspiration rarely comes when I’m actually at my laptop) I copy these from my phone notes into a central spreadsheet where I keep all of my caption ideas. These might come from something I’ve learned one day or experienced, it might come from something I’ve read or a question I’ve had on social media. The key here is to capture the inspiration when it hits, listen to your audience, pick up on key themes in conversations and stash all of these ideas away in a caption bank. It makes everything a whole lot easier when it comes to planning your social media posts. 

Notebook and Brown envelope on sheepskin rug and tiled floor with a cup of tea

The bit where I actually plan my social media posts

When I sit down to plan out my week, which only takes about 10 minutes, I also tac on a few minutes to plan out my social media posts for the week. Now, I only have Instagram at the moment (If you don’t include Pinterest and YouTube, but they are different beasts which I’ll talk about another time) so, all I’m planning out is my 4 posts that I aim to put out a week. That’s four images and four captions, easy right? It is when you’ve got an image bank and a stash of captions to hand. Here are the steps I use to plan out my social media posts.

  1. Take a look at what’s happening in your week, do you have anything in your business you’d like to promote, what do you want to ask of your audience? Join my mailing list/ read my blog post/ here’s my product that’s for sale. Schedule these posts in to your week first.

  2. Next, add in some non-salesy posts. I like to go with the 80:20 rule for this with 20% of posts being an ‘ask’ leaving 80% of your posts being an opportunity for your audience to get to know YOU and your values. So the next thing I do is add in my more personal posts, this might be pondering on something I’ve learned or what I’ve been up to, perhaps it’s talking about my personal values. If you’re stuck for ideas, have a scroll through your caption stash for inspiration.

  3. Work out a schedule for your 80:20 posts for the week and then draft up a caption for each one. Use your caption bank to your advantage here, use those ideas you’ve had as starting points. At this stage they don’t need to be perfectly finished captions, I find I always want to tweak them anyway just before I post them so I like to have a good draft, but nothing final. It’s a case of working out what works for you.

  4. Then pick a few photos to use for your posts. These don’t necessarily need to be related to what the caption’s about, this is a trap I fell into initially with Instagram and it made planning my posts so much harder. I add these to an app that helps me see what my grid will look like, so I can play around with the order of my photos. Try Later or Plann That, where you can have a look at how your grid will look when you upload new photos for free. 

And that’s it, very straight forward once you get into the routine of it and it saves so much time later on in the week when it comes to posting. Time that I like to put into engaging on social media, commenting on and sharing other people’s posts. It’s called social media after all.

How to Plan your social media content, so that you can gain back your time | Scheduling social media | How to get organised with social media | Creating a social media content calendar