Simple ways to design and schedule social media posts for free

If you find you are spending too much time on social media without seeing the results you would like for your food enterprise, then this is for you. In this resource you will find proven tactics for creating attractive posts your customers will love and learn how to schedule them in advance using free online tools.

So, if you want to spend less time on social media and still get great – or better – results then read on.

 

Design great social media posts

First we are going to cover some basic design principles to help you make eye-catching and effective images for your social media posts. Here are three simple steps you can follow to immediately improve what you are already doing:

 

Step one: tailor for location

At the beginning, you need to know where your image is going to go. In other words, decide which social media platform you want to use it on. The reason for this is that each social media platform has different dimensions they require for the perfect fitting image. 

  • For example, your Instagram feed requires a square image – or more precisely, images which are 1080 x 1080 pixels and 1:1 aspect ratio. If you use a different size or shape Instagram will crop it, which could mess with your design. 
  • Here is an always up to date guide to social media image sizes (aspect ratios)

Equally important, consider your audience on each platform you are creating for. What do you know about them? What do they care about? What do they love? Use insights to make a note of what posts do well. This will help you get a feel for any differences between social media platforms so you can adapt your style and tone to suit each audience. 

 

Step two: use great typography

Choosing great fonts and using them effectively is a valuable skill which will help you create posts that say what you want to say to your audience. To use fonts which both look good and convey a clear message, consider these three things:

  • Is it readable? Aim for readability over simple legibility. Yes, someone can read it, but would they want to? Most people consume social media content on their phones, so make sure to use a large and easy to read font.
  • Watch your tone. That is to say, think about the emotion you want to convey with your words and choose a font which matches. 
  • Keep it consistent. Consistency in the look and appeal of your posts contributes to brand recognition whilst also helping you to generate more trust and customer loyalty. You can achieve consistent branding through your visuals by using repeated fonts, images, themes, and colours. Tip: in addition to choosing set fonts you will use, choose a set of colours for your social posts and stick to them. Try the Canva colour wheel to get started.

 

Step three: tell a story

People are 22 times more likely to remember something if it is delivered within a story. So, it is worth taking time to consider how you can incorporate your own unique brand story into your social media images. 

Consider what you want to say with your designs. What do you want your audience to know about your enterprise? What do you want them to care about? What valuable ideas can you build your content assets around? Choose some compelling ideas or themes that you can infuse within your story which reflect your values and voice as a business. 

For inspiration, consider what the world would be like if we could realise our BIG goal as a movement. For this exercise, It helps to have your own main goal in mind. What is your mission as an enterprise? With this intention, what could be your “call to adventure” to your audience? 

You can create the sense of story in your images by creating a path your audience can follow through your image. For example, place important and eye-catching bits in the top left hand corner and secondary elements in the bottom right hand corner.

 

Free and simple tools to design your own visuals

Here is an easy to follow webinar which shows how you can create eye-catching posts with simple online tools you can access for free:

 

Schedule your social media posts

If you struggle to find time for social media, learning how to easily and efficiently schedule your posts can be a life-saver for your food-enterprise. Here are two reasons why you should schedule your posts in advance:

 

Scheduling your posts in advance will save you time

  • Think about the last time you posted something – did you have to think and search and take time to get into the posting zone? The first post is always the hardest, so batch posting is much more effective and saves a lot of time. 
  • Create a bookmark in your web browser where you can store relevant facebook pages or websites for which post good content for inspiration. Also, this means that when it comes time to do your scheduling, you will have a go-to list to draw shared posts from.
  • Have a go to list of relevant hashtags

 

Scheduling your posts will help you be consistent

  • One of the best things about creating content consistently is that it shows your customers you care about them. This helps you build a stronger, more loyal relationship with your audience – so that they choose to buy from you – again and again. 
  • Consistency not only works to increase engagement, loyalty and trust with your customers, but it will also help you perform better with the social media algorithms. This is because consistency gives the algorithm more information and the more info the algorithm has, the better it will work for your page. If you post inconsistently, the algorithm doesn’t know who will like your content and will show it to less people – reducing your posts’ reach. 
  • Consider what you can sustainably commit to, because the most important thing is to commit to a schedule you can keep up long-term. Be realistic about what you can manage as consistency both helps your performance with the algorithms whilst also helping you to generate loyalty and a deeper relationship with your audience.

 

Create a schedule which works

As mentioned above, the best social media posting schedule is the one which works for you whilst also being sustainable to maintain long-term. If you find yourself posting a lot one week, then losing steam and posting barely anything the following week, then your efforts will not be rewarded well as they could. It is much better practice to post less but post consistently than to post in boom and bust cycles.

Having said this, read on for some posting schedule practices which will help you get great results on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Facebook

The Facebook algorithm makes it harder for you to reach your followers unless you provide value and contribute to the Facebook community. So, rather than just broadcasting your news or selling, make sure you are socialising with your community and sharing useful content which educates, provokes emotion and/or entertains. 

In this blog you can find a detailed breakdown of a Facebook posting schedule which works by taking all of this into consideration: the 4:2:1 posting strategy (AKA, be social, then give, give, ask!). 

This schedule works to give your all-important ‘Ask’ post, where you request your audience do something for you (like visit your shopfront or join your mailing list) the best possible reach and chance of success. Consider your shared posts, when you share another Facebook user’s content, as nurturing your community – or soil-building. Your ‘give’ posts are where you are growing your visibility, customer awareness and understanding – or the emerging plant. Finally, the ‘‘ask’ post is the harvest!

 

Instagram

Compared to Facebook, Instagram is more ‘curated’ and there is a higher expectation on the quality of feed posts. This means it’s good practice to only post original content – or ‘give’ posts – for your feed posts. As creating your own content is a bit more laborious than sharing other people’s posts (a la Facebook), 2-3 feed posts per week is a good goal for Instagram.

Another important element of Instagram success is to post ‘stories’ regularly. Here is a comprehensive guide to what they are, why you should care, and how to actually do them. Currently, there is no way to schedule them in advance, so it is a good idea to plan when you will be available to post stories. Here are some tips: 

  • Decide what you will share in your stories at the same time you are scheduling your feed posts. This means all you have to do on the day you want to post a story is upload the pre-planned content. 
  • Work with your scheduled feed posts to maximise your presence on the platform whilst minimising the time you need to spend on it. In other words, perhaps you could schedule your feed posts on days you know you will be unavailable to post any stories.
  • Remember, you can share other people’s posts as well as your own posts in your stories. This is also a great way to promote your own feed posts. Here is a how-to.

 

Bonus tips:

  • If you connect your Instagram and FB pages, you can share stories posts across both. Here is a how-to.
  • To get the best results from Instagram, make sure you schedule in some time every week to follow and engage with your audience. This is because ‘relationship’ is one of the main three factors to success with the algorithm. Instagram acknowledges the accounts you regularly interact with and engagement builds your authority in the algorithm ranking systems. For this reason, plan to spend one hour per week interacting with other accounts if you can.
  • If you target your engagement activities just before you post your feed post, you will be top of mind for the accounts you have interacted with just before you post. This means they are more likely to engage with your post, which will help you increase the reach of your post and more people will see it.

 

A free and simple tool to schedule your Facebook & Instagram posts

Here is a webinar which covers how to schedule your Facebook and Instagram posts with Facebook Creator Studio, as well as some other time saving posting tips:

 

Social media is an essential tool to connect and generate a stronger relationship with your customers online. In addition, it is an easy, efficient and inexpensive way to grow your sales. So, it is a valuable to develop your ability to design and schedule social media posts your community will love.

To sum up, if you can develop the habit of posting and being active on your social media in a time efficient way that makes sense for you, you will see the results. Are you going to try out any of the tips given here? If so, we want to hear from you! Please share your own experiences and challenges in our Thriving Food Hubs Facebook group.

 

Want more?

​​​​Do you want more resources and support for your food enterprise? If so, here’s what you do next:

  • Join our FB group where Louise from the OFN Admin Team has been sharing brilliant posts on a Monday filled with relevant and useful content ideas you can use on your own feeds.
  • Join our ‘offerings of the week’ weekly bulletin here for all our best & most valuable offerings of the week – including exclusive webinar invites, the latest OFN Release info and exciting updates, useful and practical content, specialist Q&As session invites and all our latest and best support offerings.
  • Apply for a fully funded marketing health check for your food enterprise here.

Kayleigh Reed

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