“Fail to plan or plan to fail” is a famous quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
While it is certain that Ben didn’t know what a hashtag or trending topic was, he sure did know to make an excellent point.
Social media planning is important. It can save you time and money. A social media content calendar is a key tool in this arsenal. It will shift your focus from quick wins and reactive posting to prepared and proactive content creation.
This will allow you to become better organized, to be able to share the workload with team members, and even set achievable and measurable SMART goals.
Do it now. Save time later. Take a look at this guide to find out how to create one.
How to Build A Social Media Content Calendar
There are several steps to putting the perfect calendar together but it is well worth the effort upfront for the time savings it will create later.
So once you have decided that a calendar will be a useful tool for your social media planning, grab a notebook and let’s look at some simple rules around how to put one together.
1. Set Your Goals
What are your objectives for creating a calendar?
Do you want to increase post frequency? Measure and increase click-through rates on posts? Or how about track accountability for your managers to make sure they are posting on time?
Think about what you want to see at the end of this process. Having a calendar will enable you to track your goals more clearly by giving you metrics like:
- how often you have posted
- who has posted
- what channels are responding well to your content
Having this information in one document will make tracking and measuring your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) easier month on month.
2. Choose Your Social Networks
Not all social media networks are created equal. Think about whether you need to be posting to all of them. You should understand where your audience is and try to reach them there.
The primary networks you will want to consider are:
You will not need to target every network every day and this is where a content calendar will be indispensable. Also, you will need to think of what kind of content works best on which social media network. Planning this is a huge advantage.
Choose which social media networks you want to target and add them to your notes.
3. Define Your Post Topics
First, you need to think about what topics you will be talking about in your content. Doing this work now will make life easier down the line.
The topics you choose will depend on your audience and tone of voice but here are some ideas for content that you can use.
- Chatty conversations starters
- Ask a question to your audience
- Sharable content that you find interesting including:
- Interesting blog posts
- Social media posts from your community
- A new video
- Starting a competition
- Following up on running competitions
- Celebrating wins
- Quoting influencers or topic specialists
- Share some wisdom from industry experts
- Posting motivation for your audience
- Advice and tips
- How to get the best out of your service
- General advice
- Pictures of your products, team, local area – anything of interest
- If your audience is young enough, consider sharing memes
You should also consider how often you need to make announcements about your brand, host events or offer discounts. This content will be less frequent but will still need to be scheduled on the calendar.
Make a list of good topic ideas and add them to your notes for later.
4. Consider Weekly Themes
Tips Tuesdays? Makeover Mondays? Throwback Thursdays?
They don’t always have to alliterate but it is a good idea to choose a theme for certain days of the week on your calendar.
This behavior is quite commonplace on social sites like Twitter or Instagram and will allow you to tap into the popular hashtags that are already being used.
It will also guide you towards what kinds of content you should be sharing each day. You can focus your topics on the theme of the day. It will also enable you to theme across your networks giving your followers a sense of community.
Careful though. Don’t overdo it. You do not need to have a theme for every day of the week.
5. Look at the Global Calendar
What events are coming up in the world? Obviously big holiday events like Christmas and Easter are common topics to theme your content around. But you should look at some other global events too.
International Women’s Day. Star Wars Day. Father’s Day. Theming content to global events that match your message can be a great way to engage your audience.
You will want to program these into the social media calendar so as not to miss an opportunity to post relevant content.
Make a list of any relevant international days or global holidays and add them to your notes.
6. Start Writing Your Content in Advance
Now that you have all your notes and planning done, it is time to start the real work: Creating the actual content.
Use what you have to start creating ideas. What kinds of messages do you want to send? Theme them to your different topics and networks that you have already identified.
Collect links and interesting images, hunt down quotes and other content ideas, and store them in a document. Some pieces will be time-limited so if necessary add dates to show that they are linked to the annual calendar.
This is a great time to start preparing images too. Edit them to the correct sizes and add any processing you need now. This is a huge time saver when you are under pressure to post later.
Start crafting posts in advance to save yourself future work. Write the messages now, so that they are ready to go once they are scheduled.
This part is all about getting your creative juices following, so it should be fun!
7. Choose a Calendar Tool
Innovation doesn’t have to be complex. You can do something with pen and paper if you prefer. That said, there are lots of tools available to help you create a digital calendar.
Excel or Google Spreadsheets
These tend to be a popular choice for creating a social media calendar. You can easily break columns into hours, days or weeks depending on scheduling your system. Then use the rows to represent each social media channel and messages can be logged in the cells.
Spreadsheets can be formatted with colors to make them easier to track and shared across teams without too much difficulty.
Google Calendar or Outlook
Similar to spreadsheet this is a popular method although a bit more fiddly. Simply set a calendar appointment for each social media message. If you have lots of messages going out on the same day it may be more difficult to see in the monthly view, so switch to daily.
Again, calendars can be shared easily amongst team members to distribute the workload.
Trello is a great tool for creating workflows and if you want to work a little differently you can create your social media calendar here as well. Set up boards by topic and add cards for each post.
You can then use the calendar view to see when your posts are scheduled.
Social Media Publishing Tools
If you use a publishing tool like Buffer or Hootsuite you may find that they already have calendar software built into them. These will be super useful as you can plan and publish from the same location.
Some tools also offer downloadable calendar templates for you to use free of charge.
8. Start Scheduling Your Content
It is time to start programming your ideas into a calendar. Here you need to start to think about the frequency of posts. This will depend on your planning stages and how many channels you wish to cover.
Do you need a monthly calendar? This will enable you to see posts by the day and leans towards social media accounts that may post several times a day to different channels
If you are posting at a higher volume you may want to consider creating a weekly calendar. This will enable you to visualize content by hour within a day. If you are posting lots of content to different channels over multiple hours, then this is the choice for you.
What goes on the calendar?
Each post should include the date and time you want to schedule the post for, the content to post, the channel to post to, and any links to content such as images or references.
So now you should have a fully functional social media content calendar. Make sure you schedule some time to keep it updated. If you plan a month put aside time in the last week to keep the calendar up to date.
After a month or two start checking your post analytics and comparing them to your calendar publishing dates. You should now be able to clearly see where you have been making an impact, for example, which daily hashtags are working.
Then you can amend your calendar to take advantage of these new insights and enjoy your success.
If you are looking for help with your social media management and online marketing, get in touch to see how we can help you.