Today’s digital media environment means new content and ideas are constantly flowing, making it difficult to keep up. That’s why successful social media marketers understand that an effective social media strategy lies between a ‘set it and forget it’ and a ‘day-by-day, always on’ mentality.
That’s where social media calendars shine. Social media calendars save you time in creating the kinds of content your audience wants to see and allow you to test and track its performance. Here’s how creating a social media calendar can help you plan and manage your social media posts.
Review your social media goals
Your first step is to identify your goals. Social media goals allow you to make sure you’re getting as much value as possible from the time and effort you put into your content creation. They will dictate how often you’ll post, the channels you’ll use, and the type of content you’ll create.
If you don’t already have established social media goals, check out our post on setting up social media goals.
Decide what kind of content to create
It’s helpful to create a list of content categories or types, you can share with your audience. This can include the following:
- Blog posts
- Announcements and events
- Reshares of interesting or related content
- User-generated content
Ideally, you’ll create a mix of different content types to keep your audience engaged. You don’t want to risk boring them with the same kind of content or push them away by being overly salesy. Follow the 80/20 rule to strike the right balance – where 80% of your posts inform, educate, or entertain your audience and 20% promote your homes or company and drive conversions.
Plot out a posting schedule
The main benefit of social media calendars is creating consistency. How often you should post depends on the platform and your available resources. Platforms like Twitter benefit from daily posting – even multiple times a day while others, like Facebook or Instagram, can be fine with less.
Base your posting cadence on your team’s bandwidth. Larger marketing departments usually have the resources to post multiple times a day but that isn’t realistic if you’re a team of one. The goal is to create a sustainable cadence to maintain a consistent social presence.
Creating themed days to share specific types of content is a simple way to achieve a mix of content and streamline your schedule.
Create and schedule your posts
This is the fun part: content creation! Here’s where you can write captions, create images and videos and schedule your posts. You can do this a week or a month at a time. If you know of special events ahead of time, it’s great to plan for them so you’re not scrambling to create something last minute.
We recommend using a social media scheduler to handle publishing to your social accounts. Most platforms have a built-in scheduler or you can invest in a third-party scheduler if you want to manage everything from one platform. The paid versions of these schedulers offer additional features like analytics, calendars, engagement options like managing inboxes and comments, and more.
Creating a social media calendar template
There are a number of tools you can use to create and manage your social media calendar. The good old-fashioned spreadsheet is always an option, whether it’s Excel or Google Sheets. Both are versatile and can be customized to fit your unique needs. Google Sheets is especially helpful if you’re collaborating with a team or want to always have access to it.
You can also use project management platforms like Trello, Asana, or Monday to create your calendar. These platforms allow you to create a visual workflow so you can check the status of your on-going projects and posts at a glance, including in calendar form. You can write copy, attach images, links, assign tasks and due dates in one place.
If you don’t want to create a social media calendar from scratch – or don’t quite know where to start with designing a calendar – there are several premade calendar templates available for free (or at least for the cost of your email address) from industry leaders like Hootsuite or Hubspot.
Taking the time to create an effective social media calendar not only helps you craft content your audience want so see but also boosts your overall marketing strategy. If you need help improving your social strategy or presence, drop us a line and see how we can assist.