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Creating a Social Media Content Calendar: A Complete Guide

January 23, 2020

Wondering how to improve your social media marketing strategy? Stay organized and learn the steps of creating a social media content calendar.

Table of Contents

Do you have all of your social media posts for this week queued up and ready to go, just waiting for you to hit send? How about next week? Next month? Next year? 

Now, you don’t need to know every little thing that will be happening that far into the future, but it is helpful to have a general idea of what’s on the docket, considering even a vague social media marketing strategy is better than simply winging it.

Between all the various social media platforms, creating a social media marketing content calendar template can be quite the undertaking, particularly if you plan on mobilizing a ton of material. Fortunately, you can create a social media content calendar template to plan ahead and take much of the guesswork out of the equation. Below, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating such a calendar and then provide some guidelines for creating your own. So, read on to discover the best way to stay organized when curating content for your upcoming media campaigns across selected social platforms. 

How To Build a Social Media Calendar: A Complete Guide

In his famous military strategy book, The Art of War, General and philosopher Sun Tzu wrote, “The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.” In other words, if you go into a campaign (or a battle) without taking the time to strategize, you’ll likely lose. Although he was talking about war, the sentiment remains applicable to your social media campaigns—failure to plan adequately will likely yield fruitless results. By developing an organized strategy, your marketing efforts are sure to flourish.

The concept underlying a social media marketing content calendar is simple. It’s a useful tool that you can utilize to help plan and schedule all of your impending content across social platforms. You decide what to publish, when to publish, and which social networks you’ll be using. This can be done in one of several ways, including:

  • Excel Spreadsheets – The budget option, this can be a fantastic way to visualize the social media campaigns in the coming weeks and months, and plan accordingly. It’s a great choice if you have someone on the team who’s an Excel whiz.
  • Paper Calendars – For the more visual and tactile social media management planners, a hard copy calendar template is a fantastic way to properly see what campaigns are coming up and preparing for the tasks at hand.
  • Apps – There are dozens of apps that use automation to make your life a breeze, from scheduling, notifications, to auto-publishing media campaigns. If you have a large slate of various types of content that needs to be managed and pushed, apps are the way to go.

What are the Benefits of Creating a Social Media Content Calendar? 

Benefits of a social media content calendar include, but aren’t limited to: 

A consistent posting schedule 

It’s crucial that you strike the right balance of regular content posting to maintain brand awareness. There’s a line you must walk between inundating readers with too much content or not posting often enough on all social media channels. According to Forbes:

Whether you publish blogs every day or once per week, it’s crucial for your organization to choose and adhere to a schedule that will ultimately elevate your social media presence. When your content quality, quantity or schedule isn’t consistent, it can confuse your audience. Keeping with a regular strategy not only helps create a better customer experience but also helps build credibility, reputation and brand trust.  

Your social media editorial calendar helps you create the ideal post timetable and then stick to it. 

Never missing important dates 

From big brand launches to large events, it can be hard to keep track of everything on the horizon. Also, you might not be aware, but practically every other day is some special day or dedicated event that will have a trending hashtag and can garner plenty of engagement. For example, in January we have:

  • 1/1 New Year’s Day #NewYearsDay
  • 1/4 National Trivia Day #NationalTriviaDay
  • 1/6 Golden Globe Awards #GoldenGlobes
  • 1/15 Hat Day #HatDay
  • 1/21 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day #MLKDay

From donut day to national puppy day, each one offers a unique social media marketing opportunity that you can use to capitalize on by producing unique content and engaging in a national conversation. Some may be silly, others solemn; regardless, if you don’t know what’s coming, you may miss out on a chance to promote your brand to your target audience. Such special occasions or national holidays should be integrated into your content strategy.

Giving a bird’s-eye view of content 

This gives you an overarching perspective that allows you to see your content strategy in an objective light. By doing this, you can rely on the analytics, rise above the nitty-gritty details, and see where you’re succeeding and where you’re not. When you find gaps or places where you’re out of alignment with the strategy, you can then easily make the necessary changes or additions when curating content.

Finding the proper content mix

An interesting content profile is a diversified profile. If all you do is post about your product and sales, you will lose your followers in droves, never to see them again. For whatever platform you’re using, it’s essential that your marketing strategy consists of content that uses a blend of topics, formats, and mediums. This includes:

  • User-generated content
  • Industry videos, articles, and news stories
  • Engaging followers

If you use a social media management app, it will also be able to alert you if you’re pushing one thing too much or gauge whether or not the audience responds to a certain messaging strategy.

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar? 

There are several steps you must take to create your social media content calendar, these include:

Create Categories 

If you haven’t already, sketch out a list of the types of content that you plan on regularly posting, such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Multimedia content
  • Sharing interesting content
  • Tips or guides
  • Events
  • Conversation pieces
  • Quotes
  • Promotions
  • Announcements 
  • User-generated content

By assigning different colors to these, you can ensure that there’s a rainbow of content, and you aren’t leaning too heavily on any one type of social media post.

Perform a social media audit 

Before you start posting, it’s crucial to know how you use social media and which platforms you want to focus, if not all of them. Questions to ask include:

  • Which platforms are you using?
  • Are there platforms you want to add, remove, or that are being underutilized?
  • Which platform has the most engagement or best metrics? 
  • Who is in charge of each channel? 
  • What is the login info? 
  • What are the goals of marketing on each channel? 

Determine when you’ll post and how often 

After conducting a thorough overview of what you do and how you do it, you’ll have to then decide when you’ll be posting and how often. For example, you may want to have blog posts be shared every Monday and Wednesday. Instagram may require daily posts, whereas Twitter might need more frequent tweet engagement.

Whatever you choose, start filling in the slots on the calendar to begin fleshing out what’s to come. The good thing is you can always tweak or edit to best suit your needs or optimize the process.

Craft updates and put them in the content library 

If you already have content ideas prepared and ready to go ahead of time, you’ll want a place to dump all of that so it’s easy for the app or the person in charge to pull it and post. Whether you use a spreadsheet or a database, be sure to label each file properly with all the necessary info, including:

  • Title 
  • Date
  • Time
  • Type of content
  • Text to post
  • Link
  • Expected date of posting
  • Multimedia link
  • Word count

By doing this, you not only save time but get a clearer picture of what’s to come and what remains to be done in terms of content creation and execution.

Note Special Events

You have your regular posts and then you have special events that require further planning or detail. These are often can’t-miss opportunities because they can stir up far more excitement and engagement. Big events worth keeping an eye on include:

  • Product launches 
  • Holidays
  • Meetups
  • Announcements

Optimize your calendar 

Now, some brands may be able to fit all of the content details and networks into one spreadsheet, others may require a separate calendar for each network. Things you’ll want to include are:

  • Assignments – Who’s responsible for what and when? 
  • Updates – Has a task been done, in progress, or still pending?
  • Dates – Highlight the important ones.

In the beginning, the more details you have, the better. Once you’ve got the system running smoothly, you can pare things back as necessary.

Start Posting

Once you’ve determined what’s ahead and who’s responsible for what, it’s time to start posting. As you do, you can gauge what’s working and whether adjustments need to be made to reach and engage your target audience.

Creating Your Social Media Content Calendar

While there is some legwork that must be done in the beginning, creating a social media content calendar is a recipe for the success of your business. In the long run, it will save you time and money, and help curate an ideal content mix that would be impossible to replicate were you simply posting on the fly. So, if you want to stand out in a sea of social media content, start by making your calendar template today. 

 

Sources:

Make a Website. The 2019 Social Media Holiday Calendar. https://makeawebsitehub.com/social-media-holiday-calendar/#jan

Forbes. Why Content Consistency Is Key To Your Marketing Strategy. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2019/02/11/why-content-consistency-is-key-to-your-marketing-strategy/#667983ac4ef5

Forbes. Planning Your 2019 Social Media Calendar? 13 Tactics to Step Up Your Game. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/10/24/planning-your-2019-social-media-calendar-13-tactics-to-step-up-your-game/#d8f3a5a7b007

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