How to Plan a Great Social Media Calendar

How to Plan a Great Social Media Calendar

Have you ever wondered why organisations create social media accounts only for them to fizzle out as fast as they appeared?

To be honest, maintaining multiple social media pages can be dreadful. It’s worse if you’re not conversant with social media marketing. But you already know that the best marketers in this arena keep leveraging proven tools to get it done.

That is why you’ll need to consider investing in a functional social media content calendar. It’s the magic wand that helps you to keep your social marketing schedule in check.

Suppose you’re wondering how you can plan, create and manage a strategic social media content calendar. In that case, we are about to discuss the ins and outs so you can avoid those last-minute panic attacks when you need your social media pipeline working for you.

What Is a Social Media Content Calendar?

The meaning is in the name. A social media content calendar is a schedule of all content you intend to create, curate and share on your social media platforms. It’s the strategic roadmap that details your content journey now, tomorrow and in the future.

A social media content calendar makes it easy for you to manage multiple social media accounts and their content all at once. When executed correctly, this tool enables you to post with a unique brand voice, leverage different post tomes, track results, and know the best posts to present for every platform or account.

You can plan your calendar at different intervals that can be daily, weekly or monthly. It’s your ideal tool that prescribes the type of content, copy, tags or hashtags to leverage with every new or re-purposed post. The perfect calendar should guide you the right message to send to which audience and at what time or interval.

Every time you capitalise on a social media content calendar, you:

  • Align your long-term content strategy
  • Inject cohesion across your social platforms
  • Streamline planning and better time usage
  • Always have valuable content to share

Types of Content Calendars

The social media content calendar you leverage is unique. It all depends on the content needs and preferences in hand. You can go for the:

  • Monthly View Calendar

When you leverage the monthly view version, it’s easy to visualise content for the coming weeks. What’s more, you have a bird’s eye view of all the major events you want to keep tabs on. This calendar is ideal for busy or light schedules. It’s better if you prioritised on the crucial posts.

  • Weekly/Daily View

The weekly or daily view calendar carries more weight. It helps you to visualise every single post you plan to have for each day of the week. You better have everything ready as early as you can to avoid the pressure.

There are several ways you can opt for when creating your content calendar. It’s pretty simple.

  • You can choose the paper and pen method that makes the calendar look like a print calendar or organiser.
  • You can choose Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheets as a basic alternative.
  • You can invest in social media calendar creation tools and software.

Who Can Use A Social Media Calendar?

Are social media calendars preserved for a specific group of people? You bet not. As long as you create social content for a hobby blog, a start-up or a fully-fledged company, these calendars are more than a necessity.

Content calendars are best for:

  • Marketing teams

Marketing campaigns can be demanding for your team. There too many cogs involved. And indeed, a basic pen and paper organiser won’t cut it. For everyone on the team to be on the same page, a content calendar I needed.

  • SMEs and start-ups

Upcoming businesses with limited resources need to save time with their content strategy to remain consistent; they need to use a calendar.

  • Consultants

If you’re a marketing consultant charged with overseeing multiple client accounts, nothing makes it easier than having a calendar to manage customer calendars; got it?

  • Media companies

Media companies need to create and promote the content of their own. Nothing works better than a content calendar.

  • Bloggers

Bloggers want to make the most out of every post or piece of content they create. Instead of going for poorly reviewed tools, a promotional calendar will suffice.

What A Social Media Content Calendar Will Do for You

If your social marketing team hasn’t discovered why a calendar is essential, here’s what it can do for your business:

  • Enables you to work around posts in advance. It guarantees an advanced view of what you’ll be posing in the future
  • Content calendars act as a super Brainstorming tool. It lets you collaborate with others to create fresh ideas and compelling content
  • Enables you to create fresh, valuable and exciting content for current and future posting
  • Let’s you keep tabs on important events and dates. You’ll have it easy making shareable posts for such dates
  • Enables you to leverage and track influencer posts, and their metrics form a central point.
  • Makes reporting easier and trackable

Why You Need a Social Media Content Calendar

Do you still rely on a basic, ad-lib approach to content management on multiple social media platforms? I don’t have to tell you, but you’re losing out; a lot. Maybe, the following pointers will make you rethink your stance.

1.Enhanced organisation

If you’re still noting down your content topics on sticky pads or random notebooks, the chances are that your jumble it up. It’s easy to drift away even if you have a super brilliant idea. With a content calendar, you get a grasp on your marketing strategy. It becomes easy to keep your posts in line with social marketing content.

2. Preserves consistency

In the content marketing scene, consistency wins it all. By this, I mean offering your followers relevant, informative and entertaining content 24-7. A content calendar helps you to maintain consistency. You’ll also be able to notice gaps or whether you’re feeding the audience-specific content while neglecting other content types.

3. 360-degree view

Nothing guarantees success more than having your sales and marketing teams working in tandem. When you refer to a content calendar, its boosts collaboration and your ROI can rise by 60%. Here, the sales team can enable marketing counterparts on how to address customer pain points comprehensively. Also, the decision-makers can verify that indeed the scheduled events support the comprehensive marketing plan.

4. Streamlines social media marketing

It’s a fact that content and social media marketing are inherently linked. Your calendar helps you pinpoint highly yielding content pieces, and you can leverage them for your paid advertising efforts.

Whether you’re leveraging e-books, infographics or white papers on social media, you can highlight your best performing content and invest on the same using Facebook ads, sponsored content or Instagram ads to get the juice to your prospects.

5. Efficiently use your resources

Social media efforts come with resource constraints unless you’ve won the big lottery. With a social media content blueprint, it’s easy to visualise the work ahead. This enables you to manage your time and resources correctly. You’ll no longer face those last-minute scares.

6. Post audience-centric content

You’ll hack in on social if you have the heads up regarding what your audience is searching for. You can leverage keyword tools to find such. From here, create engaging topics around the subject matter. Using the same approach, go for trending topics in your niche. It makes you look like a thought leader, and your audience will love you- and your brand for it.

7. Helps with the metrics

Your reliable content calendar with rich hashtags, themes or topics, the layout shows your goals and objectives. It becomes easy to track and report. It’s the calendar itself that demonstrates your reporting ideals.

How to Plan Your Social Media Calendar

Though a social media content calendar is an advanced tool, building one can be overwhelming. Here are steps you’ll need to observe in the process.

Identify the Social Media Content to Create

Since you’ll be better off starting with a social media audit, it’s crucial to decide on the content type you intend to share on different platforms or channels. These can be;

  • Pictures-Single images or gallery batches
  • Video- Native or live stream content
  • Text-Captivating copy
  • Links- Links leading to external content

It’s never easy to create 12 months’ worth of content. But there are specific events and occasion you can leverage. Make your calendar full with recurrent events such as:

  • Holidays-Add all the special holidays you can find
  • Events- Consider in-house, local or regional events
  • Sales-Include recurring events such as Black Friday
  • Product and feature launches-Accelerate the momentum around a product launch on social media
  • Themes- craft brand focused themes with social media in mind but avoid repetition

Create a colour code for coordination purposes

If you want to track your content manoeuvres, go for a differentiating colour code. When you colour code, it’s easy to keep tabs on different events, promotions or campaigns. This is the only guarantee that you’ll never mix things up.

Establish a Social Media Posting Pace

If your content is continually showing up before your audience’s eyes, engaging them will be a breeze. Even if you’re promoting different content types other than blog posts, you need to maintain a constant tempo. Publish on multiple platforms but space it out to generate higher visibility.

So, how often should you post? This question doesn’t come with a definite answer. Do your research well, leverage highly performing content and adjust based on your findings.

How to Make a Social Media Calendar

By now, we can agree that no social media marketing strategy will work without a content calendar. Remember, there are rules to follow. You cannot dive in blindly without understanding your audience, platform, intended topics and all the missing gaps. But here’s how you can get started.

Define your audience

If you cannot define your audience, you bet it will be a nightmare making any subsequent step. It’s not complicated. All you need is to build specific personas. You can highlight your audience’s significant segments while displaying their pain points, needs, preferred social channels, demographics, and media habits.

Outline your goals

Even before you map out your content, you need to ask what the main goal is. The answer you come up with will help to determine the best channel and format to leverage. Check whether you’re creating content to generate new leads, draw website traffic elevate visibility or grow your social media following.

Remember, your goals determine who, when and how you’ll be publishing content. Like me, consider setting goals as the critical step towards the implementation of the content calendar.

Create a Calendar Template

Are you having problems finding a suitable calendar template? Relax. There’s a whole lot of tools and templates you can exploit. If the complicated tools seem overwhelming, there’s no error in going with the excel sheets for starters.

If you’re planning the content calendar on a company-wide basis, consider having a share button. This assists in sharing and brainstorming of new ideas.

An ideal template needs to showcase several aspects, such as:

  • Preferred publishing channel
  • Post topic
  • Content-type
  • Publishing date or timeline
  • Entity or person in charge
  • Follow up procedure

Select Your Channels

Take time and research the channels that your prospects prefer. It makes it easy to identify the content you should focus on. For instance, you need to define whether you’ll be publishing blog posts, posting images on Instagram or videos on YouTube. There are benefits associated with leveraging multiple channels. However, ensure that you have the resources to invest on the channels you’ve chosen.

One more secret, don’t go for quantity at the expense of quality.

Monitor Your Competitors

The social media marketing arena is teeming with competition. But it won’t hurt to take a peek at what your rivals are doing. Wait, don’t copy and paste their strategy. All I’m saying is, assess how they’re doing it and borrow some wisdom especially if they’re already steps ahead of you. Always check their posting strategy in different platforms and strive towards keeping up or bating them altogether.

What to Include In A Social Media Content Calendar?

Yes, you’ve already leveraged the different workflow and strategy tools to manage your social media content calendars. But did you know that the tools aren’t as important as their capacity and ease of use? So what should they help you to compile in a given calendar?

1.Relevant headlines

Writing a post headline is almost 80% of the work done. If you didn’t know, the kind of headline you craft is the deciding factor whether your audience will want to go on. It’s okay to use generic headlines for the pre-planning phases. However, when you start crafting the actual piece, you’ll need to make the headlines shine.

2. Day of the week

No doubt, you can use days of the week to add some spice into your content calendar. In fact, you have encountered day inspired hashtags that are always the rage.  The celebrated #TBT or #TGIF are some examples.

3. Date and timing of a post

It may seem instinctive but organising your content chronologically is a no brainer. If you ignore it, you’re likely to lose focus of your weekly or monthly schedules. The chronological aspect enables you to identify the posting frequency and the perfect times to feed your audience with content.

4. Specific messages for distinct channels

You already know that social media channels aren’t made the same. It applies in this context. The content you purpose for twitter may not suffice if you were to post it on FACEBOOK. Always adapt the post copy to fit specific platforms.

5. A hashtag library

It’s almost impossible to manage trending hashtags manually. In fact, it can be the reason why you’re always using bland hashtags for all your pieces. Fret not. You can turn this around by having a well-organised hashtag library for essential posts. And sure, it saves you time and leaves you with a variety of magnetic hashtags.

6. Compelling CTAs

Let me ask are you curating content to draw traffic and drive conversions? Then, why not include a call-to-action. If you ignore CTAs in your content (Blog, Video, Infographics), you lose a superb chance to boost your ROI.

How to Manage Social Media Content with Progressive Calendar Templates

As a marketer, you’re always juggling different channels, and new ones are cropping up all the time. If you were to manage content manually, you bet it would be overwhelming. Thanks to content calendars, you can now leverage your dream template to ensure every post is aligned to your prospects.

Other than easy collaboration and tweaking on the go, the perfect social media calendar template can help you to:

  • Craft and run a seamless content schedule

An ideal template gives you clarity on the type of posts to be published when and where. It lets you position every post while spelling out the perfect publishing channel. These templates do the heavy lifting when it comes to sharing your calendar with team players.

  • Simplify the posting process

Using a calendar template, it’s easy to customise, drag and drop tasks to the right date category. As long as you can clarify your channel of choice, it won’t be challenging to take action on hot trends. In fact, you don’t have to spend time logging in and out. Your content will be channelled to the platform you specified automatically.

  • Reduce repetition

Using the right template, you can create and designate your content on one dashboard. These tools offer a multitasking effect, so you don’t keep reminding your team about the specific tasks they’re supposed to execute.

How to Create a Social Media Calendar That Delivers

Do you know that not every social medial content calendar works? If you doubt it, try adding a batch of posts and dates randomly and see what happens. The calendar you create needs a strategy to return expected results, but how do you do it.

Assess Existing Social Media Processes

Don’t waste time adding content on your calendar if you don’t know where you stand. Reviewing these processes tell you whether you’re making a positive or negative impact out there. You can start by:

Weighing Your Social Media Accounts

Analyse their performance, status and standing. This lets you determine whether they’re driving your brand’s agenda.

Mark fake accounts for deletion

If you didn’t know, unscrupulous people will create fake accounts to derail and harm your reputation. The only remedy is to identify them and delete them to avoid future damage

Tune Posting Frequency

It goes without saying. You need to evaluate the frequency of posting for each account. Always check and modify where possible. If the three posts on Twitter aren’t working, consider reinforcing them. Also, take stock of the content you’ve posted. It helps you to identify content alternatives that could perform better or the best times to post.

Assigning roles

After accomplishing the above, consider having gatekeepers. Or better still, you’ll need to appoint specific people to oversee certain tasks on your platforms. With a clear-cut list of responsible staffs, you’ll know who to contact if there are issues that need addressing or remedies.

Verify Platform Demographic

Don’t get it wrong.  Before you start working on the actual calendar, scrutinise the demographics therein. Some observations to make include the average age, online habits or preferences. Some platforms appeal more to the young one than older users. Remember, you’ll be doing this to post content that’s perfectly tailored to such an audience.

Adjust Your Calendar to Match brand Requirements

Its common knowledge that you’ll need specific details on the calendar. Always check what your brand requires. You can do basics such as the channel to use, date of posting, time, caption, or video content to upload. Other brands might want a more elaborate approach. Be cautious and provide everything that your social marketing team needs to plan and schedule content efficiently.

Add Rules

Social media accounts serve to amplify your overall marketing efforts. As such, working with a team is imperative. However, incorporate some rules to keep everybody focused. You can set rules to govern:

  • Your captions or distinct social media voice.
  • Uniformity with your colour schemes right from the template. It enhances brand identification.
  • Content proposals and the approving authority
  • Comment response
  • Access to your social media channels

Tactics That Help To Step Up Your Social Media Content Calendar Game

Social media is an ever-evolving arena. For your anticipated content calendar strategy to work, you can leverage tactics for it to bear fruits. Here are some:

Deliver Quality Not Quantity

It can be overemphasised. Even when the trends keep changing, you are likely to lose if you’re providing low rated content. It’s the surest way of turning of the prospects you’re trying to attract. The secret is to provide valuable, informative and purposeful content.

Leverage Video Trends

Your content schedule needs to involve more visual content; not just text. It’s a content calendar thing but make sure to impact what you schedule. It’s where videos come into your rescue.

Research Data

Don’t create your content calendar if it’s not research-backed. It might seem disjointed, but you’ll optimise the overall social media marketing strategy in the mix. Consider scheduling content that speaks to your audience on top converting platforms. You can only enjoy such heads up if your content calendar comprises perfectly-researched market data.

Go For Valuable Platforms

New social media platforms emerge daily. But not to your advantage per se. What you need to do is prioritise on the platform that delivers gold using your tested tactics. In fact, jumping at every social wagon on the way threatens to spread you a little too thin.

Craft a Evocative Brand Narrative

Crafting a compelling brand story and incorporating into your content calendar is the way to go. Don rely on product messaging alone. The content you curate, or schedule needs to be emotive and inspiring. It’s what draws the traffic from the competition and locks them into your brand-for keeps.

Work with Industry Influencers

The new-age platforms are always building strong followership by engaging industry influencers. Leave the conventional social advertising realm and schedule some influencer endorsed content on your calendar. You can thank me later. Oh, and don’t forget, there are emerging technologies to leverage. You only need to be flexible.

Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Social Media Content Calendars

Social media content calendars automate your publishing workflow. In fact, nothing does it better. The one thing you cannot afford to do is rolling out the process on autopilot. So what are the mistakes you need to avoid?

1.Failure to Customise Posts for Different Platforms

If you’re the kind that wants to publish the same monotonous post on all platforms, you’re heading the wrong way. Stop and consider customising posts to fit a given platform. Don’t forget to capitalise on a platform and caption’s functionality in a way that appeals to your buyer personas.

2. Listing Posts Individually

Automating and scheduling posts in advance frees up a lot of time. If you schedule every post at a time, you won’t save time. Always go for bulk publishing. You can upload as many posts as planned and enjoy your free time doing other things that matter.

3. Publishing Content Once

You might think it doesn’t work but retrieving previous posts and refreshing them comes with benefits. Always publish your evergreen posts tactfully over some time. This way, you won’t miss out on visibility.

4. Ignoring Platform Posting Rules

Each platform you intend to leverage for your posts comes with rules. Always learn the rules in place to avoid consequences. Forget spamming or exploiting multiple profiles just to get seen. Also, make sure you’re posting unique content, not fake content for click baits.

5. Disregarding Image Optimisation

Whatever the post you schedule, you might want to reinforce it with an image. However, always optimise such pictures to avoid graphical or text errors after publishing. There are numerous graphic apps you can leverage in this regard.

6. Ignoring Team’s Consent

You know you can automate your social media content in a flash. In haste, you’ll forget to acknowledge what others in the team have to say. That’s a grave but avoidable mistake. Listening to these approvals stems the possibility of making disastrous mistakes when the content goes live.

Examples of Social Media Content Calendar Software

Social media management software brings on board excellent capabilities for your calendar. They can provide a range of functionalities including direct publishing, integrated reporting, content automation, workflow management and the like. The good news is that there are applications that fit small and big enterprises. Take a look at some examples.

Coschedule How to Plan a Great Social Media Calendar

CoSchedule

CoSchedule ranks as an efficient time saving and easy to integrate tool. It enables companies to create and publish on social media simultaneously. Its ReQueue Bucket feature allows you to re-purpose content automatically. Additionally, the Top Content Report functionality lets you find content with high engagement ratios.

Pros:

  • Comes with unique headline analyser and collaboration tools
  • Allows multiple social media account management
  • Easy to use
  • Integrates easily with Google Calendar WordPress, Social Media

Cons:

  • No free version
  • Co-Schedule pricing starts at $40/month.

Sprout Social How to Plan a Great Social Media Calendar

Sprout Social

Sprout Social enables businesses to strategise and capture attention on its rich integrated platform.  It lets you publish and analyse the go through its reliable mobile app. it’s the best tool for multitasking between media scheduling, content organisation, monitoring and tracking.

Pros:

  • Offers CRM-like features
  • Excellent reporting capability
  • Seamless integration with google analytics and other applications

Sprout social pricing starts at $99/month, and it comes with a 30-day free trial.

Agora Pulse How to Plan a Great Social Media Calendar

Agora Pulse

Agora Pulse is an all-inclusive management platform that presents top of the class content planning, deployment and reporting features. It offers superior competitor analysis and Facebook contest capabilities.

Pros:

  • It’s affordable
  • Easy navigation
  • Enables cross-platform scheduling
  • Seamless Facebook and Twitter integration
  • Compatible with iOS and Android mobile apps

Agora pulse pricing starts at $99 for the medium plan to the enterprise package for $499/month.

Content Cal How to Plan a Great Social Media Calendar

ContentCal

ContentCal emphasises on visual aspect of your calendar so you can view them at once. The tool lets you remove or customise your image-focused content using the Approval workflows feature. Its intuitive Planning Channels capability lets you manage multiple channels when scheduling content. It doubles up as a content planning and scheduling application.

Pros:

  • User-friendly-no learning curve
  • Enables efficient content scheduling for multiple channels
  • Help re-purpose content easily
  • Offers easy team collaboration

ContentCal pricing starts at $17/month, and there’s a free version.

Meet Edgar How to Plan a Great Social Media Calendar

MeetEdgar

MeetEdgar is an intuitive social media planning tool that can curate content AI-style. The application employ algorithms to deploy content that drives engagement. It enables you to schedule based on categories or content designation. It’s a cloud-based tool that facilitates cross-platform content scheduling and publishing.

Pros:

  • Offers 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Easy to set up calendars
  • Unlimited content library
  • Work with up to 25 accounts

Cons:

Limited, single pricing point

Limited integrations

MeetEdgar pricing comes with a fixed $49/month package.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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