You don’t need to be told: social media is an asset to any inbound marketing expert. Yet, with so many social networks to manage and publish on, haphazard posting does not work. It’s a waste of your time and resources.
So how do you ensure you’re sharing the right content at the right time? If you are, is it optimized for engagement on each channel? What’s more, are you sharing it on the right channel?
Above all, how do you ensure that you stay organized and have a plan for when and what you’re going to share on these platforms?
Simple: you create a social media content calendar.
A social media content calendar is a crucial tool for anyone involved in content creation and promotion.
Having one is a surefire way to up your game. It will help you organize your social media activities far in advance, making it easier to coordinate campaigns, grow your reach, and scale your social media marketing.
What’s more, having to tap your creativity daily can feel daunting, if not impossible. But a social media content calendar will not only give you a scratch pad of great ideas, but it will also give you a solid framework to carry you through those days when your creative genies just aren’t responding.
Read on and I’ll show you how to create one.
Oh, and I’ve included a free social media content calendar template to get you started–but only if you stick till the end!
But first, let’s review the compelling reasons to invest in this tool, to begin with.
What is a social media content calendar?
A social media content calendar maps out all your social activities, giving you a chance to monitor your progress and leverage what works for you.
It serves as a spreadsheet or application to schedule social media posts in advance and ensures that your social media posts follow a particular publishing routine.
You can use it to plan when and which content you will share on which platform, manage campaigns, and set deadlines. It could appear as a spreadsheet, Google calendar, or interactive dashboard in terms of appearance and structure.
Basic features of a social media calendar
- It shows the exact date and time the post will be published.
- It shows the social media networks and accounts where the post will be published.
- It shows the creative assets of the post; which could be photos or videos.
- It shows the links and tags to be included in the post.
- It shows any other relevant information like notes or comments
Your social media calendar can include one or many social media channels depending on what you want to achieve.
Why use a social media content calendar?
Before you dig into the steps in creating a social media calendar, it is important to understand how much of a difference it will make for your social strategy.
So, why should you bother using a social media calendar in the first place?
Truth is, there are lots of reasons. But a well-designed calendar:
Saves you time
Let’s not miss words. Time is a valuable factor.
Working on improving your social results requires that you maximize your time as much as you can by scheduling work ahead of time while focusing on other ways to better improve your brand.
The idea here is, you’re saving time by being organized; when you use a social media calendar, you would avoid multitasking and have the time to build up your creative ideas.
But that’s not the end of it…
Helps you maintain a consistent posting routine
Posting consistently is the key to breaking into good traffic and getting legit die-heart followers.
Here’s the thing.
The more often you post, the more you engage your audience with your brand. What’s more, the more intriguing content you produce, the more people see, take interest, and connect with your brand. This is how you build organic content. There are no two ways around it.
When you stock up your social media calendar with posts ahead of time, you will be able to post regularly and timely. This is all necessary to keep your social media accounts active and alive.
Besides, who loves a passive and dead social media account? I’m guessing that’s not you.
If you’re only posting when you feel like it (in other words, you’re struggling with posting consistently):
Reduces the risk of costly mistakes
It is easy to make a post with unverified facts when you have very little time on your hands. With a social media calendar, content stands on the waiting list for days or even weeks and it is possible to identify an error before content is published through numerous reviews.
Clears space to set bigger targets
You can’t be thinking of setting up a contest, getting sponsors, linking up with another brand, influencer partners, and many more step-up deals when you still have your head stuck up with groundwork.
You need your social media calendar to clear the space for you to set bigger goals or hit bigger targets.
Allows you to follow relevant trends
Catching on to the most trendy events related to your brand can give a real boost to your social media results entirely. A social media calendar allows you to tactfully monitor global moments that are relevant to your brand’s audience.
Helps you create high-quality content
There’s a lot of content on the web with millions of blogs releasing content to the web daily. With the surplus of content on the web, quality and value determine who wins the game.
In fact, high-quality content is the lifeblood of any successful inbound marketing strategy. Wondering how to create this kind of content? Read this.
And you just can’t afford to be lazy with your content creation process. Or, will you?
A social media calendar clears up space and allows you to put your human and digital resources to the most efficient use. Your team will only do their best work when they can focus on longer-term goals.
Allows you to monitor progress and improve
You must keep working towards getting the best of what works. That could be finding the most engaging kind of content or the best time to post or even the format and frequency. With a social media calendar, you can schedule changes based on what your social media analytics tell you.
Ensures you’re striking a balance of content
It is possible to find yourself focusing so much on a particular topic and totally neglecting another. Your social media calendar will permit you to see if indeed you’re covering every topic.
It will also enable you to evaluate if you’re meeting your goals. Perhaps, you have been giving out only entertaining content and you decide to schedule more educative content for your audience.
Gives you space to catch up with the world around you
It’s easy to be drowned in so much work to the extent that you lose track of certain events like a friend’s baby shower or even a wedding. When you have your work totally planned out and your post scheduled on a routine, it becomes easy to escape that road of offending loved ones and friends simply because you couldn’t remember their ‘big day.’
How to create a social media content calendar
1. Perform an audit of your social media networks and content
This is the first and most critical step in creating a social media content calendar.
But what exactly is a social media audit?
An audit is an exquisite check of your social media account and its content. It’s a time-consuming process that involves gathering key information about your social media accounts that will enable you to identify what is working and what is not. You will also sort out outdated profiles, forgotten accounts, impostor accounts, and even fan accounts that may be crossing the line.
An audit ex-rays your social media strategy and shows you the fractures you may have to mend.
Truth is, not every platform works the same for every business. That’s why it’s important to review what’s working and what isn’t.
How to perform a social media audit
To perform an audit, you will have to do the following:
- Track your social media accounts: Search the web and different social media platforms for sites that reflect your brand.
- Watch out for unknown accounts: Those that could be run by impostors and follow up to shut them down. You may also find social networks where you don’t have an online presence and may consider adding them up to your social media marketing strategy.
- Profile and cover image check: Make sure the profile and cover images on your social media networks reflect your current brand.
- Sort out your best post: Identify posts that had the most likes, comments, and views. Such posts will guide you through knowing what works and what your brand’s audience finds engaging.
- Evaluate performance: You need to know how easy it is for visitors to find your platform. You can do this by using several devices to access your platform and see the ease or challenge that comes with it.
- Track your results: Do this for a period of time to spot regular seasonal variations.
- Draw out the profit margin: It is important to ensure that you’re getting results for what you’re putting into your social media strategy. You must balance how much you spend on social media versus how much value social media efforts actually add to your business.
- Know your audience: So you can better serve them. It’s also vital that you understand your audience for each network. This will guide you in knowing what kind of content they will find compelling. You can do this by looking at audience demographics, for example, most Twitter users are often older while most Snapchat users are made up of younger persons.
- Tighten your security standards: To avoid impostors and tighten security, it is necessary to establish media ownership. Every social platform should be properly managed by someone or a team taking full responsibility.
- Go over this process again until you’ve ticked everything and cleared them as OK. For one thing, you don’t want anything falling through the cracks.
Need more help in performing an audit? Neil Patel goes in-depth in this article and shows you how to perform an effective social media audit in just 30 minutes.
2. Choose your media channels
You cannot possibly use every social media channel you come across–that’s a surefire way to fail.
Choose those that work for you and are absolutely relevant to what you want to achieve. By looking at your target audience, your product, or your service, you will know the social media channel that will fit well into your marketing strategy.
Choosing your social media channels requires that you know your audience first and then deliver with regard to their needs.
3. Decide what kind of data your social media content calendar will track
Your database and its features will depend on what information you want your social media calendar to track down. It will also depend on how big or small your team is.
For example, if you’re running a blog that is just a small side hustle thing, you can go with a simple spreadsheet.
In the case where it’s a whole editorial team of 6 to 10 people, you would want a more elaborate database that shows who is handling what and when it has been scheduled for publishing.
The more the people on board, the more the need for more detailed features. Nonetheless, some basic details to begin with include:
- The Platform, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat.
- The Date
- The Time
- The Copy
- The Links (assets and published posts)
- The Visuals (images, videos, GIFs)
Your social media content calendar should be as detailed as indicating the specific format; whether it’s a feed post, ad, press release, or live stream.
It should also indicate what it is affiliated to, for example, it could be affiliated with a product launch. Then, you want to make sure your calendar tells you whether your post is paid or organic, posted or pending.
4. Use a content library
Keeping your visual content on your phone is not good enough. You need to keep your content in a well-designed structure like a media resource database or repository.
This is a more organized and traceable way to handle your content. If you’re going in for a content library or repository, make sure it has most or all of these features:
- Sufficient space for storing large files
- Accessibility from mobile devices and a computer
- Easy to share with your team members
- Provide space for links to personal files
A good example is Google Drive. You can use your Google Drive to store up your content, share files with your team, and co-edit content.
5. Set up a work plan
At this point, you want to set up a work plan that will show how often you want to post, when to post, the mode of communication among teammates, and who validates posts to be published in the different channels.
You will also want to structure how ideas for new content will be managed which includes assigning work. When you must have set up your work plan, keep it separately in an accessible place, perhaps another tap on your social media calendar.
6. Begin crafting your post
Pen down all your ideas, go through your calendar and add what you may find lacking or better still, take down unnecessary columns that may be repetitions of others.
If you’re running out of post ideas, you can look at these few ways to get social media content ideas.
7. Invite your team members to review
This is one of the most important steps. It’s from your team’s reviews that you will get the right feedback to improve on.
After you must have done all you could, it is important that you know how those who will be using the calendar–your team–feel about it.
For one thing, the contributions from the rest of your team will add up to improve your social media calendar and make it user-friendly for every member of your team. A few things you would want to get feedback on will include:
- Passwords: Does everyone have their passwords?
- Accessibility: Can every member access downloaded items and upload them?
- Profiles: Are members’ profiles up to date and accurate?
Pro tip: Even if you don’t have a team, you’re your own team. Consider yourself as a team member and design your calendar accordingly.
8. Publish or schedule posts
It hasn’t been easy getting to this point, but you did it. So start now and publish consistently. For you to schedule posts, you will need a calendar that has a scheduling function. This is particularly recommended because it completes the use of a social media content calendar.
For one thing, scheduling your posts through a scheduling tool will save you lots of time and hassle. You wouldn’t need to upload each post to each platform manually.
To get started with scheduling your social media content, use HubSpot’s Social Media Management Software to do the job.
Here are a few reasons I love this tool:
Run all your social media from one central location
With HubSpot, you can publish content to social networks from the same place you build campaigns. It helps you spend less time monitoring social media, and more time nurturing relationships.
Build campaigns and publish right to social
You can publish your content directly to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, or connect your social accounts to your blog and automatically share content as you publish. You also get suggestions for the best times to post so you can schedule content for the best times for your audience.
Easily monitor social media with keywords
HubSpot allows you to create keyword monitoring streams for people on your team so they can surface critical interactions, and trigger email alerts to your sales team when prospects mention a specific keyword.
Report social media ROI with ease
The best social reports compare the performance of different platforms, campaigns, and publishing times. With HubSpot, you can see the visits, leads, and customers social media is generating for your company.
For some reason, if you prefer other options, there are many other scheduling tools you can use: Hootsuite, Buffer, Later, SproutSocial, or Planoly.
Now, over to you!
Now, you are ready to create a social media content calendar.
No more haphazard and random posting.
But don’t forget that while it might seem very challenging at first, a social media calendar is like the brain of your entire social media strategy. And in no time, you would realize just how much of a difference it will make for your business.
A social media calendar is clearly indispensable to build a solid marketing plan, so get all the information you can and get started today.
BONUS TIP: Use a social media content calendar template
With so many different social networks to manage, it can be tricky and time-consuming to plan which content to share at what time, and on which platform.
Let’s face it, it’s 2021 and you shouldn’t be wasting valuable time creating a social media content calendar from scratch.
That’s why I’m giving you a free customizable social media content calendar that will allow you to organize your social media activities far in advance—making your social marketing more manageable, and more effective.
The template includes a monthly calendar, content repository, and space for scheduled updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. It also provides you with some helpful tips and tricks along the way as you create your calendar.
Get your FREE Social Media Content Calendar from HubSpot below: