Social media marketing should be an important part of every company’s marketing strategy. However, creating enough content to post is challenging for many businesses.
The key to curating enough content and having successful results on social media is planning ahead.
This planning is made easy using a social media content calendar. A content calendar helps you organize your ideas and assets.
Planning ahead with a calendar also encourages idea generation sessions and makes scheduling and reviewing posts easy.
Continue reading for more benefits of using a social media content calendar and how to create one of your own.
Why Use A Social Media Content Calendar?
Content calendars are essential for anyone planning social media content. They help you organize your ideas and assets making scheduling and posting easy.
Content calendars also help you to:
You should be planning social media content a month or two in advance. This planning should take place earlier for big events, promotions, and holidays.
Using a social media content calendar helps you plan all of this content in advance. By dedicating a time each month to content planning, you make generating social media content easier.
This ensures you have all your content planned, scheduled, and ready to go. You therefore won’t be scrambling for post ideas each day.
Having content planned means you can focus on other tasks without having to stop to think of ideas and post to social.
Following a schedule and posting consistently is important to achieving your social media goals.
Consistent posting is the key to high engagement which in turn will lead to higher organic reach.
Planning and scheduling all of your posts ahead of time, ensures that you consistently have content to post on your platforms.
Reduce The Chance Of Mistakes
Planning and scheduling posts gives you time to copy-edit and fact check them before they go live. It also gives the option for multiple team members to check the posts.
Some platforms do allow editing of posts once live. However, it looks bad to have mistakes even for a short amount of time. There’s also the risk that mistakes never get noticed.
Other platforms, like Twitter, do not allow for editing once a post is live making pre-checking even more important.
Undertake Additional Social Media Promotions
Having your daily posts planned and scheduled allows for planning of additional social media promotions. This includes starting influencer partnerships and running contests.
It also allows you to keep track of relevant trending content during the month and incorporate that on-the-fly.
Having posts planned and scheduled also opens up time for creating content you cannot create in advance and/or schedule like live content.
Keep Track Of Important Events And Holidays
Planning in advance helps you remember important events, holidays, and special days relevant to your brand. In the planning stage, use online calendars to get event and holiday dates.
Along with getting a general events calendar, you can find monthly calendars relevant to your industry. You can even get daily emails telling you what special days are coming up.
Track What Works And Improve
Having a content calendar is not just good for planning. It helps you track results too.
You can include a section in your calendar for metrics. It’s then easy to see the performance of each post as you go through the month.
If certain posts are not doing well, you can adjust similar posts. Equally, if some posts are doing very well for achieving certain goals, add some more of that style post to your schedule.
How To Create A Social Media Content Calendar
So how do you create a social media calendar? To have the most success, you need to do more than just create a calendar. You need to assess your current social media success and set goals.
Along with generating a calendar template, you’ll also need to set up a planning and approval workflow.
Finally you can plan content ideas and populate your calendar with these ideas and related assets.
To achieve this, follow these 7 steps to create a content calendar that will give you the best results!
1. Audit Your Social Media Channels
Before you begin planning content, you need to know how your current social media efforts are going.
You should really be constantly tracking post and account performance and adjusting as needed. Full social media audits should be conducted every quarter or every 6 months.
You’ll want to look at metrics such as link clicks, reach, likes, and shares on each post. When doing so, consider:
- Which posts have been performing best for your goals?
- Which have not been as successful?
- What opportunities for improvement are there?
Also look at your follower numbers and how they have grown or decreased over time.
Setting Social Media Goals
Make sure you set goals for your social media efforts. These should vary for each account. Some common goals include reaching set targets for:
- Engagement (link clicks, comments, likes, shares, mentions)
Before you begin planning content, you need to know how your current social media efforts are going.
2. Create A Social Media Content Calendar Template
You now need to think about the calendar template itself. You need to decide where the calendar will live. As well as what will be tracked in the document.
Depending on your needs, some options as to where to create the calendar include:
An online calendar
For example, you can set up your calendar as a Google Sheet. Allowing for the benefits of an online calendar with the freedom to use whatever layout you like.
A Microsoft Excel calendar
This is a good option if your company requires you to save the entire document to their internal server.
A paper calendar
If you prefer writing down ideas this is a good option. If you do not need much content and work alone this could be enough for you.
If you do need one of the above options too, using a paper calendar can be good for the first planning stage.
You can then move information to your main calendar, adding in resources like image links as needed.
Social Media Content Calendar Headings
Once you decide on where your calendar will be stored, you need to decide on what fields or headings you need included.
Common Content Calendar Headings Include:
- Copy: so you can insert the caption copy you will use.
- Image or Video: you can add a link to the image or video you will use. You should be storing these assets in cloud storage which provides you with a direct link to the asset. Also note if the asset needs to be created and who will create it. Set a deadline date for each piece of content creation, in the calendar and/or on a task management platform.
- Content Link: include a URL if applicable. For example, if you are promoting a product page or new blog post. If the link is yet to be created, make a note to get the link sent to you when the page is live.
- Hashtags: include any hashtags you will be using if not in the caption copy. For example, if you are putting relevant hashtags in a comment.
- Date of post
- Time of post
- Post category: either use a heading and write the category or color code the info for each post.
- Platform to post on: this could be a heading but ideally create a new tab for each platform.
- Post format: make a note of what type of post it is. For example, main feed, story, poll, quiz etc.
You may also want to include:
- The campaign that the post associated with: For example, label that it is part of a new product launch campaign or that it is intended to increase brand awareness.
- If the post is paid or organic: If it is paid, what is the budget?
- If the post been approved
- A link to the post once published
- Analytics on the post’s performance
3. Set Up A Workflow
Before you start planning and scheduling posts, set up a workflow structure. This includes considering:
- The number of times you’ll want to be posting each day/week/month.
- Which times you will be posting at. You can use analytics from each platform to see which times and days are best for posting. You can adjust as you go if you notice interaction is actually better at different times
- What is your content calendar planning process going to be like and who will be involved?
Content Planning Process
In relation to the third point on your planning process, additionally consider:
- When you will plan each month
- Who you will plan post ideas with, if anyone
- Who will set up and schedule posts
- Who will approve posts
- Where posts will be scheduled
- Who you will need to work with outside of your department. For example, the graphic design department for infographics or video production for video content
4. Plan Social Media Content
Now that you have your goals, workflow, and calendar template decided, it is time to start planning your social media content.
The Rule of Thirds
Begin your planning by deciding content categories and what ratios you will post these in. For example, for every promotional post, you need two engagement posts.
A good guideline for this is to use the rule of thirds. This rule states that your social media content should be made up of:
- ⅓ promotional posts
- ⅓ industry insight and content sharing. This relates to sharing valuable content from others in your industry. This can include collaboration with industry experts or influencers and re-shares of content other’s created (with permission or credit.)
- ⅓ posts to engage with your followers. To build and humanize your brand.
Next, mark off important dates on the calendar and generate post ideas for these themed posts.
These include upcoming:
Promotions: make sure you know want promos you are running and include them in planning. Includes sales, special offers, contests etc. Note down anything that needs to be promoted in the month you are working on (communicate with other departments for this) too. For example, if there is a sale in the middle of the month, you will want to plan promotional posts around that.
Product Launches: also find out what launches or other product/company news is upcoming
Holidays: You will probably remember to plan for big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas but there are “holidays” every day! Many of which could be relevant to you. Use a website like National Calendar Day to see which unique days are coming up. You can also get an email from them each day with the next days holidays.
Events: these could be industry-specific, local, national, or international
Other Types Of Social Media Posts
Finally, fill in the rest of the space with other ideas to reach the number of posts you need. Plan for the ideal number of posts you want each month. Even if something else comes up to post, like a trending story, some planned evergreen posts can be rescheduled.
Some social media post idea include:
- Blog post shares (if blog posts are created, ensure they are shared when first published and then again at intervals with a new caption)
- Shares of other content created by your brand, such as YouTube videos
- Polls and quizzes
- Questions for your followers to answer (great for engagement)
- User generated content
- Shares/re-posts of relevant and useful industry content
Social Media Content Planning Collaboration
Encourage other departments to think about social media content in advance too. Being asked to post about something by another department day-of or with just a few days’ notice is frustrating.
Having a set time each month for idea contribution helps avoid this. Tell other employees how and when to submit ideas in order to include them in your monthly content plan.
Once idea creation is completed and in an easy to understand format, get your post ideas reviewed.
Even if you don’t need official approval, getting a team member to take a look can help with additional idea generation and edits.
Encourage other departments to think about social media content in advance too.
5. Create Social Media Posts
Once you have your post ideas. You can start creating the posts. Most posts will include a combination of copy, image or video, and possibly a link.
Use the following guidelines for each post component:
Each social media platform has different guidelines for creating the best captions. Use the following guidelines when creating your copy:
Facebook allows for higher word count but still try to keep it short. Around 110 to 150 characters is good.
You can use a hashtag every now. They don’t have much effect though on Facebook so are not necessary for every post.
Twitter has a maximum character count of 280 characters. However, tweets of around 90 to 100 perform best.
Using a few hashtags (around 2 to 4) can be beneficial but these will count as part of your 280 characters.
On Instagram opt for around 220 to 240 characters. Remember links are placed in bio, so direct people there if sharing a URL.
Hashtags are still relevant on Instagram. Use between 10 and up to the max of 30 as long as relevant to the post and your brand.
You can include one or two hashtags in the caption if relevant. Then add in a comment or under the main caption. Don’t be afraid to use some emojis too!
Use between 140 to 125 characters for pin descriptions. Pin copy should be directing viewers to a website location with content relevant to the image used.
Hashtags are not very effective on this platform so can be left out. Focus on including keywords in your copy. Pins are found in the discover feed and through searches so keywords are important.
Using 90 to 150 characters for LinkedIn captions generally has gives the best results. Hashtags and emojis should be avoided.
A lot of LinkedIn posts will be used to shares links to your own or other’s content. So the caption simply needs to be a brief description of the content.
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Images and Video
Along with copy, you will need to source (or create) images or videos that will accompany the post.
Start by determining:
- What assets you have
- What needs to be found online (ex. On a stock image website or from UGC)
- What needs to be requested from others (for example, if you’re collaborating or doing a sponsored post for another brand)
- What needs to be created (by you or others on your team)
Image and video guidelines for the major social media platforms are as follows:
Posts with images perform better than text alone. Good quality video performs well for engagement.
Images and videos help tweets perform well but still include some text-only tweets.
Images and video are necessary! Short video is good to include but always make use of image posts too. That is unless video is very important to your brand and is high-quality. For example, if you are a video production company.
Images are also necessary for Pinterest. You need to use high-quality images (to encourage clicks and “pins” on the viewer’s boards.) Make sure you use an image related to your description and the link included in that description.
Images can help posts stand out on LinkedIn as long as they are relevant and professional. A lot of LinkedIn posts are content shares. For those posts, an image from the content is usually pulled automatically.
Each platform has different image dimensions so check those and edit images as needed.
Once you have the required visual content, upload it into a social media content library (explained below.) Label with relevant information and/or store in a relevant folder.
You can then get links to these images and videos from the storage location to place in the image/video field of your content calendar.
Conversion based posts will require a link. This would be for any post attempting to get the viewer to another location online.
It could be a blog post page, another of your social accounts, product page, special offer landing page etc.
It’s a good idea to use tracking links for social media posts. This is especially true if you’re hoping for direct sales conversions. For example, sales from a post promoting a new product.
You can see from analytics how many people clicked on a link. Tracking links will then track their activity after they click the link on social and reach your landing page.
You can easily see not only how many people clicked the link but also how many completed the desired end action.
If you have a high number of link clicks on the social post but few conversions, you may need to adjust your landing page.
If links are very long or if you do use tracking links (which are often long and contain random numbers and letters) consider using a link shortener.
Some scheduling tools like Hootsuite offer the option to shorten links when you schedule the post. Or you can find free online tools to do so.
6. Create A Social Media Content Library
It’s best to house all social media assets like images, videos, etc. in one place.
Storing all assets in one place saves time when looking for assets and allows for a direct link to the asset to be placed in your content calendar document.
Ideally use cloud based storage. You should have a lot of assets and won’t want them taking up space on devices.
Using cloud storage also lowers the risk of losing these assets too. It additionally makes it easy for your whole team to access the assets and add to them.
A content library should:
Be accessible from all devices (desktop, phone, tablet.)
Be accessible by any team member that needs access.
Be able to hold a large amount of files.
Provide file and folder links to place in your calendar.
You can also use your company’s internal network although that may not provide all the aspects listed above.
7. Schedule Social Media Posts
Although you can plan your calendar and publish each post day-of, using a scheduling tool is the best idea.
Some benefits of scheduling posts include:
- It allows for checking of posts in advance, reducing errors.
- It ensures all planned posts are set up and actually get posted.
- It allows for posting at the most optimal times, even if these aren’t during working hours.
If possible, set a day (or however much time you will need) aside for scheduling.
If you can’t do all your scheduling at once and/or are waiting for a lot of assets, you could schedule at intervals. For example, scheduling a week of posts at a time.
Some third-party scheduling tools will also have a limit to the number of posts you can schedule posts depending on the version you have.
For example, Hootsuite’s free version limits you to scheduling 30 posts at one time. So scheduling at intervals would likely be necessary.
Social Media Scheduling Platforms
Facebook offers in-platform scheduling but most social media platforms don’t.
This means that scheduling software is necessary. Most scheduling platforms also include more in-depth analytics and additional useful features.
There are many options to choose from. Do some research on the best platform for your needs and budget.
If you aren’t sure where to start, consider the following three most popular social media scheduling platforms:
Hootsuite is one of the most well known social media management platforms. It integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.
You can set up a free account that allows you to connect three social media platforms and schedule a total of 30 posts at one time.
Their Professional plan allows for 10 social media accounts to be connected and unlimited scheduling at $29 a month.
You can upgrade to a Team or Business account for $129 and $599 per month respectively. These allow for more accounts to be connected and multiple users to be able to use the platform at once.
Along with scheduling, Hootsuite offers analytics and content and team management tools.
Buffer is another popular platform. Buffer integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Their free account allows for the connection of three social media accounts but just 10 scheduled posts.
A Pro account is $15 a month. Eight accounts can be connected and 100 posts scheduled at one time.
Premium and Business accounts are $65 and $99 per month respectively. Both allow for 2,000 scheduled posts at a time, additional users, and eight and 25 connected accounts respectively.
Buffer also offers team management and features like scheduling first comments and scheduling Instagram stories.
Sprout Social is a good option for more those looking for analytics and social listening tools as well as publishing tools.The platform connects with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
A Standard account is $99 a month and allows you to connect 5 accounts. Upgrade to a Professional account for $149 a month to connect 10 social media accounts.
This option also offers more in-depth reporting and analytics. Both types of account come with a built in content calendar tool as well.
We hope this helped you understand how to create a social media content calendar along with the importance of planning social media promotions in advance.
Not only will you save time and always have content to post but you should see improved results. You will also have more time to focus on other promotions and tasks.
Are you looking to improve your social media content and posting consistency but need some help? Reach out to Brand Hause!
Social media is more than just getting followers. If you aren’t sure what your goals are or you don’t know where to start, we can help!