Social media has become an essential marketing strategy for many businesses. It’s free, puts your brand in front of huge numbers of people and is seen as extremely easy to use. However, managing multiple social media accounts can become overwhelming which is where creating a social media content calendar can help.
What is a social media content calendar?
In simple terms, a social media content calendar is a timeline of all the posts you have planned for your social media accounts. It’s a way of organising, by date, the content you plan to post, keeping track of deadlines and ensuring that you create everything in time. If you’re managing multiple social media accounts, content calendars are extremely useful.
There are lots of different ways to create a content calendar:
- Pen and paper (sometimes annotating a printed calendar)
- Excel spreadsheets
- Google drive and Google calendar
- Social media schedulers such as Hootsuite or Later
- Online planners such as Trello or Asana
You’ll also come across a variety of templates, but the type of information collated usually includes details of the social media platform (Instagram, Twitter, etc), date and time of the post, content type (blog post, video, image, etc), topic and any links. To give you an example, Hootsuite has a free Google sheets template which you can access via this link.
The benefits of using a social media content calendar
Using a social media content calendar helps you to plan and stay organised. Without it, you’re more likely to miss important days, forget to post or scrabble around for last minute ideas when work gets busy.
- Saving time by being organised
A content calendar will free up your time to spend on other tasks. Once you know what you’ll be posting over the month, you can schedule when to gather relevant images or videos and write captions in bulk which helps to keep you focused and in the zone. Auto-publishing via a scheduler will save even more time – our blog post ‘Social media tips for businesses’ has information on scheduling software.
- Managing multiple social media accounts
Planning custom posts for each social media account will help you avoid being repetitive, thus maximising your efforts. It’s also a great way to brainstorm new ideas and mix evergreen posts (information which stays fresh over a period of time) with timely content. When posts are planned in advance, it’s easy to see exactly what still needs creating.
- Never miss important dates
A good content calendar will have details of key dates throughout the year (such as holidays or national awareness days) to ensure you never miss those which are relevant to your business. Using key dates is a great way to come up with new ideas. For example, a charity may wish to thank volunteers during volunteering week, linking to a relevant page on their website. The hashtags used on those days can also bring new people to your account.
- Getting your timing right
Poorly timed posts which miss when your followers are online will have lower engagement and, as a result, lower reach so use your content calendar to schedule the best time to post. You can also use it to devise a consistent posting schedule (important for engagement) and ensure that you’re not forgetting to add new content on a regular basis.
How to create your social media content calendar
To get the most out of using a content calendar, we recommend going through the following steps:
- Choose your social media platforms
When developing your strategy, it’s not enough to pick the social media platforms you enjoy the most. Consider your target audience, and where you can find them on social media, to identify which your business should be using. Next, check your analytics to see which of your accounts has grown in the last year, where most of your web traffic is coming from and whether one has a more active audience than another to ensure the best return for your efforts.
- Know what content your audience will enjoy
By auditing which of your previous posts have the highest engagement and whether certain content is more popular (eg. video, information, blog, etc), you can determine what sort of posts will work best in the future. It’s also useful to know when your audience is most active on each platform and how often they like seeing updates from you. If you’re new to social media and don’t have this information to hand, try researching your competitors.
- Build a realistic posting schedule
The best posting frequency is the one you can realistically stick with over time. Decide how often and when you’re going to post, then plan content for a month in advance. Doing this will give you enough time to pull everything together (eg. plan your summer school holiday content around late May). Try alternating days on different accounts to maximise reach and, when posting on the same topic, use slightly different images and words to avoid looking repetitive.
- Create your content
Once you have a plan in place for the next month, you can start pulling together the actual content. Use a social media scheduler (eg. Hootsuite, Later, Planoly, etc) or Google Drive to create a library of images and begin writing captions. If you’re working as a team, you can use shared drives to review work prior to publishing or scheduling your posts.
- Review and update
When your content calendar is up and running, it’s important to keep an eye on your analytics to find out what’s working and what may need tweaking. Then use this information to update your calendar and plan content for subsequent months.
An effective social media strategy needs regular posts and engagement in order to achieve the results you desire, whether that’s lead generation, brand recognition or SEO. Reacting to live events and breaking news on your social media accounts keeps things interesting, but it can be exhausting to manage all your content in such an ad-hoc way.
Creating a calendar of content which your audience wants to read will save you time and headaches when you’re struggling for ideas. A list of evergreen post topics will also help you to quickly come up with new topics when the creative juices run dry.
However, it’s important to remember that a big part of social media is about creating connections, so make sure you’re engaging with your followers on a regular basis.
If you’d like to talk about your marketing strategy and how The Business Village can help your business, get in touch with Kevin Steel here.