The average social media marketer typically starts their day by scanning their social listening platform of choice, sharing a few interesting articles, thanking new followers, responding to online mentions, wondering where the past two hours went, and then starting the cycle all over again in a few hours.
They also mix in whatever requests land in their email inboxes from the PR and marketing teams. Unfortunately, this recurring set of activities isn’t a sustainable or efficient social media workflow. Having a casual approach to social media activities can make it nearly impossible to go on vacation. For these reasons and more, it’s important to create—and stick to—a social media calendar.
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A social media calendar is a working document used to schedule the social media content you will post across all of your platforms for the month, week, day, or even the time of day.
A calendar like this serves as a communication tool for post content (like pictures & video), the copy, hashtags, and tags that should be used for each post. Social media calendars are crucial because it allows you to plan and make sure that you send the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.
Preparing and following a content plan that you can schedule social media posts has many benefits, including:
- Aligning your long-term strategy
- Ensuring cohesion across platforms
- Enhancing your planning and time-management
There's more, so keep reading this post to get your social media marketing workflow right with a content calendar that includes a template.
Why You Need A Social Media Calendar
In today’s marketing landscape, social media management goes far beyond just posting content on Facebook and Twitter. It’s become very important to ensure that your brand’s social media presence and activity coordinates with other time-sensitive marketing activities like TV adverts and email campaigns.
Having a central place for different teams across your organization for social media content management allows you to better implement the strategies you have surrounding your social media marketing efforts. Whether you’re trying to increase engagement on your Instagram account or you’ve implemented social media objectives, one of the golden rules of social media is to post and schedule content on a consistent basis.
When your content consistently appears on your audience’s feed, it becomes much easier to create two-way engagement on social media. Impressive online engagement increases your organic reach through a platform’s algorithm, which means that your posts get shown to new people, and you're more likely to get more followers.
Another reason why you need a social media posting schedule is to become more organized. Who does want that? When you stick to a social media calendar, you're able to plan ahead, create large volumes of content and plan accordingly whilst avoiding multitasking.
Advantages of a Social Media Calendar
From saving you time to allowing you to align your content to your business objectives, let's explore the many advantages of planning out your content according to a social media content calendar.
1. You can share an engaging mix of content types
Once you start documenting social media content, you’ll notice posting patterns that lean towards sharing certain content types significantly more often than others. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with a perfect balance of audio, visual, and written content, a social media calendar makes sure you won’t accidentally leave out key content types that appeal to highly engaged customers or outspoken influencers.
Your social media posting schedule will definitely contain recurring elements. For example, you might share a new blog post each Wednesday and an inspiring image each Friday. Create placeholders in your social media calendar for these recurring activities so that you can effectively plan around them.
If you know you have a new blog post every Wednesday, you can plan a lot of content around it each week. Here’s an example of what we mean:
Weekly blog post content workflow:
- Post the blog on your website
- Share the blog on your social media accounts
- Add the blog to your next newsletter
- Plan recurring posts on social media, switching up the text that accompanies the blog link
2. Helps you create consistency across channels
While you don’t want to use the same tone and copy across all social channels, keeping consistent messaging in your content strategy and adopting a distinct voice will keep you on-brand, regardless of channel.
Viewing copy for each channel, side-by-side, will prevent you from sounding like two or three different company personalities. And will help avert misfires, such as sharing conflicting information about the same event.
3. You have defined objectives
Ask yourself, "What’s my goal with this post?" Do you want to generate traffic, engagement or share important information with your followers?
Make sure that you note the specific purpose of your post directly on your social media calendar. This will help you to understand which metrics you should be using to measure whether or not you’ve successfully met your objective.
Tip: Don’t forget to add a note detailing the type of content you are posting (e.g. event, blog, campaign, etc.). Having this visible ensures you plan for a good variety of content. Try to alternate between posts about your products, sneak peeks behind the scenes, industry news, posts from third parties, etc. As a rule of thumb, aim for 20% of the content you share to focus on your company and 80% from third parties. When the content is promoting your brand, use engaging CTA’s so that your followers don’t get bored.
4. Post about what your audience is interested in
To help you choose subjects for your social media content calendar, take a look at Google Keyword Planner to understand what your audience is googling, then engage around the topics via social, preferably answering their questions.
You can also use a media intelligence tool like Meltwater to uncover trending themes in your industry that you can then talk about, which will not only help you be seen but also convey your status as a thought leader. When planning out your posts, it's important to know what topics are dominating the conversations online and use those trending themes as inspiration when creating your social media posting schedule.
5. Avoid click-bait sounding headlines
Make sure the subject of your post is clear to your followers, and it is engaging. For example, the headline “10 easy tricks for irresistible headlines” is already more exciting to the reader than “How to write a headline.” Keep this in mind when titling your content and drafting your tweets and captions. But, please, don't get too “clickbaity” with your post copy. The caption you write must accurately describe the content your linking to; otherwise, people will bounce off the page.
6. Incorporating important corporate initiatives
Have you ever gone home after a busy day only to realize you missed out on publicizing a critical initiative on a key social channel? Rather than leaving social media boosts of crucial promotions to the last minute, it’s helpful to plan for their broadcast well in advance. When you schedule social media posts for your content, this allows you to plan for significant announcements, prepare appropriate images, create landing page URLs, etc. It provides an opportunity to have available materials on hand to complete your social content.
7. Getting your whole team involved
It’s not much of a vacation if you’re checking your cellphone every few minutes to monitor workplace social media accounts. But with a social media content calendar, your team has everything they need to keep the social content flowing in your absence. You can provide a detailed overview of the daily to do’s, write copy they can schedule, and ensure your team feels secure in knowing the status of social media programs, whether or not you’re there.
What to include in a Social Media Content Calendar
There are calendar, workflow and strategy tools available for managing social media content calendars, including Meltwater, CoSchedule, Kapost, and Divvy HQ. However, you can get started by using a simple spreadsheet - Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
The tool you use is less important than its ability to assist you in documenting social media activities in an easy-to-navigate manner. So what to include in a social media calendar? We have found including the following fields to be immensely helpful:
Day of the week
For organizational purposes, this may seem a bit too obvious, but the days of the week can also directly inspire your social media content calendar. Certain days of the week even inspired their own hashtags on social media. Think about #TBT (Throwback Thursday), #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) and, of course, #TGIF!
Date and time of the post
When planning your content, organize it chronologically by date and time of publication. This may seem intuitive, but many professionals forget to do this and lose sight of their weekly, monthly and daily routines. Planning your social media content calendar chronologically ensures you see the frequency of your posts at a glance and identify the times that work best for your audience.
Use tools like monday.com, Meltwater Engage, an excel worksheet or even Google Calendar to plan content together with your team. This way you make sure your plan is clear for yourself and everyone else who needs to be in the loop.
Specific messages for each channel
Each social media channel has its own characteristics, which is why some users favor one platform over another. For instance, on Twitter, users log in to the platform to get real-time updates on the topics that they care about, whereas users of Facebook are engaging with content that tends to be more evergreen. Because of this, you need to adapt the copy of your posts to the different platforms. For example, a food brand would use Facebook to post a recipe, but Twitter to make a PR crisis comms announcement.
A hashtag library
Manually copying and pasting the hashtags for all of your posts can be a tedious task and you run the risk of getting lazy and using the same (less relevant) hashtags for all your posts. Creating a space in your social media calendar to save the hashtags you’d like to use for important subjects ensures consistent or varied use of hashtags and of course, saves you time!
Getting Started with Creating a Social Media Calendar
To create your own social media posting schedule, you can start with a simple spreadsheet. However, using a community management tool such as Meltwater’s engagement platform will allow you to create a more visible, practical and actionable calendar through which you can plan, schedule and publish your posts.
If you’re ready to get started with your own social media calendar and need a tool that you and your team can use to start implementing the tips above, get in touch with us using the form below for a free demo of our social media management platform. Plan, edit and publish your posts in a collaborative environment, and maintain an overview of your upcoming content.
To read more about how to run a successful social media program, download our Ultimate Guide to Social Media Management today.