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 @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 content calendar.
Preparing and following a set editorial plan 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 an editorial calendar.
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 content calendar makes sure you won’t accidentally leave out key content types that appeal to highly engaged customers or outspoken influencers.
Your editorial line 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 content 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 on blog
- Shares of post on
- Add blog post to Friday’s newsletter
- Plan recurring shares, switching up the text that accompanies the blog link
Create consistency across channels
While you don’t want to use the same tone and copy across all social channels, keeping with 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 three conflicting sets of information for the same event.
Define your 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 content calendar. This will help you to understand which metrics you should be using to measure whether or not you’ve successfully met your objective.
Don’t forget to add a note detailing what type of content the post is. Having this visible ensures you plan for a good balance. For example, only pushing promotional content will soon make you feel like you’re shouting into a black hole! Try to alternate between posts about your products, sneak peeks behind the scenes, industry news, posts from third parties etc. As 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.
Subject of the Post
Following that same logic as the point mentioned above, both you and your audience will soon get bored if you constantly post about the same subject. Include the subject in your social media content calendar for an easy overview of your key topics. This will act as a reminder to keep things fresh and interesting for your audience! To help you choose subjects, 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 jump on and become a thought leader by doing so.
Understand which topics are dominating the conversations online. Use the trending themes as inspiration when creating your content calendar.
Make sure the subject of your post is clear to your followers, particularly when it comes to the title and caption. Not all headlines are created equal. “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. Don’t get too “click baity” however. The content you link to must reflect the caption you’ve used or people will bounce off the page very quickly and you’ll lose the trust of your audience too.
Elements of a Useful Social Media Editorial Calendar
There are calendar, workflow and strategy tools available for managing social media editorial calendars, including CoSchedule, Kapost, and Divvy HQ. However, you can get started without a financial investment by using a spreadsheet - Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets (example above). 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 content calendar? We have found including the following fields to be immensely helpful:
Day of the week.
For organisational 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, organise 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. Some users favour one platform over another because of this. Twitter people engage little and often with the content leaning more towards real-time updates. When we compare this to Facebook, the content 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.
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 content calendar to save the hashtags you’d like to use for important subjects ensures a consistent/ varied use of hashtags and of course, saves you time!
To create your editorial calendar, 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 and publish your posts.
If you’re ready to get started with your own social media content 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.