[[updated December 12, 2017]]
If you’ve read ten “best practice” articles on social media management, at least half of them told you to use a social media calendar. Am I right?
The problem is — most of the “gurus” who tell you to use a social media calendar neglect to show you HOW to use it well.
Although I will never claim to be a guru, I’d like to show you what to do once you have a calendar in your hands (or in front of your face). These tips will keep you organized, produce better results, and prevent you from tossing your calendar in the recycling bin.
We happen to offer a really cool, customizable calendar as an online Google Spreadsheet. It’s great for collaborating, especially with remote or semi-remote teams. (Scroll down if you’re antsy to see it.)
But if you’re a team of one or a team that shares an office, you might very well plan best with a whiteboard or paper calendar. Take the tips you learn in an online social media calendar and apply them to something tactile.
Who cares what it looks like. The important thing is that you use the darned thing. So make it fit how you work best.
A social media calendar is merely a boxy reservoir of ideas for posting to social. It’s not a call to action.
So if you hang your whiteboard calendar in a communal space or email a Google Spreadsheet link to your teammates or clients without giving directions, they might simply nod and say, “Cool calendar.”
Trouble is you’ve most likely shared your calendar so that these people can help you create the content. Nodding won’t help you get those posts made and scheduled.
When you share your calendar, be sure point out who is responsible to send you particular images, links, live event details, etc. Be as specific as you can — along the lines of:
“Wendy: you’re responsible for all the Throwback Thursday photos. Be sure to send them to Susannah so that she has them in hand by Wednesday at the very latest each week. Susannah: Check my notes on the calendar about which hashtags to use on those posts.”
Warning: People are busy and are not as focused on the calendar as you are. You may have to ask them more than once for deliverables.
Have your calendar keep you organized not only for the current month, but for each month that you’re in charge of managing social media content. The biggest rookie mistake with these calendars is that a social media manager will flip the calendar on say, March 31, and see nothing planned for April.
Don’t let that happen to you. Think long term. If someone can make more than a month’s worth of motivational quotes, archival photos, animated GIFs, have them do it. Requesting a batch of content also prevents you from going back and forth each month to ask for that type of content.
If you know what conferences you’ll be attending for the rest of the year, put placeholders for all those events on your calendar right away.
Jot down all holidays you plan to celebrate on social. Use a site to discover all the wacky Internet holidays that fans seem to love. Many of them may be applicable to your brand and it’s best to prepare for them in advance.
You can also use a content calendar that’s pre-filled for you with the latest trends and events like PromoRepublic.
Panic also sets in with social media calendar newbies when they wait for the last minute to schedule posts. Figure out if you work better scheduling posts once they’re created or in batches.
In either case, you’ll want a top-rated social media management tool to schedule your posts. With Agorapulse, you can easily schedule your posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. You can also schedule posts to be promoted live on Instagram.
If you use Agorapulse, you get unlimited access to your stats on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts.
Find out when to post to Facebook for maximum reach — based on your performance, not a one-size-fits-all day of the week.
Learn which hashtags on Twitter give you the most engagement.
And see which posts bring in the likes and comments on Instagram.
Based on the successes you see in your reports, plan to repeat your winning content, hashtags, and timing for the following month. Try this over the course of three months and see what patterns emerge. You’ll notice that pairing a calendar with metrics will lead to some pretty impressive social media results!
If you think you’re ready to use a social media calendar and really give it a go, you should try the one we’ve just created. Designed by two social media managers (who’ve managed more than 50 social media accounts between them!), this calendar allows you to stay sane about what to post each day of the week.
Ready to make your social media calendar really sing? Why not download it for free today!