Have you been putting off creating a social media calendar? Never fear—here’s what you need to put together a social media calendar that helps you get the job done.
There are two things guaranteed to cause social media managers to sigh: setting social media KPIs and creating a social media calendar. A social media calendar keeps your channels organized, pumping out content, and ready for future events.
But the problem is this: Everyone tells you that you need one, but nobody tells you how to do it.
What should you include? How do you find the content? And how do you schedule ahead? In this article, I’m going to share my hacks on how to create a social media calendar.
If you’re managing social media channels professionally for a social media marketing agency or digital agency, you need to create a social media calendar. At Contentworks Agency, we create a social media calendar that plans 4-6 weeks ahead, and it absolutely saves our sanity. We do this for each client and for our own social media accounts.
Here are some of the benefits of making a social media calendar:
So, now you know why a social media calendar is necessary, how do you make one?
Creating a social media calendar can be fun. You’re in control of what goes into it, and it’s your chance to be creative. Let’s get started.
One of the important reasons we create a social media calendar is to stick to a posting schedule across different social media channels.
When you’re inconsistent, results aren’t usually great. Post infrequently … and your brand awareness, web traffic, and sales drop. Post too much at once, and fans will probably get annoyed and unfollow you.
Here is my posting schedule. Yours may look different depending on your resources, sector and audience demographic.
My weekly schedule template is …
Curate content. Remember content doesn’t have to be yours. Content curation can form part of your content calendar. Just make a note of some reputable sites that are not competitors from which you can share content.
Vary the times. Repeat content at different times. This is one of my favorite hacks for evergreen content and Agorapulse makes it so easy. Choose to repeat the content once or schedule it regularly, for example, 5 times every 4 days. (Not convinced? Here are reasons for reposting on Instagram and republishing content on LinkedIn to ponder.)
Use a digital calendar. Don’t write it all down in a notepad or bits of paper. (I see you!) Use a proper online calendar that can be accessed by your team. Download this great social media content calendar from Agorapulse.
Be aware of time zones and cultures. Your posting schedule will depend on your target region (country and time zone), user behaviors, and the nature of your business. Always remember your target audience!
Example: I’m in Europe, but I want to promote a restaurant in Sydney Australia. I need to work on Sydney time and create content that hits user feeds when they’re thinking about food. So, 11AM for lunch or 4PM for dinner. There’s no point in posting about your mouth-watering burger at 3AM.
Agorapulse’s reporting shows you when your fans are most active. Once you see a pattern, use it to your advantage and schedule posts for those times:
The content that goes into your calendar will depend on your sector.
Each sector has specific days, hashtags, and events associated with it. For example, if like me, your clients are predominantly in the finance sector, you need to consider regular monthly events, hashtag days, one-off events, and then trending.
Big events like a presidential election can form several weeks of planned posts and content. Some events are only for the day.
Use a free tool like www.daysoftheyear.com to easily see what’s coming up for hashtag days. Be selective, though. You don’t need to be celebrating #tophatday if you’re a bakery! (That said, I love this post from Pizza Express that nails #LeftHandersDay!)
Bookmark websites that provide information about events in your sector. For finance, it might be a site displaying an economic calendar for example. Be sure to check on them at least one month in advance.
Create a library of images for regular recurring events or generic use. Here’s one from our library of “trending” images. This allows us to create the text fast and add a great image without needing to wait. You can create images in different online tools if you don’t have a designer and size them for different channels.
Creating a social media calendar means preparing content in advance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look back for inspiration. And your audience metrics can really help you out here.
To get started, conduct a social media audit of the past year. Look at what performed and what didn’t. Perhaps you ran a contest that got tons of sign-ups and great engagement. Or you may have authored a series of posts that inspired click-throughs. Utilize platforms like Google Analytics for your website content stats. These stats from my analytics show me which content performed well during August.
Or use Agorapulse for reporting on the performance of past social media posts.
Go with what your audience likes. If a piece of content or post worked well, repeat the style or topic. Repurpose old articles with fresh images, GIFs, or a rewrite. Upload top-performing eeooks to Slideshare and reshare them.
Research hashtags. Search for hashtags or keywords in your industry and see what content is getting the most engagement.
Look for audience questions or comments. You can utilize competitor analysis techniques to help you here.
Craft posts that are highly relevant to your audience. Ask your sales or customer support team what customers are asking. Perhaps they are asking how to perform an action or about store opening times.
Create a FAQ. Answer frequent customer questions to fill out your social media calendar.
Experienced social media managers know that it’s essential to collaborate with their marketing team and the wider organization. And when you create a social media calendar, you can share it with other people too.
But (and it’s a big but), be selective.
Here are some basic rules for sharing your calendar …
Implement a clear chain of command. For example, social media manager Sophia creates the posts on Friday, and compliance officer Jack approves them every Monday.
Add your designers to the social media calendar. They need to know what’s coming up and the designs or videos they need to create. It’s likely that you will need to send a proper email brief about this, too.
Add your writers to the calendar. The same goes for copywriters. If you plan to create a series of posts about Halloween, your writer may want to create a blog article that you can link to. Timing is everything as you will need the blog link in advance.
Don’t add everyone. Your entire marketing team does not need access to your social media calendar. Similarly, not everyone needs to be able to edit it … and it’s better that they don’t.
Share your reporting with others. This is likely to inspire confidence, reinforce your strategy, and emphasize your expertise. It will also force you to look at your analytics if you haven’t been already!
Start each week with a look at the calendar and what’s coming up. Doing so will remind you of any outstanding actions or activities you need to complete.
Draft template replies ahead of time and have them approved and ready to go. This will save you tons of time later. Replies might be about how to return a product, your shipping times, etc.
Ask other departments for their input. They don’t need to be added to your social media calendar, but they might help you to formulate it. For example, human resources might be holding a recruitment day. Or your development team might be launching a product update or bug fix.
We can’t schedule everything in advance. If we did, we would miss out on the minute-to-minute trends and the excitement of going live.
Your content calendar should factor in live posts and tweets each week where possible. These might include:
Don’t passively wait for trending news to hit your desk. Be the first to learn about it first by having a trending tab open on Twitter. If you’re using Tweetdeck you can add it in your left column so you don’t miss anything. You can also set up media monitoring using Google Alerts or listening via Agorapulse.
Vary the content images. Breaking news might be important enough to share across all your channels. But that doesn’t mean you should use the same content, image, or hashtags. Your messaging needs to be different, and you may choose to use a different image, too.
Always look to create FOMO for promotions. You can schedule them in advance, but they shouldn’t look that way. Use phrases like “last chance,” “10 left in stock,” or “1 hour to go” when talking about promotions or sales. Be sure to get your timing right when you schedule in advance.
A social media calendar is your ultimate planning and organization tool. It keeps your posting consistent, your approvals on track and your content relevant and engaging.
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