A social media content calendar is arguably the most important device in any social media strategy. Planning and scheduling content saves time and helps reduce the chance for errors or over posting. As a bonus, having a pre-planned social media content calendar ensures you maintain business continuity within your social media implementation; not only does it keep you on the right track - if you ever need to use a backup employee for social media duties, they can do so with ease.

Developing a social media calendar also helps you ensure your strategy is visible internally. Your executive team and other colleagues don’t have the time to follow every message you post on a daily basis. Providing a social content calendar lets everyone get an overview of all the work being done by your social media team.

When everyone in your company has a clear idea of what is being done on social media, they can provide information that can help:

  • Drive content creation strategy
  • Evolve messaging to better serve target audiences
  • Find content created by other areas of the organization to repurpose for social use

Another huge benefit of a social media content calendar is the overview it gives you. Analysis of social media at the level of individual messages can sometimes be too short-sighted. Taking a larger view of things and looking at past posts that succeeded can help you find and double-down on your successes.

How to Create Your Social Calendar

Every company implements their social media calendar in different ways. It’s important to set your calendar up in a way that works with your social strategy to streamline your workflow of creating, curating and scheduling social content. Here are 3 steps to creating a content calendar and using it effectively in your social strategy.  

Decide What Content Is Right For Each Audience
Social media is a unique channel that requires some research before you start blasting out content. A good place to start is to review past social posts to determine what is resonating with your audience. There are many different questions you can ask yourself. Are list articles performing well on Twitter and less so Facebook? Does your LinkedIn audience interact with premium content(eBooks) more? Are videos performing well on Facebook? Really dive into the content format and topics that your audience responds to for each network.

It’s also important to determine how you define successful content. Determine whether clicks, engagements, conversions or reach is more important to your strategy and use that to find the content that is helping you achieve those goals. It’s important to do this not only with company content that is being shared, but also with third-party content. Seeing what outside content is resonating with your audience can help guide future content creation and help you do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.

Determine How Often to Post
Posting too frequently can drive your audience away. Not posting enough can lead to disengagement and low brand recognition. The frequency at which you post on social media is an important factor in your social strategy and you need to make sure it matches social network and audience preferences. Here’s what Buffer says about posting frequency for each network: 
  • Twitter – 3 times per day, or more
    • Engagement decreases slightly after the third tweet.
  • Facebook – 2 times per day, at most
    • 2x per day is the level before likes & comments begin to drop off dramatically.
  • LinkedIn – 1 time per day
    • 20 posts per month (1x per weekday) allows you to reach 60 percent of your audience
  • Google+ – 3 times per day, at most
    • The more often you post, the more activity you’ll get. Users have found a positive correlation between frequency and engagement. When posting frequency wanes, some have experienced drops in traffic up to 50%.
  • Pinterest – 5x per day, or more
    • The top brands on Pinterest have experienced steady growth – and in some cases rapid or sensational growth! – by adopting a multiple-times-per-day posting strategy.
  • Instagram – 1.5 times per day, or more
    Major brands post an average of 1.5 times per day to Instagram. There’s no drop-off in engagement for posting more, provided you can keep up the rate of posting.
Set Up Your Social Media Calendar
Now that you have content and frequency down, it’s time to put together your social media calendar. This step will be highly dependent on the tools you use, how your team is set up and how often you’re creating content. Check out our social media calendar to get a head start. 

Choose Your Social Publishing and Calendar Tool
When it comes to the tools you use, many social publishing tools allow for bulk uploading of content. This means that you can create social posts in a specific format and the tool can read and schedule them all at once instead of you having to manually schedule them one at a time. These documents are typically formatted in a .CSV file. If you go the route of bulk uploading, it’s a good idea to create your social media calendar in a document that can be exported to .CSV.

This will allow you to create social posts and easily export for uploading to your social publishing tool. Not having to use multiple documents and formats will streamline your processes and save time.

How your team is set up can also play a big factor in what your social media calendar looks like. Is there a chain of approvals that social posts have to go through? Does more than one person create social posts? If you answered yes to either of these questions then it might be a good idea to create your social media calendar in a Google Sheet or similar program that allows multiple people to access and edit a document.

This will prevent you from having to email a single document back and forth between multiple people to get the job done.

How often you create content will determine what your calendar looks like. Do you create social posts daily, weekly or monthly? Make sure that your calendar is set up in a way that facilitates this view. This will help you easily project what your workload will be and allow you to set aside the appropriate amount of time to populate your calendar.

Creating a social media calendar from scratch takes time and can be a bit of work up-front. However, the streamlined workflows, increased visibility, messaging and benefits to tracking are well worth the investment.

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