The first question you may be asking is ‘what exactly is a social media content calendar?’ And fear not, as you wouldn’t be alone in wondering. Quite simply, a social media content calendar may just be one of the most useful components of your whole marketing toolkit that you didn’t even realize you didn’t have. Let us use an example to showcase the point.
So, you run a successful micro-brewing company, and one day a patron asks if you have any special lined up for ‘National Craft Beer Day’ the following day. You don’t like to admit it, but you had no idea that that was even a thing, much less when it was. You’ve been caught cold, but not through a lack of effort, simply because you have been so involved in the day-to-day running of your business that certain things have escaped your attention. And the truth is, ‘National Craft Beer Day’, indeed if there ever was one (there is a National Beer Day on 7th April, in case you didn’t know), would be a fantastic way to further promote your product in the local community and beyond. How did you ever miss this?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. The fact of the matter is it is impossible to stay up-to-date with everything that is going on, much less all of the innovations that are mentioned seemingly on a daily basis all over social media channels. Here is where a social media content calendar comes in. This interactive and smart tool automates your marketing releases in the form of content to coincide with important events that relate to your business. It’s unlikely you are going to forget Christmas, for example, but what about all the chatter on social media platforms about less-known events that are easy to escape your attention? That’s the beauty of a social media content calendar: you need never miss an important opportunity to market your business ever again.
So, ‘how do you exactly set about setting up an effective social media content calendar?’ is your next question, and it’s a very good question too. Fortunately, here is a comprehensive guide to doing just that.
- 1 Why do I need a social media content calendar?
- 2 What am I trying to achieve?
- 3 What do I need to do?
- 3.1 Audit your current content
- 3.2 Know your audience
- 3.3 Understand the demographics of the different platforms
- 3.4 Understand trends
- 3.5 Decide upon your content and your schedule
- 3.6 Allocate tasks
- 3.7 Where does the content go first?
- 3.8 Input your calendar
- 3.9 Constantly review
- 3.10 Publish
- 3.11 Automate
- 4 Conclusion
If you are still not convinced by the example previously given, then you must also consider that organic reach is actually in decline. One of the most obvious reasons for this is saturation: pretty much everyone is releasing content to attract users and customers, and it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Never before has your content needed to be so on point, and that’s why a calendar is so important. It used to be that great content would rise to the top, but that’s simply not possible anymore because of the sheer quantity that is out there. It also used to be that a great product would be enough, but we all know now that those days are gone.
You need a great product and great content, but you also need the right content to be delivered at the right time too in exactly the right place. That’s not easy to do, and impossible if you do not have a carefully considered plan in place, and automated tool to help you produce it,” warns Ed Goldstein, a social media manager at Academized and StateofWriting.
Think of it as something that will keep you updated on all important trends, events, and other elements. It will help you produce all the right content at the right time. It can also help you avoid serious mistakes. For instance, posting something insensitive on a very important day. Then you might miss a national day of something that can be used to further improve your chances at getting seen on social media. You can use this to plan your hashtags and campaigns as well.
There are even more reasons to keep a social media content calendar. For instance, it can improve your workflow and make it easier for you to have no issues with your processes. It can help you save a lot of time too.
So, the social media content calendar is something that you will most definitely need and find useful.
What am I trying to achieve?
Before putting together your social media content calendar, you need to think carefully about what you want to achieve, and also the pitfalls that you want to avoid. Here is a list of the most common mistakes to avoid, as well as the benefits that using a calendar can bring:
Mark those important occasions
We’ve already mentioned it. You don’t want to miss a trick when it comes to landmark days that will give your product a nice marketing boost at the right time. You can do the research and come up with all of the most important events that happen in a year for your company. This will depend on what you do. For instance, a flower shop would mark a National Plant a Flower Day, Environment Awareness days and so on. Every company has their own special days on which they can do more for their products and services. However, you might do even more research to come up with something new and fresh. When an event is not so well known in the general public, you can schedule informative posts about an event or an important day a few weeks before the event actually starts. This way, you’ll get their interest and you can bank on that.
Don’t duplicate content
Once you’ve created great content, it’s really easy just to repeatedly post it across all of your social media channels, but the truth is users of od different platforms respond to content in different ways. That’s because the user demographics are different on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for example. You need unique content for every platform, which simply makes your task that little bit harder. For instance, LinkedIn is a business social media and people there prefer to read articles and occasionally infographics. The things you post should be related to business and they should be targeted at other businesses. Twitter is all about short posts and even images. You can also do polls and similar things. Instagram is all about images and videos so your posts should be focused on that. Facebook is also about big images that can grab attention quickly and help you get an audience. So, while your posts across different social media channels can have the same theme or similar context, you need to adapt the format of the post to the specific requirements of the social media channel. This is, of course, where a social media content calendar can help. You can add all of these different social media platforms and then add what type of content you have to post too. It would make your job a lot simpler and easier.
Don’t post to the wrong platforms
Every marketer has had that sinking feeling when they have posted content on Facebook asking for users to retweet! This is an issue that arises when you are simply strapped for time and you are stretching resources. You need the right content to be produced on the right platform at the right time, with no cross-platform issues. Of course, the calendar can help. You need to have the full text of your posts prepared on time and in your calendar so that you can know exactly what you need to post and where. This will prevent you from making mistakes like the one mentioned above are and it can help you have an easier time with your social media channels. Of course, the main recommendation here would be to limit your social media presence to one or two social media channels. This will largely depend on where your audience is – younger people, for instance, tend to use Instagram and Snapchat or Twitter. You don’t have to be everywhere. It’s not cost efficient and you will spend a ton of time on certain social media channels without getting any results. So, it’s best to just stick to one or two places where your audience is and do your social media business there.
Encourage efficient working practices across your marketing team
Duplication of tasks and the time and efficiency that this waste is a common challenge for all marketing teams, so you are searching for a system of working that maximizes collaboration but at the same time improves efficiency. Everyone needs to know exactly what part they play in the grand scheme of things. Make sure that you have included the team in the social media content calendar creation because they would otherwise make mistakes. Have an agreement on who does what related to social media and make sure that everyone knows this. Optimally, you’ll have a dedicated team for your social media content because they will do the most optimal job.
Create fresh content
This is one of the biggest challenges, to constantly be releasing content that is fresh and relevant. That takes a lot of imagination and creativity, but once you are linked up to what is happening in the big wide world, you are on trend and are fully informed about all important date in the calendar, this becomes much easier to achieve. With a social media content calendar, you can enjoy the benefits of knowing when and what you would and should post. You can brainstorm ideas with your team and then use those ideas for your posts. There are many different things you can do with those ideas and possibly come up with great plans for some campaigns that you can have.
Create a content mix
The best marketing teams are releasing a blend of content types, not just the usual blog posts and Twitter comments. Videos are the new number one, but you also need to include infographics, pictures, and even brief podcasts if you really want to maximize your marketing potential. Create high-quality videos that tell a good story and make sure that they are not too short or too long. You can also do live videos. There are many different things that you can film, from how-to videos to behind the scenes videos of your company. Then there are infographics, gaining more and more popularity. With a proper size and design of infographic, you can easily fit them on all of your social media accounts. Make sure that you don’t forget about stories which is a crucial part of any Facebook or Instagram strategy nowadays and you absolutely need to be in stories.
Have an efficient posting schedule
We will talk about automation in a moment, but one of the key points is that you want to create an efficient posting schedule that releases content that is on trend to the right place at the right time. That is difficult for any one individual to achieve. But there are some simple tools that can help you do this with ease. You can also learn about the optimal times of the day to post on different social media channels. There is a lot of research and findings on these topics so it shouldn’t be a problem for you to find. But a good calendar can really help you nail all of the timings and it can make it a lot easier for you..
This last point is obvious. If you have successfully managed to solve all these issues previously mentioned, then not only do you have an efficient marketing system, you will save time and free up capacity to look at new innovations. Automating is the last key point because by employing automation software, once the content is created, you can ensure that no one needs to be concerned about posting it at the right time, as this job will be done for you. There are loads of options out there which can help you out, such as Zoho.
What do I need to do?
The next step is putting together your social media content calendar. Here’s how:
Audit your current content
You need to sit down with your marketing team and look at the content that you are currently creating and consider it in relation to all of the points listed previously. Are you hitting these important days? Are you producing fresh content? What’s your current posting schedule? Who is responsible for posting and when?
You need to understand what is going on right now with your social media accounts and see what can be done better, what mistakes you made and what is your posting routine. All of this will inform you of all of your future decisions.
“It’s about identifying inefficiencies and spotting the gaps which need to be plugged. It doesn’t matter how successful you think your marketing approach is, there is always room for improvement,” suggests Thea Robinson, a marketer at PaperFellows and AustralianHelp.
Know your audience
This is an obvious point but consider again who exactly your audience is, and where it congregates. This is your target market and deserves the bulk of your attention. For one, an overview where your audience is. For example, most of them could use only Twitter and Instagram. Then you would know where you need to create an account and where your attention needs to be. One person can have multiple social media channel profiles but the fact is that they will only be active on few. So, you need to focus on discovering where most of them are and go there yourself. Next, you should overview your audience to determine what type of content they might want to see. Then you can base your content on all of that and make it even more interesting for them.
Understand the demographics of the different platforms
We have touched upon this previously, but different demographics congregate on different social media platforms. In reality, you will have a mix of audiences across the platforms, so now it is about understanding who is where, and what they respond to. Different people respond to different types of content. For instance, older people and younger people will like different things and they will enjoy different types of content. Of course, your audience will probably not be so varied in age most of the time, but it’s important to understand the difference and learn how to appeal to different people.
You can employ software, or just keep a close eye on what is hashtagging to ensure you understand what is trending and when. This can be a little more difficult to achieve because trends can change quickly, but if everything else is automated efficiently, this is the type of activity that can be catered for. The more responsive you are, the better it is for your product, but the only capacity allows it. Social media listening tools are a great way to know what is being said about you and what you need to know about trends that can help you get more engagement and more conversions from your audience. There are also many things that you can learn about what your audience wants in general and from you. This can inform your posts and make them better for your audience.
Decide upon your content and your schedule
Consider what the perfect blend of content looks like for your company. Do you really produce enough video content, for example? Then think about what you want to send and when, and start to input this onto an excel spreadsheet, for example. You need to do the research before you decide what type of content you want to post. For example, you might think that posting images is easier but what if the video gets more engagement and yields more conversions.
This is key to improving efficiency. Allocate tasks productive across the team without any threat of duplication, but also with high levels of collaboration. Everything should be related, just not the same.
Where does the content go first?
You need a repository where all the content is placed once it is created. Do not just send completed content life once it is finished – that is a big mistake. Send it to the repository, and then tie it in with your schedule to ensure the right content is getting released at the right time.
Input your calendar
Now you are all set to input your calendar with the content that you want to be released, where you want it released to, and when? Don’t forget to include all the necessities such as links etc to ensure a thorough post. Allocate one person for the job too.
Ensure key stakeholders are frequently visiting the schedule and reviewing it to make sure that it is comprehensive, on trend, and relating to key dates. They need to be involved because they can have a general overview of everything that’s happening inside your company and they know what type of social media content can match that.
Now you are ready to go. Don’t forget to allocate this task to a particular individual too, so no more posting randomly at will! Having one person directly in charge can help you avoid mistakes that commonly happen when multiple people have a say in the matter.
Don’t forget all of these tasks can actually be automated by software. The tools are out there to maximize efficiency and ensure you are producing the content that really gets you noticed. You can actually improve your workflow, prevent mistakes and do a great job if you use a tool.
That’s it! You are now well on our way to standing above the crowd when it comes to timely and on-trend content. Don’t forget to employ analytics to see what’s working well, and seek continuous improvement.