How to Plan a Social Media Content Calendar in 7 Simple Steps

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Have you been trying to create an effective social media content calendar?

It’s true that, on the surface, social media management seems all too simple. But it is only when you try your hands at it that you realize the complexity of coming up with content ideas and posting them on social media. Not to mention, the social media content that you create and the social campaigns you plan can end up completely unsynchronized.

The good news is, a social media content calendar can save you from all of this, and more, by automating and organizing your social media process, making the entire show convenient to run.

A social media content calendar gives you a bird’s eye view of your social content: what you’ll be posting, which channels you’ll be posting on, your posting schedule, and so on. With the organization that comes with an editable social calendar, you can save time and maintain consistency in posting on social media.

 So, in this post, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of creating a social media content calendar. We’ll also shine a brighter light on how an editable calendar can help you, which content calendar software you can use to create one, and more.

 Let’s get to it.

 What is a social media content calendar?

A social calendar is exactly what it sounds like – a calendar that organizes all your social content by its publishing date.

 You don’t need a separate Facebook calendar or one for Twitter, or any other channel you use. Instead, one calendar should host all the content you’ll be sharing throughout your social media profiles.

 Now that you know what a social media calendar is, let’s answer two more questions that you probably have. First, why do you need a social media content calendar, and second, how can you make one?

 Let’s answer these separately.

 How can a social media content calendar help you improve your social performance?

Without a social media calendar, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and scattershot. You wouldn’t have a home base to jot down all the ideas you have for the content you want to post on social media.

 It’s also likely that you’ll have a blinking cursor in a blank space mocking you when you try to compose a tweet or write a caption. In other words: you’ll be losing precious time daily. Without content planned in advance, you’ll struggle in coming up with ideas, which can lower the quality of your posts. 

 If you’re wondering ‘how will my social calendar help me here,’ here’s your answer:

 In short, a well-planned social media content calendar can help you reach your social media goals and refine your social media strategy.

 What’s more, such a calendar helps hit two main targets that are the foundations of social media success – consistency and engagement. Let me explain:

By being consistent on social media, your brand will remain at the top of your audience’s mind. Consistent posting also paints a clear picture of what your business is about. Most of all, it helps your audience know you’re active, so they can reach out to you with any query.

Simply posting on social media can never reap the results like the higher sales you daydream about. Engaging with your audience is what will help you succeed. A calendar helps you plan ahead, leaving you with time to respond to customers’ comments, queries, and mentions.

 One last thing; with an overview of what’s in your publishing pipeline, you can also see how balanced your social posts are. For instance, every time I plan my social calendar, I make sure there’s a healthy mix of educational content and promotional content that talks about my services. Your social calendar should do the same.

 How can you make a social media content calendar?

To get started, you don’t need costly content calendar software. You can use the good ol’ pen and paper duo. Except, those won’t make an editable calendar. If you’re planning to share your calendar with your teammates, paper, and pen get another vote of no.

So, now you have the following two options: 

Both Spreadsheet and Google sheets enable team collaborations and can function as free calendar software. However, both offer limited functions and can prove to be inconvenient.

If you have a big team with visual designers, copywriters, a social media manager, a marketing manager, and more, you should choose an interactive social media planner such as the one that ContentStudio offers.

With ContentStudio you can create a calendar with posts scheduled for the next week or month. Since ContentStudio offers an editable social media content calendar, you can view, accept, reject and edit posts easily. This cuts down the chances of sending out wrong or error-filled content.

With such a calendar, all team members can collaborate easily. For instance, your social manager can add-in ideas, your designer can add the visuals for which your copywriter can add captions then and there.

To make things clutter-free, you can also view your content in the form of a list. This content calendar software also enables you to filter posts by type, status, members, and label for your ease. 

You can use ContentStudio as your free editorial calendar for a trial period to see how much easier social media management can become with a digital social planner.

I’ll walk you through each step in planning an editable calendar, but before that, let me tell you exactly what you’ll need to have at hand before you get to work

What do you need to create a social media calendar?

You can’t just sit in front of an open social media calendar and expect to fill it up randomly with any ideas pouring in. Instead, before you get started, you’ll need: 

If you’re just deciding how often you should post on your social channels, dive into this comprehensive guide to learn about how often you should post on social media.

How to create your social media content calendar in 7 simple steps

First, decide whether you want to create a weekly calendar or a monthly one. If you’re a beginner, start by creating a weekly calendar so that you can get to grips with creating a social calendar. Then, move on to making a monthly one.

Note that it doesn’t help to plan far ahead into the year because content trends keep changing and your calendar needs to be flexible enough to accommodate them.

With that being said, let’s walk you through the steps to create a social media calendar:

Step 1: Decide what type of content you’ll share

Based on your buyer’s persona and research on your audience’s interests, prepare a list of topics that you create content on. While you’re at it, study your competitors’ social channels. Knowing what your competitors are doing will give you a good idea of what your audience would like to hear from you. At the same time, dive into the social media of businesses that interest you for inspiration (they don’t have to be in your industry).

Next, settle on the types of content you’ll share on your social channels. Some categories of content you can share include:

A good rule of thumb is to mix these content types so your audience doesn’t get bored of repetitive content.

Take a look at the content that Poo Pourri shares on their social channels. Its posts on Instagram are a mix of informational and promotional content including videos and images. In its IG stories, the brand shares news updates, FAQs, a look at the team behind the brand, and much more.

Step 2: Settle on your goal

This is important so that the posts you curate or create from scratch take you further towards your goal with little deviations. Your goals can include encouraging customers to purchase from your sales promotions, leading them to join your brands’ social channels, spreading awareness of a new product line, etc.

A good example here is that of Kylie Cosmetics. Every time the cosmetics giant comes up with a new product range, the marketing team creates several posts related to the release of the new collection to promote it. In August and September, Kylie Cosmetics’ social channels regularly shared content centered around its latest Sailor Collection. To this end, the brand shared different types of posts such as product photography, makeup looks, a peek behind the scenes, and more.

Step 3: Create a skeletal framework of your editable calendar

Once you have decided what content you’re going to share as well as the goals of your social media strategy, create a template of your calendar. Creating a skeletal framework will help you organize your ideas so that you’re all set for creating & publishing content.

You can use an Excel spreadsheet or Google sheets as a free editorial calendar for this. Here’s what to do next:

Step 4: Start filling in your calendar

Once you have your spreadsheet ready, it’s time you start creating posts. If you’re creating fresh content, don’t forget to take a look at your buyer’s persona to understand what type of content your audience is likely to enjoy.

Know that you don’t always have to create social content from scratch. Here are some types of content you can share to save time:

Source

Additionally, you can share content centered around upcoming international holidays and events relevant to your business.

If you don’t have a graphic designer, you can use tools such as Canva to make social media posters and gifs. Once the visuals are ready, your copywriter can get started with captions for each. You can also switch it the other way around. 

Step 6: Tweak content according to each social channel

You might assume you’re done now. But here’s the thing: you can’t post the same content on each social channel. It is likely to bore your audience.

Each social network has different requirements too. For instance, on Twitter, you have a low character limit for your tweets while Instagram and Facebook don’t bind you as such with a caption word count. Also, the dimension requirements of the images and videos you post on Instagram and other channels differ. This is why you should tweak your content as per the platform and audience preferences for each social channel before adding it to your calendar. 

Step 7: Review and schedule all the content

Reviewing your content will help you spot any typos in your posts and captions or mistakes in your plan. While rechecking everything, remember to open all the links to make sure they lead to the intended/appropriate destination. Getting a second pair of eyes is strongly recommended.

When you are done reviewing, you have to follow one last step: scheduling content for publishing. In this regard, you can either invest in a content calendar or choose a social media management tool that also enables you to schedule content for publishing (Psst! ContentStudio can help with both). With scheduled posts, you wouldn’t have to hop on to each social channel at different times to post your content. 

What’s more, automatic posting will ensure your content goes out at the time your audience is most active. This also enables consistency in posting and streamlines the process of sharing content.

Best practices during Content calendar planning 

Before we wrap this up, let’s leave you with three best practices that you need to keep in mind as you create your content calendar:

Don’t fill the entire calendar to the brim. You can leave one post every day or a few spaces each week to add whatever you like. These spaces can fill in posts regarding trending topics relevant to your industry or any unplanned announcements that you need to make.

Study your analytics regularly

Before you sit to create each month’s social media content calendar, take a look at how your previous month’s content performed. Analyzing your social media posts to see how well each content type performed can help you identify what resonates with your audience and when so you can create more of it during peak activity hours. 

Colour coding your calendar can help you identify which posts are accomplishing what. For instance, you can mark all promotional posts green and all educational posts blue. This way, you’ll be able to see how balanced your plan is at a glimpse.

Wrapping it up

A social media content calendar can make social media management super convenient. While you can use a traditional planner, a digital editorial calendar can make collaborating with all your social media resources easy and therefore organized. It also enables you to schedule your posts in advance, saving you precious time. To pan out a social media calendar, decide what content you should share, make a rough draft, get posts designed and captions written separately for each social channel, review and schedule your content and finally, analyze and monitor for the next batch to schedule.

This content was originally published here.

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