Marketing is fast-paced, frenetically busy and requires effective planning to create the desired impact. Social media has only accelerated the breakneck speed at which marketers must do business, and the demand for fresh original content is never-ending.
The internet at large has an insatiable appetite for new information and new videos, blogs and tweets which not only provide answers to their many questions and problems, but also impacts their daily lives.
How do you keep your brand at the forefront of everyone’s mind when social media is a near constant stream of advertising that bookends social posting and sharing? The right content is king, but consistency is queen. You need great content that posts on a predictable schedule at the right time, providing the best opportunities for your target audience to see your posts and engage with them.
What you need is an effective content schedule for your social media, and the best way to manage your channels is an effective social media calendar. Here are some important questions to consider and some useful tips for building a truly effective social media content calendar.
What’s a Social Media Content Calendar?
The generally agreed upon definition is as follows:
“…spreadsheets or apps used to schedule social posts in advance. They’re also used to plan when and which content will be shared, manage campaigns, and track deadlines.”
You can create your own content calendar in several ways, but here are some pros and cons of the most popular methods:
Option 1: Spreadsheets in the cloud is still a good choice
There is nothing wrong with using Office 365 or Google Sheets to create a tidy spreadsheet with all the important information for content to be shared. With a cloud-based solution, it also allows everyone to make notes, update progress and check off content that has already gone out over your channels. This is the preferred method for most marketing teams in 2020, but that doesn’t mean it must be the default for your team. Whatever you can all agree works is going to be the best solution. Setting up a system no one uses or looks at is setting everyone up for failure.
Option 2: Dedicated Calendar in App or Web App
Workflowy, Slack, Google Calendar, Outlook and any other dedicated schedule and communication app is going to fit the bill here. The primary benefit to using a third-party dedicated app is it typically has more options for creating multiple schedules, integrating checklists and to-dos, adding responsible parties for specific scheduled content and the ability to link or attach content directly to the app. Centralizing information is the name of the game for effective social media content calendars. If you can find an app or web app that fits everyone’s preference, the budget and your project needs, then make it happen.
Who Needs a Social Media Content Calendar?
Social media manager or anyone in the marketing team who is responsible for regularly publishing content on social media needs a calendar. These calendars help track
- Social media publishing cadence
- Date and time of publishing
- Landing page URLs
- Hashtags used in the social media posts
- Text associated with the post
- Images uploaded on the posts
Social media and marketing consultants should also keep a social media content calendar as well. Part of being a good service provider and consultant is to demonstrate best practices for clients in how you do business, and creating your own social media content calendar sets the best example. Furthermore, you can establish a calendar for each client and show them how to construct a calendar of their own that works for them.
Media companies and bloggers should keep a social media content calendar, too. Sticking to a plan and consistently promoting your content is critical to gaining a following and securing a customer base. It sounds like a no-brainer, but good calendar keeping is actually a skill that few successfully cultivate.
Why Create an Effective Social Media Calendar?
Your calendar brings order to chaos, and it allows your team to focus their energy in one direction instead of taking a scattershot approach to your social media marketing. Furthermore, it provides supervisors and team members with a system for keeping each other accountable regarding timelines and completion.
Most important of all though, using a social media content calendar saves you time by producing measurable results. You don’t need to wonder what content is going to connect and what content will miss the mark. The analytics data from your social media platforms will tell you everything you need to know, and that guides your team when it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start over with a fresh approach.
How To Build an Effective Social Media Content Calendar
1. Create The Broad, General Calendar
Use this calendar to track and add topics that you know will appeal to your target audience. Start with a theme to unify your content, like “what you do” or “why you do it,” or “why you’re the best,” etc. As a general rule, topics can be scheduled four to six months in advance.
You also want to stick to your theme while keeping topics varied to maintain interest. If there’s no new content to see, people are going to scroll right past your posts. This calendar helps you create a big picture, and then your specific calendars will help you create the most meaningful content.
2. Create The Content Calendar
Time to get down to the details of what specific content you will create for social media. You’ll want to break this down by type of topic like articles, videos and useful short posts that connect to your underlying theme and the current seasonal or calendar established topics.
The content calendar is also where you set deadlines for creating content and review. Most teams update and plan these calendars out quarter by quarter, so plan on keeping two or three months worth of work scheduled in here.
3. Create Your Promotional Calendar
Once you’ve got content written and marked off in the content calendar, you are ready to lock it into the promotional calendar. This calendar is where you create the master publishing schedule for content across all channels. Different content is most effective on specific channels (and created specifically for those channels), so you want to make sure you tag or categorize content by what social media channel it will use for publication.
If you’re using a spreadsheet, it also allows you to filter content items and give final approval or send content back for revision by going channel by channel. This not only adds an extra layer of accountability, but it also gets an additional set of eyes on content before it goes out for quality assurance purposes.
Getting the Most Our of Your Content Calendar
1. Don’t Be Spammy
A truly effective social media calendar is going to maximize content exposure while minimizing the possibility of visitors and viewers scrolling right past your stuff in their inbox or social medial feed. The last thing the internet needs is more spam, so focus on providing consistent high quality content at regular intervals. The more consistent you are without bombarding news feeds, the more likely your content will be seen, liked and share.
2. Understand What Motivates Viral Sharing
Creating an ideal customer and marketing directly to them is how you should initiate the creation of fresh, original content. This is but the first step though. Effective content needs to connect with customers as individuals, and there needs to be a give and take over social media about other users’ content and sharing your own.
You want people to like and share your posts? Like and share their posts! Boost their comments, pin their content to your page and engage in discussion and conversation over social media. Creating these authentic interactions is critical to getting shares, not just likes.
3. People Share Content To Connect
People share content for the following reasons:
-To help define their identity
-To connect with other people
-To express values and beliefs
An effective social media calendar is going to schedule content focused on these three motivations. If you can establish consistent opportunities throughout the year for your audience to do any of these things, your calendar is effective.
Now that you know, you’re ready to make your social media content calendar happen for your organization or marketing team. Give the apps we listed a try, and use our method for organizing how you schedule content.