How to Create a Social Media Calendar
By now, every business owner should recognize the importance of social media. Social media management is a pivotal component of the services offered by any marketing agency. In fact, some agencies dedicate themselves exclusively to optimizing and managing their clients’ social media presence.
Given the importance of social media to the marketing success of your business, it is crucial to know what goes into an effective strategy. Posting irregularly with little to no thought for audience engagement or results will get you nowhere.
Successful social media marketing starts with a solid foundation. Whether you manage your own social media activity or partner with an agency, creating a social media calendar is an essential step for creating consistency, growing your audience, and driving new and repeat business.
Why Is It Important to Have a Social Media Calendar?
When you see a funny, memorable, or moving post on your social feeds, this content did not just magically appear. There is a lot happening behind the scenes before an effective social media post is even conceptualized, let alone published for the world to see.
Some of the questions both in-house social media marketers and agencies need to ask as they create content include:
- What goes out and when?
- How does the content tie back to your brand and messaging strategy?
- What media assets will be used?
A social media calendar provides a framework to answer these questions and maintain consistency. Having a calendar also helps you stay organized, whether one person or multiple team members are involved in social media management.
How Do I Develop a Social Media Calendar?
Brainstorming is the best way to get the ball rolling on creating content for social media. Members of your organization and/or outside partners (such as social media strategists at your marketing agency) should meet regularly to come up with content ideas that tie back to your goals and objectives.
The brainstorming process should be fun, inclusive, and positive. The participants should feel free to share any and all ideas; in these early stages, there is no such thing as a “bad idea.”
Brainstorming meetings are also a good time to make sure everyone is clear on your goals and develop solutions for reaching them. Involving multiple people with different perspectives in the meeting (Ex: maybe invite your company president to one meeting, multiple team members at your marketing agency to another, etc.) can provide the context you need to create effective social messaging.
In creating the social media calendar, it can be helpful to reference more general calendars to come up with ideas for content and when they should be delivered. Topical calendars with upcoming events, holidays, and awareness campaigns can help get the creative juices flowing.
After the brainstorming meeting, content production can get underway in earnest. As stakeholders come up with ideas, it is important to keep the social media calendar updated with information such as:
- Topics for content
- Rationale for each post (i.e., how the individual post aligns with overall messaging)
- Media type (e.g., static post, video, etc.)
- Source (your business, marketing agency, influencer, etc.)
- The date each post will go live – this provides a framework for when the assets above need to be complete so your team doesn’t have to scramble to get everything done at the last minute
- And more
This structured approach to planning and executing social media marketing helps you avoid going from brainstorming straight to publishing (which is inefficient and ineffective). Instead, a social media calendar acts as a roadmap for your content, helping you think systematically through each key step:
- Asset creation and copywriting
- Posting content live
How Far in Advance Should I Plan a Social Media Calendar?
Scheduling social media content in advance is crucial for consistently delivering high-quality, engaging posts. However, there is no one answer to how much time you should allow for creating content.
Megan Thielen, Lead Social Media Strategist at Twelve Three Media, explained the process our team uses in a recent article on Databox:
“We generally break our timeline down into weekly chunks, building 1-1.5 months before anything goes live. One week is dedicated to a team brainstorm & topical calendar buildout. Two weeks are dedicated to content creation and internal reviews (this is where we take our topical calendar roadmap and make/secure assets, write copy, and execute internal reviews/revisions).”
Social media content should be a mix of evergreen and trending posts. Depending on your business, your industry, and the customers you serve, it may behoove your brand to keep up on what’s new and create content at the speed of culture. In other cases, content can be planned out in advance while leaving room for relevant, time-sensitive opportunities.
Creating a social media calendar that outlines upcoming content – whether you do it a month, a quarter, or more in advance – actually improves your ability to be spontaneous when something noteworthy happens in real time. With evergreen content already planned out, it is easier to jump on creating a timely post without disruption to your workflow.
Should Social Media Calendars Be Developed with Certain Platforms in Mind?
Your business, your budget, and your objectives and goals will ultimately drive how granular you should get in planning content for different social media platforms. While large brands may have teams dedicated to a particular platform (one group working on content for Instagram, another working on Facebook, etc.), smaller businesses may find it difficult to invest this kind of money, time, and resources.
Not every company is Wendy’s, which spends millions of dollars cultivating unique personalities and messaging for each of its social media pages. But if you can’t afford this strategy, there is no need to despair.
The best way to maximize your reach across multiple social media channels is to prioritize the platforms that get you the highest return on investment. The ROI on social media marketing can be calculated in multiple ways, from brand awareness to engagement with followers to actual sales. Look carefully at the metrics that matter the most to you, then develop social media content that speaks across channels (while allowing space on the calendar for content developed for a specific platform and audience).
A well-crafted social media calendar will help you stay on top of developing content for one, some, or all of your social media profiles. The calendar will also make it easier to vary content developed initially for one or two platforms (Ex: Facebook and Instagram) and alter it to fit varying demographics and best practices on other platforms (such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google My Business, etc.).
How Do You Know If a Social Media Calendar Is Working?
The effectiveness of a social media calendar rests on your answers to two distinct questions:
- Is the calendar working?
- Is the content working?
Your social media calendar should help you run more efficiently. It should help with communication, planning, and execution. If you still find it difficult to get all of these components in place and stick to a schedule, you should reevaluate your process.
It can be more difficult to determine if your content is working. You need to know what your content should accomplish and the challenges you face. You also need to understand how you will measure what makes a post successful based on your goals and objectives.
If you want to nurture an existing audience, you may focus on metrics that measure engagement. If you want to grow your audience, you may focus on metrics that measure acquisition. You also need to have an understanding of platform algorithms, best practices, and what content is resonating with your audience.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that not every post is going to be a hit. Rather than getting down, gather insights from your posts to try to understand your audience better. Then, use your audience insights to craft content that will resonate.
If your content is underperforming, you need to ensure that you are abiding by each platform’s best practices, delivering content that the algorithm is likely to reward, and fine-tuning your message to appeal better to your audience. Also, keep in mind that social media is a pay-to-play space. To start seeing good results on your organic social media activity, you will likely need to develop paid media strategies, too.
Social media is a “must-have” for any business. Although no one knows your business better than you, it is not uncommon for brands to face difficulties with consistent posting and effective messaging.
Creating a social media calendar is the best way to stay organized. Many hands make light work, and a single resource that helps everyone stay on task can help you build a strategy that boosts your social visibility and achieves results that drive your bottom line.
Struggling to stay on top of your social media calendar? Does attaining your goals seem out of reach? Contact Twelve Three Media to learn about our social media management services.
Our team of experts employs tried-and-true strategies for developing a social media calendar, creating high-quality content and assets, posting when the time is right, monitoring engagement, and accurately reporting results. We customize the social strategy for your business to ensure that the content grows your audience and drives revenue.