What we will cover
We know what you’re thinking…’Not another calendar to update and keep track of.’ Bear with us. We are going to show you how setting up this one simple tool can transform your success rate on social media and grow your brand.
The concept of a how to create a social media content calendar is pretty simple: a calendar broken down into weekly or daily slots into which your upcoming social media posts are scheduled.
But don’t underestimate the power of this tool because it can unlock three critical elements of a successful social media strategy: consistency, quality and timing.
Consistency, connection and growth
With social media, there is a connection between engagement (people liking, sharing and commenting on your social media posts) and reach (the number of people who actually get to see your content).
Every social media platform is different but they all include algorithms which reward engagement with reach.
Whether you’re posting links to mind-blowing articles or just sharing inspirational quotes or silly memes, the goal of your social media activity should always be to maximise engagement.
How do you do this?
As explained by Hootsuite, ‘Consistently showing up in your audience’s feed is the key to engaging them on social.’
Many businesses fail to grasp this and adopt an ‘ad-hoc’ approach to social media posting. Rather than building genuine relationships with people in their social networks, they jump on bandwagons or entice people with a series of fascinating posts before abandoning them for months at a time.
They then wonder why no one is talking to them.
If this sounds like you, a social media content calendar will help you to achieve that critical consistency, turning your sporadic social blasts into a series of well-organised, goal-oriented campaigns.
Polish before posting
When you start thinking of social media activity as a set of inter-connecting campaigns, you will understand the value of running those campaigns properly.
That means investing time in creating quality assets. A content calendar gives you breathing space to organise this part of the process.
For example, rather than grabbing a few stock pictures and throwing in a couple of sentences, you could hire a graphic designer to create a series of branded images and a copywriter to ensure your writing is persuasive and leads on to a powerful hook.
You can also build in time to run some proper A/B tests and measure real social KPIs instead of relying on your gut feeling about how a campaign performed.
Timing it right
All businesses organise their activities around important dates in the yearly calendar. These dates will include a mish-mash of public holidays and local, national, international and industry-specific events (e.g. expos, conferences, campaigns, etc.)
By adding these to your social media content calendar ahead of time, you can hook your campaigns into these events early and often beat your less well-prepared competitors to online attention.
For example, if you run a car dealership and you know that a major international motor show is coming to the UK in late summer, you can create early buzz in May or June by referencing the event and striking up conversations around it.
By the time the event comes around, you will have built up some serious momentum. You will have engaged in some genuine conversations, gathered audience insight and built up trust, putting you in a much better position to market your cars compared with less organised competitors.
Of course, there will still be the odd occasion where you will want to react to a breaking news event or jump on a fresh campaign but this will be the exception and not the norm.
Ultimately, you want your social media activity to become a series of interconnected campaigns that help carry your story to the widest possible audience.
Setting up your calendar: 7 simple steps
So how do you get cracking? There is no ‘one right way’ to set up a social media content calendar. Some people and businesses will want to invest in a dedicated platform like Hootsuite, Sprout or Zoho Social while others will be happy with a simple shared Google Sheet (or even a poster on the home office wall – why not?)
A content calendar can be as detailed or basic as you want it to be but it is better to start simple and develop it over time rather than getting bogged down in detail.
So, how to create Social Media Content Calendar
With those simple pointers in place, here is our 7 step guide to setting up your first social media content calendar:
- Audit and simplify your social media. Which platforms do you currently use? What type of content do you produce? Choose two to three social media networks that fit best with your target audience. Decide on a marketing mix that is realistic for your resources and make sure you include visual posts where possible (videos, infographics, animations, etc.)
- Sign up for a social media management platform or create your own content calendar.
- Add public holidays, big events and any industry-specific dates into your fresh calendar.
- Decide on a realistic cadence for your posting activity based on your resources. Remember, consistency is the golden rule so it is better to plan weekly posts and stick to it than to post in sporadic flurries.
- Create a content library for your assets. This need only be a shared folder with subfolders marked for images, articles, videos, etc. Decide on a labeling format and stick to it.
- Design a workflow for you and your team. Make sure everyone is clear on their responsibilities and deadlines. Decide who will sign off and schedule the posts.
- Get creative! Look at what events are coming up and start thinking about how you can build a campaign that leads up to and beyond the event. What combination of posts will you put out? How will you ensure they reflect your brand? Do you need to book a videographer or pro photographer?
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