A social media content calendar is an organized, surefire way to create a template for your business's ideas, editorial content, and social media updates. An effective content calendar should simplify both the creative process and the execution as well as enable anyone on your team to go in and 'pick up where you left off'.
There are many informative blog posts on how to create a social media content calendar, but one thing missing from most is simplicity. If a calendar isn't making your life simpler, why use one?
So I wanted to do just that.
Before You Create Your Calendar
1. Don't reinvent the wheel.
Before you create your own social media content calendar, it's a good idea to take a look at one or two pre-existing ones to get a feel for them. While you should customize it to fit your specific business goals, there's no need to completely reinvent the wheel.
For reference, here is a social media content calendar template from one of the leading companies within the social media landscape: Hootsuite (link here).
Take a minute to understand the purpose and structure of a typical social media content calendar.
2. Don't plan too far in advance.
I wouldn't plan content more than a month in advance from when it'll be published.
Why? Well, with the rise of engagement-based algorithms on social media platforms, being more reactive to your top-performing content is the best strategy at growing a loyal following on a specific platform. Thus, posting more isn't the answer.
In a recent article, I covered how Dennis Yu (CEO of BlitzMetrics & co-author of Facebook Nation) recommends spending only 20 percent of your time on Facebook creating content and 80 percent optimizing that content. As Facebook is thought of as the 'North Star' of social media, the same trend will inevitably follow on other platforms.
The solution? Take one or two days at the very beginning of the month to plan the month's content. Then, take time to measure performance at every step along the way, and boost or re-promote whichever content is performing best.
3. Agree upon a frequency of social posts.
When it comes to the recommended number of times you should post per day on a specific platform, no one has the perfect formula. More often than that, there is a discrepancy between publications on this amount. CoSchedule recommends Tweeting 15 times per day, while Buffer recommends Tweeting 3 times.
You know your business's objectives and audience better than anybody. Using that information, decide upon a frequency for each platform you intend to use.
This will be the golden rule of your content calendar, so make sure and spend some time thinking this over and testing different frequencies every so often.
4. Consolidate your content.
You don't need to plan out every single Tweet, Instagram post, or LinkedIn update separately from one another. That sounds like an absolute nightmare, plus you've got a business to run.
Instead, just focus on one piece of core content. Then, use your other social media posts to generate awareness for that core content.
This piece of content could be a blog post, YouTube video, Facebook Live show, or something else entirely. This way, the only content you're inputting into your calendar is the core content.
For example, let's say your core content is a YouTube video about vinyasa yoga. From there, simply create Tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates, and more with quotes or commentary from the video and a link back to it.
For a better idea of this process, give this article I wrote a read on how a top fitness entrepreneur turns one Facebook Live show into hundreds of pieces of social media content.
Setting Up Your Calendar
Alright. Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty.
1. Decide on your medium.
There's no need to get fancy here. You can use a Google Sheet, Excel file, or a third party tool of your choosing.
2. Stick only to the essentials.
When actually creating your social media content calendar, it's important to not overload it with unnecessary information. If you've followed all the steps mentioned above, the only items you'll need in your calendar are the following:
- Creative concept of core content.
- Link to the core content.
- Date and time when the content is scheduled to be published.
- The copy (text for the post).
- The image(s).
- Miscellaneous notes, hashtags, additional info, etc.
For each of these items, create a corresponding column in your calendar. That way, you can easily add more rows and plan for the upcoming month.
As long as this information is in the proper place, the core content has already been planned, and the frequency of social posts has been agreed upon, you're all set to begin using your calendar.