Social Media Content Calendars: What, Why and How
We’ve all been there. It’s first thing Monday morning and you’re staring blankly at a stark white document on your computer screen with the title “This week’s social media posts,” and all those great ideas you had while you were in the shower this morning are now absent from your brain and you are left with a wordless document. Again. For the third week in a row. So you do one of two things: scramble to produce social media posts for your numerous platforms that are not well thought out and don’t support your content marketing strategy or don’t post anything at all and leave your social media followers with nothing but silence, neither option being a good choice.
So how do you avoid this Monday morning panic? Social media content calendars.
I’m confused. What is a social media content calendar?
Social media content calendars are an “easy” fix to this problem that more than just you struggle with, but what is a social media content calendar? It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a schedule for your social media content detailing what you will post, where you will post, and when you will post it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you map out your exact post for every platform for months in advance, I’m only telling you to plan the topic of the post, that way on Monday morning when you go to write the posts for that week, you already have the topic outlined and just have to fill in the content.
That’s an interesting thought, but why do I need a social media content calendar?
If you’re anything like me, you come up with the best ideas when you need them the least. I have a terrible habit of thinking I’ll remember my brilliant ideas forever, meaning when I need that great idea for a social media post, it has escaped me into the black hole of my brain, never to return. Developing a good social media calendar can help with organizing those ideas and create a process for posting to your social media platforms. Keeping a calendar, whether it is a spreadsheet or a word document or a printed out monthly calendar you write on, will reduce those, “Oh no, it’s 4 p.m. and I haven’t posted to social media today,” dreaded thoughts. Having a calendar transforms your social media efforts from being impromptu and scattered to actually executing a social media strategy. So here are a few reasons we like content calendars:
1. Calendars create consistency:
One thing social media experts harp on is a consistent outline. Whether you post once a week or four times a day, stay consistent. Your followers will catch on to when you are posting and come back for new content. If you don’t have a schedule and are just posting randomly, your readers won’t know when to look for new information and they will probably just quit looking.
2. Calendars keep track of what you’re posting:
You have blogs and articles and videos and photos and so many great ideas, but what’s the point of having all of these wonderful pieces of content if you aren’t promoting them correctly? Keeping a schedule will help you remember all of your content materials and help you space out your content so you aren’t posting two videos in one day or going weeks without reposting that awesome blog post.
3. Calendars save time:
You’d be surprised at how long it actually takes to manage social media accounts. You have to come up with your ideas, find or create your content, write your posts and then post or schedule it. Knowing what you’re going to post and when you’re going to post it saves an extra step. You already have all your ideas in one place and you not only know what is going to be posted tomorrow, but two weeks from now.
Ok, you talked me into it. How do I create a social media calendar and what should be included?
Start with finding a good example or template of a content calendar: here’s one. Next, sit down and make a list of all your existing content you can promote on your social media sites: articles, videos, blog posts, photos, infographics, interviews, etc. Keep that list handy and easily accessible because you might remember something later on that you want to add to it. Then, decide how often you want to post. If you’re just getting started, here are a couple suggestions from Constant Contact:
- Facebook: 3-10 times per week
- Twitter: at least 5 times a day
- LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week
- Google+: 3-10 times per week
- Pinterest: 5-10 times per day
Take a look at all of your content and map out the days and times you want to post based on the suggestions above. Now, you can start plugging in content on days and time slots. Say you have a blog post that you think is very informative, then schedule it once a week every week this month (varying your days and post times). Or maybe you know there is an article coming out about your organization next week, go ahead and fill that in the calendar so you don’t forget to share it. You can even write in important days and holidays that apply to your organization for the month; if you’re a not-for-profit, you probably want to double check days such as Giving Tuesday are included and if you’re Krispy Kreme, you want to make sure National Talk Like a Pirate Day is front and center. I’d suggest you start by sitting down once a month and mapping out your calendar for the next month, but it might be easier for you to start smaller and get used to a week-by-week schedule. Let the calendar work in your favor and use it however it works best for you.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. If you are interested in learning more about social media content and content marketing and need help getting started, give us a call at 256-560-0098 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.