Drawing actionable conclusions and using data to shape your content strategy is not something that can happen on the fly. Planning is essential. Testing is vital. Revisiting your analytics to measure performance is a must.
With a social media content calendar, you have the breathing room required to incorporate insights into content creation.
How to create the best social media content calendar
You can create an effective, time-saving, content-improving social media calendar in seven steps:
- Review your content
- Select your social media channels
- Define your calendar’s scope
- Create an asset library
- Map a workflow
- Craft your posts
- Bring in your team for feedback
A quick note: Before you begin, make sure you and your team are clear on your brand’s social media marketing strategy. Your content calendar will be far more powerful if it supports measurable goals.
Step 1: Review your content
You can’t get where you want to go without knowing where you are.
First, take the time to review your social media content and gain clarity over the successes and failures of your current approach. This audit process is crucial to unlocking the full potential of your content calendar and maximising ROI across your social channels.
Here are some questions to guide your content review:
- Are profiles up-to-date? Do they contain incorrect information?
- What are your goals for each platform?
- Who is your audience? Have you fleshed out living, breathing personas?
- How do you measure success on each platform? What are the KPIs you need to track?
- List your most successful posts. What do they have in common?
- What new features (think Instagram Reels, for example) are you not using? Do they make sense for your brand?
- If you have a team, who is responsible for what? How do you build accountability into your workflow?
- Is your current social media strategy contributing to your overall goals?
Your content review is the foundation of your social calendar, so don’t take shortcuts or cut corners.
Step 2: Select your social media channels
Social platforms are not all things to all people. For example, a huge sixty-two per cent of TikTok’s users are under 29 years old. In contrast, about seven in ten Facebook users are over the age of 25. Which channels you target will depend on your audience’s demographics.
What’s more, different platforms encourage different user behaviour. On Instagram, people want inspiration, so they are more likely to shop products using the app’s built-in checkout. On Twitter, they want news, so they may be prone to clicking through to your latest thought leadership piece. On Facebook, they want to argue about politics – do with that what you will.
In summary, spend time on social media channels that meet the following criteria:
- Appeal to your audience
- Align with your goals
Tick these two boxes, and you’re golden.
Step 3: Define your calendar’s scope
Your content calendar is in its infancy, but now’s the time to start adding flesh to the bones. The next step involves scoping your calendar:
- Where is it going to live?
- What will it look like?
- What information does it need to track?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. If your weekend side-hustle is making cupcake-scented candles, a basic spreadsheet might do just fine. If you’re the top dog on a team of 12, you need something a little more comprehensive and collaborative.
Regardless, you’ll likely want to track the following information:
- Date to be published
- Images or videos and where to find them
- Link to the published post
- Social platform
- Time to be published (don’t forget the time zone)
- Who’s responsible for publishing or scheduling the post
You can also experiment with recording more sophisticated details, such as:
- Approved or not approved
- Broader campaign, such as a product launch or special event
- Organic or paid, and if paid, budget and audience details
- Post format, for example, a Story, IGTV, or post on Instagram
Don’t waste time digging up more detail than necessary. Make sure the information you track adds real value to the process.
Step 4: Create an asset library
Your team needs access to the visual assets cited in your social content calendar, which means you can’t hoard photos and videos on your smartphone. Instead, you need a cloud-based storage solution that delivers reliable, secure, anytime, anywhere access.
Your business likely already uses Dropbox, Google Drive, or something similar to enable seamless file-sharing and collaboration. As long as your storage quota allows, there’s no need to introduce new software into the mix.
How you organise your asset library is key to streamlining your social scheduling and posting workflows. Establish and stick to naming conventions and a logical file structure: something like Social > Instagram > 2021 > April > Video.
Step 5: Map a workflow
What are you actually going to do with your content calendar?
Answer this question by mapping your daily, weekly, and monthly workflows. Here’s an example:
- Publish content
- Monitor engagement
- Brainstorm content ideas
- Check analytics
- Review and optimise sponsored posts
- Write content
- Create or source visuals
- Note upcoming holidays or events
- Seek approval, if needed
- Schedule content
- Review big-picture goals
Mapping your workflow isn’t just about what. It’s about who. You’ll need to assign each activity a team member, so everyone is clear on what is and isn’t their responsibility.
Jot down your content calendar’s workflow and save it in a shared folder for clarification and future reference.
Step 6: Craft your posts
It’s time to put your workflow into action and populate your content calendar. There are two phases to this step:
Curating relevant, value-add content
Social media gives you direct access to your target market. It’s powerful stuff, but you know how the cliché goes: with great power comes great responsibility.
It’s essential to not only your success on social but also your brand’s reputation to publish content that is relevant and valuable to your audience. Add to that maintaining authenticity and communicating your brand’s voice, and you have a mammoth task ahead.
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