Over the last couple of years, social media has grown in such a huge way that synchronizing content across all your platforms is seriously overwhelming. To the point where many of us just post on the fly (stressful), post every now and then (also stressful), or just don’t post at all (stressful AND detrimental to your brand). And that’s where a well-planned social media calendar comes handy. So below is a step-by-step guide on to how to create your own social media calendar…
1. Get clear on your goals
In order to get more eyeballs on your posts, create better engagement, bring traffic to your website or even increase subscribers on your blog, having a clearly defined end-goal will help you structure your calendar better. So what are you trying to achieve? Your answer here will help you create each piece of your content with intent.
2. Shortlist your social channels
Each social media platform meets different objectives, and accordingly demands a tailored approach. For beginners, I highly recommend starting with one platform and truly mastering it, before gradually expanding to new ones. If you’re not sure which platform to start with, ask yourself… where are my customers hanging out online? Start there.
3. Work with actual calendar
Get yourself a real-life, old-fashioned paper calendar and mark down holiday seasons, special events and other important industry-specific dates. Then, write down any fun holidays that you think are relevant to your niche. Creating content around these events is a great way to increase engagement – for example, if your business is food related, create a poll on National French Toast Day: ‘Do you eat your French toast sweet or savoury?’ (#spoileralert: The answer is savoury, btw!) These types of posts entertain and engage your followers, building on the know-like-and-trust factor at the same time. If you need some ideas, you can find a list of upcoming holidays and events here.
Now that the basics are covered, it’s time to work on your content strategy.
Create a Content Strategy
So what is a Content Strategy? A content strategy is an approach to streamline your thoughts on your marketing actions. Simply said, it means what, when and how to share on your socials.
How to create it:
1. Decide on your content mix
‘Content mix’ is just a fancier name for ‘the type of content you are presenting to your audience’. And it’s a very important part of creating an accurate strategy, as a lot of your marketing success depends on a precise content mix. You can draw your mix from events / news updates, blog highlights, motivational / inspiration content, product or service introductions, tips and tricks, user-generated content, etc. depending on your final goal.
#protip ALWAYS work on the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should provide value (educate, entertain or inspire), and only 20% should be promotional (selling) posts. And I’m going to drop a #truthbomb here… a potential client is never going to connect with your social media accounts if your feed is just screaming “buy my stuff!” all the time.
2. Create a pattern
While setting your content mix, gradually try to create a pattern for a similar types of content. This will not only help you decide which content is more sell-able, but will also meet audience expectations regarding specific content.
So for Facebook, you might like to assign specific content types to days of the week; for example, on Mondays you might share a motivational post, on Tuesdays one of your own blog posts, on Wednesday some branded content (meme/quote etc), on Thursday a new product, and so on.
For Instagram, you might have a rotating grid of 9, which includes 4 value posts (again, these should educate, entertain or inspire, or help your audience in some way), 3 connection posts (establishing your points of difference, showing your face, showcasing your brand personality, embracing digital storytelling) and 2 promotional posts.
3. Be aware of the trends
Forget days – social media is a rapidly evolving and highly competitive marketplace, and trends can change in just minutes! So the biggest advice I have here is to keep your eyes wide open and be abreast with what’s in going on. Try to “mould” your content (where appropriate) around the latest trends to align with the demand.
#protip Set up Google Alerts for keywords relevant to your niche for a daily digest of content you can share.
Putting together your Social Media Calendar
1. Make a schedule
It’s called a social media calendar for a reason! You basically decide on the date and time of your content going live.
The format of your calendar is up to you; if you love paper (#stationeryaddict anyone?) grab our free calendar template and start filling it in. Or use post-it notes so that you can re-arrange things as you see fit. This method will require you to manually create your posts in each platform, however both Facebook and Instagram have a native scheduling feature that you can utilise to batch content a week (or more!) at a time.
If digital is more your style, then there are plenty of schedulers out there. I personally use and recommend Social Aider for both my own accounts, and my clients’. It’s ridiculously affordable at just $59 a year, and so easy that anyone can use it. (It also lets you add UNLIMITED profiles, which is practically unheard of.) And if you’re looking for a scheduler that will allow you to set recurring posts, then RecurPost is the other one that I use. I love it because it rotates my evergreen blog content, posts daily to my Facebook group… and it’s FREE!
Whether you decide to use paper or go digital, you need to decide the frequency of your posts, and then decide on which days are favourable for what content. Finally, understand the best time to post. This part comes with trial and some analytical tools – most platforms have their own analytics or insights, so check them out! Start with weekly, analyse how they performed, do some tweaking, and once you’re confident that you’re on the right track, go ahead and move to monthly.
2. Gather your content
Have your content requirements such as ideas, images or any important links in one place – Evernote, Trello, Dropbox or Google Drive all work well.
3. Leave room for surprises
Give your calendar a little breathing space. Having a tightly packed calendar will leave no space for unforeseen changes, trending topics or introducing test content.
As you upload content and publish it across your social platforms, you can now validate your content strategy.
• Start filling posts in your content calendar as per your content mix
• Make your content unique, likable and shareable
• Ensure you include a call to action for your audience
• Once your content is out, always analyse your content to see what is working and what is not
Creating a social media calendar is one of the biggest hacks when it comes to getting on top of your marketing strategy. Start small with weekly trials, and once you’re feeling confident that you’ve nailed the right mix, you can move on to making monthly or yearly plans. It will not only help you to be ‘battle ready’, but will also allow you to measure your success and see where there’s room for improvement.
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