How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar that Actually Works

Almost every online business these days has a social media presence in one form or another. Both businesses and marketers realise the importance of social media and the opportunity that it presents to engage customers in a place they frequent.

However, to maintain an active social media presence, you need to be regular and consistent with posting content. It needs to be planned and not ad-hoc. You can’t just wing it and post whenever you feel like it. You need to be consistent and ensure that your audience knows when they can expect your next post.

This is where a social media content calendar comes into the picture. It is a necessary tool to ensure that you have a fixed content schedule that you follow for all of your social media accounts.

In this post, we will discuss the whole process of creating a social media content calendar and posting content.

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar that Actually Works:


1. Plan Your Social Media Content Strategy

The first step in any sort of content or marketing-related initiative is to plan things before executing them. The same goes for creating your social media content calendar as well. Before you can create a content calendar, you need to plan your social media content strategy.

This will entail determining your objectives and deciding what type of content you want to post on social media.

Content Goals

You should be clear about what you want to achieve by posting content on social media. Do you want to increase your brand awareness or are you simply looking for relevant leads? Whatever marketing objective you want to achieve should be clearly defined. 

Your goals are what will determine the rest of your social media content strategy and lay the foundation for preparing your content calendar. 

Type of Content

Once you are clear about what you want to achieve from your social media initiatives, it’s time to decide what kind of content you will post. This should be done keeping in mind your target audience and their preferences. 

You should also consider whether you want to create fresh content every time or if you will curate content as well. And, if you do both, you need to plan what percentage of fresh content versus curated content you’ll post.


2. Decide on a Posting Frequency for Each Platform

By this stage, you know what type of content you want to post and what you want to gain from it. Next, you need to select the social media channels that you want to utilise and how often you will post on each selected channel.

Some platforms, like Twitter, are more dynamic and need for you to post several times a day to have an active presence. Other platforms, like YouTube, can be tapped just by posting one video a week.

Your choice of platform should also be done keeping in mind your target audience and which platforms they frequent. 

For example, B2B companies might benefit from using LinkedIn and Twitter more than they would form using Instagram. An online retailer, however, might find Instagram’s visual format more useful for their business.

So, select the best social media platforms and decide on a posting frequency and schedule. The schedule can be decided based on past research about the best times to post for each platform.

Best Times to Post

Sprout Social has conducted a detailed research study on the best times to post on social media. You can use this to find out the best days and times to post social media content for each platform. 

These times also vary by the type of industry that you’re in and you can use these details to plan your social posting schedule.

Here’s an example of the best times to post on Facebook.

Image via Sprout Social


3. Select the Right Tools to Prepare Your Calendar

This is the stage where you actually create your social media content calendar. You can choose to create different types of social media content calendars with or without the help of social media management tools

It can be something as simple as writing things down with a pen and paper to using a software solution to manage your social content. It all depends on your requirements and how much you are willing to spend.

Types of Social Media Calendars

Let’s take a look at some common types of social media calendars that you can create.

Manual Calendars

As the name suggests, this is a simple pen and paper or even an online version of a calendar where you simply note things down. This is best suited for businesses that do not post very frequently and just need a record of what they plan to do in a month or any other time duration.

Here’s an example of a manual content calendar by National Geographic. It is simple and anyone can make such calendars without any hassles.

Excel-Based Calendars (with Templates)

A more organised way of making a social media content calendar is to make a list of content topics, along with the dates and times that you intend to post each. 

Here’s an example of a very basic content calendar that you can prepare using Excel of Google Sheets. 

Image via Forbes

This was just a basic example, you can add as many columns as you like and add information on dates, times, and a lot more.

Here’s an example of one of our social media content calendars that you can use for inspiration. This is created in Google Sheets, without using any fancy tools or software solutions.

Image via IMH

You can also find several free content calendar templates online that you can use instead of creating one from scratch. These can help you get started instantly or at least provide inspiration for the kind of information that you can add.

Content Calendars Made Using Third-Party Tools

If you are active on social media and post a lot of content on a regular basis, then this is the best option for you. There are several social content management tools that can not only help you create a content calendar but can also automate the posting process.

Buffer, CoSchedule, and Hootsuite are some of the tools that you can use to create a calendar and manage all of your social media content. All these can make the entire content planning, scheduling, and posting process much easier. And, this type of content calendar is more dynamic where you can make changes in real-time and manage it all from one interface.


4. Fill Up Your Calendar and Share Internally

Once you have selected a basic structure or template or tool for your calendar, it’s time to fill it up with content. This will include the topics, types of content, actual content pieces (or links to them), social media platforms (where you’ll post the content), along with dates and times.

Also, make sure that you share your calendar with your entire content team so that everyone is on the same page.


5. Create a Content Repository

This goes without saying that you need to create social media posts and other content that you want to post well in advance. Your posting schedule should be such that you have enough time for content creation and editing.

So, create your content in advance and store it all in a central repository from where you can simply pick things up and post per your schedule.


6. Schedule Your Posts

This might seem similar to making a content calendar, but it’s not. It is one thing to create a calendar or schedule, but it’s another to actually set up a queue and post your content.

Here, scheduling refers to the process of setting up a queue to post your social media content. This could either be done manually or using an automated tool like Buffer which can automatically post content at preset times.


7. Monitor Your Process and Improvise

Now that you have established a workflow or a process of sorts, it’s important that you keep track of how well it is working. 

Are you able to meet your deadlines and post content at the designated times? Is there a bottleneck somewhere in the process that is slowing things down? Are your writers getting enough time to create content to keep up with your schedule?

Monitor these aspects and make improvements wherever needed. Doing this over a period of time will help streamline the process and make it more efficient.


Conclusion

Follow these steps to create and implement a social media content calendar and manage your content efficiently.

Even if you post just once or twice a week, it makes sense to create a social media content calendar to organise the process. This way, everyone on your team will be on the same page about what needs to be done and when.

If you do not have a social media content calendar yet, you can get started creating one right now. You can use this post as your guide for creating a social media content calendar that works.

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