Keeping up with Social Media is not easy. There are constant changes to algorithms, and these channels are demanding a lot more than a post here or there to keep your audience growing. Hiring an expert can be a help, but whether you keep it in-house or outsource you will want to know what is needed of a good strategy (#accountability). There will be time planning, creating, writing, building targets (hashtags & tags), posting, and engaging with your audience. These steps can be given more or less attention depending on what is important to you, but one thing that everyone will want to do well is build a content calendar.
Content Calendars, like having a meeting agenda with focus, allows you to establish your online brand with intention. Like most projects, recording what you are doing so that you can later review what worked and what didn’t, is key to improving. If you continuously improve, you’re sure to reach your goals much more quickly than if you work at random.
Whether your goal is to grow your audience, build connections, present yourself as a knowledge-leader in your industry, or simply get more likes – creating interesting content is how you’ll get there. (Interesting also doesn’t mean noisy, out of the ordinary, or random. It means beneficial to your audience, and having enough variety and usefulness without getting away from your brand-identity. HubSpot is a great resource for learning more about content types if you are interested.) Content can be decided on a day-by-day basis, but it will likely take you much more time and will pose a risk of someone missing key holidays, events, and/or simply lacking value with too much of one type of content (e.g., too much self promotion and not enough entertainment).
When building a content calendar, it’s great to be highly-detailed and about a month out. We track all of the following marks to make sure that we have diverse content; and are attracting, interacting with, and converting the right audience. To begin, we use our Google Calendar and an Excel Spreadsheet to project manage and write up our social calendars. What does our social calendar form look like? We’ve inserted a template below:
Post Template Example for Content Calendar
POST: Tuesday, December 4th, 2018
Creative: [Insert Blog Template Photo w/ Graphic Logo here]
Asset(s): [Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn]
Topic: [New Post: The Tool You Need to Have a Successful Social Media Platform]
Hashtag(s): [#newblogpost, etc.]
Mentions: [Team Author]
Copy: [With our new Social Media Packages released…]
A few of these items require a bit more learning (“Type”, “Source”, etc.) but our template gives an idea of the detail needed.
If you would rather ride the waves and not plan as much upfront then write-up just a couple of the most important strategy pieces for each day. We suggest mapping out the content type (i.e., Entertain, Inspire, Educate, Convince, etc.) and topic idea. This way, either the strategist or another person posting can refer to your calendar and get just enough information while still leaving room for creativity. Less detail can also allow you to plan quarterly instead of monthly.
Whether detailed or simple, quarterly or monthly, the time needed will be about the same. Whichever you choose, you’ll be saving much more energy (and error) than if you did not plan to begin with.
Tie It To Business Goals
To address those who know how to crush it online with a great post, and don’t see the need for a content calendar: We know that people, even successful bloggers and influencers, operate this way, yet for a business we see strategizing as a much better alternative. We can then conduct ongoing analytics, and re-evaluate GAP analyses and SMART goals. Again, we are thinking larger – globally. A business post today may be great, but does it fit in with its brand identity, was it diverse and in-line with the rest of the week’s content, or this months?
Top Apps to Automate your Content Calendar
If you’d like to take it one step further, there are great tools online to help you automate your calendar. We prefer Planable, Plann, Loomly, and Hootsuite to name a few. With these tools, you have every outgoing piece of content pre-planned in a few days time, and pushed out without any day-to-day time needed of you. This is, at least, until someone interacts with you. Then you’re back being social – this engagement, we will talk about on another day.
Final 6 Step Framework to Execute a Successful Content Calendar
As a final take-away, this is what you want to see completed by anyone managing your social media to ensure your social platform is a success:
- Create a Monthly Calendar Template on a system that is easy to use – Google Calendar or Excel for example
- Decide the form fields for each post which will need to be filled out in advance (e.g., Picture, Post Type, Copy, etc.). Refer to our template above for more ideas.
- At least two weeks prior, fill out the full month’s form with content that your industry and audience wants. Keep variety amongst your content by bouncing within the four categories mentioned above (Entertainment, Inspiration, Education, and Convincing). For more about these categories, visit HubSpot or connect with us on how we’ve tailored their process to work for our clients.
- Gather approval from a second party. This will help you to keep on-brand and free of any missed/overused topics.
- Employ a tool such as Planable to automate your posting, or schedule a time for yourself each day to put out content (keep an eye on when you get the most engagement from your audience- this is when you want to be posting).
- Continuously Improve: Fortunately, most social media channels have strong reporting as part of their own platforms. Use these, or more robust apps., to track which posts work best (in terms of your own SMART Goals).
- Re-strategize and begin again
If you’ve tried our process, share with us how this helped you. If you have one of your own, comment below with your tips for a successful social media plan!
Check out these other great articles from our team on Social Media!