If you have a social media strategy, then a social media content calendar template is an essential tool for putting this strategy into action. Once you understand how to use it, your content calendar will become your best friend.
Ultimately, a good content calendar should help you consistently share valuable content which your audience cares about. In time, both consistency and valuable content will help you grow your social media.
Before we get into what goes into a good social media content calendar, let’s talk about what exactly it is.
What is a social media content calendar template?
This isn’t a trick question – a social media content calendar template is exactly what it sounds like. A calendar for scheduling your social media content. In other words, it’s a schedule detailing what content you will post on social media and when you will post it.
This schedule can take many forms:
1) Pen and paper: You can simply write your plan down. This works if you’re the only person involved in producing and publishing content.
2) Excel Sheets/Google Sheets: You can generate a spreadsheet either in Microsoft Excel on your computer or in its online equivalent, Google Sheets. This is a good option if you want to collaborate with other people on your team.
3) Content calendar software: Software systems like Contio have been developed to help content creators collaborate and produce content faster. Contio has an editorial calendar where you can pitch, assign, approve and publish content all in one place. When used with the content editor, which allows different team members to work together on content production, the calendar is a powerful collaboration tool.
Why do I need a social media content calendar?
Theoretically speaking, it’s possible to operate without a social content calendar. But once you learn how to use one, you won’t want to go back to a life without content calendars.
For a content creator or social media manager, a content calendar has many benefits:
1) Helps you save time in the future
Imagine having to put aside time to find fresh, interesting content to share every day. What happens if you have to go for an unforeseen meeting during that time you had allocated to finding content? Or if a client calls with something that needs to be worked on urgently?
With a social media content calendar template, you won’t have to worry about emergencies like these forcing you to abandon your quest for good content halfway. You can simply sit down and line up all your content for a week, then move on to other tasks that need to be done.
2) Helps you streamline your collaboration
If you’re in a team, then being able to work together efficiently is essential to your success. With a content calendar, you can say goodbye to those “what’s the status of this video?” messages and “is the editing for this blog post done?” phone calls. With a good content calendar, everyone on your team should be able to see the status of each piece of content.
When done well, your content calendar saves time because everyone can pitch in on the same project in one place. This saves time usually spent between emails, word processors and project management tools.
3) Gives you an overview of your entire social media strategy
A social media content calendar template also gives you a bird’s eye view of your social media strategy. You can see how all the elements work together to achieve the goals you’ve set out.
Since your social media strategy complements your marketing strategy, a good content calendar will also give you an overview of your marketing strategy.
4) Helps you analyze and evaluate your strategy
When you have all your social media content in one place, you can evaluate the success of your social media strategy more easily in the future. Seeing how all the pieces fit together can help you determine which pieces are contributing to your goals and which ones aren’t.
This then forms a good starting point for helping you tweak your strategy to better fit your goals.
Okay, so how do I develop a social media content calendar?
Now that you understand how a content calendar can help you, let’s talk about how to develop one that will work well for you.
1) Perform a social media audit
The first step of developing a social media content calendar is evaluating what’s already working and what isn’t. In order to do this, you need to log into all your social media accounts do the following:
- Ensure each profile is complete, including contact information, a physical address (if necessary) and links to your website.
- Identify the demographic that makes up the majority of your audience.
- Identify your best-performing posts and hashtags.
- Identify the account with the highest engagement and the accounts which still need work.
Once you have an idea of how each of your social media accounts is performing, we can move on to the next step.
2) Identify your target audience
Since you already performed your social media audit in Step 1, you already know who your audience is. Are the people you’re reaching the same as your target audience? Do you need to do something different to reach the people you actually want to reach?
Profiling your target audience will help you understand what needs tweaking in your current social media strategy. Once you understand who the people you’re interested in are and what matters to them, you will be in a better position to produce content that actually matters to them.
A good target audience profile should also include where these people hang out. If you can get this information, then you will also know which social media networks to use to find this target audience.
3) Identify the most effective platforms
We started by identifying the social media accounts where you’re already shining (Step 1). Then we talked about where your target audience hangs out (Step 2). Both these pieces of information will help you to identify which platforms you should prioritize in your social media strategy.
Once you’ve identified the most effective platforms, you also need to identify which media works best on each platform and the optimal times for posting on each platform.
4) Develop your editorial pieces
Your editorial pieces are a list of all the content you will produce, whether it’s blog posts, videos, tutorials, podcast episodes etc. All your core content counts as editorial content.
5) Break everything down into steps
It’s not enough to simply list everything that needs to be done and leave it at that. Instead, break everything down into stages which are easy to implement. For example, instead of just listing a blog post, break it down into brainstorming, writing a first draft and editing.
This way, you won’t be too overwhelmed when you look at a single piece of content. Additionally, breaking things down into stages makes it easy to assign people different tasks.
6) Colour code different categories of content
Colours can help you keep things organized and differentiate between different categories of content. If you colour code your content calendar, then it’ll be easy to distinguish between different things that need to be done at a glance.
Here’s how our social media team uses colour coding in their content calendar:
7) Identify your promotional content
Once you’ve decided on your editorial content, you should also find ways to repackage it in forms your social media audience will enjoy consuming. For example, you could turn your blog post into an infographic, a graph or a video. People enjoy visual content, so it pays to make use of all the different options at your disposal.
8) Create a space for brainstorming
Did you think that a content calendar is only meant for content that’s ready to go out? As it turns out, a content calendar can also come in handy for brainstorming.
Since everyone on your team has access to this calendar, it’s a good idea to create a space where people can brainstorm and pool ideas for use in the future. These come in especially handy when you need content but are running low on ideas.
9) Leave room for last-minute inspiration
Just as a good content calendar should have a brainstorming space, you should also have spaces saved for content which is inspired at the last minute.
A good example of last-minute inspiration is newsjacking.
You can plan to produce content related to the news a specific number of times every week. However, you can’t plan exactly what kind of content this will be since the news changes so often and so quickly.
10) Ensure your calendar is accessible to your team
What good is an organized content calendar if no one but you can see it? As soon as you set up your content calendar, it is essential to make sure all your team members can see it.
Contio has a good editorial calendar tool – with Contio, your writer, editor and designer can now collaborate on content production. At any one time, everyone on your team can see what content is being produced by whom, what stage it is at and when it should be ready.
11) Evaluate and adjust
As previously stated, your social media content calendar template is also a tool for evaluating your social media strategy. First, run your social media campaign then look at the analytics. Once you know what content is performing well and what is performing poorly, you can go back to your calendar and restrategise.
As you can see, a social media content calendar should help you implement your social media strategy and collaborate successfully with your team. Ultimately, a good content calendar should make your social media management a much smoother process.