Managing multiple social media accounts for your business can get pretty hectic. It’s easy to get caught up in the constant flow of new content and ideas, which is why you need an organizer.

This is where social media content calendars come into play. A social media calendar organizes your publishing schedule, and it can save you a lot of time planning and organizing the content you want to publish on social media platforms, while also allowing you to track and test different strategies to see what works best with your audience.

While it’s still a good idea to keep your ear to the ground and be up to date on any new trends and news stories, planning your content months in advance will ensure you’re not frantically looking for ideas every day.

The Benefits of Using a Social Media Calendar

Any successful social media strategy requires regular publishing on each platform you’re using, as well as engaging with followers in order to see some positive results. Here are a few reasons why social media content calendars are a must for a successful strategy:

  • stay organized and avoid having to scramble when you need to publish something.

All your social media marketing goals have one thing in common with many of the other things in your daily planner: they require effort and your attention every single day, not just when you feel inspired or after you’ve taken care of everything else.

Having a social media calendar allows you to plan in advance, organize your work and avoid multitasking, and write down all your creative idea for later use. Essentially it means you won’t ever have to endlessly scroll through posts in hopes that you will find something to publish.

While you’ll be publishing content every day, possibly several times a day, you won’t need to constantly babysit your feeds. Some social media calendar tools offer a way to schedule posts ahead of time and also manage your audience’s engagement from the same dashboard.

  • post consistently.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to get more YouTube subscribers, Instagram likes or followers, or you’ve implemented some social media KPIs, every expert will always tell you that you need to publish content consistently.

The reason for this is that a consistent presence in your audience’s feed is a great way to engage them on social media. Good engagement metrics increase your organic reach on the platform, meaning more people see your posts and start following your brand. Genuine connections with your audience are also great for increasing your conversions.

Planning ahead of time what to post on your social media channels with a calendar is a great way to ensure you publish content consistently, regardless of whether it’s a slow news week or you’re having the biggest promotion of the year.

  • plan for each specific social network so you’re not sharing the same exact message across all platforms.

It’s a good idea to customize the content on each platform to appeal to the audiences you have on each of them. Craft custom messages for each platform and remember to do it in advance, saving you time throughout your week.

  • track performance.

Social media calendars aren’t just planning tools; they’re also great for tracking and measuring your campaigns’ performances across all the platforms you are using. Collecting and analyzing your campaigns’ performances allows you to continuously improve and optimize your social media strategy.

When you notice that a piece of content is performing well, be sure to save it and make a note to republish it sometime in the future.

Be sure to account for the fact that you should run different campaigns across social media platforms. Every platform is different and serves different purposes, so you should keep this in mind when trying to increase a post’s reach on other platforms. Just because a post is popular on one social media channel, doesn’t mean it will perform as well on others. For example, a post that performs well on Instagram will likely just have to be used as a featured image for a LinkedIn post which is more text-heavy, rather than sharing it just as it is on Instagram.

  • plan for holidays or observance days.

A calendar will ensure that you never forget about an important day or event because you can look them up in advance and properly plan for them, rather than being caught off-guard and scrambling to post quality, relevant content on the day. This is a great way to tailor your content and engage with a wider audience.

Another plus is that once you have all these posts planned for special occasions, if something topical comes up, you’ll be free to focus on that and create new content about what’s relevant in that specific moment.

  • make fewer mistakes.

Planning everything in advance gives you time to recheck what’s about to be published on a certain day and ensure there are no typos or other types of mistakes on your posts.

Some social media calendar tools also offer team member approvals, which means there are more people keeping an eye on the posts you are publishing, ensuring everything goes according to plan.

  • improved efficiency.

Preparing a formal content strategy will help ensure that your content performs better than it would by just “winging it.” Planning everything in advance will give you time to reassess your choices and improve them over time for optimum post performance.

If you’re in a team and multiple people are managing the calendar, that’s even better, as you have higher chances of someone improving the content you plan on publishing.

  • raise your ambitions.

The biggest brands on social media are often running several campaigns at the same time – long, medium, and short-term campaigns, as well as paid and organic, and that’s just for regular, day-to-day posts.

Once you have a schedule in place, this offers you more time to focus on other things, such as contests, partnering with influencers, giveaways, and so on.

Whether you are part of a team that manages your company’s social media strategy or you’re doing it all on your own, you have to get organized before you can up your social media game.

Now that we’ve learned how useful and impactful a social media content calendar can be for a business, let’s go ahead and see what steps you need to take to create your own calendar:

  1. Perform a social network & content audit
  2. Choose relevant social channels
  3. Decide what your calendar should track
  4. Create a content library for assets
  5. Establish a workflow
  6. Start preparing posts
  7. Add team members to the calendar and get their feedback
  8. Start scheduling and publishing

Alright, let’s go ahead and delve deeper into each step.

1. Perform a social network & content audit

Audits are essential to fine-tuning strategies and maximizing ROI. Getting a clearer picture of your current social media efforts allows you to identify areas where you can improve, as well as new opportunities.

Here’s what information you should look to get out of an audit:

  • outdated information
  • impostor accounts
  • goals and KPIs for social accounts on each platform
  • your audience’s demographics and preferences
  • who on your team is responsible for what work
  • your most successful posts and strategies
  • opportunities to improve
  • key metrics which can measure success on each platform

Set aside some time to go over every social asset you have. This will allow you to tackle your social strategy with accurate information about your audience, accounts, and brand as a whole.

2. Choose relevant social channels

Before you jump head-first into every network available, do some research on their user bases, what the demographics are on each one, and how well they align with your target audience’s characteristics. Also ensure that you are aware of the best practices for business marketing strategies on each platform.

You don’t need to drop everything and focus all your efforts on this one task, as it’s not really rocket science. Just set aside some time for reading up on every social media platform and you’ll gain new insights and come up with new ideas in no time.

3. Decide what your calendar should track

As you’re developing your calendar, you need to figure out what information and functionality it will provide you with in the future. Depending on your business, a simple spreadsheet may be sufficient for starters, or you may need something more advanced that also tracks who’s doing what, when work is completed, when it’s approved, then published, and how well it performed.

Here are a few basic details you can start with:

  • Platform
  • Date
  • Time
  • Copy
  • Visuals – photos, graphs, video, etc.
  • Link to assets used
  • Link to the published post

And some more advanced details:

  • Platform-specific format – regular post, story, poll, ads, etc.
  • Which vertical or campaign best suits it – product launch, contests, brand awareness, etc.
  • Geo-targeting
  • Value – short-lived piece or showpiece which could be recycled in the future
  • Paid or organic – additional budget details may be useful if it’s paid
  • Approval status
  • Published status
  • Analytics

4. Create a content library for assets

Your asset library is an organized space where you keep all the assets you use. It’s also known as a content repository and it can be on your internal network or on a cloud service like Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.

Key features include:

  • enough space for large files
  • mobile accessibility
  • private and secure, but also easily shareable with your team
  • can provide links to individual files so you can reference them in your calendar

5. Establish a workflow

Now that you have all the information you need, go ahead and start sketching your publishing strategy.

Consider the following:

  • how often you want to publish content on each platform
  • the best times for publishing to each platform
  • your content ratio – typically recommended to be 80% informative and 20% promotional
  • who approves posts and how communication will work
  • the process for brainstorming new content, assigning it, and creating it

Once you’ve outlined your workflow, it’s a good idea to document it somewhere easily accessible by the whole team, so everyone knows where to turn to when they have questions.

6. Start preparing posts

By now you’ve probably already got some ideas that have been piling up, so it’s time to get to work on the actual content.

As you’re writing it, get a feel for the general tone and direction and decide whether you want to make changes moving forward, like adding details if the content seems too superficial or removing details if it seems too stuffy.

7. Add team members to the calendar and get their feedback

Now that you’ve got your calendar set up, it’s time to share it with your teammates and get some feedback on your work.

Invite them to the calendar and ask them to poke around and see if there are any questions that need to be answered to ensure everyone’s familiar with it and will have no problems using it.

8. Start scheduling and publishing

After you’ve finished your calendar and everyone’s up to speed on it, it’s time to start scheduling and publishing content.

If you find that it takes too much time to actually sit down and manually publish your posts across platforms, using a calendar with a built-in scheduling function should make things a lot easier. Sprout Social is just one example of a suite of useful tools that includes a calendar with a scheduling feature.

Final thoughts

While a simple spreadsheet could be sufficient when starting your content publishing strategy, it won’t take long before you’ll need to up your game, flesh out the details and better organize your calendar.

Hopefully this article will help you create a social media calendar for your business and improve the quality and frequency of the content you publish on your social media channels of choice.