Why you should be using a social media content calendar
The content calendar is one of the most important aspects of social media marketing.
If you are not using a calendar, you risk having your social posts being sporadic and inconsistent, and the content will be less engaging.
This post will provide you with some information on what a social media content calendar is, why you should use it, and how to build one that’s effective.
What is a social media content calendar?
A social media content calendar is a document that outlines and schedules all the content you will post on your social media channels.
It helps with scheduling and provides insight into how much content may need to be created for a certain time period.
Even better than scheduling, is that it can become a forcing mechanism to develop a battle rhythm of content planning, preparation, execution, and assessment to improve your platforms over the long run.
Why use a social media content calendar?
There are multiple reasons to use a social media content calendar.
Here are just a few:
Staying organized can help improve engagement. And the more engaging your posts are, the better! You want people coming back more as often as possible so that your brand remains visible in the attention economy. Improving your organization not only helps ensure everything gets done in time, but can also provide the structure to create a cycle of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing your content.
Post at the optimum time
A content calendar lets you see your content battle rhythm and when combined with social analytics, lets helps you understand when the best time is to post your content for the greatest impact. Posting at the right time helps keep your followers interested and engaged, and can help grow your followers over time.
A content calendar can also help ensure consistency across multiple platforms. By planning days or weeks in advance, you can focus on maintaining the quality of the visual and written content. Seeing draft versions of content is not only for making edits, but it also provides additional time for creativity since you and/or the team will be iterating on the content over a longer period of time.
A social media calendar also helps with tagging posts so that they are relevant for specific audiences. Doing some tagging research ahead of time ensures you have the correct accounts and hashtags, and provides the opportunity to coordinate with those accounts ahead of time for mutually beneficial amplification.
While you can use a normal Google or Excel calendar, there are automation benefits to choosing software like Hootsuite, Buffer, or CoSchedule. These platforms give you the additional benefit of seeing content previews on the specific social media platforms, scheduling and approving your posts for publishing.
Visibility of the information environment
There are thousands of anniversaries, holidays, days-of, months-of, and other significant events every year. Some of these events happen only once and others happen regularly every week, month, or year. These known dates can help provide a glimpse of what the information environment will be like in the future. By tracking the dates that are most relevant to your organization and placing them on the content calendar for visibility, you prepare to take advantage of certain days and ensure you are not posting content that could be misinterpreted on the more solemn days.
When you create your calendar, you usually start with a theory on when to post and how frequently. There are many articles that detail when the best time to post is on a specific platform. These are good to use as a starting point, but they are generic and you want something that is specific for your organization. After using the content calendar for a while and seeing the results, you can then begin to change some of the variables and adjust as you go.
How to build a social media content calendar
There are different ways to approach the content calendar.
The simplest way is just using a spreadsheet or something like Google docs, but there are plenty of tools out there that will save time and ensure consistency across all channels.
Whatever method you choose, decide what items you need to consider for each platform, select your tool of choice, and make sure the calendar is utilized by you and/or your team.
Some of the things you need to consider when creating your calendar are:
• What are your social media channels?
• What kind of content do you want to share?
• What tools do you have available for content creation?
• Who is your audience or target market for the social media channel?
• How many posts per day are needed on each channel?
• What times are best (initially) to start posting?
• How much time do I have for content preparation, production, and scheduling for each account?
Here is a shortlist of just some of the Social Media Calendar tools that are available:
• Hootsuite: One of the most popular tools out there, it has a free 30-day trial and Professional, Team, Business, and Enterprise option levels starting at $49/mo.
• Buffer: Built for publishing and analytics, it has a Free version that includes 3 social channels, 10 scheduled posts, and 1 user, and has and Pro, Premium, and Business levels starting at $15/mo.
• Sprout Social: Meant for a larger social media team, Sprout Social has a 30-day trial and has Standard, Professional and Advanced levels starting at $99/user per month.
• Sendible: Not as well known, but still a great option with nice analytic reports built-in. It has a free 14-day trial and Creator, Traction, Scale, and Expansion levels starting at $29/mo.
• CoSchedule: My personal favorite, CoSchedule starts at $29/mo and has lots of options for planning and approving content. Quick and easy to use and you can export a calendar via URL to show your team or clients what is being scheduled.
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