How to create a social media calendar

Nowadays, social media is part of a marketing team’s everyday routine. With nearly five billion people across the world (and counting) using at least one digital social platform, any modern business that wants to be known and continue to grow can’t neglect to post on its profiles. 

Yet whether you’ve had your Facebook page for years or are just starting a TikTok account, bad social media management habits can start to creep in and make your hard work less effective. In fact, it’s not uncommon, with 63% of businesses not using a documented strategy

Creating a social media calendar that works is the centre of any effective online business presence. But just because it’s a basic requirement doesn’t mean it’s easy. Read on for some helpful tips and tricks. 

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Why create a social media calendar?

Social media is a fast-paced world. So you might wonder at the point of investing time and effort in creating a set calendar when trends can turn any planning on its head overnight. Yet there are lots of reasons why putting together a social media plan can benefit your business, including: 

  • Making sure you’re posting consistently and not repeating content too often
  • Giving everyone visibility of the schedule, making approvals and scheduling easier across a team
  • Inspiring new ideas by encouraging regular content generation
  • Helping to track and monitor social content performance
  • Saving time by helping posts stay organised across multiple platforms

Of course, if you spot an emerging trend or topic, then adding to this calendar with reactive content will also benefit your business. A good social media calendar just sets out the base activity for your team to elaborate on. 

How to create a social media strategy

Before they open a new spreadsheet or planning tool, your team needs to think about the direction your social media and content should go in. This means establishing a strategy

Review your data

It’s likely that your business has a presence on at least one platform. Even if you’ve not posted for a while, pulling off any performance data you have will give you some insight into the type of content that has and hasn’t chimed with your audience in the past. This will give you a jumping-off point for content generation, even if it’s for a different platform. 

Look at competitor content

Rather than ignoring a competitor who’s smashing social media, copy them! Ok, not entirely. But your competitors’ profiles can prove a rich source of content generation and inspiration. Particularly if you want to understand the topics, trends and formats that your target audience is enjoying. Let your competitors do the hard work, then reinvent it in your own style. 

Set your aims

Whether you decide to set short-term KPIs for each platform, a long-term strategic objective, or both. It’s important that you establish an aim for your content. Otherwise, your activity will start to lose focus and you risk confusing your online communications and audience. Even if you change your aims after a month or so, setting this direction will put you on the path to success.

How to build a social media calendar

Once you’ve set out your strategy and objectives, it’s time to start generating ideas and slotting them into a schedule. While you’re brainstorming some new content, make sure you keep the following points in mind. 

Think about the platform

You might think that posting the same content across your Facebook, TikTok and Instagram accounts will save you time. And you’d be right. But it won’t be as effective as if you’d posted with the specific platform in mind. It might also mean you run into quality problems such as incorrect image formats or caption character limits. 

Plus, each platform has particular features that could give an extra boost to your content creativity. For example, Instagram has reels and stories. Reels are great for longer-form videos or delivering more in-depth content, while stories are short snippets are updates. Adjusting your content so it fits the specific platform will help you engage with your audience more effectively. 

Think topics and trends

As well as developing content ideas based on the messages you want to share with your audience, take a look at the social media topics and trends that are emerging in your industry. This won’t just help you generate relevant ideas but get involved in topical conversations with your audience straight away. 

Don’t just follow the leader with your content though. If you can take a topic or trend and add your own expertise, opinion or perspective on it, then this will make you stand out from the crowd.

Write in the right tone

Whether you have brand guidelines for your business or not, you need to think about the tone of your social media content. Specifically, you need to think about how you will translate your personality onto each social media platform. 

For example, it’s likely that you’ll write a totally different caption on LinkedIn than you will on TikTok. Yet your brand’s traits need to come through clearly on both. 

Setting out guidelines and examples on how to do this will help you keep your social media messaging consistent across all platforms. This will avoid confusion amongst your customers, even if different team members are writing your posts. 

Don’t forget the extras

When you come to scheduling your posts, don’t forget to add and adjust the extras to fit the platform you’re using. This includes checking: 

  • Hashtags: using on-trend hashtags is a great way to get your post seen, but different ones are used on each platform, so make sure you’re choosing the most appropriate 
  • Tagging: whether you’re tagging a colleague in an image or a brand partner in a post, make sure they’re linked correctly so they have the chance to share or engage with it
  • Emojis: these are a great way to add some personality to a post, as long as they appear correctly, so ensure there aren’t any errors in your caption once it’s published
  • Music: depending on the platform, you might need to add music manually. Making sure you have rights to the tracks you use will also avoid you getting caught out by copyright rules
  • Links: while URLs are clickable on some platforms, they aren’t on others. Avoid frustrating your audience by making sure this is updated correctly

Vary your post times

Though you might be tempted to schedule posts on the same time and day every week, this could get you stuck in a performance rut. By changing up your post times and frequency, your activity will look more natural to the platform algorithms and make it more likely for your content to appear on people’s feeds. 

It also means that, once you’ve posted regularly for a few weeks, you’ll be able to see the times and days when your audience is more interactive and engaged. 

Remember your audience

If you find yourself getting lost in a brainstorming pot of ideas, formats and platforms, then always return to your audience and their needs. At the end of the day, they’re the focus of all this activity and planning, so the content you’re producing needs to be inspiring, helpful and interesting to them. 

What are the best social media management tools?

Depending on how structured you like to be, you might plan your social media calendar between one and three months in advance.  There are a few management, scheduling and planning tools that can make this process easier for your team: 

  • Buzzsumo: this is a great tool for spotting platform trends which you can use for content generation
  • Hootsuite: scheduling, messaging and analysis can all be completed through this management platform
  • Sprout Social: with workflows that allow teams to review and respond to posts, this platform makes social media  management easy
  • CRMs: if you already use a CRM, then there’s likely to be a social media planning tool integration. HubSpot and are options if you’re looking for an effective digital calendar
  • Rival IQ: to take your analytics to the next level, this tool makes competitor analysis, audits and social listening easy

Whether you use these tools or not, it’s important that once you’ve started posting regularly, you review your content’s performance at intervals. This means pulling data from either the social media platforms themselves or your management tool to analyse what content worked and what didn’t. 

Depending on your specific KPIs, you’ll be able to review your social media’s performance by platform or format. Plus, adding internal tags to your posts in management tools means you can also analyse performance by content topic. 

This will give you invaluable insight into what is and isn’t working for your audience. You can then use this information to feed into any future brainstorms to make your content as effective as possible. 

Plus, if you’re looking for further advice on how to create social media content that really chimes with your audience, feel free to get in touch and we can talk through your needs. 

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