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No Social Media Calendar? Here’s How to Make One

A fantastic social post idea just popped into your head. Will you jot it down on a sticky note, or enter it into a social media calendar?

Whether you create social posts alone or with a team, a social media calendar can help keep you on point.

Benefits of a Social Media Calendar

You might say, “I don’t have time to create a social media calendar. My sticky-note method works just fine, thank you very much.”

Kudos if you’re already a genius at social media. But the rest of us need a little help organizing our posts.

In fact, data show that using a social media calendar can streamline efforts, keep teams accountable, and measurably improve results.

Calendar image by RawPixel for Unsplash, social media calendar

Image Source: Unsplash

For instance, Nathan Ellering of CoSchedule saw clicks increase by 3,150 percent simply by using a social media calendar.

Here are a few other benefits to using a social calendar daily.

Organization

Chances are, you’re already swamped with work-related duties. And social media is just one more thing on a very long list.

Fortunately, even a simple social media calendar can outline your week, month, and year for every channel you manage.

To boot, you’ll maximize your efforts and save time—time that you can then devote to other tasks.

Illustration, cell phone, Ouch.pics

Illustration by Ouch.pics

Accountability

When it comes to posting on social media, procrastination is the common enemy.

Luckily, a social media calendar makes deadlines visible. No more excuses or random content on your social pages at the last minute.

Whether you’re using an old-school wall calendar, an Excel spreadsheet, or an automated tool like Banyan, every member of your team will be on the same page.

Plus, you’ll be that much closer to posting social content your followers will appreciate.

Photo of blackboard grid with post-it notes, social media calendar, Daniele Riggi for Unsplash

Image Source: Daniele Riggi

Efficiency

Posting to more than one social channel? That’s the reality for most businesses today.

A social media calendar helps you streamline your posting strategy and work more efficiently. Because you’re planning in advance, you’re also free from the tyranny of when to post.

“Generally speaking, if you control matter more precisely, you can get more efficiency out of any process.” – Steve Jurvetson

Ouch.pics, message sent (Fogg design), illustration of a hang glider as metaphor for a message sent

Illustration by Ouch.pics

Now that we’ve covered why you should use a social media calendar, let’s talk more about how.

Mapping Out Your Social Strategy

There are lots of social media calendar templates out there. Which one is right for your business?

To help you decide, first conduct an audit of your social channels, factor in your business goals, and brainstorm content that appeals to your target audience.

Audit

To run a preliminary social media audit, follow these steps by CoSchedule:

  1. Check your social profiles, update them as needed, and store your passwords securely.
  2. Track past social metrics and insights to see which channels are most popular with your followers.
  3. Review the average (weekly, monthly) posts per medium to determine an optimal posting frequency.
  4. Check audience demographics to see if your social pages are attracting the right audience.
  5. Make note of your most (and least) popular social media content types (e.g., video versus memes).
  6. Determine your business’s strengths, weaknesses, problems, and opportunities on social media.
  7. Review social media goals you met in the past year.
Online analytics on a laptop screen, via Stephen Dawson for Unsplash

Image Source: Stephen Dawson

Strategize

At this point, you should have a much better picture of what your target audience wants. This information will help you focus your social strategy going forward.

According to Neil Patel and Sprout Social:

  • 7 out of 10 Gen X consumers are willing to buy products from a brand they follow on social media.
  • 30 percent of Millennials will engage with brands at least once monthly on social media.
  • 60 percent of Baby Boomers look primarily for promotional content on social media.

Keep these statistics in mind as you revise your social plan and prepare your social calendar.

Also, has your organization set any new business goals for the upcoming year? Now’s the time to make sure your content goals align with these higher-level KPIs.

UFO illustration, flying saucer with computer in its beam, Ouch.pics

Illustration by Ouch.pics

Brainstorm

Depending on your business, social media could be a team effort. If so, now’s the time to brainstorm.

First, what do you want to track on your social media calendar?

“Keep in mind that while vanity metrics like retweets and likes are fun and easy to track, it’s hard to prove their real value for your business.” – Hootsuite

Instead of zeroing in just on likes and shares, for instance, maybe you should track web referrals from your social pages instead.

Discuss what you’re really hoping to accomplish on each social platform. Is it brand awareness? More appointments? How will you measure your progress?

Now you’re ready to brainstorm content that will match your goals.

You’re also ready to create your social media calendar.

brainstorming session at work, showing people posting notes to a blackboard, photo by Raw Pixel for Unsplash

Image Source: RawPixel

Steps to Creating Your Social Media Calendar

As mentioned above, social media calendars come in all forms.

Some businesses like to create their calendar via DropBox or Google Sheets, simply for the ease of collaboration.

Others prefer an erasable whiteboard or a wall calendar placed in a prominent place.

For those whose budget allows, there are also plenty of paid social media calendar tools around. And of course, you’ll find many free templates online.

For example, check out CoSchedule’s social-media-editorial-calendar-template.

For more options, just google ‘social media calendar templates.’

Hugo 'list is empty' illustration via Ouch.pics (pencil, list on clipboard)

Illustration by Ouch.pics

Before you start creating your social media calendar—no matter its format—try to make a mission statement for every social channel you use.

Some businesses use Instagram Stories for tutorials and Facebook for all other customer interactions.

Having trouble coming up with a goal for each social network? Ask yourself if that network is really worth your time investment.

Here’s some data for reference:

eMarketer data, methods used to communicate with customers, Sept 2017

Image Source: eMarketer

Gather

Once you have a calendar template up and running, it’s time to gather more information.

Remember, this calendar represents a running history of your social content. But it only works if you adapt it to your business goals.

First, decide on your timeframe.

We recommend you map out an overview of your social content for the next six months. Then, you’ll be able to adjust the plan as you see your followers’ reactions.

 Next, choose a monthly (or quarterly) theme for your social content.

For instance, a healthcare provider could list “Heart Health” as a theme for a given month. Then, all pieces of content would relate to this theme.

Don’t forget: you can adapt your calendar any way you choose!

Now, plan your actual social content over the next few months.

For inspiration, check out SproutSocial’s 2019 List of Hashtag Holidays.

Ouch.pics, hugo design, Co-workers illustration

Illustration by Ouch.pics

Create

Think, for a moment, about the themes (or holidays and special events) you’ve chosen for the next few months.

What type of content will match?

It’s no surprise that your followers like variety. So, videos, polls, memes, user-generated content, photos, contests, and other content types should factor into your plan.

It’s also helpful to include content type, captions, visuals (e.g., photos, videos, graphics), campaign-specific hashtags, and URLs in your calendar.

Then, when the time comes to post, you’ll be ready to ‘plug and publish’ with minimum fuss.

Hootsuite social media calendar example

Image Source: Hootsuite

As you plan your social content:

  • Include compelling images and video content.
  • Occasionally, share curated content that matches your audience’s interests.
  • Post engaging articles from your blog, if you have one.
  • Share information on new product features and company news (sparingly).

Entertaining visual posts are more important than ever on all social channels, but especially on Facebook and Instagram.

And remember, your followers don’t want to be hit over the head with company news 24/7. Promotional posts are great occasionally if they fill a need for your customers.

Include posts that ask questions, offer amazing facts, show followers what’s in it for them, and spark discussion.

Measure

As we mentioned earlier, remember to measure what’s working and what needs more attention on your social channels.

Illustration by Ouch.pics of construction worker building a structure of brick

Illustration by Ouch.pics

Let’s say you’re most interested in reach and engagement on Facebook.

Depending on how you organize your calendar, you’ll want to track this information regularly (weekly, monthly) over time via Facebook Insights.

Report this data somewhere in your social media calendar. The same goes for each social network you manage.

Likewise, Google Analytics can also help you track social media traffic to your website. Feel free to list this information somewhere on your calendar, too.

Image via CoSchedule, Google Analytics dashboard

Image Source: CoSchedule

Bottom line: If you track what matters to you, you’ll be more successful on social media. Start small—but start somewhere.

Maintain

Even the best social media calendar won’t compensate for haphazard posting habits. Consistency is key.

“No one will want to follow you if the most recent post on your profile is from two years ago. A consistent posting schedule shows potential followers you are invested—meaning a follow will be worth their time.” – Shannon Tien, Hootsuite

By all means, be realistic about what you can create and post. This is particularly true if you’re the only one posting.

Thumbs-up illustration by Ouch.pics

Illustration by Ouch.pics

Think of your social media calendar as a continually evolving document. More than that; think of it as a valuable record of your efforts to connect with followers and grow your business.

Finally, remember: You can always adapt your social media calendar to work for you. Otherwise, what’s the point?

When it comes to social media management, you got this.

 

Need more help with your social media posts? Sign up for Banyan’s Social Media Assistant for free!