Following a social media strategy in the present day is vital to expanding your business and brand online. Creating engaging and quality content that your target audience wants to interact with is key to getting your name out there and will help you work towards your marketing goals.
Being able to produce and plan this quality social media content is where things can become a little tricky; there are a variety of social media channels and each may require a different type of content, depending on your audience. The best way to implement an effective social media and content strategy is to get organized and create a content calendar. If you are planning to create a content calendar but feel confused about setting one up,
The Social Network are here to help! This guide will explain how to use a content calendar effectively as part of your digital marketing strategy and also provide you with free calendar templates so you can begin planning your campaigns!
What is a Content Calendar?
A content calendar allows you to schedule and plan out the social media posts that you are going to publish for each platform. A content calendar not only helps you to plan your content and become more organised, but it can be the perfect way to keep a marketing team up to date with what’s coming up so that they don’t end up duplicating content.
A content calendar can be as simple or advanced as you would like; some like to keep it simple and track the date, time, social platform and post, while others like to use it for UTM and analysis tracking. Depending on your business strategy, your content calendar can include the following:
- Caption for Post
- Content Visuals (Images, Videos, Infographics, Gifs)
- Campaign Name
- Social Channel
- A/B Testing
- To-Do Lists
- Content Ideas
The aim of a content calendar is to help you become more organised and keep up a high quality of content on a regular basis. Engagement on social media is so important and requires consistent publishing so that followers can see and interact with your brand on a daily basis.
Content creation doesn’t have to be a difficult task though; a content calendar is a perfect solution to being organised and working efficiently towards your brand’s marketing goals.
What are the Benefits of a Content Calendar?
There are a number of benefits that come with creating and using a social media calendar. Planning content ahead of time will mean you publish posts that are relevant, engaging and work better towards your long-term goals.
Without a content calendar, posts may be duplicated, less relevant and may even prevent you from capturing new customers online. The main benefits of using a content calendar to help with publishing include:
Without a content calendar to help you schedule and track posts, digital marketing can be extremely time-consuming and you may end up scrolling for hours looking for some good content to publish online. A content calendar will save you time as your content will be ready for publishing and you will not have to come up with content ideas for the day ahead. A content calendar can give you a view of the month ahead and allow you to plan your content for national days and events.
Become More Creative
A social media content calendar will not only help with getting organised but it will allow you to jot down ideas to become more creative. A month of content ready to be published gives you the time and energy to focus on additional marketing efforts that can grow your brand. Content planning via content calendars makes use of your best ideas so that they do not go to waste.
Better Planning Within Teams
Calendars that contain time, dates and pieces of content ready to be published will leave less room for error when it comes to your shared digital marketing strategy. Making a content calendar accessible to not just your own team but other teams within the business means you can all collaborate and have complete transparency as to what is planned for social channels and the website blog. Keeping colleagues up to date with planned content means they know what is going on and will not end up posting content that duplicates what you already posted. If there is a marketing team, a content calendar is a must for keeping everyone on the same page.
Helps to Achieve Goals
One of the most important benefits of creating and using a content calendar is the ability to define and focus on specific goals with the content you are posting, rather than posting irrelevant content that may not help towards your aims. Planning content in a calendar also allows you to keep track of A/B testing, campaign tracking and other analytics that will tell you whether the content you posted was effective in working towards goals. You can define your content marketing goals with a customised content calendar that works for you.
Overall, content calendars are highly effective and recommended for any business that uses social media and blog posts as a way to reach target customers. A content calendar will save you time, energy, reduce the chance of errors, create transparency amongst team members and help you with what you set out to achieve.
How Do I Create a Content Calendar?
Here’s the bit that some may find confusing… because there are so many different templates to use and a variety of ways you can create a content calendar, many people don’t know where to start when it comes to setting up their own social media calendar.
A content calendar should be customised to you and your business; do you want to track content performance or simply set out a plan to help you become more organised? We’re here to help you figure out how to begin using a content calendar, no matter what needs to be included.
Look at How Many Social Media Platforms You Manage
Before you start creating your content calendar, it is important to set your calendar out so that there is a separate section for each social platform. This is because each social media channel has a different demographic, image dimensions, video requirements, and some allow you to publish links, while others don’t.
You should try and change up your content for each social media platform, but even if you don’t, you will need a separate tab or sheet to plan appropriate content for each site. For example, if you were planning a post for Facebook and Instagram you could enter a link and campaign name in to track for Facebook, but Instagram does not allow links on a post, so the idea of campaign tracking via posts may prove to be more difficult. This is why it is best to have a tab or sheet for each social media channel.
The content template will also be easier to understand if you have it separated for each platform. You may want to set up a general calendar with a monthly overview for all platforms, which is a good idea too.
This way you can have separate tabs and insights for each platform, but you can also view the plan for every single piece of content at a monthly overview, no matter which channel it is assigned to.
Set Up a Weekly and Monthly Calendar
A weekly and monthly plan on your content calendar will allow you to clearly view the posts you have scheduled at a closer view (weekly) and a more general view (monthly). Depending on what works best for you, you could have a weekly content calendar for each channel, or opt to schedule all of your posts per day via one weekly content calendar.
A monthly calendar is vital for planning content because it enables you to enter the most important days in the month, such as national days for specific posts. A monthly view is also great to share amongst team members.
You can set up a weekly and monthly calendar on a spreadsheet or Google sheets using a free template, or use the free download to our content calendar template at The Social Network. Luckily, as social media content schedule has become so essential for so many, there are a number of tools and resources available online to help you. Every content calendar template is different, so remember to find one that works best for you.
Add Appropriate Headings or Colour Code
It is a good idea to create appropriate headings for your content calendar, such as the date and time you will post, the post caption, the visuals for the post, links and any other suitable headings, depending on what your goals are.
If you are using a spreadsheet to plan for your content, you can use your headings clearly and create different tabs for each site. There is more than one way to schedule content successfully, so you may not require headings if you aren’t planning on using a spreadsheet.
Alternatively to headings, colour coding can be one of the most effective ways to identify the different content you intend to publish.
A content calendar is supposed to make your life easier, so colour coding will make it visually easier for you and your team to find specific content and post ideas. Colour coding works well on weekly and monthly calendars, as you can colour code by type of content or by the social media channel you are using.
Create a To-Do List and Checklist Section
A to-do list and/or checklist as part of your social media content calendar is one of the best ways to note down ideas to remember while working on your calendar template. Social media content planning requires organisation and creativity, so having a checklist that you can fill in with ideas and to-do lists can really help with effective content marketing.
To-do lists will help you to prioritise tasks and can guide you if you don’t use a scheduling tool. To-do lists also work well for keeping everything in one place, which will mean you aren’t wasting time searching for where you wrote a certain idea.
Set Up a Content Repository
A content repository is one place for you to put all of your scheduled content and resources that can be turned into potential content for the future. This includes any data or information from the business that can be turned into content such as blog posts, images, infographics and videos. We highly suggest setting up a content repository so that you can easily access, edit and find any content for socials, at any time.
A content repository will also enable you to find content that can be separated into a few different posts, rather than using it for one post.
Finding content to separate into multiple, engaging posts is a great way to make sure you do not run out of content ideas. No matter what types of content you intend to post, a content repository will provide you with an organized space to download from. A content repository could be a folder on a shared computer drive, or a google drive folder online. Make sure your content is accessible by multiple people, not just yourself.
Share Your Calendar with Your Team
Once you have set up your content calendar, share it with your team as soon as possible! Even if you are the only social media marketer, others may view your calendar and be able to come up with other ideas you may not have even thought of. Sharing your calendar with team members provides complete transparency within the business, and encourages teams to work together.
Additionally, make sure your content calendar is accessible no matter where you are. If you have it saved on your computer then why not put it onto a USB drive or shared file so you can access it even when you don’t have your computer nearby? If you have created a physical copy of your calendar then it is a good idea to take a photo to refer to if you don’t have it with you.
Need Help with Social Media Marketing?
Jacinta at The Social Network helps businesses create digital & social marketing campaigns that increase their ROI and Brand Awareness. You can sign up for social media consultancy, training or management with us to expand your brand’s presence online.
One of the main parts of social media marketing is your ability to create and publish quality content; we have years of experience with the creation of different types of content, no matter who your target audience. Whether you are looking for assistance with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we can help.
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