Why Use a Social Media Calendar?
Besides the obvious organization that a calendar provides, it also supports accountability by helping team members keep track of deadlines and responsibilities. In the same vein, a detailed calendar provides clear communication for all stakeholders involved in a campaign. Organizing all of your content in a weekly, monthly, or even yearly view allows you to visualize the frequency of posts. Lastly, a calendar can lead to more consistent results since you are less likely to post too little or too much on any network. If you’re tracking metrics, measuring performance, and adjusting your social media approach accordingly, a calendar can help you boost the effectiveness of your posts even further.
Creating a Social Media Schedule
Whether you use a printed calendar, a spreadsheet template, or an online tool for scheduling your social media calendar, you will likely be aiming to achieve both high-level objectives and immediate goals. You may have long-term performance objectives related to audience engagement and increasing traffic as well as specific events or product releases you want to promote. Once you have developed your social media strategy, you can organize your workflow around your calendar. For each campaign, determine what type of social media messaging is appropriate, and then get into the details of actually creating posts that you’ll share. For small businesses, this may be a relatively simple task involving few people. Content creation at larger companies may require coordination with designers and multiple teams to ensure that scheduling is in alignment with goals and takes into account realistic deadlines.
There are many messaging types to choose from when crafting social media posts. What type you choose will depend on the purpose of the post, the intended social network, and your target audience. Here are a few examples to consider:
- Asking a Question: This is a good conversation starter to encourage user engagement, or you can use a question to pique curiosity so that readers are more likely to click through for answers.
- Offering Rewards: This could be a literal reward, as in the case of a promotion or contest, or it could be informing your audience about how products and services may benefit them: What’s in it for users? If you are offering a time-limited promotion, you can use that time limit to create a sense of pressure and encourage your audience to find out more. Consumers often don’t want to miss out on great deals.
- Sharing Helpful Information: You can share tips, links to informative blog posts on your site, eye-opening statistics, or facts that are relevant to your audience and message.
- Taking a Risk: Sometimes a controversial post can start an engaging discussion - just be careful not to offend anyone. The idea is to get people thinking and to invite opinions, not turn people away.
- Posting Quotes: These may be inspirational, thought-provoking, humorous or educational. It all depends on your brand, what tone is appropriate for your audience, the intention behind sharing it, and the social network.
- Making an Announcement: Providing information about upcoming events, product launches, business successes, and other announcements are an easy way of keeping your audience informed.
For any social network, it’s a good idea to use a mix of messaging types and to include multimedia posts for visual interest and variety. Sometimes a simple image can attract audience engagement while delivering a message about company values. It’s also wise to experiment with messaging to see what works well on particular sites and with your audience. Different social media networks call for distinct types of content and specific publishing times to be most effective. To find out more about planning content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, and the best times of day to post on each, see this article on social media planning. You’ll also find tips there for crafting your social media strategy.
Planning a calendar will help ensure that you have an adequate amount of content prepared that is aligned with your strategy, but it won’t completely get you off the hook from having to improvise content on short notice. During a given day, you may need to respond to something on your social media feeds or create content related to breaking news or other events. Having your other content already scheduled will help free up time for creating unplanned content when needed.
To create a social media calendar, you simply need to record the details of your posts and any relevant information, such as publishing dates and times, URLs, who is responsible for the content, deadlines, SEO data or other metrics, and any other details you want. You can also create a storage space, either connected to your calendar or in a separate location, for keeping content ideas and sources that might be helpful in the future.
10 Social Media Calendar Tips
To help boost your efficiency and success rates, here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop your content and plan a calendar:
- Share Content Multiple Times: You can make your content go further by posting about an article or blog post more than once or creating new posts that reuse similar messages. Just be sure to space out the posts over the course of a day, week or month, depending on which social networks you are using. You want to save time and make the most of your content, not bore your audience with redundancy.
- Watch for Useful Content: Create a list of relevant sites and blog posts you can link to regularly. Curating content will help ensure that you have resources to draw on and a mix of content that is valuable to your audience.
- Experiment: Try mixing up your publishing schedule and types of messaging to see what works best. Trying different combinations of images, other media, and copy in your posts can also yield differing results.
- Customize Your Calendar: When it comes to content calendars, one size doesn’t fit all. Tailor your calendar to meet your business and campaign needs so that it can truly be an effective tool for managing social media.
- Gradually Increase Content: With multiple social networks to juggle, managing a publishing schedule can become overwhelming if you’re new to the process or unfamiliar with a specific platform. Build up your content slowly so that planning posts, maintaining a schedule, and tracking progress are manageable.
- Delegate: Use your calendar to assign responsibilities to avoid overlooking tasks. If possible, consider automating some activities to reduce your workload.
- Track Completion: Include status information on your calendar to track posts through each stage of creation and publishing. This type of monitoring can help coordinate your workflow with scheduling and avoid missing deadlines.
- Save Image Files: Just as you can create a repository for collecting content ideas, saving images for potential use can save time in the long run.
- Encourage Sharing: This applies to both your social media audience and co-workers. When individuals share content, their social networks are likely to view it through a more personal (and trusting) lens rather than only associating it with a specific brand. You can even provide employees with an incentive by rewarding small prizes for sharing a certain number of social posts.
- Practice Brevity: Effective headlines grab the attention of readers and leave them wanting to know more. You may not be a professional copywriter, but you can focus on streamlining your messages to connect with your audience with few words and compelling images.
Social Media Calendar Templates
Social Media Content Calendar Template - Excel
This content calendar offers a simple format with sections for multiple social media platforms. The template shows a daily view, and you can create a detailed publishing schedule with posting times for each piece of content.
Social Media Editorial Calendar Template - Excel
If you need a comprehensive social media planning calendar, this template provides monthly and quarterly overviews as well as detailed spreadsheets for each month. You can list goals, track important events and holidays, collect measurable metrics, and align your social media campaigns with other marketing efforts. You can use this template for planning and scheduling any editorial project.
Social Media Calendar with Dashboard - Excel
Get a visual picture of your social media calendar with this dashboard template. The graphical display makes it easy to see what, when, and where you are posting. Keep track of basic metrics and view your upcoming schedule at a glance.
Annual Content Calendar Template - Excel
This annual content calendar includes sheets for planning by month as well as a yearly overview, an archive for tracking previous posts, and a section for brainstorming new content. Collect all of your social media calendar ideas in one place for easy reference. This template is a comprehensive tool for planning, scheduling, and storing content.
Blogging Calendar Template - Excel
Creating a separate blogging calendar can help keep your workflow organized and allow you to focus strategically on one area of content. This template mimics the annual content calendar but with a focus on blogging. Keep track of former blog posts, brainstorm new ideas, and create a detailed calendar for each month.
Social Media Schedule Template
This template offers a basic social media calendar example for those who want a PDF file for scheduling posts. List publishing dates, the status of each post, content descriptions, and the corresponding social network. You can edit the template to add or change column headings.
Download Social Media Schedule Template
Social Media Strategy Plan Template - Excel
Use this strategy plan template to identify your target audience, define your mission and vision, develop your messaging, and create a strategic action plan to meet your objectives. The template includes a section for analyzing your competition and finding potential roadblocks to address. Having a solid social media strategy will give you a foundation to build on and refer to when issues arise.
Social Media Audit Template - Excel
This template tracks various metrics across all of your social media channels. Conduct an audit by comparing current results to previous time periods as well as the goals you are working toward. Auditing your social media efforts can help you assess progress and find weak areas that may need attention.
Social Media Report Template - Excel
Compile your key performance indicators into a visually compelling report that is easy to use. This template is a useful tool for social media managers to track important data and communicate with team members. Identify your top posts, engagement numbers, and other data on a weekly basis.
Easily Manage Your Social Media Calendar with a Template in Smartsheet
Successful social media managers understand the importance of staying on top of the details when it comes to planning and managing a social media calendar. And, although a template in Excel can help you get started, you really need a more collaborative tool that provides a real-time look into what’s coming down the line.
One such tool is Smartsheet, a work management and automation platform that helps enterprises and teams work better. In fact, Smartsheet’s Content Calendar template is specifically designed to help teams plan,organize, and manage social content. Track assignments, due dates, and proposed ideas, and easily toggle between the multiple views - Calendar, Grid, Gantt or Card - to manage the work how you want to.
Ensure that all content plans align with your organization’s marketing strategy and business goals, and insert images and Comments to keep relevant details in context. Plus, you can share the content calendar to an infinite number of internal and external collaborators, so that multiple stakeholders can access and provide real-time updates.
A Better Way to Manage Your Marketing Efforts with Smartsheet
In addition to social media calendars, Smartsheet can help maximize your marketing efforts across your campaigns. With multiple channels, competing priorities, and never-ending requests, leading marketers count on Smartsheet’s work management solutions to strategically plan, report on programs, and coordinate their efforts in real time.
From campaign management to content marketing, and website management to PR tracking, Smartsheet can help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Boost accountability by maintaining consistency across channels, save time with centralized resources, and increase campaign speed to market. Connect marketing efforts to ROI, accelerate delivery of marketing initiatives, and improve alignment and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.
Discover how Smartsheet can help maximize your marketing efforts, today.