Today’s topic comes from a reader who asked about creating a social media strategy. She wanted to know more about what to share with her audience, when she should be posting, and maybe a calendar she could follow. My answer to these questions is to create a social media calendar.
Why you should be using a social media calendar
In this post I will discuss:
- What is a social media calendar?
- The benefits of using a social media calendar
- How to create an effective social media calendar
- Some examples of social media calendars you can use
What is a social media calendar?
I trust we are all in agreement that content is still king. Creating great content helps you connect to and engage with your audience, it’s helpful, and it provides value. Providing awesome content doesn’t just help your audience, it’s key to your success as an entrepreneur or small business owner. So what now? What do you do with all this amazing content you’ve been working on? You need to get it in front of your audience, of course! This is where content marketing comes in, but let’s not get too wrapped up in semantics. Content marketing is just a fancy way of saying “share your stuff on social media”.
A great way of sharing, or marketing, your content is to use a social media calendar. A social media calendar is a detailed schedule of what you are going to post to each of your social media channels. You can create your social media calendar in a spreadsheet, in a calendar like Outlook or Google Calendar, or you can use a paid app. Whatever mechanism you use, the idea is to make a detailed plan and then execute that plan.
[Tweet “Providing awesome content doesn’t just help your audience, it’s key to your success.”]
The benefits of using a social media calendar
Having a clear plan laid out for your social media strategy makes it very easy to see what you should be doing at any given time. Having this plan right in front of you makes it easier to stay accountable.
When you schedule your social media posts a week, a month, or a year in advance you can produce a consistent message over time. Consistency builds trust in you and your brand.
One of my favorite benefits of using a social media calendar is time savings. You won’t need to sit in front of a blank screen every day thinking “what should I post now?” When you are working from a well-planned schedule you can batch-write all of your posts for the week or the month and then you’re social media work is done!
Along with time savings, you will find you can be more productive in your business when you are not constantly worrying about, or working on, your content marketing. Using a social media calendar frees you up to grow your business.
Peace of mind
I don’t know about you, but I sleep better at night when I don’t have a bunch of crazy ideas running through my head. Using a social media calendar allows me to get stuff out of my head, onto the page, and into a workable plan.
How to create an effective social media calendar
Set clear goals
The first step in creating an effective social media calendar is to set some well-defined goals. Some of the questions you need to answer are:
- Who am I talking to?
- What types of content should I be sharing?
- What platform(s) should I be focusing on?
- Why am I sharing this content?
- How often should I post?
For example, let’s say you are a Pilates instructor who works with runners.
- Who am I talking to? – Runners in need of cross-training
- What types of content should I be sharing? – Videos you created to show runners short and effective Pilates workouts
- What platform(s) should I be focusing on? – YouTube
- Why am I sharing this content? – To help runners to stay strong and run injury-free
- How often should I post? – About once a week
Armed with this information, it should be easy to create clear goals around your social media calendar.
The content matters
Always make sure you are sharing relevant, valuable, and high-quality content. Here are a few good ideas you can use for your audience:
- Engage – ask a question, this is a great way to get a dialog going
- Instruct – provide a how-to or teach them something using a step-by-step guide
- Inspire – encourage your followers to take action
- Entertain – it doesn’t always have to be about business! Have fun with your fans once in a while
Themes are very useful in your social media strategy. Creating a weekly or monthly theme is helpful in delivering a consistent and engaging message to your audience. Using our Pilates instructor example, you could create a monthly theme around a topic like flexibility. You produce a series of videos titled “Be a More Flexible Runner in 30 Days” and then share one of the videos in the series every Friday for a month.
Use tools to help
There are a number of awesome tools out there that can help you in creating and managing your social media calendar. Google Docs and Calendar are free to use and pretty straight-forward. Hootsuite and Buffer are web-based applications that allow you to schedule posts in advance and work with multiple social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and more. The WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin makes it super easy to schedule all of your blog posts so you can coordinate your social media plan around them.
One thing to keep in mind when using a pre-defined schedule for social media is to stay flexible. You might schedule a post to go out a month from now but as that date approaches you realize your post is now irrelevant or something more urgent needs to take its place. Things change from time-to-time and you need to be ready to roll with the changes. It’s a good idea to continually evaluate your social media calendar to see what’s working, what’s not, and course-correct if needed.
Some examples of social media calendars you can use
Here are a few resources I’ve found for good examples of social media calendar templates that you can use. One size does not fit all here, everyone’s social media scheduling needs are unique. Take a look at some of the examples below and use one that works for you, or just create your own.
- Ultimate Content Marketing Editorial Calendar Template Every Marketer Needs
- The Best Content and Social Media Calendar Templates
- Social Media Content Calendar Template
- Essential Content Marketing Editorial Calendar Template Every Marketer Can Use
How effective is your social media calendar? Is it making your life easier? Is it goal-oriented? Is it helping to grow your business? Share your thoughts in the comments section, I love hearing from you!