Creating A Social Media Calendar Step By Step
Remember those New Year’s Resolutions you made all the way back in January? You bought a workout plan, ordered some books to read, and even signed up to learn Italian! How are those going right about now, hm?
If you said anything other than “GREAT, actually, thank you for asking Mr. Nosey Blog Writer”, then you might want to listen to what we have to say about organization and why it matters when creating a social media calendar. Everyone loves a little spontaneity now and again, but what gets noticed is consistency, especially from your social following. Creating a social media calendar that is organized and tailored to your needs as a business can be the difference between mind-blowing engagement and writing a strongly worded letter to whoever is in charge of those timeline algorithms we all have grown to love.
Listen, we get it. You are busy, and you don’t have time to waste on social media posts that underperform and underwhelm. Creating a social media calendar is one of the most effective ways to use your ever-depleting time and accurately analyze your efforts. Making one is simple, and we’d be happy to show you the exact steps we take to make a custom calendar for our social pages.
Don’t let your social media pages end up like that treadmill that’s doing its best impression of a coat rack right now.
Trust Us, Creating A Social Media Calendar is In Your Best Interest
As with anything in life, being prepared is almost always the best way to get anything accomplished. You wouldn’t show up to run a marathon in a three-piece suit or go on a vacation and only pack your coffee table, right? Regardless of the ridiculous examples we come up with, the point remains the same. Getting started on the right foot will save you time in the long run. And time is money, people!
The Best Use of Your Time
Creating a social media calendar does take time, but the more time you spend up front being proactive, the less time you have to spend being reactive when things don’t go as planned. They both have their pros and cons, but whether you are a business owner or a social media coordinator with multiple clients, you don’t always have the freedom to drop everything and fix a mistake. Plus, you can do your best to eliminate typos, broken links, and other annoying occurrences that social media professionals deal with daily. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience!
Easier to Analyze Efforts
When it comes to creating a social media calendar, setting a time-bound schedule is the foundation of the entire process. Once you decide on your posting cadence (how often) and post volume (how many), the opportunity for growth increases exponentially. Using the insights that social media platforms provide with business profiles, you can discover what worked for you and what didn’t. These insights include metrics like:
Engagement – the amount of times your post is interacted with
Impressions – how many users saw your post in total
Clicks – how many times the link you shared was clicked on
Follows – how many people followed your account in a given period of time
And guess what? Since your posts are already organized into a neat format, how much extra effort does it take to record the social metrics you are interested in tracking? The right answer is “not much Mr. Handsome Blog Writer!”
Plus if you use a third-party publishing site like Hubspot, you can get all your reported metrics in one place and schedule your posts to go live in advance. We use Hubspot at Pinckney and we love it! The benefits of using a marketing service like this are incredibly useful and can make you go from a social media zero to a social media hero.
Time to Push the Envelope
Once you get your scheduling down pat, you get the opportunity to experiment with different posting tactics. This is the ultimate goal when creating a social media calendar, not to do less work or make social media a brainless operation. The goal is to get to a point where your efforts are targeted in more effective ways.
Let’s go through an example. Say you have scheduled a post for the same time every Wednesday. The first post is a video, the second is a photograph and the third is a graphic. After reviewing the specific insights for each post, you should ask a few questions like:
- What format had the most engagement?
- Were there different hashtags that could have contributed to the impressions on the post?
- The results were all disappointing, should I try a different time of day to see better results?
Now, you can answer those questions with numerical proof, not just a shot in the dark. The more time you spend “in the trenches,” the closer you get to winning the battle for social media brand awareness.
The Simple Process of Creating a Social Media Calendar
Creating a social media calendar doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact it shouldn’t be at all. To make it even simpler, here are four steps to creating a social media calendar that the rest of the world will wish they had. (Okay… maybe I’m slightly biased but they are helpful I promise.)
Step 1: GET TO KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
I put this in all caps for a reason! If you don’t know who you are trying to reach, how on earth can you expect your posts to perform at all? Before you even think about purchasing that planner you saw on Amazon or creating another spreadsheet, figure out who your target audience is. You do this by asking questions designed to filter through the billions of daily social media users into a group that would most benefit from viewing your posts online.
These questions basically sound like this:
- Who would benefit most from my product/service?
- When are they active on social media?
- Who else do they follow?
- What do they get out of following you?
Social media is the same as any other business; a customer comes to you, after doing research, looking for a solution to a problem and participates in a transaction where you both benefit. The transaction here is the “follow,” “like,” or “comment” the user gives you in exchange for information. The more transactions you make, the more money you make. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Step 2: Set Yourself Up for Success
Here is the fun part of creating a social media calendar, or well… at least I think it’s fun! Make your social media calendar however you like: on a white board, in a spreadsheet, or maybe on one of those big paper calendars with a nifty design that sits on top of your desk.
Where you create a social media calendar isn’t nearly as important as what you include in it. The criteria you should be concerned with are timing, content and execution. The more you can break those down, the better chance you have at having a higher post performance.
The key here is finding balance. Post too much and your followers get annoyed, post too little and they forget about you. The same goes for scheduling your content. Schedule too far in advance and you provide irrelevant content, schedule too quickly and you are bordering on social media chaos. Find the plan that works for you!
Here at Pinckney, our social media calendars look like this:
As you can see we break things down into multiple categories:
- Timing – day, date and time of day
- Content – topics, copy/captions, links
- Execution – hashtags, formats and platforms
Taking the extra steps to make sure all your bases are covered makes posting on social media almost foolproof and provides a structure that you can easily manipulate to better execute your efforts.
Step 3: Create Content that Counts
Content is still king on social media. Creating a social media calendar is like getting your king an assistant. They don’t make the important decisions, they just tell the king when they should post on “Ye Olde Instagram” or communicate with “Facebook of Zuckerburglandia.”
Your content should directly affect the people you are trying to influence. Are you trying to elicit an emotion? Create an inclusive community? Provide useful information? Weaning out the unintended masses with your targeted content provides you with a community of followers that are invested in what you have to offer.
Formatting also matters in the landscape of social media. Videos, photos, live streams, blogs, and graphics are all at your disposal. Creating a social media calendar allows you to see which formats work best for your brand through the analytics we talked about earlier.
Step 4: Post. Analyze. Adapt. Repeat.
Now I know I used all-caps earlier when I was trying to make a point, but this last step is arguably the most important of them all. Creating a social media calendar is not enough, unfortunately. Using the steps listed previously as a guide, it’s time to be a dynamic, active player in the social media game.
The climate of social media is ever changing and, unlike the planet’s, that’s a good thing! If you create a social media calendar for one week and expect to use that template for the rest of time, your social pages will undoubtedly underperform. It’s not a bad thing to be consistent, but it is detrimental to become stagnant and predictable. Here are some ways to keep that from happening:
Social Trends are one of the most effective ways to stay relevant and active on social media. And honestly, you can’t really plan for them. A social trend is like a flash in the pan, one minute it’s there and the next it’s gone. Whether it’s a meme, a hashtag, a trending celebrity or a hot news topic, you can drive engagement by posting something relevant and appropriate. And who knows? You might just find a few followers along the way. And I mean who doesn’t love a good meme!
Read More: How to Stay on Top of a Social Media Trend
Culture isn’t just the name of Cardi B’s baby. It can be the tipping point for someone to follow your brand because it’s relatable. Get something delectable for lunch? Shout out where you got it from. Did a coworker bring in their pet? Thanks for the free likes, coworker’s dog! Culture can be planned, but the best content is always the posts that feel genuine and spontaneous.
Interaction can come in many forms on social media. You can repost, retweet, comment, share, or highlight another page that resonates with your followers. Sometimes, just replying to a tweet can garner a new relationship that wouldn’t have happened without the ability to be adaptive. Bridging the gap between two followings is so practical it almost feels like cheating. Creating a social media calendar frees up the time for you to find your brand’s newest social BFF!
Don’t just set it and forget it, take the time to constantly review your social media presence and make sure you are getting the most out of these platforms. Over time, people will see the effort you are putting into it and reward you for it!
A Few of Our Favorites
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- #PhotoOfTheDay – They post a different photo every day from one of their product’s users. It keeps them relevant and active, especially on instagram.
- Creating a culture – GoPro has created a community of influencers without even having to pay for it. Why wouldn’t you post your incredible new picture with the hopes of GoPro seeing it, loving it and sharing it?
- Transparency and Integrity – Being that most of their target audience loves the outdoors, GoPro realizes that conservation efforts are on their minds. So a few times a month, they try to highlight a conservation topic that could use some exposure.
- Trends, Trends, Trends – Digiorno is CONSTANTLY hopping on social trends and staying relevant, using pizza and humor to form a connection between different markets.
- Target Audience Forward – They know that those who are most likely going to buy their pizza are people like gamers or movie buffs. To take advantage of this, they will tweet about new games, movies and technology that their target audience also loves.
- Consistency – Not a day has gone by since 2016 (I know this because in college I would binge watch all their videos) that Tasty hasn’t posted some sort of content. Their social media calendar takes the “more is more” approach, but it works!
- Interaction – Every so often, a specific brand gets highlighted in a recipe that Tasty is showcasing. From Captain Morgan to Sriracha, they are always merging followings with new markets.
There you have it! The “what”, “why” and “how” of creating a social media calendar. Use the steps I’ve listed above to get your social presence where it needs to be: making your brand shine. Do that and maybe I’ll be using your social page as an example in the future.
If you want more information on how we here at Pinckney use our social media platforms, read our other helpful blogs on social media strategy and download a copy of our Social Media Handbook. You will find even more information and activities on how to make your social media campaign work harder for you. We’ve even created a social calendar template for you, so you can start planning your posts instantly!