Social Media Calendar – A Necessary Evil?

How far are you into your social media strategy? Are you at the ‘If one more person says “content is King” I’ll punch them’ stage? Well here’s a tip to turn the chaos and stress into a manageable daily task. You need a content calendar.

I know it sounds like just another task to add to the never ending list, but trust me. I manage social media for a dozen brands on a daily basis, and without a content calendar and a daily plan I’d be a shivering mess in the corner, throwing post-it pads at random folk.

A What?
So what do I mean by a Social Media Content Calendar? It’s a place to hold all the information you need in one place. It lists all of your channels (Facebook, blog, Twitter etc.) and lets you plan what you’re going to post where and when. It’s where you collect ideas, curate your content and make sure you stick to your strategy.

When you have an idea for a blog, you write it there. Yes it will take a few hours to initially set up, but in the long run it’ll save you time and help you make sure you keep producing high quality content rather than panic-written articles about…bunnies.

How to organise it
There are no hard and fast rules. If you work well with lists in a text file, go for it. If you prefer Excel pivot tables, do it. I like a spreadsheet, because it allows me to link to other documents, and hide/view what I need to see and not be overwhelmed by the volume!

Benefits of using a Content Calendar
1. Once you know what kind of posts are

The best way to see what kind of content to plan for the future is to perform routine checks on what kind of content is well-liked by your audience, and make regular adjustments based on these insights. Set up regular check-up times to record the important metrics on your content. Platforms such as Google Analytics help you track the vital numbers for your content’s performance. Some important numbers to take note of are unique pageviews, number of clicks, and referral source. This data will help you figure out which ones of your posts get the most readers, which ones are good for generating leads, and what social channel is referring the majority of your readers. Use this information to adjust your publishing schedule, as well as the type of content you post and the social media platform you use to promote this content.
2. Missing important dates

You’ve probably experienced this: you go about your day, only to realize halfway through the afternoon that you forgot a good friend’s birthday, only because you saw the reminder on Facebook. It feels bad to have forgotten it on your own, but it would feel a lot worse to miss the birthday altogether. Organizing all your content in one place is a safeguard, like Facebook reminders—it exists to ensure you don’t miss crafting content relevant for holidays important to your industry, product releases, or campaign launch dates.

How a social media content calendar can fix this:
Populate your content calendar with all the dates important to your business. Set up reminders at a reasonable interval to put the date on your radar in advance, in order to adjust your writing and research time to the deadline. Add holidays that may affect your business, whether they mean low or high reader traffic—depending on the nature of your business, holidays can mean either ramping up efforts, or doing some housekeeping, such as repurposing old content.
An example editorial calendar An example editorial calendar
3. Overwhelming your content writers

If you run a small business, you want to make sure your resources are allocated in the most beneficial way for your brand. Hiring people dedicated to your social media channels may have been a smart cost-saving move, but their schedule doesn’t seem to have a consistent amount of work—it’s impossible to predict whether the day will be a slow or a hectic one. As a result, the quality of work they product is also inconsistent.

How a social media content calendar can fix this:
Use the content calendar as an assignment calendar for your copywriters. As soon as you know the topics you want to cover in your next few posts, start assigning them to writers based on their schedule, strengths and level of expertise. This will give them time to do in-depth research and think of an engaging way to frame the issue at hand, as well as ensure you have the most capable writer working on that piece of content. If you have more than one copywriter working on your content, plan your content calendar in a way that keeps everyone busy: if one writer isn’t working on a piece with an imminent deadline, focus their efforts on social media promotion or brainstorming ideas for the future.

On days when you anticipate no published content or a lower volume of content, keep a writer on the lookout for any previously published posts that can be updated, or any extra social media efforts (as determined by your weekly analysis from #1).
4. Spamming one social media network and neglecting another

Once you figured out your publishing schedule, you settled into a comfortable routine: plan, write, publish, and promote. But even after all the research into the topics and audience insights, your content is still not reaching the desired audience. Your promotion schedule for your social media content has made it too easy for your audience to dismiss your content on one channel, and it doesn’t have the visibility it needs to attract readers on another channel.

How a social media content calendar can fix this:
For each piece of content planned in your calendar, assign the social media channels you want to use to promote it. Add social media network icons underneath the content title and author name. If you see that one icon comes up too much, and another has not shown up in a while, it may be a sign that you need to rethink your social media promotion strategy.

Ensure that your social referral source metric during your weekly analytics check dictates the social channels you use. You want to promote content on the network frequented by your target audience, but you also don’t want to give up a network that refers the most readers.
5. Not doing your research

You have a brilliant post planned, but when you or your copywriter sits down to create it, you realize that it requires a lot more knowledge on the subject than what you have at your disposal. The deadline is looming, the bosses are angry, and you struggle to produce what you know is a mediocre piece of content. All of this can be prevented by doing background research before setting the due date, but you can’t do that unless you have all your content planned out ahead.

How a social media content calendar can fix this:
If you have the publish date set and the writer assigned in advance, this allows the copywriter to evaluate their expertise on the subject matter. If there is more research to be done, or another writer is better suited to support on the task, a content calendar allows your brand to do this without disrupting the deadlines.