You want your social media content calendar to be functional and serve its purpose well.
With the constant flow of new content, news and ideas, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of managing multiple social media accounts. Some brands like Wendy’s and Merriam-Webster are known for their quick wit and ability to jump on the latest trending topics.
Live tweets for major events or reactive posts related to significant news are engaging for your audience and interesting to create as a social team. But you don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture, which means planning out and sticking to a well thought out social media calendar cantered on the content you know your audience wants to see.
A social media calendar will save you time and allow you to track and test different strategies to see what resonates most with your audience. As a social media manager, planning out a social calendar months in advance and scheduling posts ahead of time will save you from scouring trending topics and news stories every day looking for ideas. It will also build greater consistency in terms of your brand voice and style than posting in a reactive or unplanned way.
This article will break down the basics of how to organise your content in a social media calendar so you always know what to post. Additionally, we’ll give you some strategies on ways to manage your schedule internally and how to promote collaboration across teams and departments.
What is a social media content calendar?
A social media content calendar is an essential tool for planning and managing your social marketing content. All social media calendars usually contain the post’s content (copy and graphic assets), hashtags to use, and accounts to mention, as well as the social channels, publish date and time, content owner, and a status field.
A social media content calendar is a plan for your publications across different social media platforms. Depending on the type of social media content calendar template you choose, you can create a spreadsheet, presentation, or document as well as an interactive dashboard.
What’s included in a content calendar
A content calendar can help you stay organised as you connect with customers online. Content calendars come in a variety of formats but typically include five key pieces of information. You can use the template from this lesson to plan and schedule your social media posts or create your own. Just make sure that you include the following information for each post you schedule.
· Date: When will the post be published?
· Theme: What is your post about?
· Visual description: Include a short sentence or two about how you want your post image or video to look.
· Format: Posts can have pictures, video or a combination of the two. Decide which you will create for your post.
· Platform: Where do you intend to post the content (Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere)?
· A content calendar can help you plan, organise and schedule your content.
· Plan your content ahead of time so you can share content consistently on social media. That way, potential customers are more likely to have you in mind when they’re ready to buy what you’re selling.
Social Media Calendar
World-class social media teams move fast. Part content calendar, part culture calendar, this social template helps you wrangle the unwrangle-able by showcasing your important events and dates directly alongside your posts. This template also makes it easy to see what content is coming down the pike and track how your posts perform.
- Brainstorm ideas, write copy, and attach the perfect image right in Airtable. When your post is ready, the approver can take a comprehensive look before signing off.
- Nothing provides a birds-eye-view of your social output like a Calendar view. This template makes it easy to create and customize individual calendars for each platform you utilize.
- With a dedicated space for evergreen posts and user-generated content, this template makes filling your calendar a total cinch.
Whether you’re a large-scale organization or a smaller company, a calendar is critical in helping maintain productivity and prevent delays.
Who should use a social media content calendar?
Basically, you will benefit from a social media content calendar if you:
- want to save time on spontaneous planning and creating content
- need to regularly share posts on your social media profiles
- wish to avoid mistakes, mishaps, and grammar mistakes in your posts
- would like to be prepared on special occasions and holidays with posts planned and approved in advance
- strive to improve your social media content quality
- need to collaborate with your team and clients on content plans
- care to know what works and what doesn’t in terms of your social media posting
Quite simply, a social media content calendar is an integral part of your marketing strategy if you wish to maximise your social media presence.
Which people will benefit from having a social media content calendar?
1. Social media agencies
A typical social media marketing agency has a variety of clients, profiles, and posts to manage on a daily basis.
It would be difficult for them to make ends meet without social media content calendar templates.
By developing a social media content calendar for each client, they will be able to have a better understanding of the workflow and better adjust their resources internally. Identifying content gaps can be accomplished more efficiently when all parties are on the same page in terms of content ideas.
Furthermore, by presenting concepts and plans in the form of a social media content calendar, an agency can come across as more professional. A good social media content calendar template could potentially be the difference between your agency and the competition.
Agencies work in fast-paced environments and often produce many social campaigns for various clients simultaneously. Using calendar templates for each client (and target) can help teams stay aligned.
As a marketer, even if you do not exclusively work in the area of social media, you might require access to a social media content calendar in order to plan your marketing activities. It is a mutually beneficial collaboration.
Whether they are strategists, creative managers, or analysts, marketers have the ability to inspire social media managers and tell them what to post or promote.
Their social media managers keep them up to date on what is happening on social media, as well as what should be published or rethought (because, for example, it does not generate the desired results).
Social media content calendars are then used to keep track of all communications. When you’re managing multiple campaigns, a social media calendar can reduce the potential for confusion or error by keeping everyone on the same page. It also simplifies getting approvals from busy stakeholders too.
3. Brand managers
The role of a brand manager is to manage the overall communication of a single brand or a portfolio. This includes social media communication, which, due to being responsible for many other tasks, may simply be overlooked. With a social media content calendar that is accessible and easy to use, brand managers can keep track of the overall communication and the role that social media plays in it. Not only can they control it, but they can also offer suggestions or share ideas about topics to cover on social media.
A social media content calendar may also be beneficial to clients of advertising agencies. If they have access to a common social media content calendar template, clients may be able to get a better overview and ask fewer less important questions – simply because they will be able to find and check the answers themselves. As a result, they will be able to navigate through long-term strategic planning to better understand the processes and the strategy itself.
5. Remote teams
Social media content calendars are actually less of a choice for remote marketing teams and more of a necessity. And such a social media content calendar template should be interactive if it is to fulfil its potential.
By having one dashboard or document where people in different time zones, languages, and locations can collate their social media content ideas then the creative part doesn’t hurt, the place doesn’t matter, and the social media content calendar simply shines. Social media content calendars assist remote organizations with staying on the same page when it comes to collaboration.
While we have only highlighted the most common uses of social media content calendars, the sky’s the limit when it comes to using them.
However, before you can use a social media content calendar, you will need to know how to create one.
6. Media companies
Media organizations tend to have scheduled editorial months in advance of content publication. Given this lead time and the volume of promotion involved, social media or editorial calendars are must-have tools that many staff and stakeholders need to access.
7. Business owners and bloggers
If you are a one-person shop, a calendar is a vital time-saving tool that lets you effortlessly plan content and check it against your objectives and strategy.
Step 1 – Consider your social media plan/strategy:
- What is your topic?
- What is your goal?
- What social channels are you posting on?
- How frequently should you post on each channel?
- Are there channels that better reach some audiences more than others? What type of content is appropriate for each target?
- When is your audience online?
- When do you plan on publishing your post?
- What type of post is it?
- What type of content does your audience respond to most (video, infographics, polls, etc.)?
- What sort of assets do you need (text, images, video)?
Step 2 – View and analyse your results:
- Look at what worked well and consider why (publish time, topic, content type, content execution).
- For top-performing posts, see how you might repurpose channel content.
- Apply these insights to your post strategy and planning.
Step 3 – Organise your ideas and backlog:
- With key learnings in mind, use your template to note future post ideas (whether a new content type or a week of themed posts) or social-friendly photos and other assets. Add as ideas come up, such as in a brainstorming meeting.
- Populate your calendar template(s) as far advance as possible. The farther out you plan, the more time you have to hone content as inspiration strikes.
Deciding what to post
If you’re new to social media marketing, one of the biggest roadblocks to creating a social media content calendar is knowing what to post. It might seem overwhelming to come up with enough ideas to fill an entire calendar, months ahead of time. But having a long-term social media plan will help you set realistic goals and make the process of creating a content calendar more manageable.
There are a few strategies that ensure you never run out of things to talk about on social media. Don’t rely on exciting things happening within your community or company to dictate what you post and when. There will be slow times and it’s important to have a plan to stay active on social media throughout those times.
To get this process rolling, conduct a social media audit of things you’ve posted in the past that received high engagement from your audience. To do this, you’ll need to pull together all of your unique social media analytics from sources such as Twitter or Facebook Insights.
If you’re just getting started with a social strategy or don’t have old posts to refer to, do an audit of a competitor in your industry. Search for hashtags or keywords in your industry and identify the accounts with the highest engagement.
Once you have a few basic topics in mind, it helps to use a more in-depth research tool like social media listening to learn more about what your audience wants to see. By using listening for competitive research, you’ll see a comprehensive view of the hashtags, keywords, brands and topics that audiences like yours are engaging with on different social platforms. You can use this information to craft posts that are highly relevant to your audience and expand your reach to other people who may be interested in your content.
Social media is all about appealing to the people who follow your brand and providing them with value. That means testing different strategies and types of content to see what your audience likes best.
Organise your content
Keep track of different campaigns, content styles and audience segments.
If you don’t have enough data to accurately gauge what your audience likes, create different types of content to see what your audience engages with most. Use a combination of promotional material, entertaining content and curated or user-generated content.
Promotional content tends to be sales-focused and can help you market your product.
Some content should serve the purpose to entertain your audience. It doesn’t have to relate to specifically to your product, but should still be relevant to your industry. It can include a fun, behind-the-scenes look at your brand.
Finally, it’s a good idea to supplement your own brand’s content with curated posts related to your niche or industry. These posts might be ones that mention your brand or a reshare of articles that have a unique view that your audience would enjoy.
Overall, make sure that the majority of the content you work into your social media calendar is intended to help your audience. While the exact mix will vary depending on your brand, niche and what types of content you see your audience respond to the most strongly, an initial rule of thumb to follow is making ⅔ of the content informational and ⅓ or less should be promotional. A constant stream of overly promotional social media posts can alienate followers, making it essential to emphasize engagement over sales in your social media calendar.
Organising and managing a posting schedule
Once you have an idea of the types of content you’re going to post, it’s time to create a posting schedule. After auditing your past posts or competitors’ posts, you will begin to notice trends. Take a look at what days and times they were posted and on which platforms. Make a note of any specific themes around the post. That information will help you organise and plan your posts to get the most visibility.
There’s a lot of competing information on how often you should post on social media. Some professionals recommend posting as regularly as possible to stay top of mind. Others suggest only posting if you have high quality and valuable information to add to the conversation.
Here are suggestions based on the most up-to-date research on how often to post to each social media platform for maximum visibility:
- Facebook pages: 1-2 per day
- Twitter: 3-10 times per day
- Instagram: 1-3 times per day
- Instagram Stories: 2-5 times per day
- Pinterest: 3-20 times per day
- LinkedIn: 1-2 times per week
There are also best practices around the best times to post on each platform, broken down by specific industries and niches.
Posting frequently is one way to try to stay in front of your audience, but don’t emphasize quantity over quality. Be wary of sharing content that is irrelevant or redundant just to meet an artificial posting quota.
Every audience is unique, which is why you also want to conduct analysis and get an understanding of your audience as you continue to curate your social media content calendar. Take a look at your calendar and your analytics to find trends and patterns in the data. Noticing trends will help you see how people on different platforms react to different types of content and different posting times.
Creating a posting schedule that works is a process of constant experimentation and refinement. In the end, this pays off not only with a social media content calendar that delivers results, but also by helping you continually gain a better understanding of what your audience is seeking. As you continue to fill in your social media calendar, play around with different posting times and the number of times per week you post. It will give you a lot of insight into what works specifically for your audience.
Tracking and analysing your social media content calendar
Don’t look at your social media calendar as just a planning tool. It’s a way to track and measure campaigns across every platform you use. Analyse the information you collect from your social media campaigns and continue to optimise your social media calendar in the future.
When content performs well, don’t be afraid to save it or make a note to reintroduce it again in the future. Storing everything in a pre-approved library also helps ensure that all your images and multimedia assets are on point in terms of quality and brand style guidelines.
Account for specific campaigns across different social platforms. Different social media platforms serve different purposes, so you should plan strategically when looking to increase the reach of a given post on other platforms. It’s important to remember that just because a post is popular on one platform, doesn’t mean it will perform well on the others–for example, a post that does well on Instagram may need to be reused as the featured image for a more text-heavy post on LinkedIn, rather than being reshared without any changes.
Sharing your social media calendar across teams
Social media is a key pillar of many brands’ marketing strategies, and social teams may frequently work with other teams to develop campaigns and source content. Successful social media marketing requires collaboration from many departments across a company.
You might have graphic designers, videographers and copywriters all collaborating with the social media team. You need an easy and reliable way to make sure that everyone involved can access the right tools, accounts and organise their deliverables.
Follow up on your scheduled posts by establishing a process of responding and engaging with your audience. If your company handles support through a separate social media team your marketing team can always control the messaging, no matter who is posting.
Including other teams aside from the marketing team when planning your social media content calendar will also help give you more ideas for things to post. Developers can look at your calendar and let you know when certain features will be launching and how to schedule for those launches accordingly. Human resources can remind you of important dates and company milestones worth posting about.
As a marketer, your time is too valuable to spend deciding what to post on every single day. A well-planned out social media content calendar lets you use your time to plan for the future and focus on other aspects of your marketing strategy.
What are the benefits of a social media content calendar?
Social media calendars greatly simplify the process of creating, getting approval for, and publishing your social media posts. Calendars also help you ensure your content is fresh, varied, and consistent. (Followers tend to have a good memory. They might recall if a post is repetitive or feels inconsistent or off-brand.) Our calendar template is flexible, letting you nimbly adjust fields or format, so you can better keep up with social media platforms and user trends.
Everything in one place
By using a social media content calendar, you will be able to keep track of all your social media publications under one roof. If you execute it properly, you should be able to swap content ideas between platforms and profiles and modify them on the go – including real-time content that is impossible to plan in time.
You will have a clearer picture of the strategy of each and every profile you manage, and this overview may help you to make better business decisions: what, where, when, and why to post.
Better control and handover
The ability to have greater control over your social media strategy is also an undeniable benefit. If everything is included in one common social media content calendar template, everyone can review the calendar and not duplicate existing work but – quite the contrary – complement it.
Social media content calendars are also beneficial if someone is on vacation, off sick, or leaving the organization – because a smooth handover is made possible. Since everything is centralized, there is no need for a lengthy takeover process.
Organisation takes & gives time
A social media content calendar can be arranged in such a way that you will no longer have to scroll endlessly to find content ideas. Obviously nothing comes easy, and you will need to develop a social media content calendar and then teach others how to use it before it’s brought into life. Once everyone becomes familiar with the workflow, however, you won’t have to struggle with random posts outside of the strategy or filling in the gaps.
Additionally, if you use an interactive social media content calendar, it will perform some tasks for you in no time. They might include such things as scheduling your posts directly to social media platforms or gathering data for further analysis.
You can manage both the regularity of your publications (which social media algorithms appreciate a lot) and their consistency (which, in turn, will be extremely popular with the recipients) with pre-planned content. It goes without saying that well-thought-out content is usually more effective.
A centralised social media calendar can not only save you a lot of time and hassle, but also help you avoid certain problems. More efficient workflow reduces the likelihood of escalation of a social media crisis. Planning content in advance and allowing yourself time to organize it will help you to reduce the chance of typos, mistakes, controversial copy, or any other situation that can lead to a crisis.
If you have one or two profiles to manage, this is beneficial.
The use of social media content calendars allows you to save time on social media activities so that you can respond more quickly rather than searching for new ideas out of the blue and not having time for community management.
All of this contributes to better results generated by your social media strategy. And isn’t that what every social media manager strives for?
Types of posts for your social media content calendar
1. Photo posts
Photo posts do not have to be boring and consist of yet more product photos with logotypes in the corners. So, if you think that’s the only way you can use photos, you’re (fortunately) wrong!
There are just a few ways that you can incorporate photo posts into your social media content calendar:
- trivia (charades, rebuses)
- reaction voting (like for X, love for Y, wow for Z)
- creative loop (end the sentence, replace X with your favourite fruit)
- sneak peeks (your new products or features)
- recipes or sneak peeks
2. Video posts
It is a common misconception that video posts are time-consuming and expensive. However, you can create video clips with some powerful marketing tools that are quick and easy to use. We’ve listed some that are in our toolbox right here.
Videos sound cool as long as you know what to include in them. If not, we’re happy to come to the rescue:
- product launch videos
- explainer videos (showing your products, services, or features step by step)
- a static photo that’s been animated with single filters and effects – that’s how you can refresh some photo posts!
In terms of reach and engagement, video posts can be more effective than other types. You should try them in your social media content calendar, especially if you haven’t used them before and your outgoing communication is pretty static.
Quizzes on social media can get you a lot of attention and engagement, as well as boost other metrics. When you create a quiz, make sure it’s not obvious – the best ones have a few possible solutions rather than just one correct answer. You can make your quizzes very simple (answers from A to D like in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) or more advanced (Which fruit are you?). Restricting the solution to just one answer may lead to the first comment revealing it and therefore dissuade others from participating. More answers means more fun! Also, it would be beneficial to incorporate engagement loops into your strategy so that you can increase engagement even further with comments and run discussions with those who decided to take the quiz.
We have all been in a position where we have written content to post, but have no idea how the visuals should appear or have no one to assist with them (and stock photos will simply not do). You can either give up and wait, or… use GIFs. In a social media content calendar, there are some cult GIFs that may fit well with your content and bring better engagement over time. The right strategy may not be one that is based entirely on GIFs, but using them occasionally can be refreshing.
Live is a tricky format. On one hand, it’s extremely easy to run – you just need to press “record” on a live streaming feature to start filming and publishing straight away. On the other hand, you can’t go back and edit what you’ve said or shown.
The live format should find a slot somewhere in your social media content calendar. This format doesn’t always have to be planned; it can sometimes be quite spontaneous, but it is important to remember. about it throughout
Due to their fleeting nature, the power of stories are often overlooked by marketing strategists who, as a result, do not integrate this type of content into their campaigns. That may be a mistake, since stories can be saved (e.g. pinned in a Highlights format) and seen by even more people than your organic posts.
Other than their limited visibility, another challenge is that marketers may be unsure about how to incorporate Stories into their social media content calendars. Online chats or meetings, webinars, and Q&As are all great uses of the live format; why not use it for behind-the-scenes content as well?
And it’s interesting that marketers don’t usually think about:
- announcing their new Instagram posts with Stories
- displaying sneak-peeks of new marketing initiatives via Stories
- using Stories for showing the company culture and behind-the-scenes
- promoting deals and sharing discount in Stories
- using Stories for polls, quizzes, surveys, and gathering feedback
- simply making use of Stories in their activities
Your stories can be 100% planned or they can arise spontaneously – regardless of their nature, you should leverage them in your social media content calendar.
7. Link posts
If the ultimate goal of your social media strategy is to drive more traffic to your website, then link posts should be an integral part of your social media content calendar. With link posts, you can easily send your audience to your external website, landing page, or shop.
At times, they can resemble photo posts, however, there are two major differences that may work in favour of link posts if your goal is to boost conversion rates.
First of all, when you click on a photo in your link post, instead of zooming in to see the details, you’re redirected to an external source. Depending on your goal, this might be a good strategy if you’re actually trying to drive conversions to your website and aren’t interested in social media engagement per se.
As a second benefit, link posts come with a variety of elements such as call-to-action buttons, headlines, and link descriptions that allow you to be creative while encouraging your audience to take the desired action.
Link posts are also great if you lack visuals. You don’t need to add any photo or video to your post to make it visually plausible. The link preview consists of a photo (e.g. cover photo on your blog) that will be displayed on social media. You can use various debuggers to see, or fix, how your link posts will be displayed.
8. User-generated content
For social media marketers, obtaining so much user-generated content that they don’t have to worry about creating new content themselves is the holy grail. Getting a lot of user-generated content, however, is somewhat of a challenge, as it requires a lot of time, effort, and patience on the part of the brand.
Let’s face it: not every business is or has the chance to become a global brand that everyone has heard of. Because of this, it may be difficult to regularly collect user generated content. Several ideas can help you with this process, though.
Start by involving some influencers and brand ambassadors if doing so is feasible. What would you gain from doing that?
As well as promoting your brand or product, they can also create promotional content for your social media accounts. This content can be interacted with by your brand, reposted, and repurposed if legally permitted. It is all up to your agreement with the influencer or ambassador in question.
Influencer marketing may not be suitable for every brand for various reasons. The terms of the agreement don’t always match reality, and marketing budgets often prioritize other activities over influencers. Is it fair to assume that there is no way to incorporate user-generated content into your social media content calendar then? The answer might be contrary to what you think.
UGC, as its name implies, is user-generated content. In other words, you get your greatest form of appreciation from users who interact with and love your brand. This isn’t something that happens overnight, however, so at the beginning your encouragement may be required to motivate your users to create such content.
Give your audience a small incentive, like a 10% discount off their next purchase for tagging your brand on social media channels or sending you some promotional content. You should run contests that allow you to collect and then legally process entries.
Then watch as the snowball effect occurs and brings more user-generated content to your doorstep that you can add to your social media content calendar.
These are one of the most underrated post formats on social media – and once placed in a social media content calendar, they can actually deliver great results. Offers resemble link posts, but upon clicking they display a special discount or promo code that can be applied online or in brick and mortar stores.
Offers make a delightful format for ecommerce, so it’s worth checking them out and adding them to your social media strategy.
Long story short, carousels are just a collection or set of link posts. This is simplifying it too much, but that’s what it resembles. Carousels, however, are more flexible because you don’t have to claim link ownership to change a photo in your carousel. For link posts, it is possible to change a photo if you upload a new one to the source or if you have rights to the link (e.g. it’s your website).
In carousels, you can change covers and photos even for links that do not belong to you. That opens up a whole new world of possibilities, so it’s worth checking out.
You can use carousels to:
- promote a few products in a single post
- redirect your audience to a few separate pages on your site
- create a story that can be revealed by swiping right and left
- show e.g. one collection as a whole
- present some episodes of particular content
Furthermore, the role of carousels is also observed on LinkedIn as Slides/Documents where you can upload a square PDF and browse it this way – although, it won’t be clickable.
The only thing stopping you here is your creativity, as with anything else.
11. Shoppable posts
Another idea, especially for those into ecommerce on social media, is to leverage shoppable posts that allow you to tag your products directly in photos and enable your audience to purchase those items straight away.
And we believe we don’t really have to describe this concept in detail – simply add products to your Facebook shopping catalogue and tag products in the content that you publish afterwards. Despite appearances, this format is simple, effective, and not as commercialised as you might imagine.
Over to you
With this guide, we hope to help you create the perfect social media content calendar template for your company or agency. Getting it right from the start will make it easier to execute and adjust afterwards.