7 simple steps to creating an effective social media calendar
That’s probably your first reaction to social media as a small business owner.
Yep, social media can sure feel like an uphill battle.
You already may have to wear so many hats and probably have a to-do list as long as your arm. With so much to get through every day, and so much responsibility on your shoulders, it can be hard to switch off.
You might be finally unwinding with a well-deserved glass of wine after an exhaustingly long day, until it suddenly hits you.
You have to post on your business’s Instagram page.
If you post social content on the spur of the moment like this (with the added fact that you’re not enjoying it) it’s going to translate into your posts.
You won’t get any results like that.
But picture this instead.
You’re stretched out on a hammock, blissfully warmed by the rays of the sun. Two palm trees gently sway above you as a light breeze cools you off. You’re hypnotized by the gentle rhythm of the ocean’s waves hitting the shore. You’re holding an ice-cold mojito in your hand.
You breathe a sigh of relief. There’s nothing more for you to do right now. Your social media posts have already been taken care of. They’re publishing themselves automatically since you’ve scheduled them ahead of time.
That’s all thanks to the organization you can get from a handy little tool called a social media calendar.
Ok. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit about the beach vacation (though let’s be honest, you do deserve it). But the point remains: It’s possible to take the stress away from organizing your social channels by using a social media content calendar.
In fact, if you use a calendar, it will give you the best chances of success and more free time.
Now wouldn’t that be nice?
What is a social media calendar exactly?
Similar to a content calendar, a social media calendar is simply a way of organizing, designing, scheduling, and ultimately strategizing what you’re going to post on your social media accounts.
It includes information like what platform you’re posting on, the type of content, what time and date it was (or will be) published, and how much engagement it received.
It’s usually a digital calendar that can be created on anything from a spreadsheet, Google Calendar, or specialized software designed for that very purpose. You can create it on whatever works best for you.
After all, it’s all about making things easier for yourself.
Rather than doing a frantic flurry of posts in the heat of the moment, a social media calendar helps you keep cool, calm, and collected. You’ll be organized, feel on top of everything, and be in a better place to create some exciting content for maximum impact.
Setting you up for success.
Plus, you won’t have to put down your delicious mojito while on a much-needed vacation, just to do a business post.
Why you need a social media calendar
Having a social media calendar in place saves you time
With a social media marketing calendar, you’ll be organized enough to be able to schedule future posts — saving you time.
You’ll be using the savvy productivity hack of batching. You can batch-create posts and schedule their publication, so you won’t have to spend heaps of time creating them every day.
No more waking up gasping at 3 a.m. because you forgot to do that post.
You won’t get overwhelmed
Because managing social media can easily get on top of you, especially when you already have so much else to do.
So it’s that much more important to be organized when it comes to your social media game. And a plan in a social media calendar format is a great way of doing just that.
If it can take some stress out of your day, it’s definitely worth doing.
You’ll get more done while working less
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Well, it actually is true. That’s thanks again to the fact that it encourages batching.
A social media calendar will boost your productivity, because you’ll be more organized and efficient.
It’ll help you post consistently
When it comes to social media, consistency is key.
If you’re in a frenzy, posting in the heat of the moment when you happen to remember to, you probably won’t be consistent.
Or creating the best content you can, for that matter.
But if you use an editorial calendar for your social media to plan and schedule posts ahead of time, you can set them to a consistent schedule, which helps increase engagement on your social channels.
A social media calendar ensures you won’t miss a holiday
You’ll be able to create posts around major international and local holidays for more effective campaigns.
Planning posts in your social media calendar around holidays will also give you some extra creative ideas, so you can give your noggin some time off.
Plus, you’ll actually be able to take a break when it’s a holiday. After scheduling publishing your content ahead of time, you won’t miss out on putting your feet up.
A social media calendar helps to make fewer mistakes and create higher-quality content
That’s what happens when you’re not in a rush to create.
If you do rush, you’re more likely to create a brand crisis from a poor choice of words, or a careless post.
On the other hand, by using a social content calendar you’ll be able to give yourself more time to edit your posts, spot any mistakes, and also create something that you can truly be proud of.
Your social media marketing will be more effective
That’s right, because with your business’s social media calendar you’ll be able to analyze your posts on your social platforms to find out what works – and what definitely doesn’t.
With time, you’ll be able to identify what posts have had the best results so you can replicate them. You’ll be able to truly listen to your audience and find out what they engage with, and be able to give it to them.
You’ll also be able to recycle evergreen content.
This is content that can always be relevant. If this kind of content creates great results, you can update it and reuse it later on. It’ll likely continue to work.
You’ll get a social media marketing strategy
Creating a calendar will naturally make you create your own social media marketing strategy.
That’s two birds with one stone.
You’ll be more tactical with your social content, creating campaigns and a series of engaging posts that help you reach your audience.
Boosting your brand and helping you get the results for your business that you’re aiming for.
The long and the short of it? A social media calendar will make things easier as well as doing you and your business a world of good.
How to create a social media calendar — and make the most of it — in 7 simple steps
To make the process of putting together a social media calendar easier, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide and compiled a list of the best social media calendar practices.
1. Identify your goals
First up, it’s useful to know what your goals are from using social media. Are you aiming to increase awareness of your brand? To drive traffic to your website? To increase leads and grow your revenue? To grow a community around your business?
By identifying what your specific goals are, you’ll be able to make a social media marketing calendar and an accompanying strategy tailored to that, and be able to track your progress.
Remember the calendar is a tool for you to use — a means to an end.
2. Zero in on your audience
Like any good marketing, to be effective on social media it’s important to identify who your target audience is.
Who are your customers? What does their age range tend to be? What are their hopes, desires, and dreams? What problems do they suffer from? What social platforms do they spend the most time on?
By answering these questions, you’ll be better placed to…
3. Choose your channels
Once you’ve zeroed in on your audience and know exactly where they hang out on social, you’ll be able to choose what platforms you need to utilize to reach them.
If you’re starting your business’s social media marketing from scratch, it’s better to start small. Pick the two most popular social media platforms for your audience and focus on those. Once you feel comfortable, you can add other platforms to the mix.
4. Choose your content
What should you post?
Continue your research, and find out what kinds of content your audience likes.
Generally, you should be posting a mix of content in different formats (such as posts, reels, and stories, for example).
Just 20% of your content should promote your business, while 80% should be posts that educate, inform, and entertain — and which include personal interactions with your audience.
You don’t always have to make everything from scratch. You can also curate relevant content from leaders in your industry and share it.
Stop the perspiration of inspiration
Inspiration for posts can strike at the unlikeliest of times.
While you’re just about to drift off to sleep. While going out for a drink with a friend. Or while you’re relaxing in the bath with your favorite rubber duck 🦆
Whenever inspiration does strike, make sure to note it down. Creating a calendar protects you from being at the mercy of inspiration; you no longer have to wait for it to stop by just so you can post.
Because if you do, it means you’ll be posting infrequently — which won’t be good for engagement on your social channels.
By creating a calendar and planning posts ahead of time, you’ll be making the most of inspiration by jotting down ideas and scheduling them for the future. It’s a stress-free way of working.
Inspiration without perspiration.
Create a library
Have you come across a great meme, GIF, or video that you’d like to share?
Create a library and bank it. Or if you have ideas for your own, create them ahead of time and add them to your library. That way you’ll have a large resource to draw from and a content calendar full of ideas, so you won’t have to scramble to find something to post.
You might have an idea for a Christmas post mid-August. Create and add the assets to your library and schedule the post — so you can focus on eating mince pies in December.
5. Choose your posting frequency
But when should you schedule your stellar content to be posted?
While there are some recommended posting frequencies for each social media platform, it really is up to you.
The important thing to remember is that consistency is essential.
Just like when you choose what social media platforms to use, it’s best to start small when it comes to posting frequency.
Otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed and stop posting frequently.
Start with posting a couple of times a week. See how you get on. If you’re comfortable you can increase it to match the list below.
There is some debate as to what is the most effective posting frequency for each platform, but here are a few general recommendations based on some of the latest research:
- LinkedIn – 1 post a day
- Facebook – 1 post a day
- Twitter – 15 posts a day
- Instagram – 3 times a week for posts, 7-15 times a week for stories
- TikTok – 5-7 posts a week
There are even specific times in the day that have been found to be the most effective for each platform.
6. What to include in your social media calendar
Now that you have all the information you need, you can create your actual calendar.
You can create it on a spreadsheet, on an application like Google Calendar, or use specially designed software.
When you create your editorial calendar for social media, it’s useful to include the following information:
- Social media platform the post is for – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
- Type of post – Is it a standard post, reel, story, or something else?
- Copy – What text will be included in the post?
- Number of characters – Each platform has an ideal number of characters for posts. It’s handy to include a column which shows how many characters you’ve used in the copy, so you can see if you’ve gone too long (or too short). If you’re a real whiz, you can use a script to help.
- Asset (i.e., the accompanying image, video, GIF) – Use thumbnails as a reference for what you’re posting, including a link to where you’re storing the full-sized image or video.
- Hashtags and URLs – What hashtags need to be included in the post? Are there any relevant links that you want your audience to click on?
- Holiday/Event – Is there an event for your business that the post is promoting? Or is it for a local or international holiday?
- Publishing date and time – When exactly will the post be published? If you’re using a spreadsheet, it could be useful to mark the posts green for published and yellow for scheduled, for example.
- Results – What was the engagement like with your post? How many clicks, shares, likes, or comments were there? Social media platforms often provide analytical tools to help you find out.
- Evergreen – Make a note of whether or not a piece of content in your calendar is evergreen, so it’s easy for you to find it in the future. Future you will high-five you for it✋
- Notes – Keep some space for any extra comments you may want to add.
While the information above is great to include, there may be some more that you’d like to put in. This calendar is just for you (and your team!) so go ahead and make it your own. Add in whatever will make things easier.
Your calendar will keep growing and evolving as you discover what works best for you.
Now that you’ve made your social media calendar — make good use of it!
Keep it up to date and, like Sherlock Holmes on a case, regularly analyze it (especially the results) to find out which posts worked best and which didn’t.
Tailor future posts accordingly or recycle and update evergreen content. You’ll be setting your brand up for social media success, getting yourself closer to achieving those goals you identified in step one.
A powerful tool to help you reach your goals
You now have a powerful tool that’ll help you work wonders with your social media.
In fact, this simple little calendar will help you harness the potential that social media offers for your business. It’ll make you use these platforms strategically and analytically so you have a better chance of reaching your goals.
Try combining your social media calendar with our all-in-one social media scheduler. With this scheduler you can use our templates to design your social posts quickly and resize them for other platforms easily.
It’s amazing the impact a little organization can have. With a social media calendar for your small business, you’ll be achieving more by putting in less work overall, and be able to take a complete break when you need it.
A calendar might even change you from seeing social media as a dull chore that you have to do, to an exciting, creative way of connecting people with your business.
Know a friend who’s frantically posting in the middle of the night? Spread the love and share these tips with them now.
Maybe you can both go on that beach vacation together 🌴