24 Mar 2021

The Guide to Writing Your First Social Media Content Calendar

content plan

A social media calendar is a “Do it now, and you’ll thank yourself later” kind of thing. Having everything planned in one place makes tons of sense. Not only you’ll be able to plan ahead and save time for brainstorming, but you’ll also stay committed and consistent in your effort. All these benefits can make a lot of difference for your success.

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In this guide we’ll discuss:

  • Four convincing reasons to use social media content calendar.
  • Steps to create an effective social media calendar.

Why Use a Social Media Content Calendar

About 80% of the best-performing marketers manage their content marketing strategy with a content calendar. There are tons of reasons why this approach brings them leads, likes, and sales.

Here are the most important reasons:

  • More organized content production. Planning content in advance keeps the content production team and social media folks in sync, working together to create posts for months ahead.
  • Increased accountability. A calendar provides deadlines for specific content pieces and projects, so people are more aware of them. Besides, procrastinating is much easier when there’s a lack of deadlines.
  • Better marketing results. As mentioned, 80% of the best performers use a calendar, while only 50% of the least successful ones can say the same. The reason: a calendar promotes consistency and organization.
  • Less stress. Knowing what comes up helps to organize content production, stay more calm and confident. This, in turn, prevents the whole thing from becoming a mess.

What this means for you is that a social media content calendar can help you achieve your marketing goals. 

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar

Consider these steps to write a content calendar that will keep you on top of your social media efforts.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Existing Social Media Content

Consider doing a content audit. It means analyzing the existing social media content to see which content received the most engagement and which platform generated the highest number of leads and sales.

A quick social media audit checklist:

  • Identify and evaluate all your social media profiles, both official and unofficial. Check for the relevance and completion of the details and consistency in style. Sports apparel brand Under Armour, for example, has several official profiles and countless unverified ones. Which is bad because users do not understand which account to follow for trustworthy information.
  • Locate the goals and achievements of previous social media campaigns, like posts with high engagement, positive reactions, posts that brought the most leads or sales. They might help you understand the current reputation and awareness of the brand
  • Find a few direct competitors’ social media profiles, which work in the same niche as you do, and take note of their best practices (content type, engagement, designs, etc.). Using similar tactics could help to increase the effectiveness of your own marketing effort.

Make sure that there’s only one official account that you’re going to be using, or at least one for each social media platform on which you are presented. Also, by the end of the audit, you should have a list of the best practices and tips based on your previous strategies and the competitors’ profiles.

Step 2: Set Social Media Strategy Goals

Now we can develop the overall goals for your social media marketing strategy to keep it focused. The most common goals include:

  • Increase brand awareness. Content related to brand mission, vision, values, community involvement is suitable to create authentic brand awareness and get people talking about your company a bit. Here are some examples of such content.
  • Grow social media followership. Increasing the number of followers on social media profiles, which means greater content and marketing exposure.
  • Drive traffic to the official website. If you’re looking to generate leads and sales with a website, social media can help people go there.
  • Generate leads and sales. About 57 percent of customers follow brands on social media to learn about new products and services. A strategy that involves sharing promotions, sales, and product-related content can help to get leads and sales.

Feel free to pick multiple, but ensure that they make sense for your business and its future.

Step 3: Decide on Social Media Platforms

At this point, you have a clear understanding of your business’s social media presence. Time to choose social media websites for making that presence more impactful.

Tips to choose social media platforms:

  • Facebook—Suitable for B2C and B2B businesses and provides access to the largest number and range of users (about 2.8 billion).
  • Instagram—Perfect network for B2C businesses to promote and sell products with photography. Read more about Instagram audiences here.
  • LinkedIn—Best suited for B2B lead generation and marketing with professional content.
  • Twitter—Used by young, tech-savvy individuals looking for news on technology, sports, marketing, everyday life.
  • TikTok—Great for targeting young customers like Millennials and Generation Z with video marketing and influencer marketing.

For starters, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok seem to be the best choice for B2C businesses. For B2B, a good option would be to begin with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Step 4: Choose Content Types to Engage Your Audience

At this point, you’ve researched previous campaigns and checked out the competitors. So, you might have an idea of what content might perform great. Still, let’s review all content options so you know how to plan the digital marketing budget and resources.

The most common content types:

  • Facebook—Product images, live videos, guides, promotional videos, written articles, customer testimonials, infographics.
  • Instagram—An Instagram content plan might include customer-generated content, product images and videos, company news, product announcements, influencer-created content, live videos. The focus is on visual content.
  • LinkedIn—Written blog posts, industry reports, professional guides, explainer videos, customer testimonials (considered the best for sales-oriented video strategy), case studies, company news, infographics.
  • Twitter—Links to external and internal written content, announcements, company news, industry updates.
  • TikTok—Influencer-made videos, product videos.

Producing specific content types also requires tools you might want to consider getting to keep quality high. For example, tools like Hemingway Editor, EssaySupply, and Grammarly will help with getting rid of typos and other issues in blog articles and case studies. Pixlr is great for editing pics, Canva will help to design infographics, and Soapbox — to create videos. 

Talk with your content writers about content to produce. Absolutely, there are some more content types that could work in specific niches, so be sure to explore all options with them.

Step 5: Decide Content Topics

Next comes the creative part — it’s time to create ideas that’ll grab people’s attention and transform into thousands of likes, shares, and comments.

The best ways to get inspiration for content topics:

  • Customer and market research. You can find these on the Internet (here are some examples).
  • Engagement with previous marketing campaigns.
  • Customer feedback on third-party review platforms, customer support team records.
  • Best-performing content of competitors.

Content research can include everything from competitor research to forum research. You can even get nice ideas on Reddit. For example, this question from a business owner could be useful for content creators from SaaS companies selling chatbots.

Source: Reddit

Write down the best topics for at least two months ahead. It’ll give you enough time to prepare for the future while keeping you busy at the present.

Step 6: Specify Dates for Posting

Choose dates to post every single social media post in your campaigns for about two months ahead. For social media, posting times are important because some tend to generate more engagement than others.

Here are the best posting times (study):

  • Facebook—Wednesday, between 11 am and 12 pm.
  • Instagram—Wednesday at 11 am, and Friday at 10 am.
  • Twitter—Wednesday and Friday at 9 am.
  • LinkedIn—Wednesday from 8 to 10 am and noon, Thursday at 9 am and 1-2 pm, and Friday at 9 am.
  • TikTok—Tuesday at 9 am, and Thursday at 12 am (Influencer Marketing Hub).

Step 7: Define Success Metrics

You’re all set now. The last thing is to determine how you’re going to evaluate the performance of the strategy. The “success metrics” depend on your goals, of course, but here are some common ones:

  • Engagement: likes, comments, shares, views, and individual post engagement.
  • Brand awareness: impressions (the number of times a post shows up in someone’s newsfeed) and reach (the number of unique viewers collected by a post).
  • Conversion from social media. Conversions could be newsletter sign-ups, content downloads, and sales.
  • Website visits from social media. The number of visits shows the effectiveness of content and brings you close to reaching marketing goals.

Last but not least: content calendar templates examples

Social media strategy is a marathon, not a sprint, so success depends on organization and patience.

AUTHOR: Dorian Martin. You can read Dorian’s work at his site, where he shares his advice with everyone interested in online marketing.

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