Developing a Social Media Calendar
Social media marketing may seem like it only consists of posting messages and engaging in conversations, but as a company with marketing goals and objectives, simply publishing random content will not serve you well. Managing consistent marketing messages across multiple social media tools including a blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, not to mention Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube, can be challenging for any sized company.
In print publishing, editors use editorial calendars to plan out content weeks or months in advance. A social media editorial calendar is a useful tool that lets you spell out your messaging and the timing you’ll use to post those messages across your social media presences.
Some social media editorial calendars can be created in spreadsheets, often as shared documents such as Google Spreadsheets or they can be multi-featured apps such as CoSchedule.
Your social media editorial calendar should house any messaging your company plans to publish online including blog posts, social network posts, image and video uploads, even digital press releases.
Before you fill in your social media editorial calendar, ask yourself some basic marketing questions:
- What are your marketing objectives?
- Who is your audience (target market)?
- What do you want them to do (participate, sign up for something, contact you, buy something)?
- How will you get them to do that?
- How will you measure your efforts and determine success?
Once you've answered these questions, you’ll have a better sense of how to approach your social media messaging. While an overarching goal is clearly sales or other tangible transactions, a daily goal might be to provide customer service and cultivate a community of customers and prospects.
Social media editorial calendars shouldn't limit how often you post to your social networks. Your posting frequency should be based on what works best on each network as well as what your audience expects. Not everything you post is time-sensitive or date-specific, so be flexible. Social media calendars are strategic planning tools but are not a replacement for in-the-moment conversations.
Some elements of a social media editorial calendar include:
Dates. Your calendar should break messaging down by week and then by day since social media marketing is a daily activity.
Assignments. Make sure you clearly assign responsibility for crafting posts, editing, and publishing. You need a process in place that may include copyediting and approvals to ensure the content you post best reflects your company’s brand.
Themes. Consider assigning themes to each month or each week. Themes can be “hooks” that inform daily messaging for a particular time frame. A theme might be based on specific company events and news or tied to current events, seasons, holidays, or other relevant topics.
Press Releases. Often your company's outreach starts with a traditional press release. To ensure that your social media marketing efforts support your public relations, make note of the dates and topics of planned releases to guide content you create.
Blog Posts. Social media posts are more often short messages while blog posts are more likely longer form content. If you have a promotion, contest, event, or news, a blog post can provide more details while social media posts attract attention and drive actions.
Messaging. Your social media editorial calendar should include actual post text to ensure what you publish online is consistent with your brand voice, clearly conveys your key messages, and appeals to your target market. Decide how much you or your team members can ad lib from pre-crafted messaging. Provide training to anyone responsible for managing your social media editorial calendar and the content within it.
While planning is important, don’t let your editorial calendar kill spontaneity or your brand’s personality. Be conversational. Be engaged. Use your social media editorial calendar to keep your messaging on track with your company goals and to provide better measurements of the success of your online marketing efforts.