Developing a Social Media Calendar

Even though social media marketing consists of posting messages and engaging in conversations, as a company with marketing goals and objectives, simply publishing random content will not serve you well. How do you manage your marketing messages across multiple social media tools such as your blog plus Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn, not to mention Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube or other image and video sharing sites?

Use a social media editorial calendar to spell out your messaging and the timing you’ll post those messages across your social media landscape. In print publishing, editors use editorial calendars to plan out content weeks or months in advance. Your editorial calendar should include any online messaging your company will publish including blog posts, social network posts, images uploaded, videos published, even digital press releases.

Before you build out your social media editorial calendar, you need to ask yourself the most 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 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. A daily goal should be to generate conversations not just between you and others but amongst your friends, fans and followers. Be responsive to what others are saying. Be aware of what is happening in any given moment with current events and relevant news to show that you are present in the conversation, not just automating your updates.

Social media editorial calendars shouldn't limit how often you post to your networks although your posting frequency should be based on what works best on each network and what your audience expects. Not everything you post is time-sensitive or date-specific so be flexible. Social media calendars are strategic planning tools and resources for content ideas but are not a replacement for in-the-moment conversations.

Some essential elements of social media editorial calendar include:

Dates. Break messaging down by week and then by day since social media marketing is a daily effort.

Assignments. Make sure you are clear about whom is responsible for posting what content, and have a process in place that may include copyediting and approvals.

Themes. Consider assigning themes to each month or each week, campaign “hooks” that help inform the daily messaging for that 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 and public messages start with a traditional press release. To ensure that your social media marketing efforts support your PR, include the dates and topics of planned releases to inform content you post.

Blog Posts. Blog posts are the longer form content you publish that can then inform social media posts. If you have a promotion, contest, event or news, start with a blog post then link to it to provide details and background information.

Messaging. Include actual text - and images and video - for status updates that is consistent with your brand voice, clearly conveys your messages, and is addressed in a way that appeals to your target market. Decide how much you or your team members can ad lib from crafted messaging, and remember to be flexible based on current events and trending topics of conversation online.

Being strategic with your social media marketing is important, but don’t let your editorial calendar kill spontaneity or your personality. Be yourself. Be conversational. Be engaged. Your social media editorial calendar should keep you on track and help you better measure the success of your online marketing efforts.