Life is all about preparation, and preparation is all about organisation, hard work, and consistency. Many people want to win, but don’t want to put in the time and hard work that comes with being great at something.
What’s even more challenging is that preparation is not something you can do once and forget about. Those who are great, whether at their job, relationships or hobbies, continually get up, show up, and don’t give up. They put in the work every day, and the rewards speak for themselves. Those who are great have the will and discipline to prepare and be successful over and over again.
I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky. – Oprah Winfrey
Preparation is key to a successful social media presence for your business. But where do you start? And how do you define success? If these thoughts sound familiar to you, you’ve come to the right place.
While generating a social media content calendar may sound overwhelming, the short-term pain is worth long-term gain of increased brand awareness, and high potential for leads and revenue.
Instead of wasting time wondering what to post, you can focus your attention on running your business. With a content strategy in place, you will have a better insight into where you can improve.
You will be able to create a community of like-minded individuals passionate enough about your brand to become loyal customers.
Sounds good, right? And what’s even better is it’s easy with the right help. In this article, we talk through the importance of having a social media content calendar, how to create one, and the many benefits that come along with the process.
So, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What’s The Problem?
Regularly drumming up social media content each day can be exhausting. It’s labourious and inefficient to your business when you could be instead focusing on nurturing leads and generating revenue.
But think about it from a consumer’s point of view. Reviewing social media platforms is a key part the decision-making process when choosing a brand. Without a professional and positive social media presence, your business could be missing out on considerable opportunity, all while being completely unaware of it.
When you want to buy a new product or service, where do you go to find out more about them? Generally, online – right?
In fact, more than half of all consumers in the United States list social media as a key part of their decision-making process when choosing which products to buy.
And a study by Mellon University Heinz College and Dell showed that 57% of consumers use existing conversations on social media as part of their decision-making process.
This means that if you don’t have a presence, you’re missing out on a big chunk exposure that could be used to sell to potential customers.
But there are more problems. Many businesses have an ‘open-book policy’ with multiple staff posting on the company’s social media accounts. This scattergun approach leads to a lack of brand unity. The content appears muddled and confusing to followers and prospective clients. This approach can result in misuse of brand attributes, including the wrong brand colours, fonts, and a mismatched tone of voice.
Having no real plan for posting on social media means your business is not performing effectively. If your competitors are doing a better job, you could be losing a bucketload of customers, not to mention a bucketload of revenue.
A lack of social media strategy results in misalignment with your business objectives, traditional marketing activities, and sales activities.
The key to producing successful social media content is preparation. Knowing the intricate details of what will benefit your business, and leveraging them, is vital to help you achieve your goals and business success.
And the best way your business can do this is through a social media calendar.
Why do I need a social media calendar?
Having an effective social media content calendar can help build a community of like-minded people. And who doesn’t love positive word of mouth?
Being consistently active on social media ensures your brand is in the spotlight. Your chance of being top-of-mind for the consumer is increased 10-fold. Include valuable, entertaining, and engaging content, and you’re on the path to building solid relationships with your target audience.
As mentioned, social media channels form a crucial part of the decision-making process for the consumer and can mean your business is chosen over similar options. Not only will effective social media give your business increased awareness and revenue, it can help distinguish you from your competitors.
“80% of companies online are under the impression that they deliver exceptional social media customer service, while only 8% of their customers say they agree”. – Smart Insights
What Is A Social Media Calendar?
Social media calendars are spreadsheets or a program used to plan and schedule social media posts in advance. You can determine what content will be shared, when, and on which platform, as well as manage multiple campaigns and track deadlines.
A solid social media calendar can help with time efficiency and consistency. It also allows you to align your social media with your overall objectives. This means you can spend time growing your business without worrying about daily posting.
Social media is the most relevant advertising channel for 50% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials. – Adobe
But social media isn’t only for young buyers. An American study showed that 75% of B2B consumers are influenced by information on social media.
That’s a lot of brand awareness, and revenue, that your business is missing out on if you don’t have a strategic social media presence.
What’s The Solution?
Create an epic social media content calendar specifically for your business, of course! There is no cookie-cutter approach to social media promotion. But the good news is that creating the ultimate social media calendar is simple – you can even build it as a template in Excel.
Set aside a couple of hours a month to focus on what you want to post, where and when you want to post it, and how you’re going to post it. This frees up the rest of your time to focus on other parts of your business.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have to monitor your social channels. What it means is you have an effective plan in place. One that has been thoughtfully created, benefits your business and sets you apart from your competitors.
By having one person, or a small team, responsible for social media posts, you can ensure your approach is unified, consistent, and results in a better brand image overall.
How To Create The Ultimate Social Media Content Calendar
Before you get to the fun of creating your social media content calendar, you need to do the groundwork and set the foundations for it.
A social media audit of your accounts and your competitors will help you identify potential problems, uncover areas for improvement, fine-tune your strategy, and increase your ROI.
Step 1: Audit your account security and passwords
According to hostingtribunal, there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds. Cybercrime is more profitable than the global illegal drug trade – $600 billion compared with $400 billion in 2018. And if businesses have their social media accounts hacked, they could lose their valued audience and any good-will and positive brand identity they’ve worked had to create.
Alarmingly, 66% of businesses attacked by hackers weren’t confident that they could recover.
As such, it’s important to have secure passwords to minimise your risk of falling victim to potential cyber threats.
Log in to your accounts and verify whether your password is too simple. A great way to produce a strong password is to use a ‘random password generator’. There are many websites online where you can do this, including https://passwordsgenerator.net/.
Once you have a strong password, store it somewhere safe.
A number of programs are available to manage and store your passwords securely. Some of these programs also have password generators, so you can ensure your accounts are safe and secure all in the one place.
Step 2: Choose the best social media platforms for your company
Consider the nature of your business. If you’re a B2C business, your current and potential customers will likely be on Facebook and Instagram. For a B2B business, it could be better to build a personal connection through LinkedIn and Twitter, and target clients through these.
You may also like to upload video content on YouTube – it’s Google-friendly, great for SEO, and adds authenticity to your business. If your brand has a lifestyle focus, consider adding a Pinterest account to your social repertoire.
And don’t forget the more alternative social media accounts, such as Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, TikTok, and WeChat. Just because others in your industry aren’t advertising on these platforms, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
In fact, getting onto these platforms first, if it makes sense to do so, gives you a competitive advantage and lets you secure market share before your competitors even realise what is happening! Read our article on our experiment with Snapchat, Quora, Reddit, and Pinterest to find out how good these channels can be.
Consider your target audience and develop a brand persona
Do you have a profile of your ideal customer? Are they older, younger, female or male? A fictionalised representative, or buyer persona, can help you make sure the channels you use are ones that your customers are actually on.
Perhaps your buyer persona is “Aaron the accountant”. Once you work out his behaviour, personality, and job, you can determine on which platforms he spends most of his time, and on which he engages with businesses.
Focusing on the most beneficial platforms will give you a greater chance of success. Be wary of getting swept up in the shiniest and newest platforms – always remember your target market and if that channel makes sense for your business.
Step 3: Audit Your Competitors & Yourself
Complete A Social Media Competitor Analysis
By evaluating your competitor’s social media presence as part of your overall strategy, you can see what they are doing well and what they aren’t. You can harness this knowledge to increase the chance of consumers choosing you over them.
Review their social media accounts:
- What are they posting, including media format (image, video) and type of content (testimonials, product information, ‘fun’ content)?
- What social media channels are they on, and how do they use these channels? For example, if they are on Instagram, do they just do Instagram posts, or do they also produce content across Instagram stories and IGTV?
- What is their style? Are they casual or professional? Are they building a relationship with their audience or focusing more on selling the benefits of their product or service?
- How often do they post across each channel, and at what times of the day?
- Are they getting much engagement with their chosen content? What trends are leading to the highest engagement? Is it certain styles of content, across certain platforms, at certain times of the day?
Once you understand what social channels are working best for your competitors, you will have a sound understanding of how to reach your customers and potential customers.
Focus on 5-10 competitors who are the closest fit to your target niche or that you believe are the biggest threats.
Click through to all their social networks, which you can generally find in the header or footer of their website. Then generate a social media competitive analysis template like our example below.
Remember, just because your competitor is on a particular social channel, doesn’t mean you have to be. It may not be the right place for your business and may not be working for them either.
Analyse Competitors’ Social Media Followers:
- Total Followers: You can see this across each of your competitor’s social media accounts.
- Follower Growth Rate: Measure your Net New Followers over a specific reporting period (such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. Then divide your Net New Followers by your Total Followers, then multiply by 100 to get your Follower Growth Rate Percentage. Do this for each channel.
Analyse Competitors’ Social Media Performance:
- Post Frequency: On average, how often do they post across each platform?
- Engagement Rate (Average): Calculate the number of engaged users per post (ie. by number of comments and/or likes), divide by total number of followers, then multiply by 100.
- Share Of Voice: choose a key metric (and remember you can establish this for multiple metrics) – in this instance we chose mentions. We divided this metric (which is representative of our brand) by the total in our market (against our competitors where possible). From here we multiplied it by 100 to establish the percentage of market share for that metric. Your metric / Total market metric x 100
Analyse Competitors’ Social Media Hashtags:
- Most Used Hashtags: Analyse the hashtags across a certain period of time (e.g. last 30 days) and note the most commonly used ones.
- Average Number Of Hashtags (Per Post): Look at the number of hashtags on each post across a certain period of time (e.g. last 30 days) and determine the mean average.
Tracking your hashtags (and that of your competitors) is important. A hashtag is used across various social media platforms to make it easier to find specific information. Hashtags encourage users to explore particular information they’re interested in, and helps businesses target their audience.
You can find most of your competitor’s information simply by navigating their social media profiles. For more streamlined data intel, there are some great tools to use:
- Hootsuite Streams: This allows you to track competitors, hashtags, and keywords across all social networks from one dashboard.
- BuzzSumo: This resource helps you discover your competitors most shared content. Use it to brainstorm new topics to explore.
- Brandwatch: This gives you insight into your brand’s social share of voice – or how much people talk about your brand online compared with your competitors. It’s a tool to use to track the success of your reach.
- Facebook Analytics: “Pages to Watch” allows you to track your main competitors. You can add your competitors’ pages, and assess their page likes, number of posts, engagement, and follower growth. You can find it through the Insights tab on your Facebook page.
Important tip: Don’t forget to track all of this information for your own social media channels as well if you have them. This will help with your SWOT analysis, covered below.
Your Social Media Competitor Analysis Template
Prefer a ready-to-go model? Click the button below to download a colour-coded Excel template with the above tables for you to easily analyse your competitors and see how you stack up against them.
Undertake A Social Media SWOT Analysis
Now you have gathered intel on your competitors, you can assess where you stand in comparison to them. As a part of this assessment, you can also look for ways to improve upon your current strategy, and the hazards you can learn to avoid along the way.
A SWOT Analysis looks at the following factors:
- S – Strengths
- W – Weaknesses
- O – Opportunities
- T – Threats
In the strengths and weaknesses section, outline factors that are internal to your business. Essentially, what you’re doing well, and areas you could improve. In the opportunities and threats section, focus on areas that are external to your business. This includes things your competitors are doing that you need to be aware of.
In the strengths area, list the metrics that are higher than your competitors. In the weaknesses section, list metrics where you are falling behind. This is where you will want to tweak and test your social media strategy once implemented.
Important tip: You may have different strengths and weaknesses across your social media platforms. For example, your Facebook follower count could be higher than your competitors, but their growth rate is higher. Or maybe you have more Instagram followers but lower engagement. Identifying these metrics shows you where you can improve and focus your efforts.
When it comes to your opportunities, focus on favourable external factors. These are areas that can provide your business with a competitive advantage or areas in which you can turn your strengths into opportunity. Look at areas that can be acted on immediately. They don’t need to be game-changers – even small advantages can make a significant impact on your businesses competitive strength.
Some great examples include honing in on an emerging need for your product or service, positive media coverage of your brand or business, or an underserved market for specific products.
With regard to threats, focus on the metrics related to growth. As an example, a competitor that is significantly smaller but has a high follower growth rate could be a bigger threat than a larger competitor with a growth that is more stagnant.
You will need to regularly revisit your social media competitive analysis to keep it up to date. Make it a part of your quarterly review. Add in any important events or information that you discover through your social media analysis in the ‘notes’ column of your template. And then use this to revise the opportunities and threats in your next review.
And remember, don’t get discouraged. While this might seem like a few hours’ work, the value to your brand is worth it.
Step 4: Determine your social media management team
While this might sound simple, it is critical. Do you have one social media guru who will run everything, or will you require a team of specialists? If you need a team, ensure each member knows the platforms and content they are responsible for. Is it simply posting to the required channels, or are they also required to do monthly reporting and analysis on these channels too?
Getting this information right from the beginning ensures there is no room for error. Manage expectations and ensure your team are aware of their responsibilities.
Step 5: Establish A Social Media Style Guide
Now you have established the best channels to post on, it’s important to provide a continuous brand experience. This means that no matter where, how, or when someone experiences your brand, they are experiencing the same underlying values and traits.
Consistent branding differentiates your product or service from its competitors and drives customer perception from engagement through to the buyer decision-making process.
A visual style guide will define your brand’s look and feel, from the language and tone, to messaging, brand colours, fonts, and how to correctly use its logo.
A great benefit of a style guide is that is creates a cohesion across your business. If your business’s visual representation is left up to the individual, you’re guaranteed a very diverse result. A style guide means your visual platforms, from your website through to your social media accounts, and branded collateral are seamless and professional.
There are some great online resources to help you develop your own style guide, like this step-by-step process from Canva. Or you can reach out to your friendly digital marketing team at Living Online to discuss your branding requirements, and be certain that you’re consistently putting your best foot forward.
Step 6. Make a content library for your assets
Now you know the best social media channels for your business, it’s important to have visual content to share. If you already have imagery, house it somewhere that’s easy for all social media team members to access. You may like to group it into years, months, areas of business, or categories to make it easier to navigate.
This way you have a sound understanding of what content is available, and whether you need anything fresh. It’s also a great idea to generate some image templates for consistency across platforms. Rather than posting basic photos or videos here and there, you can create templates that include components from your style guide.
If Adobe Photoshop or InDesign is too advanced for some of your team, Canva is also a great easy resource for generating templates. There are thousands available across most social media channels, set up at the correct size, and ready to add your branding. Simply save the templates and share them with your teammates to create fluidity across your social media accounts.
While people don’t generally resonate with stock images, it has become more engaging over the years. There are a number of sites you can search for free images, including:
Step 7. Establish a Social Media workflow
Think about how often you want to post to each channel. Unless your business will benefit from updating your followers throughout the day, such as a news site, entertainment site, or stock investment site, we recommend not posting to one platform every day, at least not initially. Instead focus on 2-3 times a week per platform.
Your analytics or insights will show you the best time of day to post across each channel. If you don’t have this data, test different times and days until you start to identify trends.
Another important factor to consider is your content ratios. Determine what topics or themes have worked well in the past, and how often you will promote each of them across the platforms. Remember not to overdo it, and get feedback from your users on what they find the most engaging.
A lot of posting to social media in the beginning is A/B testing – otherwise known as split or bucket testing. This compares factors to determine what performs better. From here you can review and amend your content to ensure your providing valuable information that customers engage with.
Next it’s important to consider whether your posts need approval. For example, you may need to go through a copyeditor, the communication or legal team, a CEO, or manager. If so, establish how this communication will work. You may send them a quick message or pick up the phone.
Alternatively, you may use a task management program, where you can assign the task to them to review your posts once written. Think about how to share this content – will it be a draft in a word document? Or will they be completed, ready-to-go drafts saved in scheduling software?
There is no right or wrong way to do this, but it’s important to establish this method that best works for your business. And it’s also important that staff who need to approve content are equally aware of the process.
Step 8. Creating a social media calendar template & Posting Scheduling
Developing a social media content calendar is as easy as opening Excel and creating a monthly social template. Search for ‘social’ in the template section of Excel to get yourself up and running.
Alternatively, use Google Sheets or download a template for free online from Hubspot or similar. Hubspot also provides information on multiple content management systems you can use to not only produce a template, but to develop your content, schedule, and posts.
It may be a bit of trial and error until you find a platform you like, but once you’re set up and ready to go, the social world is your oyster. We recommend using one spreadsheet for all platforms so you can cross-promote and get the best social posting experience possible.
The more you play around with and gather insight on your platforms and content streams, the more knowledge you will have about what works best for your business.
We have also created an Excel social media content calendar template, ready to go, that you can use to plan content across your platforms – simply download this from the button below.
Feel free to remove social media tabs that you won’t use, and amend times and dates to suit your business. We have included an example in the ‘Content Repository’ section to give you an idea of what you may like to include. You can add to it as you go when you have information you might like to share in the next month.
Important tip #1: Compare your social media calendar to your other marketing activity calendars. Make sure you align themes and don’t miss valuable content you could be promoting.
Important tip #2: There are multiple times listed in the template, this doesn’t mean you have to choose all of them. Once you have developed your analysis you will know the best times to post.
Important tip #3: You can’t add a clickable URL to a post on Instagram, you can only house it in your bio. Instead, download linktr.ee or lnk.bio for free to house your URLs. These URLs can then be added to your Instagram bio for users to click through and view your content.
Check out our example below:
Step 9. Analysing and optimising Your Social Media Accounts
Now you have the look, feel, and logistics of your social media sharing sorted, it’s time to consider evaluation. In order to improve and be continually successful, it’s imperative to not only analyse, but optimise your posts.
Facebook and Instagram have some great engagement statistics you can use to see if your posts are performing. Simply navigate to your Facebook page in Business Manager and click on the ‘Insights’ tab. From here you can see a summary of your page results across a specific time and analyse what’s working, and what isn’t.
As mentioned above, Insights also shows you ‘Pages to Watch’, so you can compare the performance of your page with similar pages on Facebook.
You can also review your performance on Instagram, but you need to make sure your page is a business account. Simply go to your profile and tap the Insights action button. This will indicate specific posts, promotions, and stories to help you learn more about your audience.
If you wish to delve further into your metrics, Google Analytics will show you what posts have worked best to drive traffic to your website. It’s essential to not only look at “vanity” metrics, such as engagement, but also at metrics that directly affect your revenue, including form submissions, newsletter signups, and transactions.
Check out our Google Analytics page to learn more about how this tool helps your business.
Important tip: Track your social media performance using an Urchin Tracking Module (UTM). This simple code can be added to any URL to generate data from Google Analytics. You can track the data via a source, medium, and campaign name to find out where your clicks have come from. Create a unique URL for each of your campaigns or landing pages so Google Analytics can track the specified data. This way, you can analyse conversions and traffic for each of your campaign sources.
Here is a normal URL without any tracking: https://www.livingonline.com.au/services/social-media/.
And here is the same URL with the UTM parameters added:
You can use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to create your UTM, or use a spreadsheet template.
Step 10. Getting Your team on board
Now you know how to generate the perfect social media content calendar, it’s important to get your team on board. Invite them to review the proposed calendar and use their feedback to adjust where necessary.
From here you can begin crafting your posts, publishing, and scheduling. Remember, you’ll need to analyse your posts regularly to see if changes need to be made to make the next month even more successful.
What Are The Benefits Of A Social Media Calendar?
In a nutshell, a social media content calendar gives you confidence that you’re sharing on the platforms most suitable for your target audience, at the right time, with the right content.
- By preparing ahead of time, you can avoid overloading one channel and neglecting another.
- You can also reduce the daily stress associated with generating content to post. This doesn’t mean you can’t share particular topics or events as they arise, but it does mean you have a plan in place and aren’t responding reactively.
- Being organised will save time. You can easily keep track of what’s performing, and make sure your content is consistently high quality.
- By showing up in your audiences’ feed regularly, you have a higher chance of engagement. This will increase your organic reach via the platform’s algorithm, meaning your posts will be shown to new people, not just your existing audience. Making genuine connections with a growing audience is a great path to increase your conversions.
- Having social media calendar means you’ll make fewer typos and reduce the chance of big errors that could have negative effects for your business.
- By planning ahead, you can build failsafe techniques into your workflow. Working in advance to copyedit the text, fact-check information, or run content by stakeholders can prevent any potential problems.
Once you have your plan in place, you can free up brain space to tackle the bigger questions. Should you run a contest on Instagram? Look for influencer partners? Perhaps it’s time to get your business across new social media platforms? By carving out set time to schedule your content, you can plan for the future in smarter, more efficient ways, and become more ambitious at the same time!
An organised approach to social media scheduling gives you a framework for what your business wants to share across your social media channels. It helps define your content themes and cadences to match your chosen platforms’ demographics.
Setting aside a couple of hours a month to create and update your social media content calendar will save time, reduce anxiety, increase brand awareness, and ultimately, generate revenue.
A well-thought-out social media content calendar will help keep track of what content is performing, so you know what you need to do required to deliver ongoing value to your audience.
If you’re ready to boost user engagement and create a community of likeminded individuals that are eagerly passionate about your brand, it’s time to get your social media content calendar in order.
While managing a successful business can be difficult – you’re not alone. Outsourcing social media strategies, along with other digital marketing activities, can be critical to your success, while you focus on the bigger picture. If you’re looking for the experts in all things social media, contact our friendly team today, and see why our trusted social media consultants are the best in the business.