A content calendar forms a vital part of an effective social media strategy. A planned and organised strategy can save you time and help to form a well-rounded TOV for your brand. Keeping on top of how you portray yourself through each social platform is vital for creating genuine relationships with your audience.
We get it, social can sometimes be time consuming, but it doesn't have to take all week. So, here's the best way to create a social media content calendar.
#1. Be organised.
Spreadsheets are your best friend. Google docs works best (for us anyway) as they make it so easy to collaborate with your team. Split your spreadsheet up into separate month tabs and then create 4 week tables within each; breaking everything down to smaller amounts of time will ease the amount of information you need to take in. But, remember not to solely rely on your spread sheet. Calendars are great for planning the dead cert, but relatable content comes with reactive behaviour. Keeping on top of current affairs and trends means you must implement ad-hoc content into your strategy.
#2. Tailor things differently to each social channel.
Write slightly different content for each social channel. This is important as you may have different audiences on different platforms (use Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to gauge your audience) which means you might need to communicate in a different TOV. Oh, and don't forget the character limits. What you write for Facebook may exceed Twitter's 280 character count so make sure the two are not linked. Having all your social channels displayed separately in your spreadsheet will allow you to write tailored copy for each.
Misguided prove how tailoring copy differently for Facebook and Twitter ensures key messages can be put across effectively, without being cut short.
#3. Remember relevant dates.
Research annual holidays, seasons and events that your audience are likely to be interested in. If you are aware of upcoming trends relevant to your fans and followers then it's important your brand is present in the conversation. Company specific dates are also important. If your brand is having its 10th birthday then shout about it on your social; tell your followers how well you are doing and how far you have come!
#4. Peak times and dead zones.
Give yourself rough timings in which each social channel should post. Each platform will be different and it is important for you as a brand to research when your users are most engaged on each channel. If you are wanting to share the same content across different networks then stagger this across different days, so there’s no social content overload! Bare in mind the most popular times on social media are generally between 1-3pm (lunch break time) and 7-9pm (when most people are sat in front of the tv!), dead zones often fall between.
#5. Be responsive, be social...
...outside of the content calendar! As import as a content calendar is for organisation, it’s as important for you to portray a human side to your followers. Spreadsheets are great, but are not flexible enough when it comes to engaging in unforeseen viral conversions or trends. If you see something on social you believe your brand would benefit from getting involved in then go for it! Scheduled posts are helpful for us 9-5 workers who don’t have the time to post all day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't keep your social eyes and ears constantly peeled.
Social media is called social media for a reason, and Innocent just get it.
#6. Validate your links.
It's easy to plan your content calendar without checking your links, but this is a vital mistake (Use Facebook Open Graph Debugger and Twitter Card Validator). Checking your links have working sharing data means your links wont go out with no imagery or description. Open Graph Data and Summery Cards are vital for standing out and attracting users on a busy timeline.
Not to boast but.....
#7. Try out Hootsuite.
Hootsuite is great, reliable and insightful, there are plenty of reasons to get on board with the management tool. If you're on a budget, the free version is great and still allows you to do things like schedule posts and tracking key words for social listening. But, like we always say, don't ever leave this helpful robot totally in control. To stay authentic and engaging you must be responsive. Keep an eye on whats trending and get involved where you can, don't just schedule your posts on a Monday and leave it to it.
And, If you don't fancy putting all your faith into a robot, then Hootsuite provide some great templates that make organisation a whole bunch easier, specially when working in a team. Find their public template here.
#8. Always include images and hashtags.
Timelines are busy places, you need to do all you can to stand out. Using images in your tweets will give your content that extra pop. Try to use your own imagery and chose a consistent style to make it really you. Do all you can to keep it authentic and professional, but if you ever need a little helping hand, Unsplash and Pexels are free stock imagery websites which come in very useful. Just be careful when using stock imagery, it can often portray a plastic and false kind of feel.
#9. Adhere to the rule of thirds.
Never do too much of one thing. Research shows that 58% of users who unfollow a brand do so because of excessive self promotion. The rule of thirds suggests that one third of your content should promote your brand and product, another third should inform and entertain (3rd party content such as memes and relevant articles) and the final third should be used for self promotion. Adhering to this rule will ensure your content is varied and your audience engaged.
#10. Remember your KPIs and CTAs
Whenever planning your content and social strategy, don't loose sight of your KPIs. Keeping your content streamlined and relevant will ensure your posts are purposeful and work towards your goals. Call to actions are equally important and should not be forgotten. If you want your following to do something, you often have to prompt them... learn more now.
#11. Use your analytics.
Keep an eye on your analytics and post more of what works. See what your followers respond to best and do more of it. Be sure not to rely on vanity metrics to indicate this, likes and shares are often misleading. Dig deep and use social platforms native analytics and Google Analytics to see what performs well in tailor this into future content calendars.