Creating a social media calendar may sound like a lot of work. Especially when you already have hundreds of other things on your to-do list. But trust me, it’s going to be well worth your time and effort.
When I started using a social media calendar for Outventure Hub, I went from spending at least one hour a day creating and posting content for my various social media platforms to max one hour a week. That’s 6 hours a week, suddenly freed up for helping my clients or working on exciting business growth projects.
Using a social media calendar didn’t only help me to create content more efficiently. It also helped me to align my content strategy with my business goals, to create posts that better resonate with my target customers and to increase the online visibility of Outventure Hub. My weekly reach increased by over 7x in less than a month after setting up a content calendar.
So – if you want to spend less time creating content and achieve better results on social media, just keep reading. In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of creating your own social media calendar and I’ll even share a free monthly planning calendar template with you.
Let’s do this!
Step 1: Choose your social networks
First of all, you need to decide on which social media channel(s) you are going to focus.
As I shared in a recent video about common social media marketing mistakes, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to grow a presence on every single social media network. But in reality, you’re probably going to achieve far better results by focusing on a smaller number of accounts because you will be able to create more consistent, better quality content.
So start by picking one, maximum two channels based on:
- The level of engagement you are currently receiving on your various platforms;
- The performance of your competitors on different social media channels;
- Your target audience (where do they hang out? which platforms do they use to interact with brands?);
- The type of business you run (B2B or B2C? service-based or product-based?);
- The resources and abilities within your team (are you better at photo editing, writing or shooting videos?).
Step 2: Determine your content mix
In order to determine your content mix you need to:
- Decide on the type of content to share;
- Decide in which proportions you’re going to share the selected types of content.
Examples of content types include brand-related content (i.e. testimonials, client case studies), personal content (i.e. behind-the-scenes, insights), how-to posts, resources, content curated from other sources and sales posts.
Your content mix will depend on your brand’s focus, your marketing objectives and your target audience’s needs and interests. Looking at the analytics of your previous posts will help you to identify content that resonates well with your audience. You can also do a competitive analysis to identify the types of content that generate high engagement rates.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to content mix and what works for one particular brand may not work for everyone else, even in the same industry. But as a rule of thumb, make sure that your social media content only includes around 20% of posts that directly promote your brand and the products or services you offer. The remaining 80% should be aimed at building trust with your audience.
Because you can talk as much as you want about how amazing your products are and how competitive your pricing is, but if you haven’t established trust, it’s very likely that none of your efforts will convert into sales. So instead, focus on sharing content that adds real value to your target audience, by informing, educating, inspiring and/or entertaining them.
Step 3: Decide how often to post
Below are optimal posting frequency suggestions based on recent research:
- Instagram feed: 1-3 times per day
- Instagram stories: 1-3 times per day
- Facebook page: 1-2 times per day
- LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week
- Twitter: 3-30 times per day
- Pinterest: 3-30 times per day
These can be used as a guideline, but your posting frequency should be based on how often you and your team can consistently post quality content. There was a time when posting more was always better but that’s not how the social media algorithms work anymore. If you want your content to reach a wider audience and generate engagement, you need to focus on quality over quantity.
Step 4: Determine the best times to post
The optimal posting time will depend on your chosen platforms and also on your specific audience. If you have been posting on social media for a while, you can look at your analytics to determine your audience’s peak online times. Scheduling your posts during those brackets will help to increase your reach.
Step 5: Set up your social media calendar
The last step consists in centralising all the data that you’ve gathered in the previous four steps into a single document: your social media calendar. Your calendar can be as simple or complex as your brand needs it to be, but here are some of the key elements to include:
- A monthly or quarterly overview;
- The selected social media channels;
- The types of content to be posted and a way to visualise the content mix (i.e. through colour coding);
- Post topics;
- The time at which each post should be posted.
Option 1: set up your social media calendar in Excel, Google Sheets or Trello
You can easily create your calendar in Excel, Google Sheets or even Trello. If you like working in Excel, you can download a free monthly social media calendar template here.
Option 2: use a social media scheduling app
Need help with any of this?
If you need help with any of the above steps and are looking for some guidance to help you create an effective social media calendar for your business, check out my Social Media Power Hour coaching service.
The Social Media Power Hour is a 60-minute coaching call is designed to give you clarity and direction so you know exactly which steps to take next to create a social media content strategy and calendar that will attract your ideal audience. Find out more here.