Timing Is Everything. How To Create A Social Media Content Calendar With This Free Template.

You know social media is important. Most businesses and organizations are active in social media to achieve multiple marketing and communications objectives. But how do you decide when and where to post your social media content? Content calendars traditionally come from the journalism and publishing field, but they also benefit brands publishing in social media.

When and where should brand social media content appear?

A main tool for social media planning is a social media content calendar. A content calendar is a way to plan and visualize how content will be distributed during a specified period. Scheduling your content ahead of time makes it more efficient and effective.

This template is a simple calendar table for strategic planning. It can be kept in an online Word or Google doc or as an Excel or Google spreadsheet and shared with team members. Content calendars can also be built into social media management software tools for easy auto-scheduling and collaboration.

(Click on the template image to download a PDF)

Social Media Content Calendar Template.

Plan Your Content With A Content Calendar.

On the left side of the social media content template place each social media platform and list the target audience and/or persona. If the social media strategy calls for multiple target audiences, include each individually and list all social platforms used to communicate with that target audience.

Note that one social platform may be used to communicate with multiple target audiences. For example, a university may use Facebook to communicate with both prospective students and their parents, so it would plan different content accordingly.

Next on the calendar, indicate which content will be distributed on which day, and at what time. Also, identify the title or theme such as Liquid Plumr®’s Will It Clog? or Heinz’s Adulting Sucks. These were the themes for two successful social media campaigns.

Specify any assets needed such as specific images, videos, or links for each post. Then indicate the hashtags and keywords that need to be included, from campaign and brand hashtags to trending topics.

Determine Posting Times And Posting Frequency By Social Platform.

Engagement varies by the day and time you post which varies per platform. Frequency is also important as some platforms require more posting per day or week than others to increase organic reach. To get started with posting times use data from online resources such as Sprout Social’s Best Times To Post or HubSpot’s Best Times To Post.

To get started with posting frequencies consider data from guides such as Hootsuite’s How Often To Post or HubSpot’s How Often To Publish. As you run your social media schedule and measure results, you’ll discover your own best times and frequencies customized to your brand, market, and target audience.

The template is set for one week but can be easily expanded to cover longer periods such as a month or quarter. By researching best practices and tracking brand results for days, times, themes, assets, hashtags, keywords, and repetition, content should be optimized for the greatest response.

Questions to consider when developing a content calendar:

  • What content is the target audience looking for in each platform?
  • When are they most likely looking for it?
  • What questions are they asking that the brand can answer?
  • Which content will be brand-generated versus consumer-generated?
  • What relevant third-party sources can be used for content curation?
  • Where will each type of content be best delivered and how often?

Plan Ahead But Also Plan For Spontaneity and Engagement.

Content calendars plan messages ahead of time, but you also must be flexible to take advantage of trending topics. You also want to fit in live, unscripted interactions with individual customers.

Oreo’s Super Bowl Blackout post could not have been planned ahead of time but became one of the most successful brand tweets by creating content in real-time.

Remember that brands shouldn’t create all social content on their own. Curation and user-generated content are important components of content creation. Always be looking for relevant third-party content to share. And look for brand fan posts to reshare and boost (with permission).

Don’t Forget Larger Pieces of Digital Marketing Content.

Be sure to repurpose your larger content marketing into the social media content calendar. Indicate when key pieces of other digital marketing content are being published for promotion. Note upcoming blog posts, articles, research reports, case studies, white papers, eBooks, presentations, webinars, and email newsletters.

Break down larger content into smaller posts, images, infographics, and videos over time. Mine that bigger content for small insights that will make engaging, entertaining, and educational social media. Plan for a mix of real-time relevant content, seasonal or promotional content, and longer-term evergreen content.

With a little planning and a social media content calendar time can be on your side. How could you use a content calendar?

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