When considering your social media planning process, I like to keep the “measure twice, cut once” metaphor in mind.
While this might not completely hold up when constructing a Social Media Editorial Calendar, it’s pretty darn close. Here’s why:
Planning your social media activity in advance will allow you to present your brand consistently across multiple channels and get the job done accurately. Sure, there are times when something timely comes up that should be shared on the fly, but most days a simple editorial plan will keep you visible, keep your followers engaged, and keep your job stress-free (at least when it comes to social media).
Use these 5 basic steps to build your own Social Media Editorial Calendar:
1) Decide what type of content you want to share.
What materials, or categories of posts, are you going to use to build your brand on social media?
Ask yourself, what gets your audience excited, inspired, and talking? Quotes, organizational tips, industry questions, or third party articles? Don’t forget your own blog posts should be its own category as well.
Once your categories are defined, it’s time to start building.
2) Create a shared spreadsheet to organize your posts.
Lay the foundation of your calendar. We use Google Spreadsheets to keep things simple and easily accessible to the team and our clients. Date, Time, Category, Message, Link, and your social platforms should go across the top of your spreadsheet. Listing each social platform separately lets you specify where your messages will be posted with an X.
3) Decide how often and which channels you want to post on.
Create the framework of your social messages. How many posts per day can your audience handle? Do you want to post a message from each category once a day or spread them out? Which channels will you post each type of content and will you use a different frequency depending on the channel (hint: you should)?
Once you’ve made those decisions, take the time to fill in a sample week of dates, times, and categories down the left-hand side of your spreadsheet. This step will ensure you share something from each category as well as hitting every day part across the week.
4) Find your content.
Now that the foundation is set and framework built, you just have to decorate.
Write your messages directly into the spreadsheet and paste any outside links you’ll need in it as well. This keeps everything in one place. Use feedly.com or other blog reader to follow relevant blogs for third party content.
5) Use social media software to schedule once a week.
Now, share what you’ve built. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer are all good options to consider as you choose a social sharing scheduling software. Find one you’re comfortable with and get in the habit of using it. With your calendar finished, you can easily cut and paste your social messages into these programs once a week and let it do the work for you.
You’ve built yourself a tool. Moving forward, all you need to do is use that initial framework to compile a new week’s worth of social media messages.
As you begin to consistently post and follow which categories, days of the week, or times of the day gets the most activity, you will want to adjust your calendar. Maybe you’ll see your audience doesn’t respond after 6:00 pm on a certain platform, for example. You can adjust the weekly schedule to minimize the number of posts scheduled at that time.
By planning ahead, creating your spreadsheet, and posting consistently, you will be on your way to building a strong and consistent social media presence. (Oh, and please wear your safety goggles at all times.)