Why use a social media content calendar anyway?
For most social media professionals the answer is obvious. Content is a beast that needs feeding. And not just with any fodder at any ol’ time.
Keeping your content pipeline fed and impactful takes a level of planning and overview that only a social media content calendar can provide. But should you still need convincing, take a look over here at why you really need a social media calendar.
For the converted the big question is: “how do I build the best-performing social media content calendar?”
This will naturally vary depending on your line of work, target audiences, and broader content strategy. But here are some essential steps and recommendations to help anyone working with social content.
1. Find out what your audience cares about
Like any creative process, inspiration is where content begins and where it can quickly stumble. Your target audience and market are the best places to seek inspiration, and social listening is the best way to find it.
Tracking popular topics, trends, buzz and hashtags across social media and the internet will help you discover and create the kind of content that will resonate with your audience.
If you don’t have the luxury of a listening tool, here are a couple of free/freemium online options available to you:
Just enter a website domain, topic or keyword and Buzzsumo will show you the most shared related content.
- Google Trends
As easy and accessible as any other Google engine, enter a search topic to see how it is trending.
2. Map anything that could matter
The ability to visualize the coming weeks and campaigns is the most obvious benefit of a social media content calendar. Before you start planning content, a smart step is to map out any events that could influence or inspire in the coming weeks.
These could include holidays, events or even popular series’ premieres or finales. Ask around for ideas. From classic calendar events such as holidays to more niche ones like May the 4th (ask your IT guy), each could furnish ideas and opportunities for content. Your company’s non-social campaigns could too, as well as benefit from some social support.
Planning for May? Download this free May social media calendar packed with dates you can build content around:
3. Establish your content’s purpose
Craft content with your goals in mind. For example, if you want to increase awareness and engagement, create shareable content that amplifies your message.
Focus on the action you wish the viewer to take and tailor your content accordingly. Here’s a breakdown of the options.
Typically, these are messages designed for paid distribution.
Actions like comments, likes, shares, retweets, repins, favorites etc.
Photo views, video plays, Twitter’s detail expands, Facebook’s “other post clicks.”
For instance, product feedback or asking your users which kind of content they would like to see from you.
Whether it be converting to fan/follower, event sign-ups, offer and promo code claims or newsletter sign-ups.
To website, landing pages or App store etc.
Anything from campaigns to events to accolades.
“Good content always has an objective, it is created with intent.”
4. Pick your networks
Hopefully, you will already have some data or at least a feel for which networks work best for you. Ideally, you should be active on more than one. Facebook is everyone’s go-to network, but that also makes it the most crowded and competitive.
It is well worth taking the time to consider which network will be the best vehicle for your strategy. Whichever one you opt for, it’s wise to factor in the time you need to tailor your content to it. Tone and style differ significantly between the main networks, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
5. Consider content type – and be creative
Your classic salesy image post or ad is still a potent piece of content. But it is recommended–and fun–to branch out. Content marketing is by definition the subtle art of beguiling your audiences into considering your brand; here are some less leveraged ways to do it:
- User-generated content
Asking your audience to supply the content may seem too good to be true. But, if you get creative, you may be surprised how willing people are to participate. Starbuck’s recurring White Cup competition is one highly successful example:
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 28, 2014
The perceived authenticity and greater value now placed on peer recommendations are two big reasons why USG is so effective.
- Ask questions
Social media is where people air opinions with sometimes reckless abandon. Exploit this. Facebook posts with questions generate 162% more interactions than those without.
- Ebooks & slideshares
People like free stuff, and this is a great, low-cost way to recycle your posts and blogs in a repackaged and newly engaging form.
This is fast becoming a standard content type, and for good reason: according to Invodo people who view video are two times more likely to make a purchase. And with the various networks scrambling to update their native features to accommodate the medium, video sharing is getting easier and easier. Aside from demanding attention, social video content is a great way to showcase some corporate personality.
7. Decide on posting times and frequency
Here at Falcon.io we believe the ‘best times to post’ will vary based on audience behavior. But there are some rule-of-thumb recommendations for each network. Just be sure to stick to rule number one: don’t spam your audience or waste their time with irrelevant posts.
- Facebook: 3-10 times per week. Best time: 1-4 pm
- Twitter: 5+ times a day. Best time:1-3 pm
- LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week. Best time: 7-9 am, 5-6 pm
- Instagram: Best time: 7-9 pm (no consensus on frequency)
- Google+: 3-10 times per week. Best time: 9-11 am
8. Use a content library
Having a pool of approved and easily repurposable assets makes life easier on multiple levels. For a start, it is just plain convenient. Then there is the greater quality control and consistency it makes possible.
But, most of all, it has you covered for the moments you can’t plan for. Successful real-time marketing is all about agility. With a content library, you can be the first out of the gate when opportunities present themselves.
You are no doubt well familiar with Oreo’s now legendary Dunk in the Dark moment at the 2015 Superbowl. But have you considered what went into creating it? We can only speculate. But we would be willing to bet that a content library played a key role in Oreo’s quickdraw response.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
9. Assign roles and tasks
As already mentioned, visibility greases the wheels of a successful social media content calendar. That applies to in-house processes too. It’s the place where everyone can gain clarity, including people outside of your social marketing department. Our Falcon content calendar also allows you to set milestones and automatic reminders.
If your calendar software allows it, it is highly recommended to set editorial and publishing permissions. While ‘good governance’ may sound like something to cramp your creative style, the extra quality and avoided headaches are well worth it.
10. Apply tracking labels
This is another step premised on the idea that you have ditched the Excel sheets and emails in favor of software. By applying labels to your posts you can easily filter and track performance. Learning from your successes and misfires is the key to nailing your social content strategy next time.
Ultimately, you need to step to your own rhythm
As we said at the beginning, every team and campaign are different. And content will always be a fickle and unpredictable beast. That’s why trial and error are our stock and trade.
But these are the basic steps we recommend to help make your life easier, your workflow smoother and your content simply awesome(er).