All your marketing efforts, social media included, should be purposeful and strategic. You wouldn’t show up to record a TV or radio ad without any planning around content or message or audience, would you? Of course not! Social media shouldn’t be any different. A social media calendar is the best way to make sure you’re posting regularly, purposefully, and effectively. If you don’t have a social media calendar, you’ll probably end up scrounging for content at the last second just for the sake of posting something, and the quality of your content will suffer. When that happens, then audience engagement and growth, the most important metrics for social media, will likewise suffer.
Deciding to Post Manually or with a Social Media Management Platform
There are really two ways to do this. You can publish each post yourself, or you can use a platform that schedules and publishes posts on your social media accounts for you. Posting manually takes time and attention every single day, but it saves you money. A social media management tool is an added cost, but it saves a lot of time and you don’t have to think about it every single day. If you don’t have many social accounts, and you don’t publish a high volume of posts, it might be best for you to publish manually. If you have several social media accounts and publish a high volume of posts, then a social media management tool could really help you.
If you’re going to be posting manually to your social media platforms, the best place to keep your calendar is either in Excel or Google Sheets. If you work with a team on social media work, then I definitely recommend Google Sheets for easier collaboration. Here is an example of what I use for my manual posting:
With this format, you can add tabs for additional months and keep everything in one place. I recommend you decide on which days to post and to which platforms, and decide what types of posts to include. Add on holidays, include new blog posts, highlight your services and/or case studies, and sprinkle in some industry news as well. If needed, add in columns to track approval status. You can add in as many columns as you need to track the details of your posts. You want it to be clear enough so that if you’re out, someone else could look at your calendar and be able to post it the same way you would.
If you have a much higher output of social media posts, you can add them in the same row by using alt+enter to add a line below, but in the same cell. If that is too messy for you, you can add a row beneath the first one for that day, but not include a date after the first, so they live under the same date. Don’t forget, with manual posting, it’s up to you to get it posted. Set reminders on your phone or computer for the times of day you need to post so that you don’t forget to publish!
Posting from a Social Media Management Platform
If you use a social media management platform, scheduling posts out will automatically create a calendar for you that you should be able to export in one format or another. Make sure you go ahead and schedule at least a month out so it’s taken care of. Both Sprout Social and Hootsuite are viable options for social media management platforms, but from what I’ve experienced, each one has its shortcomings. When I was using Hootsuite, which was several years ago now, there were pervasive issues with links pulling in images (or rather, not pulling in images). With Sprout Social, you’re unable to tag individuals in posts for Facebook and LinkedIn, and you regularly have to reauthenticate accounts to continue publishing without interruption.
Content to Include in Your Calendar
When adding content to your calendar, be thorough. Include the link, an image to go with the post, the text, and any tags you want to include. If photos are housed in another folder, link to the right picture so that it is easily accessible. The goal is to be strategic in planning out all these pieces and making everything as easy and clear for posting as it can be.
Update Your Calendar
You have to be flexible with social media. You may get requests in at the last minute and have to shift your calendar around to accommodate requests. You may see a trending topic that’s relevant to your business and you want to jump on it, which means you may push back other posts. That’s fine, but be sure to update your calendar accordingly as you make changes! You want it to be up-to-date and accurate.
I recommend you map out content at least one month in advance and seek approval if needed (give time for approval to come in before the first post needs to go out). Add in your holidays, and leave room for flexible posts as needed for your company.
Find A Social Media Partner
If you don’t feel like you have the time and resources to spend on managing your own social media accounts, you can always outsource it. At EnVeritas Group, we believe all content should be strategic and intentional. We’d be happy to help you with your social media content!