It doesn’t take long for you to realize that social media is no walk in the park. Many eCommerce merchants eagerly jump into too many social media platforms only to realize they have over-committed themselves and can’t keep up with the daily and weekly requirements of social media. Growth starts to slow, and engagement starts to disappear.
The best advice for anyone starting out in social media is this:
- Pick only a handful of social media platforms and be really good at them. You can’t just be “there;” you have to be actively engaging with and updating your content. Pick your platforms based on where your target audience spends their time, but, most importantly, where you get the highest return on your investment of capital and time.
- Use every tool at your disposal to save time and money. Running social media accounts on top of the daily responsibilities of running a business can be utterly draining. This exhaustion slowly bleeds into every other component of your business and distracts away from providing your customers an excellent experience on and off your site. Thankfully, there are dozens of tools that can help you do anything, from automating your social media posts to editing your pictures.
This guide will help you build your social media content calendar, as well as lay a solid foundation for your social media strategies.
What Is a Social Media Content Calendar?
Have you ever wondered how some social media pages can just be so good? All of their posts are on-brand, topical, and engaging. Everything these pages produces is met with hundreds or thousands of likes and comments. People even share the pages’ content and help them reach a higher organic reach per post.
This doesn’t happen by dumb luck. There is an art to social media, and this art is made up of strategic and calculated posts. As any good social media manager will tell you, effective social media requires an unwavering degree of consistency and planning. There is so much noise in the social media world, top brands that produce sub-par content or fail to post consistently end up getting swept up in the distractions and even slowed down by the social media platform’s algorithm.
Social media content calendars help you to keep all your social media content plans in a single location that is easily accessible by every member of your team. Social media really is a team effort, and your social media content calendar is a single consistent document. This way, everyone can see and implement the latest changes and contribute in real-time.
Here are 10 tools that will help you build an extremely effective social media content calendar.
- Google Sheets
Google Sheets is one of the crown jewels of Google Drive and has essentially replaced the use of traditional Microsoft Excel for thousands of businesses around the world. The fact that Google Sheets is accessible anywhere you have an internet connection on virtually any device, and even offline, makes Google Sheets a phenomenal addition to your social media content calendar arsenal.
Google Sheets allows you to build your own social media content calendar, but there are many good social media calendar templates online. You can categorize your social media content calendar by month, week, time of day, platform, and type of content.
When you use Google Sheets, you can immediately jump into planning your social media content and invite multiple people on your team with different types of permission access (view, comment, edit). This allows you to set parameters for what people can do while keeping the social media content strategy visible to all that need to see it.
This nifty little tool makes analyzing how effective your headlines are a breeze. Simply paste your headline into the tool, and it will tell you how strong your headline is based on a few criteria. The variables that influence the strength of your headline include:
- The likelihood of your headline converting based on the structure
- Using the right balance of words (common, uncommon, emotional, and power)
- Character length primed for engagement.
Many social media posts usually come down to how effective the headline is at capturing a user’s attention and demonstrating the value they will receive if they click it. This tool makes it easy to write great headlines for your post titles, meta-titles, and post text, as well as check how good any current headlines in your content calendar are.
3. Google Calendar
Google Calendar makes its way to the top of the list because many people already use it and are familiar with the platform. The structure doesn’t allow much creativity, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Since the simple calendar focuses on clarity, it’s an excellent addition to your social media content team.
Google Calendar functions very well for its primary function of being a calendar in its calendar view, but it also has a list format for those who would prefer an agenda view. Content managers are able to create different calendar items for every person on the team, for clients, or for a social network. This makes it easy to keep everyone updated and clear on what they specifically have to do without any of the confusion many other social media content calendars inevitably produce.
You can also color code your calendar based on the specific platform or the content type, and then create events for each social media post with detailed notes of what they are and when you want them to go live. The location field can be used to assign people to specific posts, and the description area can be used to add details such as the post link after it has been published.
Trello is often hailed for its fun and easy to understand user interface, but don’t let the clean and simple layout fool you: Trello has a ton of value packed into it for anyone interested in creating a social media content calendar. Trello comes with a Kanban layout, which makes tracking the status of each post an easy process.
Trello encourages a collaborative environment similar to Google Sheets but takes things up a notch with its wide variety of organizational features. Trello’s flexibility allows you to organize everything by boards, lists, and cards. This is why Trello is often a top choice for teams to use to brainstorm and collaborate on ideas together.
Simply make cards and lists for different stages of your social media content strategy. For example, you can create a “Planned Content” list especially for cards with the general idea of what you want the post to be. Next, you would tag the member of your team responsible for creating the post and set a due date. As they create all the necessary parts of the post (image, copy, etc), they can move the card into the “Ready to Be Posted” list for approval. Once it’s been approved, it can be added to the “Scheduled” list with a date added for it to go live.
The best part about Trello is that you are not locked into one single way to track your social media content posts. The flexibility makes it possible to organize your content in whatever way you want.
Users can drag things into specific lists and visualize the flow of tasks as they get completed and content as it gets posted. You can also assign dates to each task, tag members to complete them, and see everything displayed in an intuitive calendar using the “calendar” power-up. This means you can create your social media content calendar with all the flexibility of Google Sheets integrated into Google Calendar, but with the visualization of Trello.
Buffer is a social media management platform, so, naturally, it has an excellent social media content calendar tool. Using Buffer is a very simple process, and you’re able to schedule posts for all your socials that will be published automatically.
Buffer’s social media content calendar provides a visual workspace for every member of your social media marketing team. It allows you to plan all your content and campaigns within a few clicks and organize how and when your content gets posted. An extremely attractive feature of Buffer’s social media content calendar is that it also digs into the analytics of past posts and reshares the posts that have done and will likely continue to do extremely well.
The interactive calendar interface makes it easy to drag and drop edit, and reshare any posts without exerting a significant amount of mental effort. This layout is kind of a mix between Google Calendar and Trello while offering a new bonus of automation services and analytics.
What makes Buffer stand out is that, if you use their service, they can largely automate the majority of your social media posting and planning. While it does have a free plan, it can be a little limiting with only one social profile per platform and a cap of 10 scheduled posts per profile. The Awesome plan, however, only costs $10 a month and allows for 10 social profiles and 100 scheduled posts per platform.
When it comes to doing tasks such as onboarding new members to your social media content calendar or creating posting processes, there are few tools out there as effective as Process.St.
Process.St comes with a very clean and easy to understand user interface that allows you to set checklist processes for specific activities. This means you can set up a process that must be completed every single time in order to a social media post to be considered “complete.” For example, a simple content creation and posting process could be:
- View Content post idea in Trello
- Come up with 2-3 heading variations using Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer
- Download image files attached to Trello card
- Upload post information into Buffer and set the due date for posting if post date later than the specified time
- Tag relevant influencers
- Once posted, drag Post-card from “Waiting to be Posted” list to “Posted.”
- Add the link to post in the description of the card
- Alert social media manager if a post is performing better than standard posts to get approval for paid promotion.
- If yes, promote the post with the allotted amount. Reference ideal customer demographics in Standard Operating Procedures and Customer Outlines in Google Drive.
- If no, proceed to next step
- Engage and respond to any comments in the next 48 hours
As you can see, Process.St eliminates any of the guesswork of what must be done for each specific post. This makes it a very effective way to quickly onboard new members of your social media team or even outsource the posting of your content to a virtual assistant. Tools like Process.St truly helps businesses scale beyond the direct efforts of the business owner.
7. Google Drive
Google Drive is one of the tools that you might already be using in some capacity in your social media content calendar planning and social media strategy, but you may have only skimmed the surface.
Virtually every business, from small one-person startups to big corporations, can make use of Google Drive. Drive has become the standard for thousands of people because of its seamless inter-connected interface, its robust functionality, and its allowing you the ability to share changes and edits in real time.
Social media teams are able to build an entire ecosystem of interconnected documents and spreadsheets all relevant to the single goal of growing your social media profiles and pumping out consistently good content.
If you really want to make sure of Google Drive, you need to think bigger. How can you build a system that removes any friction from the end to end social media posting process? Sure, creating a calendar on Google Sheets is enough for the purpose of creating a social media content calendar, but you could be leaving a ton of value on the table.
Savvy social media managers utilize Google Drive for everything from creating role briefs to outline responsibilities and expectations, to organic and evolving documents pertaining to customer profiles and strategies. The real value of doing this is being able to share different links with different permissions throughout your social media strategy infrastructure. For example, you could create cards in Trello with reference items to specific Google Doc posts, as well as a link to a Master Social Media Content Calendar in Google Calendar.
Google Drive also makes it very easy to create individual folders for specific channels or individual clients. This helps to get your entire team and clients involved in a project at the simple share of a link.
Every social media content calendar needs appealing visuals. Instead of making extra work for your designer and social media team, you can use Canva to make visually appealing designs that go perfectly with your posts.
Canva provides a variety of different post options that are sized to display perfectly on your chosen social media platform. Whether you need an image for Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, you can use one of the many attractive backdrops on Canva to create a post that will capture attention.
You can even create your own custom designs and save them as templates for future use. While the free version of Canva is more than enough to integrate some beautiful images into your social media content calendar, the upgraded premium version has some features that could be incredibly useful.
The premium version offers 300,000+ free photos and illustrations with the ability to resize your designs for any social media platform, while also saving your brand colors, logos, and fonts. This means you can create aesthetically pleasing images for your social media posts while staying on brand.
9. Adjelly Size Guide
Every social media content calendar has to have a golden measuring stick for the images on each platform. If not, your team is going to end up posting images that, unfortunately, will get cropped at disadvantageous angles. If you’ve ever been stuck clicking between Photoshop and Facebook to get your ad size right, you’ll appreciate the Adjelly size guide.
Adjelly makes it super simple for designers, marketers, and social media teams to nail the perfect ad design and style. Simply toggle through the variety of platform choices, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and select the exact ad type that you want to use. Adjelly then lets you know the exact dimensions for desktop, mobile, and tablet. It also gives the option to download the PSD of the ad template so you can create your own or even use Adjelly to do it for you.
Adjelly is a great tool to have to build your social media content calendar because it eliminates the guesswork of what your post sizes should look like. This means no more frustrating trial and error within Facebook.
All you have to do is use Adjelly to create a standardized image procedure for your designers and social media team and make sure each post is up to par. There will be times when you will decide to use the same post for multiple platforms at a time, and Adjelly will make sure that they retain their high quality.
Effective social media content planning really does take a village. Slack allows you to keep all your social media team members accountable, and it makes team communication very simple. If you don’t already have a Slack channel, simply create one and plan the infrastructure in whatever way works best for you.
Some companies have separate channels based on functionality, such as #designers or #content, but one of the most popular ways is to create separate channels for the most pertinent social media networks.
Keep in mind that communication is a two-way street. Slack allows you to make sure everything is moving smoothly, but it also gives you the opportunity to communicate how effective your current social media strategies are. This is why it’s important to always share the results of campaigns in a channel where your entire team can see them. This will help make your members feel more like a unit, as well as urge them to improve to get recognition in the next round.
These 10 tools make for a very effective arsenal in your social media content calendar. It’s important to note that you need to have one central social media content calendar that all members of your team refer to for updates. Most of the other tools on this list can be used in conjunction with a good content calendar, but it’s important to make sure you and your team are exactly clear on what needs to be posted and when.
In order to get the highest amount of value from your social media content calendar and the tools on this list, you must:
- Keep everything organized. Most marketers plan out their social media posts for weeks and months in advance. Doing this on the front-end helps you to focus on any pieces of breaking or trending news as they arise instead of spending your day searching for tomorrow’s content to share.
- Make sure you are creating unique content for each social media platform. Your customers are probably following you on different platforms and, if they see that you’re spamming the same message in the same style everywhere, it’s not a good look. Social media content calendars allow for teams to collaborate to create custom messages for each network.
- Track the performance of your posts. A calendar not only adds structure when thinking about the future, but it also makes it easier to make a template to analyze the previous post-performance. This why marketers can see what posts performed the best, when they shared it, and how they can tweak their social media content calendar for more hits in the future.
- Plan for holidays and observance days. After all, your social media content calendar is an organic and real document. This helps you to understand which popular holidays are coming up and how you can tailor your content to engage with audiences in a fun and creative way.
Most of all, be sure to monitor what’s working and what’s not. Social media content calendars only work if you are using them appropriately and consistently. Keep your team engaged and let your social media content calendar serve as the infrastructure to take your social media accounts where you want them to go.
About the Author:
Ron is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Visiture. He is supported by a team of creative geniuses that strive to help clients achieve new levels of success. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the search marketing landscape and use data to make more effective decisions to drive new traffic and conversions. Follow me @Visiture_Search