Social media is not like a traditional marketing campaign in that you cannot do it for a period and then stop. Rather, social media marketing needs to be continuous. As such, it requires a certain level of planning. For the best results, a social media calendar will keep you organized and empower you to churn out more – and better – social content. A template and a process is necessary for the editorial planning. Building the social media editorial calendar template can be a slog, but it’s a critical step in your social marketing process and offers a great return on your (time) investment. By doing so, you can
- Increase your efficiency (plan on what to say and when)
- Align with other team members (be accountable to deadlines)
- Boost your posts’ effectiveness (optimize the timing of posts, AB testing creative and calls-to action and improve your chances to be seen and engaged with)
Let’s build your social media calendar!
You can create your social media editorial calendar manually or using a SaaS tool. This decision is based on budget and personal preference. For a manual process, just start your calendar in Excel or, even better, if you plan to collaborate with other members of your marketing team, draft your social calendar in Google Sheets. It’s a quick starter if your team is small. You’ll need the following fields: Header row: Week | Day of the Week (I suggest making a tab for every month of the year, otherwise, the rows get too long.) Column one: List of channels (If you plan to post more than once a day on a given channel, list the channel multiple times.) Row 1: Post Copy | Image Link or Folder | CTA URL (content link) | Time to Post This is a simple format. For enterprise: It gets complicated when you decided to scale social media editorial to different regions, different brands, different products, different editorial topics or even repurposing similar content. If you need to scale social media outreach within a big team, manual excel file won’t work. You need to source enterprise versions of tools such as Spinklr, Opal, Adobe Social, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and other options. Using an enterprise version of tool is critical if you need to cover multiple regions, products, brands and editorial topics. Decide on what you want to say (your messaging) and how you’re going to get that message across, then fill in the blanks. For example, are you promoting a blog post, an article, a petition, contest, product or a specific campaign landing page? Next, on your own or working with your graphic designer or creative team, come up with an image, video or other medium to tie to the post content. Let’s say you’re promoting an event. You could use an image from a prominent spot on the invitation or event flier. You can record a personal video invite from your CEO or turn the actual invitation into a JPG image, provided it doesn’t have a large amount of text. A quick note: Be sure the picture or video is optimized for the social platform you are using. Different social media channels use different file dimensions, and if you use the wrong size, your image will be cropped at the top or sides or appear blurry and undesirable. If you are unsure, check out this cheat sheet: “The 2017 Social Media Image Sizes Guide”. When you have selected your image, save it to your computer’s designated social campaign folder, in Dropbox or Google Drive. Copy the folder mapping or the link to the creative asset and paste it in your calendar spreadsheet. Finally, record your call to action or link in the CTA URL field. In the case of an event, it could be an event landing page, RSVP form or Facebook event page. Repeat the process for every post in your social campaign. Ideally, include the time of day that you plan to schedule the post. In addition to your regular campaigns, you can plot out relevant holidays or other events, from New Year’s to International Women’s Day – that you can tie into your business or organization. Also, you can record any upcoming company events you know you’ll have to market, such as product releases, rounds of funding, awards or other announcements. It’s OK to share some interested and insightful third-party content. Think broadly about what you want to communicate or what your audiences may be interested in knowing. Excel or Google Sheets is the cheapest way to manage your planning, but it’s very manual. In recent years, many more automated social media planning tools have emerged. These SaaS tools follow the same framework and best practices as the Excel file, but they make your job easier. Feel free to check out Hootsuite, HubSpot, TweetDeck, Buffer or Sprout Social and more. Here are additional tools suggested by Michele Lynn, editor-in-chief of Content Marketing Institute. You may need to try several tools to find what you need and what works best for you and your team. Other helpful solutions include Google Analytics, where you can measure traffic metrics for your website; Salesforce customer relations management software; Wistia video marketing platform for businesses, with its brandable player, lead generation tools and automated video SEO; and Hotjar, an all-in-one analytics and feedback tool. New tools come to market all the time. Do your research and try them.
Tip: Time and Day Matters For Your Social Media Marketing
You only want to send messages when people are around to see them. There are optimal days and times for posting on social, though there is no rule or law. For example, several studies indicate that Facebook posts perform best over an extended weekend – Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – with posts achieving the greatest reach and most interactions at the start of the day (9 a.m.) and during the afternoon lull (between 1 and 3 p.m.). In contrast, LinkedIn’s highest traffic days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Businesspeople are most likely to scan LinkedIn at the start of their day, much like they would a newspaper or news website, so post early in the morning. The lunch hour (12 p.m.) or just before the end of the work day (5 or 6 p.m.) are also good times for LinkedIn. Studies show Twitter posts perform best on Wednesdays and that people check Twitter most often during their daily commute. As such, it’s helpful to post to Twitter at roughly the same time you post on LinkedIn. Obviously, location matters. If you are posting from abroad to reach a U.S.-based audience, for example, you need to adjust your posting to reflect a Central or Eastern time zone. And know your audience. If they are older, for example, they might not be commuting to work. What do they do in their free time? If they have young children they are shuffling to and from soccer practices and dance recitals on the weekends, then they might not be checking Facebook on the weekend as often as you might assume.
The important thing is to keep in mind that the above days and times are GENERAL GUIDANCE. You need to do your own AB testing to understand what time works the best for your target audience.
The key to effective social media marketing is consistency.
To make sure your work is effective, it’s wise to know what the goals are of your social campaigns and to monitor them, so that you can tweak your work as necessary. You can track your key performance indicators (KPIs) on your editorial calendar or in a separate spreadsheet. I like to put them in the same document to get a snapshot of my work in one place. It’s helpful to review past social media posts periodically (as often as weekly) to see which were most successful. Some of the KPIs for social include reach (how many people saw your post), engagement (as in post clicks, likes, shares or comments) or referral traffic (to your website or another landing page). Social Media KPIs:
- Referral/website traffic
Some of these KPIs may not directly tie with leads and sales. If you only focus on followers, reach, likes and shares, you won’t get much management support and budget in the long run. You’ll need to find a way to tie with sales and leads. One of my recommendations is to check if you can co-own some of the leads and sales goals. Find a way to contribute to a KPI about which management really cares.
How often should your brand post on social media?
Well, that depends on the network and capacity, i.e. the size of your marketing or social team. There are different opinions out there, but most content marketers recommend the following: Facebook and Google+: No less than 3 posts per week and up to 7 Twitter and Pinterest: A minimum of 5 times per day LinkedIn: No less than 2 posts per week and up to 5
Again, this is GENERAL GUIDANCE. You need to test out and optimize your frequency based on your budget, resource and target audiences’ preference.
What is effective content for social media?
Many marketers and content writers get overwhelmed at the prospect of creating social content. The reality is that only a small percentage of social content is new or unique copy or creative produced for your social channels. Instead, your social posts should be a combination of sharing original blogs or articles written by subject matter experts, employees or volunteers; featuring your company’s products, services or company news; curating and contextualizing external but interesting content; and creating a dynamic image, video or other posts. Four types of content for social content:
- Promotional content
- Related third-party content
- General engagement images or videos
- Theme-specific content tied to a campaign or launch
There are a number of tools that can help you curate content, such as Scoop.it, Feedly or TweetDeck, Buzzsumo and more. Different types of content work on different channels, and not every consumer or reader likes to digest the same kind of content in the same way. It’s important to identify your brand’s social voice and be consistent across your various channels. As you post social content, you’ll figure out what content resonates best with the sphere you want to influence. And as you monitor your KPIs, you’ll learn more about how your consumers want to engage with your content, so you can trigger the reactions you want nearly every time you post. And don’t get deterred if not everything you try works. Some examples of content types that do well on social media channels include trigger questions or polls, quizzes, statistics, useful facts or other information, quick-hit videos or interactive images, and simple text and pictures. POST WITH CONFIDENCE! Once you have an editorial calendar for your social media outlets, you can post with confidence. And you can take advantage of your newfound free time to expand or experiment!