I'm going to admit that this blog post is actually inspired by one of my readers and a member of Jenn's Friends. The girl is dedicated to putting lessons into action and building her business. I'm honestly so proud of her. But the other day, she totally impressed me when she sent me a video in an Instagram direct message showing me her social media content calendar. She had the big ol' desk blotter type calendar with all the types of posts she would do each day of the month. Oh, and it was color coded, which I'm a huge fan of!
But in taking a look at her calendar, I realized that for all the times I've talked about a content calendar in training videos or podcasts (and I talk to my clients about them too), I haven't really written a blog post on the topic... so, problem solved!
Before I dive too far into how to create a good social media content calendar, I want to quickly share with you why I think it's so important.
And, that reason, is quite honestly, because we're all too dang busy!
Seriously. Life happens. Business happens. Shiz happens.
Things come up and other things get forgotten. Chaos takes over and daily activities get pushed aside. The next thing you know, you realize you haven't posted to your social media accounts in over a week. It. Happens! And you're nodding your head right now because you remember when it happened to you 😉
While a content calendar won't stop the life, business, shiz, chaos, and everything else from happening, it will keep you on track and focused on what you need to be doing.
Here's my thing: when you treat your social media like a part of your business, it will build your business. If you treat it like a dismissed chore, that's reflected in your content, and then I have to listen to you tell me that social media "doesn't work" for you.
So, follow the steps I outline here and start creating an intentional plan for your content. I promise you that if you do it consistently for more than a month, you'll see real, measurable results.
What should be on your content calendar?
Anything that helps you stay organized!
It could be things like the type of content to post on each day of the week or month. For example, you may post videos every Tuesday, article links every Thursday, and your own blog posts every other Monday. Maybe you have a recurring content theme like a throwback Thursday post or a motivation Monday post. If you do, add those to your content calendar. As you fill in where your recurring content goes, you can see the gaps where you may need additional content to fill. OR, you may even find where you're crowding too much content into small time frames and where you need to find places to space out your content more effectively.
You should also consider the content for each social media platform. While you may only post 3 times a week on Facebook, you may post 3 times a day on Twitter. Your content calendar should factor in these differences in volume as well as the types of content to share.
But now you need to take your calendar organization to a whole new level...
Pick Your Calendar
This may seem trivial, but choosing a calendar that works for you (or your team) is actually super important to its success.
If you need something physical in your hands or on your desk that you can see constantly in front of your face, then pick a desk blotter or wall mounted or printed calendar that you can touch and feel. If this is your style, putting something on a Google calendar or other digital calendar isn't going to work as well because you can easily ignore or forget to look at it.
By contrast, if you like the pop up reminders of a digital calendar and have that constantly available to you, then maybe this is your style of choice.
If you live and die by sticky notes pasted to a wall, do that. If you want to create a 3D play-doh calendar, go for it... Ok, that may be too much, but you get my point.
Whatever your style, pick the best type of calendar that you can make the most of.
Organize Your Calendar
I mentioned that Tanya color coded her calendar. And, I too, am a little obsessed with color coding (I always have been and could tell you stories of all the crazy ways I color coded things when I worked in sales!).
And, yes, color coding does make your calendar look much more appealing visually (which may be important to you), but it's actually super functional and helps with time management. If you know that everything in blue usually takes you an hour (like shooting product photos) while everything in green usually takes 15-20 minutes (like uploading a Facebook post), glancing at your calendar and seeing those colors can actually help you better plan your daily activities.
And trust me, setting this color organization early may seem tedious and irrelevant. But when you get busier or grow your team, that commonality you've established in your calendar will save you time and energy down the road.
Segment Your Time
Do you know why so many people struggle to create great content? Because they don't plan for it.
Do you know why some people get beautiful, valuable content all the time? Because they do plan for it.
Hello, content calendar!
Seg. Ment. Your. Time.
Plan out what you need to do each week or month to achieve your results.
For example, if you know you want to share 2 product posts a week, that's about 8 shots/videos per month. If all of a sudden, on Monday, you're like "oh, I need a product shot for tomorrow... let me throw this down on a table and take a quick photo" then your content probably isn't great.
Instead, if you planned ahead and did a photo shoot one day of the month and planned out your props, venue, time of day, lighting, and gave yourself time to edit photos, you wouldn't be left scrambling. Instead, you'd have all your product photos done. In one day. For the whole month! Think of how much time and stress you'd save yourself.
I also segment time for reading. I honestly don't do as much as I'd like to, but I set aside time on the weekends to read blog posts that I've bookmarked during the week while I was busy. This way I don't miss anything valuable. So, let's say you give yourself an hour to read on Sunday when you have some quiet time. Then on Monday morning, you can take all those posts you read and upload all the good ones into your scheduling tool for distribution throughout the week. Not only do you save yourself the time of having to scramble to find something to share each day, but you can make sure that those posts are going out at the most ideal time of the day, rather than when it's convenient for you.
In my opinion, most of your week should be planned out for content planning purposes. Set time for photo shoots, designing graphics, editing videos, reading, posting/scheduling, checking notifications (if you're not good about doing it consistently throughout the day, set reminders on your calendar or phone), finding new accounts to follow, and any other activities to manage your content.
Plan Weekly, Monthly, and Annually
There are some things in life and business that come around like clockwork: holidays, anniversaries, seasons, etc. But if you do a weekly live video, that's also clockwork. If you have a monthly newsletter, hello clockwork. If you do regular sale cycles or promotional campaigns, oh look, that's clockwork again.
These are all things that should be listed on your content calendar and planned for accordingly.
For example, if you're gonna run a campaign for your company's 5th anniversary, start planning that well in advance. You know it's coming! So don't wait until the week before to scramble together some content. Instead, look at it months in advance and know your strategy for the campaign, then plug those milestones and deadlines into your content calendar to keep you on track.
Allow for Spontaneity
While a great calendar is all good, that little thing called "life" still happens.
Maybe you get an unexpected award or a big client win. Maybe something that is trending is directly tied to your industry and you want to jump on that topic or content. Maybe a disaster or national event happens that requires you to stop your regular posting schedule.
There are any number of things that could happen in your day to day activities and which will impact your content strategy. It's important that you leave some room for flexibility and spontaneity i your content calendar.
If something comes up, push your existing strategy out a week to allow new content for this week. If a campaign gets suspended, hold on to your content for when you're ready to launch again. Or, be willing to scrap something altogether if necessary.
There are plenty of ways to set up social media content calendars and what works for you may not work for someone else. That's why you really need to know what will keep you (and your team) organized and accountable. Then you can create the best calendar for you. And once you start executing that content strategy, then you will see the real results!