Do you know what you’re going to post on Facebook tomorrow? How about next week?
Planning out your business’ content in advance is a key part of building a social media strategy that actually works. Unfortunately, for many business owners, content planning often gets pushed to the backburner.
It’s not surprising either—as an entrepreneur, your time is usually spent handling tasks that need to be tackled immediately: Shipping out orders, putting out customer service fires, and keeping your business one step ahead of the competition. Your days are busy and you don’t always have time to think about tweets and Pins.
However, if you dedicate just a few hours at the start of every month to creating a content calendar in advance for your business, you’ll be able to grow your social presence without having to constantly worry about what to share next.
To help you get organized, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to building a content calendar that engages, delights, and grows your audience.
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Why do you need a content calendar?
A content calendars is exactly what it sounds like: A calendar featuring all of your upcoming social media posts.
For many business owners, the idea of planning out an entire month of content might seem a little unnecessary. Maybe you only occasionally find yourself rushing to find an article to share on Facebook or trying to think up a clever holiday greeting to tweet out. So, is planning that far in advance really worth it?
The truth is that a content calendar is so much more than just an agenda or day planner for your social profiles. Here are just a few of the reasons why a proper social media content calendar will help you build better marketing campaigns:
Content calendars are strategic
A content calendar is the foundation of every successful social media marketing strategy.
If you aren’t planning your social media strategy ahead of time, then you’re just doing things at random with no sense of the bigger picture. Content calendars help you take a strategic approach to your social media presence, so that you get a better idea of how your actions actually fit into your overarching business goals.
Content calendars save time
If you run your own business, you probably already know that there aren’t enough hours in a day to take care of everything you need to get done.
By working in advance with a content calendar, you can clear one more thing off your daily to-do list and focus your energy on the many other aspects of running your business. Think of it as a time management technique.
Trying to find something to post on social media at the last minute can be a time-consuming process, but if you’ve already collected a batch of high-quality articles that align with your brand, you can rest assured knowing that you’re covered.
Content calendars build an identity for your brand
Not only do content calendars free up your schedule, but they also help you build an identity and community around your brand.
Sharing a constant stream of content can capture the attention of new audiences that hadn’t previously heard of your online store, but might share common interests with your ideal customers. By blending curated content from third party sources with your own original content, you can create a larger identity and lifestyle for your brand that extends beyond your products and services.
Building out a content calendar ahead of time will help you make sure that you always have content to post and, most importantly, content that your community will enjoy and identify with.
Want to learn more about how social media can help drive sales? Download our free, curated list of high-impact articles.
How to build a content calendar for your online store
Building a content calendar for an entire month in one shot sounds like a daunting task, but it’s much easier if you know which tools to use.
So, let’s take a look at each step of the process along with the resources you’ll need to get the job done.
1. Creating a framework for your content calendar
In order to build a content calendar, it’s a good idea to create a blank calendar template to help you visualize what your monthly content output will look like.
To build a template, it’s better to opt for versatile options like Google Calendar or Trello. With both of these tools, you’ll be able to create collaborative content calendars that include details like the timing of posts and labels for content categories.
If you already have a Google account, then Google Calendar is a natural first choice for building out your content calendar. While it wasn’t originally designed to plan out content, you can easily use its features to organize your social posts for the next month.
To get started, you’ll need to create a new calendar and invite your teammates to it so that you can start collaborating on content. Dropping in new posts will be as simple as adding a new event to your calendar, using the Event Time field to plug in your post time.
To share your content calendar with your teammates, click the arrow beside the calendar name and select "Share this Calendar".
Trello is a highly customizable browser application that lets you organize different projects into bulletin boards and calendars.
To start building a content calendar in Trello, create a new Board.
Call this board something memorable and descriptive, like Social Media Content Calendar and click “Create”.
Once you’ve created a board, you’ll be taken to Trello’s default project view which is essentially a bulletin board.
Since Trello is highly customizable, you can organize projects in whichever format works best for your team. For this example, I’ve created two columns: One for post ideas and one for scheduled posts, but you can tailor your bulletin board to fit your team’s workflow.
To see a calendar view of your posts, click “Power Ups”.
Enable the “Calendar” Power Up.
You’ll now be able to view your Trello board as a calendar, making it easy to plan out and visualize your content strategy. Be sure to make use of Trello’s labels and due dates to better organize your content.
2. Finding out which types of content your audience enjoys
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to create a calendar outline, you’ll need to figure out which types of content resonate with your audience. Determining this is as easy as finding out which pieces of content are already generating the most engagement for your brand and helping you grow your audience on social media.
To figure out which types of content you should be focusing on, you need to dive into your analytics for your different social profiles and find the common traits that connect your best performing posts.
After looking through the analytics for each of your platforms, you should be able to determine which types of content are most popular with your audience. Look for the posts with the highest levels of engagement and the most clickthroughs.
Once you’ve identified your best pieces of content, segment your calendar to create a diverse output of content.
An easy way to make sure that your calendar contains an appropriate mix of content is by dedicating specific days of the week to certain types of posts. For instance, if you’re an athletics company, maybe every Tuesday you share a motivational quote and every Thursday you share a new smoothie recipe. Get creative and don’t be afraid to test out and refine your ideas!
3. Curating content for your calendar
Manually curating content can be a lengthy, time-consuming process—especially if you don’t know where to look. Thankfully, there are many tools out there that make it easy to collect relevant content:
Feedly is a handy content curation platform that lets you subscribe to news publications, blogs, YouTube channels, keywords, and more. Everything that you’re subscribed to gets organized into a series of customizable feeds, letting you quickly get up-to-date on all the latest content relevant to your audience.
Buzzsumo is a powerful social media analytics platform. One of its most impressive features is the ability to search and filter content based on keywords and domains, giving you a crystal clear look at the most popular content in your niche. Using Buzzsumo’s search function is an easy way to find content that has already proven to be a hit with similar audiences.
Pocket is a useful app for saving content for later. You probably find yourself coming across great content all the time that would work for your audience, but it’s tough to always remember to save it for a social media post. With Pocket you can quickly save stories for later, giving yourself a growing database of relevant content to draw on for your next calendar.
4. Scheduling your content
Now that you’ve collected and organized your content, it’s time to schedule out your posts for the upcoming month.
This part of the process will save you from trying to constantly remind yourself to post your content, instead you’ll be able to set everything up in advance and just let it run. You can automate your posting using social media scheduling apps (such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite or Buffer) to automate your posting.
These tools all have extensive analytics features which can give you an in-depth look at the difference between different channels, the best times to post, and more.
One of the best parts about scheduling your content in advance is that you’ll also have more time to fine-tune your social media copy. The more lead time you give yourself, the more you’ll be able to consider what is working well with your audience and how you can incorporate new insights into your future content.
Adding a personal touch
Although automating your social media content does make things considerably easier, it’s no substitute for the personal touch that customers have come to expect from social media. A content calendar isn’t a replacement for real time interaction—it’s a tool for supplementing those special moments that win people over and make them fans for life.
By using a content calendar, you’ll be able to focus on nurturing those organic relationships with your customers without having to worry about which piece of content is getting shared from your profile that day.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider boosting your posts and running paid social media ads to increase your reach and target new audiences with your content.
Start planning for tomorrow - today
For your online story to be successful, you need to constantly be looking forward and thinking about the future. As you now know, that doesn’t just mean planning for the next 5 or 10 years either, sometimes thinking about the future means just considering what you’re going to do next month.