As with everything, the social media landscape is changing. People these days are getting more discerning — a study by Global Web Index found that 39% of social media users in the US and UK decreased their time on social media in 2019. And in 2020, there have been major scandals about data breaches and unwarranted censorship which have also put people off.
Why are we talking about this in an article about creating a social media content calendar? Because it highlights that it’s more vital than ever for businesses to post high quality, useful content to gain customers.
The same Global Web Index report also found that although people may be getting more concerned about online social time spend, they’re also more comfortable with using social networks for their daily needs, like brand discovery, product research, and purchases. In other words, social media channels have become more of a tool, similar to search platforms like Google.
Even more reason for your company to get serious about great social content. And the best way to do this is a social media content calendar. This article explains the whys and hows.
A social content calendar.is no longer something that agencies, large companies, and the obsessively organized need. You could say it’s even more important for startups and small businesses. Here’s why:
Unlike large companies that have marketing departments, people working in a startup or small business wear many hats. This makes it very easy for the quality of social content to slip, with typos and unappealing posts.
It may seem like no big deal, but the devil really is in the details. One low grade post could mean hundreds if not thousands of people get a poor first impression of your brand. And with competition for online attention at an all time high, that’s something no small business can afford.
Large companies also have the budget for entire teams of experts — copywriters, designers, photographers, videographers. Which means modern social network users are used to high quality production. Don’t let that intimidate you though. By following standard best-practice rules and being genuine, small brands often have a freshness that captures more hearts than the big flashy corporates.
A good post takes time and effort. That’s a big chunk out of each day. But if you can get a week’s batch done in one go, then you’re freed up to focus on other business growth activities. Scheduling content in batches also prevents you from sending out low quality posts on days when you’re not inspired, or busy with other things.
The great thing about an online Social Media Management tool is you can plan your calendar for every day of the week, across all platforms, and schedule it to go out at the times you set, and in the right format. So you no longer have to login to each channel to post content that has to fit each platform’s formatting rules, and which in itself is a hassle.
With the extra time on your hands, you’ll also be able to brainstorm and research appealingly fresh content that inspires your customers.
If you see a brand on billboards and magazines, you’ll be much more likely to seek out their products. The same applies to the digital space. Research by PR Newswire found that 67% of consumers made a purchase after seeing an ad on social media. They also found that people are more likely to buy from a brand they follow online.
This clearly shows that regular postings are key to marketing success. And a social media content calendar is without a doubt the best way to keep up with consistent, high quality posts. By scheduling content ahead of time, you can’t fall behind, even if you have a hectic or distracting week.
You’ll also be able to maximize important annual sales events. If you get in the habit of planning ahead, you can do so much more to make your social marketing more successful. Take Christmas for example. You could order festive product packaging and website design changes. People clicking on your social post will be more likely to recommend you if they have an integrated customer experience.
A planned out calendar lets you keep track of when and what you posted, so you can track your success rates and shift accordingly. With a digital social media manager tool, you’ll have graphs and other data showing the performance of all your platforms in one easy dashboard.
This gives you full transparency and clear measurement of your social content. Without the data at your fingertips, you won’t be able to tell where your strengths and weaknesses are. It’s invaluable insight that lets businesses continue testing out what works and levelling up, until they become brands that consumers remember, trust and recommend.
Shoot arrows in the dark and potentially losing money, or successfully hit targets when it comes to engaging and converting customers. Analytics make all the difference. This is one of the main reasons why digital Social Media Management is so much better than using a calendar template like a spreadsheet.
You can find lots of free templates for your calendar online. The simplest options are Google Sheets or Trello. Divide the page into columns for Author, Title, Create Date, and Publish Date.
But we advise against these two solutions, not because they’re bad for content planning, but because you miss out on the rocket fuel that makes content truly successful. In other words, you don’t get the data analytics tied in.
A calendar in an online Social Media Management tool gives you real time insight into how audiences respond to your posts. And how else can you know for sure if your content is successful with engaging and converting readers?
Now that that’s covered, let’s break down how to create your digital calendar in clear, easy steps:
If you have any existing social media accounts, audit them to see if your branding and posts are up to scratch. Be critical, because if your current channels are mediocre or worse, you’re losing out on customer engagement and sales.
What helps a business understand where they stand, in so many ways, is a Competitor Audit. By comparing your social pages and posts to others in your industry, especially leaders, you’ll get a clear picture of what to aim for.
You may want to close your existing accounts and start from scratch, so you can have a clean slate with only high quality branding and posts.
Another very important point is to set your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are the milestones you’ll want to measure on each platform as you move forward. Examples are:
Learn more: How to Set Correct Social Media KPIs. But to start with, don’t get too complex with KPIs. Over time you’ll see clear patterns emerging. You’ll start to see how many engagements or click throughs lead to sales conversions. They will vary depending on your campaigns, different times of year, and social trends.
Especially if you’re just starting out, always go with quality over quantity. A common mistake new businesses make is spreading themselves too thin and ending up with poor content plus weak results.
Begin with the traditional Top Three social networks — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If your product or service is aimed at other businesses (B2B), LinkedIn will also be key.
Your Competitor Audit will once again be a great guide showing you where you can find your audience. But first gain some traction on the Top Three networks, then branch out. Later you may carve your own niche in untapped areas.
These are the most popular social networks for 2020. But there’s no one size fits all, because there isn’t one type of audience or business. That’s why it’s so important to have the analytics from your social media manager telling you what’s actually working.
Now for the creative part. It’s time to build your content library — the writing, photos and videos you’ll use to create appealing posts. Try to bookmark a full day to really get in the groove with content ideas, so you can build a fair sized bank of content to stretch out.
As we explained above, just because you don’t have the big budget to pay teams of experts to create content for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with innovative, captivating content.
Learn more: How to Create Great Social Media Content.
You can find lots of ‘social gurus’ and articles online telling you the best times to post content. But as we explained in Need-to-Know Social Media Management Tips, it’s best to start with no more than five posts per week on each platform. It’s been proven that too many posts can easily do more harm than good, especially for new brands, because they’re often seen as spam.
Just as there’s no one size fits all for what social platforms will give your individual business the best results, the same applies to the right posting frequency. As always, we recommend you follow the lead of your social media manager tool, because it will give you actual metrics of how people are responding to your posts.
Real data is a much better guide than guesswork or following what other companies do. So keep testing, by sending your initial weekly quota of five posts at different times of day. Before long a pattern will emerge. You’ll begin to discover when your audience responds best to posts, and which types of content they enjoy at different times.
5) Load Up but Be Vigilant
Upload and set the times for your content to go out each week or month. But keep in mind that a successful content calendar should be flexible, a living thing that organically changes in response to social trends and world events.
Many companies have found themselves in trouble by scheduling their posts and forgetting them, only to get a public backlash because a current event has made the content inappropriate.
In this article we explored why a social media content calendar has become a must, not a want, — it gives you failsafe content quality, as well as more time to grow your business, increase awareness, and boost sales.
Perhaps most importantly of all, and why we recommend using a calendar in an online social media manager tool instead of a spreadsheet template, is you’ll get real-time measurement of how your posts are performing, so you can continue improving.
We also broke down the easy steps to create a social calendar, along with tips to help you get the job done like a pro. Now you’re all set to move forward with confidence, and start building lasting relationships with your customers.
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