An editorial calendar is a blueprint of your social media marketing strategy, and setting one up is quick and easy. In fact, to create a social media editorial calendar for your business, you only need six steps (and, of course, great content).
Some of the most celebrated tweets in marketing history, like Oreo’s now-legendary Super Bowl blackout tweet, were spontaneous and off the cuff.
Every social marketing strategy should be flexible and leave room for spontaneity. However, to be successful in the long-term, disciplined scheduling, predictable posting and overall consistency will yield results that have bragging rights.
This is only possible with a social media editorial calendar.
Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar in 6 Steps
Step 1: Determine your posting strategy and delegate tasks
The first step is to when creating a social media editorial calendar is to determine your target audience and content strategy for each individual network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest etc.).
For example, if you are part of a restaurant franchise and trying to reach a younger audience, using edgy and funny content on Twitter will resonate with millennials on the social network. When marketing your restaurant to families with young children, adding a kids meal discount offer to your Facebook marketing calendar will bring parents into your establishing. Pictures of food, shared on social media networks that focus on visual posts (think: Pinterest and Instagram) will give potential diners a preview of what it’s like to dine at your restaurant.
By using many different social media networks — each of which reaches a specific target audience — you are able to create messaging that speaks to each, increasing the effectiveness of your social marketing strategy.
If more than one person is responsible for managing social media for your small business, consider assigning specific tasks to each team member by social network. By focusing on a single network, that person will develop a deep understanding of the platform, the lingo and jargon used (example: #deleteyouraccount on Twitter), what type of content members enjoy and what type of material should never be posted on each social media network.
Now that you have the workflow mapped out for each social media network, you need to decide when to post to each platform. Each social media schedule will be different, influenced by campaign details, how your followers engage with your posts and the best time of day to post.
Over time you’ll learn what works best for your social media pages. In the meantime, you can use these general rules as a social media calendar template:
- Facebook: 3 – 10x / week
- Twitter: 5x / week (minimum)
- LinkedIn: 5x / week (maximum)
- Google+: 3 – 10x / week
- Instagram: 1x / day
- Pinterest: 10x / day (maximum)
Step 3: Develop a time frame
It will take you (and/or your team) to get a feel for how long it takes to go from social media concept to execution. A time frame is critical to the success of your social media marketing plan because it will help you to predict how much planning and collaboration time is needed before things like a big event, which we’ll cover in the next step.
Plan to add in some extra time for learning and handling the unexpected, too.
Step 4: Plan and organize key dates, launches and events
The entire purpose of creating a social media calendar for your business is to be as consistent and predictable as possible—but not so rigid that it doesn’t allow for adjustments.
Work important dates, such as product releases and big holidays, into your social media content calendar as they come up. If necessary, you can also ditch the workflow on occasion if you have an instance that warrants it (for example, if you are tweeting at an event — you won’t be able to schedule your posts in advance).
Another example: if your restaurant relies on big sales you bring in on Cinco de Mayo, you might want to dedicate the entire last week of April and the first four days in May to dedicated Cinco de Mayo posts. By posting Cinco de Mayo-related content in the weeks and days leading up to the holiday, your followers will associate that holiday with your restaurant (and plan on visiting you for margaritas on May 5).
Step 5: Move between on-site and off-site content
Develop a consistent blend of internal and external content when creating your social media calendar. Your posts should point to both content hosted on your site and external content off your site.
For example, if your restaurant focuses on sustainable seafood, you should link to both your own content and compelling articles from other sources (such as an article in National Geographic about depleted fish stocks or an infographic about fish farms).
Always use @mentions to credit your external sources to generate actions like shares and retweets.
Finally, create a physical, visually appealing social media calendar — you’re more likely to use it!
All of your tweets, posts and updates will be posted online, of course, but having a physical snapshot of the upcoming days, weeks and months will make the work feel more manageable and help you see the larger picture.
Put it all together
Now that we’ve discussed the steps, let’s create a sample social media editorial calendar.
If you have a business selling T-shirts, and you wish to structure your social media campaign to increase your effectiveness, what steps should you follow?
1. Determine your available resources: Do you have an in-house team who creates content? Or, perhaps you work with professional writers that write articles optimized for search engines? How many people will be involved? How much time do they have available?
For our T-shirt example, we’ll say we have one person available two hours a day.
2. Choose your posting frequency: Based on available resources, you can determine how often you’ll be posting. In this example, we can post 3x day on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and share 5x on Pinterest.
3. Determine your themes: Create a spreadsheet where you determine your daily theme for each of the posts. Check out a sample theme schedule for our t-shirt example below.
- Post 1: “Moody Monday”
- Post 2: Sale of the Day
- Post 3: Inspirational meme
- Post 1: Image of retro t-shirts
- Post 2: Cool Pinterest pin
- Post 3: Funny animated GIF
You can lay out your themes on a spreadsheet, like this one from our local online marketing resource center.
4. Track the effectiveness of your posts: If you use a tool like the Vivial Marketing Platform to measure the amplification, conversation and engagement rate of your posts, you will be able to track your success over time. Based on your metrics, you’ll know what type of content resonates most with your audience. You can then adjust your strategy accordingly.
A social media campaign has to be well-organized, well-planned and well-executed to get the most ROI, generate the most action and have the biggest impact on branding. Creating a social media editorial calendar for your business is the blueprint and foundation of your strategy. It doesn’t have to be complicated—in fact, it shouldn’t be—but it does have to be consistent and reliable (yet flexible enough to roll with the punches).