The end of the year signals a time to reflect on everything your organization has done in a year and then plan for all the amazing things you want to accomplish the next year. Between setting goals and analyzing the right metrics, you can feel overwhelmed with how to start planning your marketing strategy for the new year.
Social media is an essential part of your organization’s marketing plan, not only to reach new people, but to also delight those that you currently work with. Social media is both a sales tool and a growing community wrapped into one bundle. If you’ve ever worked around marketing materials, you know just how important it is to plan your content. The same can be said about your social media posts.
Why Do I Need a Social Media Calendar?
Social media thrives on timely content on platforms that are constantly changing. So you might wonder, “Do I really need to plan out every single post?”
Yes, you really do need to plan out your posts. And before you think it’s too hard or too much work, we have a secret weapon you can use: a Social Media Editorial Calendar.
A social media calendar is like a standard editorial calendar, only meant for social media posts rather than blog content. It’s a way to organize ideas, have a schedule in advance, get approval on posts, collaborate, and make it easy to deliver consistent social media content. If you’ve ever found yourself stumped on what to post on social media, a calendar will certainly help you.
Not only will you not have to meticulously plan out social posts spur of the moment, but social media calendars also offer the following benefits:
- Organization: Social media calendars keep everything nice and organized, so when it comes time to schedule outposts, you don’t have to track down the different components that make up a great social post such as copy, visuals, and the best time to post.
- Saves Time: Instead of stopping what you are doing when you realize you haven’t shared anything on social in a couple of days, you can set aside time to crank out social ideas in advance and keep them in one place. With a calendar, you can spend one-hour thinking of posts, recording them, and sending them off for approval rather than taking up chunks of time throughout the month to just get one post up at a time.
- Streamlined Process: If you need to seek approval, request design items, or even get a second opinion, a social media calendar helps to create an efficient way of accomplishing all of these tasks so your entire team is on the same page.
How to Create a Social Media Calendar for the New Year
Now that you know just how helpful a social media calendar is, you can learn how to create one for your organization.
Create an Easy-to-Use Calendar
Before you can even start planning amazing content for your social media channels, you’ll need to create a calendar. While there are many free templates online you can download, here at PHOS, we are big fans of Google Sheets. It’s easy to share with members of our team and clients. Here’s a glimpse of how we break down our calendar.
You can add or remove categories depending on your organization, but this is a simple way that we create and schedule all of our social media content. If you are just brainstorming ideas, record the idea in the “Theme or Concept” column. We also segment by core values because every piece of content we post should speak to one (or more) of our values.
Your calendar will definitely need space to record what day it will go live on, the channel it will be posted on, copy for the post, and a place for the image or external link. We collaborate a lot, so it’s necessary to have room for approval status and comments from team members.
Use Previous Data to Craft Your Upcoming Calendar
You’re probably starting from scratch when crafting your calendar, but that’s ok! It’s important to take a look at how you’ve gone about posting to social to reflect in your calendar. What were your pain points? What was helpful in the past?
In addition to the process of using your calendar, you can look at your previous social posts to help prepare for a new year of social posts. Take a look at all of your social media profiles and insights on each platform. Maybe you notice it’s best to post in the evening or that photos including people perform best. These are all important things to note when creating and using your calendar. It will shape how often you need to post, what content to consistently include, and new ways to improve your engagement.
Carve Out Time to Brainstorm Content Ideas
While the social media calendar will definitely help you when it comes time to post, you’ll still need to come up with creative ideas for content. We’re big fans of brainstorms at PHOS, especially including team members that don’t directly work on social media marketing.
It’s crucial that you are scheduling time throughout the year to hold brainstorms to keep your content exciting, fresh, and always engaging. Holding these brainstorms quarterly is recommended, but depending on how often you post and the number of your posts, you may need to hold these brainstorms more frequently. There are no bad ideas when it comes to brainstorming!
Add Social Media Holidays
Great content can stem from national holidays (we’re looking at you, National Waffle Day.) Because we use Google sheets, we have another sheet within our social media calendar that holds a bunch of national holidays that pertain to PHOS.
At a glance, we can see holidays that are coming up within the month we are planning. It’s fun to weave these into your social media strategy, but don’t make holidays your sole strategy. Your content should be driven by your organization’s goals, not what random holiday it is. Use these fun days sparingly and focus on creating evergreen content that speaks to your company’s “why.”
Find a Good Planning Schedule
Using your new social media content calendar should be a routine habit. You can choose to schedule at the beginning of the month, beginning of the week, every two weeks…whatever works best for your company. We’ve found scheduling the week before gives us time to work with our design team, our photographer, get approval, and schedule out posts.
Whichever schedule works best for you, stick with it. Consistency is key for getting into a routine of creating, collaborating, scheduling, and posting to your social media channels.
Map Out Potential Campaigns
While your calendar will be laid out in a daily or weekly breakdown, you should also keep in mind larger campaigns that will run for weeks or months at a time. Your social posts should support your campaigns and it’s good to record these in a separate sheet and refer to them as you are planning.
Now Go Use It!
Last, but the most important tip pf all, is to continually use your social media editorial calendar. It will only serve you if it’s being incorporated into your strategy. The more you use it, the more you’ll be able to adapt it to better serve you and your organization. It should be the first place you look when starting social media posts and the last place you check before posts go live.
Social Media Strategy with PHOS Creative
Organizing social media content to be published on different platforms is just one part of a robust marketing strategy. We understand how important social media is to develop a strong brand and create meaningful connections across all digital channels. Contact us to get started on crafting your organization’s social media strategy.