How do I create a social media plan? Creating a Social Media Calendar to Boost Your Content
Social media marketing is a key element in the workflow of every professional nowadays – whether small business owner, service provider, freelance creative or artist. No online presence is complete without it. Just as it is crucial to create a website, learn SEO skills and collect email subscribers, it is absolutely necessary to establish a dynamic social media presence and to devise a social marketing strategy.
Part and parcel of a successful social marketing strategy is maintaining a powerful social media schedule. This calendar combines big holidays (like International Women's Day), interesting cultural events (it’s World Book Day!) and Internet holidays (did someone say "Donut Day."?).
But why do you need a social media content calendar?
Because it can be challenging to create original social content on a regular basis, and special events offer a great opportunity to post excellent content and keep your social channels active.
Because these time-sensitive events have a strong sharable effect on social media, and tapping into that can help extend your reach to larger interested audiences.
Now that the advantages are all clear, let’s move on to the practical aspect and explore how to create a powerful social media calendar with massive viral potential. It only requires some strategizing, a solid organizational skill and following these steps.
Understand what makes your target audience tick
Different events matter for different audiences. You won’t find the same level of enthusiasm for the World Series finals among a community of graphics designers as you would among a community of sports fans. Make a list of people your brand wants to engage and chart their interests, passions and subcultures: They could be techies, working moms, foodies or fashionistas. Find out what they do: are they into spending their free time going to movies, clubbing, gardening or exercising? Are they college-aged youngsters, Gen Xers with nostalgia for the 90s, or did they experience the disco era in real-time?
Figuring out the answers to such questions helps you define your target audience better, which will, in turn, help you choose the most appropriate and effective dates to include in your social media calendar.
Determine your social media strategy goals
Generally speaking, every social media action you take on behalf of your brand should be guided by a clear objective. When you know what the desired outcome is, you strategize better, and a social media calendar is no exception.
Before you start building your social calendar, clarify what are the broad goals that you hope to achieve in posting this social content: Are you hoping to energize your followers in a lively discussion? Do you want them to share your content with their own communities? Are you building a brand identity by associating yourself with specific events? Are you selling products directly through social media and want to see sales go up? Once you have the larger goals in mind, you can break them down into smaller tasks, like increasing followers, generate more leads or creating viral posts.
After you have the social calendar more or less ready and you’re starting to create specific content for individual events, we recommend that you go through this process once again. Ask yourself: What is the goal of this Earth Day post (for example)? Do you want followers to share it, or to comment on it? Are they supposed to click on a link to continue to your online store, or subscribe to your newsletter? Are you promoting some kind of time-sensitive deal? When you know the answer to this, you’ll be able to create a much better post.
Go find those dates!
Now, this is the fun part: Put on your research hat and get to work on finding useful, fun and quirky dates to add to your social media calendar. To streamline this process, you can do it in phases:
Start with the basics and make a list of important national and local holidays you’d like to include.
Do you represent a particular community? Make sure you include meaningful dates that your audience would appreciate: National Donut Day, Mother's Day, Black History Month, Ramadan or Chinese New Year’s are all great examples.
Following the strategizing you completed in steps 1 and 2, think about major cultural events, entertainment happenings or significant dates you can add: The annual Grammy awards, the Super Bowl, the release of a new Star Wars film, or any similar event that you believe will both be the focus of public attention and is of interest to your audience.
Go over lists of online holidays and choose the ones that work best for your brand identity. These things can be silly but also very charming. If you find ones that really resonate with your target audience, you’ll do great.
You can also maximize the time around a holiday. For example, posting in anticipation of a holiday or doing a round up post after the holiday has passed.
Sample social media pages of brands, organizations and public figures and see what sort of dates they find worthy to mention on their feed
Check out the Google Doodle Archive for excellent ideas for unique dates.
Stay organized! Prepare an actual calendar
Unless you have supernatural memory capabilities, you’ll need an actual calendar to keep track of all the dates you gathered. Trust us, the slight effort of entering the dates into a calendar is actually saving you a lot of time and effort on the long run. Plus, working with an actual calendar has multiple advantages:
It allows you to make sure that your chosen dates are not too densely centered around the same timeframe. You want your “event” posts to mixed with your regular social content, not focused all at once.
It gives you the opportunity to schedule alerts and reminders and set your mind at ease.
Seeing the social media calendar in conjunction with your other day-to-day tasks will give you a good idea of how long in advance you need to prepare and work on your posts’ content (we’ll get to that in a minute).
In technical terms, creating the calendar should be a breeze. You can either enter the dates into whatever digital calendar you already work with, or you could use a social media calendar template.
Plan ahead with copywriting and images
You went through all the research and prep work – excellent job! At the end of the day, it’s the content of your social posts that will determine just how successful your social media calendar is. Planning ahead can give you the time and the creative space for generating spectacular content (another good reason to stay organized and keep track of dates in advance).
Some posts require more real-time response than others. You probably don’t want to create posts about the World Cup Finals before you know which teams advanced to that stage, but you can definitely work on your Mother’s Day post a few of weeks in advance. One of your responsibilities is to determine which posts can be prepared ahead of time, and which require more spontaneity.
Match the social content to the event
As you create your posts, it’s important that you find the right angle to approach specific dates. A post celebrating Thanksgiving Day should look and sound different than one that celebrates “May the Fourth.” You want to take the essence of each event and find a way to talk about it that will excite your followers and benefit your brand.
A helpful step in finding the right content is considering the genre of content that would be the most appropriate. You have many options to choose from: Images, videos, live broadcasts, blog posts, polls, gifs, posts that encourage users to share their own content, games (like image captions or sentence completion posts), and more.
While posting photos from your office on Wear Pajamas to Work Day is an awesome idea, for an event like Human Rights Day you may prefer a video or a blog post, explaining in greater detail what this day means to you.
Use scheduling tools to never miss a date
After all this hard work, the last thing you want is to forget a date and miss out on an opportunity to post terrific content. Fortunately, technology is more reliable than our human capacity to remember everything and multitask perfectly. Scheduling tools, like Buffer, are your friendly little helpers that publish your posts for you. All you need to do is insert the content in advance and pick the exact time you want your posts to go live.
Need help implementing a Social Media Plan? Contact us here for a free quote to work with Rachel, our on-staff Social Media Manager & Marketer!
Brought to you by Jessica Grajeda Designs & the Wix Blog.