Racking my brain trying to think of a social media content calendar metaphor, it came to me…oddly enough, on one of my training runs. My husband and I are training for a marathon so running is taking up a lot of my time. And, that’s when it hit me.
A social media content calendar is like training for a marathon.
Stay with me…it will make sense after a little explanation.
Before our organized training began, we sat down with a plain, old calendar and wrote the mileage we needed to run each day. Monday = 8, Tuesday = 6, Wednesday = off, etc. It’s very simple, but keeps us focused on our goal.
Like our marathon mileage schedule, a content calendar doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or special. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet and organize the tabs for posting, including the following information:
- Post date
- Social channel(s)
- Post content
- Category/theme (helps you quickly identify the post content)
- Tracking link
Besides making your life easier, a content calendar ensures that you are staying true to your brand’s identity and voice. In an ever-changing digital world, this simple tool offers foundation, strategy and commitment. After determining your target market, your social media voice should be steady and consistent. This doesn’t mean every post has to be the same, but it guarantees that you are using keywords, sources, links, videos – all pertinent to your organization and voice.
A few other tips to consider when creating a content calendar:
- Focus on the big picture
Look ahead at the next three months and ask yourself how your social media content can support product launches, holidays, press appearances and events. It’s important to promote what’s happening around your brand offline on your social media platforms. Whether it’s running promotions, offering sneak-previews at products or posting locations for events, utilize each of your platforms in creative and unique ways. It’s also equally important to give your audience what they want–make sure to listen and have real conversations with them.
- Find the right mixture of content
Try to find the right balance of content that is fun and/or useful for your fans versus talking about your business. Promoting engagement is key. If you are organizing the social media content for a running store (again with the metaphor!), you might want to share a running tip of the week, along with product discounts or special promotions.
- Be flexible and have fun!
Our marathon mileage calendar isn’t extremely rigid or detailed. The routes and specific times vary – and can be determined on each particular day. The important thing is that we have a run scheduled in our day. The same goes for your social media content calendar. Have fun with your subject matter. Leave a little room for flexibility. As users respond to your content, they might lead the conversation in new and exciting directions…that’s great! Be prepared to answer questions and concerns as they pop up.
Remember, posting is a trial and error process and you will learn from experience. Tracking, monitoring and reporting on what posts are working best for your audience will help you improve how and what you are sharing – and in turn, grow your social presence.