Create a social media content plan to increase user engagement, grow your following, and earn sales for your business.
For some of us, social media is a fun way to connect with friends, re-share memes, and pass some time after a long day.
What may seem straightforward – like posting articles, sharing photos, or publishing content – becomes more complicated when it comes to your business, however.
Social media marketing, unlike passive social media use, requires planning and strategy.
So, if you’re used to posting content on a whim, or if you are struggling to come up with social media content topics at all, a social media content calendar is the way to go.
Having a social media content plan will help you develop strategic content, post consistently, and generate tangible results for your efforts.
Here’s how to do it.
Maybe you’re accustomed to creating all of your posts directly in your social apps.
While this requires less planning, it can be far less effective compared to developing a strategy. A content calendar is a must when it comes to developing effective topics and engaging content.
With a social media content calendar, you can:
In its simplest form, a social content calendar provides an overview of your upcoming social media content, organized by platform and by date. It allows you to organize your content assets, manage campaigns, and create an established schedule.
With this in mind, there are a few things you should include in your social media calendar:
A social media calendar can take many forms. It could be a Google Sheet, an online planner, or content marketing software.
Whatever you choose, your calendar should help you organize your posts and plan when your next content will go live.
Creating a social media calendar can be relatively simple. It all depends on the complexity of what you want to publish, how often, and how many accounts you have.
Below, we explain a few easy steps to creating a social content plan from scratch.
The first step is to take stock of all of your existing social media accounts and corresponding login credentials.
This is necessary because you will need to confirm that you have management access to all of your accounts before you begin scheduling your content.
We recommend creating a spreadsheet that keeps a record of:
You might discover some accounts that are obsolete or profiles for which you no longer have login credentials.
Now is an opportunity to delete the old account, recover your passwords, update outdated information, and even create new profiles, if needed.
After this effort, you should identify which accounts require management and should be added to your social media posting calendar.
Organizing your social content calendar is made easier when you have a system or tool at your disposal.
This could be as simple as a spreadsheet or as robust as a software application, like Hootsuite.
Spreadsheets For Content Planning
I like using Google Sheets for social content planning because it’s simple and requires less effort compared to using a software tool. You can easily plug in your content topics, publishing dates, content assets, and more.
You can find tons of Google Sheets social media calendar templates for free online or create one of your own.
Social Media Scheduling Tools
There are also a wide variety of social media planning and scheduling tools available.
Some are free and others require a paid subscription. Most offer a free trial so you can try out their features before you buy.
Some of the most popular social media planning tools include:
I recommend trying a few different trials to see what works best for you and your team.
Your business may require specific features, more robust platform management, etc. The important thing is that you choose a system that allows you to easily create, schedule, and publish your content.
Whether you decide to use a spreadsheet or software, the next step is to create your social media content matrix.
This is your plan for what content you plan to post, and where and when you plan to post it.
Deciding what content to post is the most important part of your social media plan. The success of your social strategy depends on you coming up with engaging content ideas.
There are a few models to help get you started.
The 80-20 Principle
The 80-20 Principle is, essentially, that 80% of your content should be to inform, educate, or entertain your audience, and 20% of your content should be to promote your business (i.e. Sell).
This means that the majority of your content should serve to provide value to your audience above all else. This may include content types like:
The remaining mix can include content types like promotions, sales graphics, discount codes, or ads.
The Rule Of Thirds
Alternatively, you may want to follow The Rule of Thirds when it comes to your social content.
With this matrix:
This will help you create a healthy mix of content types and ensure that not all of your content is promotional. You want to build trust with your audience, boost engagement, and drive interactions, not just sales.
Content marketing doesn’t have to be boring. Try to come up with some creative topics that speak to your audience’s interests and entice them to interact with your brand.
Once you have a good mix of content topics and ideas, it’s time to pencil these into your content calendar.
If you are using a spreadsheet, be sure to include the basic details:
When and how often you should publish content will depend on your niche and when your audience is active online.
However, the best times to post on social media overall are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.
As you continue your social strategy, it will be important to monitor your analytics to see when users are viewing and interacting with your content. This can help you determine when to post content in the future.
If you are using a social media planning tool, you may even be able to schedule when your content should be posted automatically to each platform – and monitor performance along the way.
The effectiveness of your social media strategy will be influenced by your performance data.
You will want to track what content is resonating most, which posts get the most engagement, and what content is driving conversions for your business.
This data will help inform your future content strategy and posting schedule. This should not be a “set it and forget it” strategy, but instead involve continuous optimization and planning.
Most social media platforms include their own version of analytics. There are also third-party software tools that track performance. You will have a wealth of data from which to pull social insights.
Here are some of the most important metrics to track:
Over time, you will get a better idea of what content works best with your audience, what times work best for posting, and which content types drive conversions and sales.
Your social media analytics will provide a lot of insight into what types of content your audience engages with most.
But sometimes it’s great to get content ideas and feedback directly from your followers, as most social tools won’t help you generate these unique content ideas.
Throughout your content calendar, you should schedule posts that ask your audience what they want to see. You can ask questions like:
These questions are a great way to gauge your audience’s interest and collect new content ideas.
You can also get feedback on your existing content, which may help you revise your strategy or remove certain content types from your matrix.
Remember, social media content marketing is all about keeping your audience engaged. So, you should be tuned into what they want, what they struggle with, and what information they want to see on your channels.
Social media gives you the freedom to publish all kinds of interesting, informational, thought-provoking, funny, and engaging content.
It gives your brand multiple points of interaction with your audience in real-time.
The success of your social strategy is supported by having a well-executed plan.
Planning and scheduling your content in advance will make your content more effective and help you diversify your content.
Data drives the work; Use social media insights to your advantage to see what content works best with your audience.
Then, revise your strategy to get even better results, including more traffic and sales from your content.
Featured Image: 9dream studio/Shutterstock
Jason Hennessey is a serial entrepreneur and internationally known search engine optimization (SEO) expert, author and speaker who specializes in …
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