What is a content calendar?
Regardless of the size or sector your business operates in, time is the one thing we all wish we had more of. It’s the one commodity we’re both chasing and losing simultaneously. With the rising demands on our time on the one hand, and the increasing take-over of the online marketing world by social media on the other, we’re often left in one of three situations:
- You have too many social media channels and not enough time to post on them all regularly.
- You have no idea what content to post and when to post it, so you just post random things sporadically.
- You don’t know who or where your customers are.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, a content calendar is exactly what you need to invest in. A content calendar is an effective and uncomplicated organisation tool that enables you to plan your social media content and posts ahead of time. Just like a normal calendar, you are able to enter any key dates, national holidays, or sector/business relevant events that your customers and business partners, both in the UK and internationally, are interested in.
Here is our simple guide to ensure you stay on top of your social media and achieve content greatness!
Organisation is key, but before you can be organised it’s necessary to have the most effective tools. With this in mind, we highly recommend you take the time to either research a good social media content calendar or develop your own.
These should cover at least 6 months, but we would suggest 12 months to give yourself the optimum amount of pre-organised content. If you prefer to work completely digitally, ensure the calendar is intuitive, easy to navigate and easy to update. The best platforms to use when creating your content calendar are either Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Both give you clarity and simplicity, whilst allowing you to easily edit, update, and share with your team. If you prefer to work on paper, ensure you print the calendar large enough. Give yourself room to be able to fill in information and have a clear wide view of full months at a time.
If you would like to design your own template, look at examples to see if you’re able to work with existing systems that you can duplicate or get ideas from. When looking for a template, or designing your own, think clarity, simplicity, and practicality. Don’t get hung up on the actual design of it, it’s just for you after all. Make sure there are enough spaces to account for the date, the day, and around four information points.
Get started for August and download our printable social media content calendar template here.
A content calendar without a goal is like driving without a roadmap. What’s the key point of you posting content? Is it to gain attention or to direct people to your website? You need to set clear goals for each of your platforms and for your social media in general. Do you want to be informative about your sector, or sell your product? Your goals should be different depending on which channel you’re using.
For example, Facebook is best used to connect with your customers on a more human level. Here your content should focus on people. Twitter is great for customer relations; this is where your customers can reach out and ask you questions. Content should be informative and helpful. LinkedIn, however, is about business relations and making key contacts across the globe. Here, your content should be about your business insights and key sector information. Instagram is all about the visuals, creating a brand and showing your customers who and what your business is.
However, a key thing to remember is individual social media channels are used differently and depending on what country you are in or targeting, certain platforms or more important than others. When focusing internationally, we recommend that you research your target audiences relevant and most popular social media channels and focus on them. Research does not have to be in depth, a simple google search will pull up the information you need.
Although some content is easily transferable, each channel works well in its own unique way. Split up your platforms and think about what you want each channel to say and who you want to say it to. In general, different demographics use different channels and it’s necessary to initially understand who and where these customers are. Do you need all channels, or are your customers more focused on one? If this is the case, focus on the channels your customers and stakeholders are on and keep to those! Fewer engaged channels is much better than utilising all the social media channels and no one following them.
3. Stick to a schedule
When making your calendar, it’s really easy to over promise, and under-deliver. You may find that you have relevant event or content ideas for most days, however we’d warn against adding too much in. Stick to a clear posting schedule. Be consistent yet clever. Your followers will forget about you if you don’t post very often, but if you post too much content and it’s not relevant, this could put them off. Our advice would be that beyond national holidays, where you should try to post on every appropriate one, try to stick to 1 or 2 posts a day. But above all, always make sure they are relevant and engaging.
Perhaps the most useful tip when trying to create a posting schedule is to find out when your customers are online. This is really key if you are selling in international markets. Look at previous posts, or the channels of your competitors, what content has the most engagement? When was it posted? Look at your own engagement levels, when do you find posts to be more successful? What are the time differences of all the countries you operate in? This information is solid gold for your content calendar, ensure it guides when you schedule posts to maximise your return.
If you have a customer base which spans a variety of international markets, it might be useful to create individual accounts for the different countries you operate in. This would give you the ability to totally cater for that market, be it with time of posting, content, and their national holidays. It also gives your customers and business partners a more direct and personal connection, rather than a wide spread account.
It’d be worth mentioning here that most social media platforms provide insights that will tell you when your audience is most active. Facebook and Instagram, have it built in to their analytics, Twitter doesn’t but you can use 3rd party sites like Followerwonk.
The best thing about a content calendar is that it takes everything and puts it down on paper, which you can then share around, digitally or physically. If you’re the person who’s primarily responsible for your social media content, you can share the calendar with your colleagues to get input and insight from the entire team, and also share the posting responsibility. Ensure your key stakeholders are involved in the process, your team will have individual insights and thoughts, which can lead to creative and engaging content.
By following these simple guidelines, you should have enough motivation and eagerness to develop your own content calendar. Just to recap, here are some key takeaways:
- Nail the template. Start with the best to minimise the effort you have to put in
- Be clear on what you want each channel and platform to do for you
- Understand who you are targeting, where they are and when to post (especially if they are international)
- Consistency is key! Post regularly and keep them engaged
- Collaborate! Other people may have great ideas, collaborate and share the workload and create the personality of your content.
By ensuring you are organised, you are minimising the amount of on-the-spot thinking you have to do, which in turn minimises the risk of failure. Remember, if you do not prepare, you are preparing to fail.