I love to plan ahead – sometimes up to a year in advance for something as simple as a week-long vacation. Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well (like when the hotel can’t schedule that far ahead), but sometimes it has immense value and makes everything much easier.
This is one of those times. Last week, I wrote a post about setting social media goals. Today, let’s talk about one of my favorite tools to use to accomplish those goals: content calendars.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is exactly what it sounds like: a calendar that lays out what you’re going to post (including all your social media and blogs) and when you’re going to post it. I make mine as an Excel spreadsheet because I think that’s the most efficient way, but you can use whatever you prefer – Word, Evernote, or even calendar reminders all work.
Why use a content calendar?
There are a lot of good reasons to plan ahead with a content calendar. It keeps you accountable to yourself to post consistently (and if you have a boss you report to, makes you look responsible and organized). It makes it easier for you to remember when you’re supposed to post. It eliminates the eternal question of “I’m supposed to post today, but what do I post?” And it enables you to prepare ahead and avoid stress the day of – for example, I make all my Instagram images for the week on Sunday, so when it comes time to post all I have to do is post it.
How to create a content calendar
There are three important parts to a content calendar: dates, networks, and content.
Dates is obvious – you need to know what days you’re going to post on. I post every Monday and Thursday on social media and every Thursday on my blog.
You also need to record what networks you’re posting on. Mine is pretty simple, because I only post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and here on my blog. If you do a lot of networks, you’re going to have a much bigger calendar than mine.
Finally, content. Content is assigned to both a network and a date. This is why I like to use a chart for this – it makes it easy to put content at the intersection of date and network. That way I can quickly look and find everything I’m posting on Instagram this or find everything I’m posting everywhere next Thursday – which makes prepping ahead of time a lot easier.
A final note …
A content calendar is a dynamic document. For example, on Monday I posted on social media about Logan Paul, a current events post that I couldn’t have predicted even two months ago. Some content is evergreen (such as my upcoming post on scheduling tools), but some of it is going to relate to current events, and you can’t plan that. And it’s possible that your analytics will show you it would be better to post on different days, or that images get a better response with your audience even though you have a month of videos planned. It’s important to remember that your calendar is not set in stone. Change it as needed to stay relevant.