Many brands that present well on social media (Instagram in particular), appear breezy, effortless, and as if they are simply sharing their day-to-day happenings. But the reality is that those brands are actually totally buttoned up. Their social media presence is planned well in advance and executed to a “T.” If you look closely, you’ll notice cohesive themes that build on each other and tell a story. You can achieve this as well with some advance planning and a great system. Enter: the social media editorial calendar.
At it’s core, a social media “editorial calendar” is really just a place to keep, plan and organize all of your social media posts. If you manage a handful of social media platforms, each with their own image size requirements or post length limitations, plus varying ideal post frequencies… it can be a lot to keep track of! Certainly too much to just “wing it” from day to day.
There are many different methods, tools and opinions out there regarding social media planning, but I like to keep it simple. I use a single spreadsheet for all of my social media posting, with separate tabs for Instagram, Facebook (and Google+, which gets the same content as Facebook), and Twitter. Each of these tabs has the following columns:
- Day of the Week: Although I have the actual date and time in the next column, I like to be able to see what I’m posting this week at-a-glance, by day.
- Date/Time: The date, and sometimes the time, particularly if I post multiple times per day to that channel.
- Post Copy: The actual words that get posted.
- Link: The URL that I’m sharing, if applicable.
- Visual Asset: I list the name of the image, or briefly describe the image I will post, if applicable.
- Length (Twitter only): I use the length function [=LEN(cell number)] of my spreadsheet tool (Google Sheets or Excel) to calculate the characters in my tweet to ensure I stay under 140 characters.
- Scheduled: If I have uploaded the message to HootSuite, my preferred tool for scheduling my social media posts, I put an “X” here.
In addition to having one tab per social media channel in my spreadsheet, I also have a tab at the end that I call my “Content Bank.” This is where I save links to articles or other content that I find that I will want to share later. Maybe an article isn’t relevant at the moment I find it, but I know I’ll have a use for it someday. Or, often the content that I put on this tab is an article that I found particularly useful, and I know I’ll want to share it over and over again.
We all have times of “feast or famine” with our ideas and creativity, and I love to be able to fall back on my Content Bank when my brain is feeling dry.
The Big Picture
At the beginning of the year, I create a spreadsheet that includes post slots for the entire upcoming year. When you have your entire spreadsheet formatted for the year, you can easily go through and add in any key dates, like holidays or other special promotions and product launches that you are planning on. Even without the specifics of the promotions, I start to “pencil in” notes about where and how often I will start promoting certain things. However, at this point, I just have a rough skeleton of my year.
One month prior is when I start to get more specific about the actual post content. For instance, some time in September, I will write all of my posts for October. In a perfect world, I get everything queued up in advance so I can focus on other aspects of my business, until mid-way through the next month, when I’ll write more posts for the following month.
Keep the Content Flowing
It can be a challenge at times to keep your social media presence flowing consistently. As I mentioned earlier, we all have times of abundant ideas and creativity, and other times where we aren’t sure what to post next. To help with this, have a place (ONE place) to keep random ideas as they come to your head. For me, it is the note pad app on my iPhone. I jot my ideas down, and when I have time, I transfer them to the Content Bank on my spreadsheet. I know that if I need ideas, I can either look on this Note on my phone, or check my spreadsheet… nowhere else!
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So tell me, how far in advance do you plan your social media posts? Any other tips and tricks that you can add to this?
Molly Marshall teaches small business owners and online entrepreneurs how to systematically and simply grow a profitable online presence through social media. Get your FREE 2018 Instagram Strategy Guide now!