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May 25, 2018   |   4 min read

Social Content Calendars | A Framework for Success

When it comes to social media content calendars, there’s no one-size-fits-all option. It may take a bit of fine tuning to find the right format and structure for your brand, but it’s always worth the effort! A social content calendar offers your team a framework to social success. It ensures that activity is consistent across your social channels, keeps content on-brand and even sets the foundation for ongoing reporting and evaluation.

If you’re ready to step into paid social, your content calendar will also be an important part of determining your campaign plans. And you should expect that your calendar will quickly grow robust as social advertising, multiple platforms and content tagging get added. There are countless tools out there that can serve as your calendar. Mindstream takes advantage of Sprout Social’s Publishing Calendar. If you’re starting on a smaller scale, a simple Excel document or Google Sheet might also do the trick.

Five essential building blocks to get started.

Once the basics of your calendar framework are nicely labeled and ready-to-go, it can feel a bit overwhelming to decide how to get started—but don’t sweat the social stuff! Follow these tips to get social media content calendars off the ground:

1. Trends and Consumer Mindsets

Despite a few common themes that carry over, one month’s calendar should look quite different from the next. Before the content creation gears get spinning, set a solid foundation by exploring social media trends and consumer mindsets. This is an opportunity to get the most out of your consumer personas. Chobani’s Instagram account shouldn’t be showing family recipes to parents whose kids just went off to college.

2. Past Performance

Every brand will have content that flops from time to time. It doesn’t have to be a disappointment if you know how to learn from your mistakes. The same can be said for past social successes. It’s a great idea to rank posts with an engagement rate, allowing you to separate the wins from the losses—the insights gained will make planning much easier down the line.

3. Publishing Dates and Times

This step requires a little less brain power, yet a lot more organization. Use resources like Twitter’s Events menu or TrackMaven’s Ultimate Holiday Calendar for Marketers to plan your content around major happenings (even including “hashtag holidays). You also don’t want to be the brand talking about craft beer on #WineWednesday. Make it a point to check what days your followers are most active on individual social platforms. Our team found that a brand account’s followers responded much better to weekday content, so we decided to limit weekends to community management only. Also, keep in mind that some niche events, like New York Fashion Week or the NBA Finals, will limit reach and drive up advertising costs for some audience segments.

4. Creative Assets

Time to make your social vision a reality. These days, you should plan to have a multimedia element accompany every social post you publish. If the photo or video you plan to use isn’t prepared yet, include clear image direction within the content calendar so that you can set the plan in motion. Draft your post copy and research the relevant hashtags to accompany your post. If your post will be published across multiple social channels, make sure you’ve allowed time or space to customize the creative assets and post copy.

5. Social Advertising Outlook

Now that you’ve put all this hard work in, ensure that your post reaches its intended destination: your customer’s screen. Take advantage of the niche targeting capabilities and engaging ad formats that are unique to social media advertising. Determine whether the post is going to be boosted after publishing, or if it will fit into a larger campaign as a true advertisement.

Refine and use what you’ve created.

Once you’ve mastered these basics, continue asking questions that will allow your strategy (and your content) to grow. For example, what strategy does this post map back to? What person or location are we tagging in this post? What is the call-to-action connected to this post?

With a regular planning cadence and well-organized calendar, you’ll be off to a great start. Keep in mind that your new social media content calendar will not only help you plan, but is invaluable when evaluating and optimizing future content. Reflect on the past months’ content calendar when it’s time for performance reporting to identify trends and hone in on learnings.

What’s next, now that your social media content calendar is up to snuff? It’s time to put 2018’s top social media marketing trends to use! Get ready to create content that will capture (…and keep) your audience’s attention.

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