Let’s talk about social media planning.

How often is your business active on social media? Between three and seven times, like the marketing blogs recommend? Hint: scour your analytics for the answer.

Or, be honest, do you usually post when…

  • The mood strikes…
  • You have the time…
  • There’s a celebration—a new product launch or National Donut Day (our favorite!)…

If your posting policy is “go with the flow,” we get it. Social media planning is tough, whether you’re a solopreneur wearing ALL the hats or a team leader juggling lots of moving parts and people. Fortunately, one tool is the existential glue improving the content, coordination, and consistency of your marketing.

The best part? It doesn’t cost a cent in many cases. However, you’ll pay a pretty penny if you ignore its utility.  Announcing (drumroll, please)… the social media calendar.

What is a social media calendar?

For all intents and purposes, it’s a premeditated planner. If you love visual brainstorming, mind mapping, or automating your entire year, then a dashboard is your lifeline. Check out this example of a monthly template with posts scheduled daily and color-coded by topic.

Source: HubSpot

A calendar (like this one) gives you a bird’s-eye view of what type of content you’ll post, when you’ll post, where you’ll post, and how it intentionally speaks to your target audience at all levels of your marketing funnel. Craft it solo or add collaborators, depending on the size of your team. The best social media calendars are dynamic—updated based on current events, cultural undertones, and company initiatives, while staying true to your brand’s overarching marketing strategy.

What are the benefits of using a social media calendar? 

1. Calendars keep your brand engaging and top-of-mind. 

When folks subscribe to your channel, they look forward to your #TuesdayTip, as an example. Because without fail, their minds are set on resonance (a.k.a. your content gives them “the feels” like happiness, awe, or comfort). So, when you post regularly, your audience will notice as well as appreciate your brand’s consistency.

Engagement also builds trust when showing up for customers, day in and day out. Inconsistency, on the other hand, translates to lower follower counts, shares, and campaign conversions (yikes!). You’ve got to go all-in on relationships, which is why social media planning is epic—think legacy-building, thought-provoking, and growth-driven.

Pro tip: lean on curated content or user-generated content from third parties to round out your posting schedule. Not all content must be original; it does, however, need to be aligned with who and what you represent.    

Having a calendar in place also promotes internal brand consistency. At a glance, you’ll view posts in aggregate form and understand how each thread contributes to your mission and goals.

2. Calendars help you understand your audience.

This rings true: to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. So, to effectively schedule new posts, you need to know how your old ones worked out. How would you know that? Audit your performance, perform data mining, and spot patterns.

  • What platforms do your customers use most often?
  • When are they most active online?
  • What types of content have resonated the most?

Pro tip: to best engage audiences, 2/3 of your content should be informational, and 1/3 promotional.

Once you get a social media calendar going, keep asking more questions. How well are these campaigns performing? What else can we do to keep audiences engaged? With a calendar in hand, you can double down on what’s clicking with your audience, while KPIs (key performance indicators) and A/B testing support continuous strategy and refinement.

3. Calendars quell the chaos and calm the storm.  

It’s an oxymoron, we know, but sometimes you have to unplug to get connected. By now, you see that social media planning isn’t just about advancing your agenda. It’s not a “fix it and forget it” activity, either. Where it saves you, a business owner, is buying back time for reflection and review.

  • Planning out content in advance lets you invest more time into top-notch content
  • Longer lead time = less chance of errors, typos, and missed initiatives and opportunities
  • And more time to inject your authentic voice and style into each social post

Also, many calendar tools help you automate the process (keep scrolling below!), so you’re not scrambling to post stuff on weekends, vacation days, or major holidays. With that, you’re free to seek collaborators to further boost your brand’s presence, develop exciting new initiatives in your industry, or take a well-deserved rest.

Pro tip: Check out what your competitors are posting. Compare all the ways that your company differs and/or raises the bar. Turn that list into social posts—this handy guide will help you package up an idea or two.      

How to build a social media calendar…the must-haves.  

Here’s what to include when mapping out what you’re posting and when:

  • Post type (i.e. ebook, infographic, poll)
  • Date and time (…to monitor reach and engagement)
  • Social media platform (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
  • Written caption and related media (i.e. photos, videos, hashtags)
  • Link to published post (…storing the hyperlink as a bookmark)
  • Campaign objectives (…to educate, inform, or convert)
  • Call To Action (i.e. read, sign-up, book an appointment) match these to the steps your consumers need to take to move through the buyer’s journey

Along with the “what” and “when” of the calendar, also include some “how’s” (related to post workflow) and “why’s” (related to the specific audience and campaign):

  • Post approval status (…if sharing the doc with a team)
  • Associated campaign (i.e new product launch, holiday promo)
  • Platform-specific format (i.e. Instagram reel, LinkedIn carousel)
  • Collaboration/feedback notes (changes needed)
  • Geo-targeting designation (a specific audience or demographic based on their location)
  • Paid or organic designation (Paid Ad or organic post)

Social media calendar templates and tools (free and paid). 

If you need a basic planner, try a Google Sheets template or Google Calendar. For a more all-inclusive experience—including labels, tabs, and collaborative capabilities—check out subscription software, such as Asana, Trello, Planable, or Buffer.

Oh, and there’s one additional calendar you should know about—ours! We’re One Part Social, after all…reach out today for a one-on-one guidance call. With us, you’ll be winning over conversations and customers.