Instagram Tips & Resources

How to Plan a Social Media Content Calendar

By Hallie Gilbert

Updated on April 24, 2020

10 minute read

Social media content calendars are a great way to see continuous growth! Learn how to build a successful content calendar for your social platforms here.

Published April 24, 2020

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

Planning a social media content calendar — and sticking with it — is one of the best ways to see continuous growth!

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to build a successful content calendar for all your social platforms.

You’ll have a foolproof method to stay on track with all your platforms, meet your marketing goals, and skyrocket your audience growth!

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a Social Media Content Calendar?

  2. Why Your Business Needs a Social Media Content Calendar

  3. How to Start Your Social Media Content Calendar

  4. How to Manage Your Social Media Content Calendar

  5. Regularly Review and Update Your Social Media Content Calendar

What is a Social Media Content Calendar?

It’s exactly what it sounds like — a calendar you create to organize and schedule content across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, and more!

And it’s one of the best things you can do to stay on top of your social posts and strategy!

There’s a few different ways to create content calendars:

  • The traditional pen + paper route, like a physical planner or printed calendar.

  • Using Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets which is a good, basic way to get started!

  • Using social media management tools like Later, which we think is the best and most efficient option (if we do say so ourselves!).

  • While jotting your calendar notes is a simple way to get your ideas down on paper, it’s hard to change your content plans — you might need Wite-Out to hand!

With Excel and Google Sheets, you can manage your content plans digitally, and share your calendar with your team. Your spreadsheet-based content calendar could look something like this:

And while a spreadsheet is a great way to organize your content, getting your posts from your Sheet and onto your social platform can be time-consuming! Especially for a platform like Instagram where it’s much easier to post on mobile than it is on desktop.

So a social media management tool like Later, can really tick all the boxes when it comes to managing your content!

Later helps you to:

  1. Plan and create all your social posts from one central content calendar

  2. Schedule your posts to go live, across all your platforms and timezones.

  3. Automatically publish to your social channels for you — no app log in required!

Even more, Later offers a few handy features like Calendar View that will help you save time and better collaborate with a team!

Taking the time to schedule a few days’ posts all at once is a great way to batch posts at the beginning of each week so you can remain “active” on each platform without having to spend so much time on your social channels each day!

Looking to save time and get organized? Plan and manage all your social platforms with Later!

Why Your Business Needs a Social Media Content Calendar

Making a social media content calendar is a great way to plan and schedule your content in advance so you know exactly what content you need to create and when and where to publish it.

Keeping a social media content calendar allows you to:

#1: Work Smarter, Not Harder

When you have a calendar, you can add content to it en masse with the upcoming week’s (or month’s!) content.

By sitting down and blocking out some time to plan, you’ll save hours compared to taking time out of each day to plan your posts.

Each week, try to fill out your content calendar on the same day or at the same time to prep for the following week’s social media content — this will give you and your team more focus while reducing the chances of miscommunication!

Want to learn how to schedule a week’s worth of posts in 20 minutes? We break it down for you in this blog post!

#2: Free Up More Time in Your Week

Ultimately you’ll have more time to focus on your work-work instead of your social-media-work — because you already planned it!

#3: Stay on Top of Your Content Across Multiple Channels

Social media content calendars help you see what you’ve already published and if the content you’re publishing across multiple channels is cohesive.

Think about this: if you were posting about Mother’s Day in the context of your brand on Instagram, it’s smart to do the same on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and your Stories!

Even more, you’ll be happy you have a social media content calendar because — although you may be posting about Mother’s Day on all of your platforms — it’s likely your content for each platform will look different (or at least be formatted differently).

Stay on top of high-traffic holidays with Later’s free social media holidays calendar for 2020!

#4: More Opportunities for Team Collaboration

If you’re working with a team, a social media content calendar serves as a destination everyone can access and contribute to.

Plus, with Later you get cool features like Access Groups and Calendar Notes, which allow you and your team to leave comments, ideas, and placeholders directly on your calendar.

If you’re going at it solo, Calendar Notes is also perfect for leaving yourself reminders!

Looking for more info on how to manage multiple social accounts across your team? We chatted to Steph Gilbert, founder of The Social Media CEO and CEO Yeah! on how she does it:

Want to learn more about Calendar Notes? Check out our guide and learn 4 ways you and your team can use Calendar Notes while planning!

How to Start Your Social Media Content Calendar

Whether you choose Google Sheets or Excel to map out your content to be scheduled in Later (or use Later exclusively), you’ll want to do a quick audit of your currently active social channels!

Pin-point your active channels, and then take time to look into who your target audience is for each. Plus, jump into your platform analytics to check which platform has the most active audience.

A good rule of thumb is to keep up the momentum with what’s working — so make the social platform with the most active audience your top priority!

So if you notice that your Twitter followers are active, engaged, and loving your content, but your Facebook audience is a little on the slower side, you may want to up your posting on Twitter, and reassess when and what to share on Facebook to improve performance.

You’ll also want to assess which social channel has grown the most over the last year, and which social channel is driving the most traffic to your website (if you have one).

Take a moment to find out why this channel is successful! What types of content are you posting here that work? Do you post more frequently here? If you realize for example you’re adding in more video across your most effective channel, try using that strategy elsewhere (and plan it in your content calendar).

NOTE: Different types of posts will work well across different social channels, and there are 4 main types of posts you can publish on social media:

Once you’ve done your assessment, the next step is building a schedule you can stick to!

In an ideal world, how many times a day/week/month would you be posting to your Instagram, Instagram Stories, Pinterest, Facebook, Facebook Stories, Youtube, or Twitter?

Look at your goals and create a realistic posting schedule for all platforms, and then input this schedule into your editorial calendar!

PRO TIP! Set realistic goals you know you can hit, with auto-publishing your posts with Later! Stay consistent, and keep up the good work creating strong and valuable content for your audience.

Once a post has been scheduled with Later, you can add it to additional social profiles. In other words, Later lets you schedule one post to multiple social profiles in a single swoop!

This feature will seriously help with coordinating campaigns and content across all your social channels, so you never miss a chance to promote your brand or business!

Here are some other (Later team approved!) tools to add to your social content organization stack:

  • Google Calendar: Apart from meetings, Google Calendar is a good place to set reminders for regular tasks like reporting on social performance.

  • Google Docs: A great place for content creation and team collaboration on copy.

  • Asana: Assign tasks and manage progress on all your social projects.

How to Manage Your Social Media Content Calendar

Once you’ve garnered a good amount of content ideas and have set a game plan for how often you want to post, it’s time to start planning out the actual content!

This is where the editorial calendar comes in — try spreading out your content ideas over the course of several weeks.

If you’re planning for a holiday like Memorial Day Weekend, start planning at least 1 month ahead of time to give yourself enough room to create content!

To help you stay organized, we created a holiday marketing campaign checklist to guide you through every step of your next holiday campaign. Plus, it’s free!

PRO TIP! When creating a content calendar for the first time, try challenging yourself to plan out a whole month.

As the month goes on, you’ll have the opportunity to see how a content calendar works and flows, what’s working best for you and your schedule, and how you should tweak your strategy for the next month.

You can also alternate days when planning out your social posts so you aren’t posting the same thing on the same day to every channel!

If you have a particular post in mind that you’d like to publish to multiple platforms, try playing around with your editorial calendar to space it out and allow for higher visibility with new audiences.

In other words, if you’re posting a special post to Instagram on Wednesday, maybe you post it to Facebook on Friday as a form of re-promotion. This strategy has shown to be highly effective for Instagram Stories and Facebook!

It may be a good idea to use slightly different copy on each platform so you don’t come across as repetitive.

For example, Outdoor Voices promoted their limited-edition exercise dresses on different dates using different imagery and captions for Facebook and Instagram!

Regularly Review and Update Your Social Media Content Calendar

Once you get the ball rolling with your social media content calendar, be sure to regularly check in with each social channels’ analytics to see what’s working and what’s not!

Visit your Instagram Insights, Facebook Insights, and Pinterest Analytics to see your most ideal days and times to post across each platform.

If you’re using Later, you can use the Analytics dashboard for your top-performing posts on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!

You can even check your profile growth and engagement!

Use your analytics findings to make strategic tweaks to your social media content calendar like the types of posts you’re creating (whether that’s an image, video, text, or link-based posts), the time or days of the week you’re posting to each, and your frequency!

Remember, the first step to seeing success social is to just start somewhere!

So start by creating a social media content calendar today and you’ll soon be able to map out your strategy for weeks, or even months, to come!

Ready to save valuable time on social media planning? Start using Later today — it’s free!

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