5 Tips for Creating a Social Media Content Calendar

You might have a company Facebook page, Twitter profile, Linked-in profile, YouTube channel, and/or Flickr page with a fairly decent following. Or you might just be getting started. Whatever the case, when thinking about creating content for these platforms, there are three questions you should ask yourself:

How will I increase my fan-base?
How will I keep my current fans interested?
What’s in it for everyone?

1. Plan Quarterly
In answering these big picture questions, it’s important to think of social media as analogous to any recurring publication. Most magazines plan their columns and feature stories six months in advance. They have an editorial calendar. Since the world of social media is changing rapidly, looking ahead at the next three months should suffice. How can your content on Social Media support product launches, holidays, press appearances, and events? Everything that is happening around your brand offline should be promoted on these platforms.

2. Take Short Steps with a Long View
When crafting your content calendar, we recommend taking short steps with a long view. This means you should be planning for frequent content (1.5 times a day on Facebook and 1-4 Tweets an hour is ideal) while also having your eye on the bigger goals or campaigns that you are working towards. For example, one proven way to grow your Facebook fan-base is to run sweepstakes, contests and campaigns. The deadline and/or end result of these large promotions is the long-term goal, and all of the short hype-building posts along the way are the short steps. Check out Cristina’s post on Facebook sweepstakes and contests to learn more about how these can kick-start your fan base.

3. Planning the Right Mixture of Content
In addition to posts around particular campaigns, you should review your content plan to ensure that there is the right mixture of content telling all parts of your brand’s story. Everything should reflect your brand’s overall tone and work in tandem with your SEO strategy. Careful attention should be placed on the balance of content that is useful and/or fun for your fans versus talking about your business. Remember, you want them to engage with your page and share your content with their friends so it becomes viral. If you’re a beauty brand, you might share a tip of the week in addition to notifying fans of product discounts and special offers.

4. Be Flexible and Responsive
Try not to get bogged down with extremely rigid, detailed calendars. Social media should be fun and flexible! Since users will be responding to your content, they might lead the conversation in new and exciting directions that you didn’t anticipate. Especially in the arena of customer service, you should be prepared to respond to consumer questions and concerns as they pop up. During normal business hours, a response time of 5-15 minutes is optimal. If you don’t respond, you are missing an opportunity to convert that customer into a brand advocate and increase brand loyalty.

5. Evaluate and Adjust
Being successful in social media isn’t an exact science and certainly involves trial and error. Ideally, you should be monitoring the effectiveness of your strategies bi-weekly, monthly, and quarterly. What types of posts get the most traffic and response? How many people liked your page or became a follower this week vs. last week? If traffic spiked in one particular week, you should pin-point why that occurred, so you can employ a similar strategy in the future. These are just two examples of questions that you should ask time and again as you evaluate your plan. There is a plethora of both free and paid social media monitoring tools out there as well as tools within the platforms themselves to help you get the data you need. Once you understand the data, adjust your calendar accordingly.

So if you’re currently using the “anything goes” approach to social media, we suggest tightening up and trying out our strategies. Create a malleable calendar with the right mix of long term goals and frequent content to keep your existing fans coming back while increasing your following.

While this can be done yourself, we would be happy to talk more with you about how to make social media work best for your brand.