Here are 5 elements that your social media calendar should have to keep your process seamless, plus a free calendar template to make your own in 2021!
Monthly Social Media Goals & Content Focus
Before you set pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard, as it were—decide what your social media engagements should accomplish. We’re talking metrics-wise and content-wise. Are you boosting brand awareness? Driving traffic to your website? Promoting a new product? Whatever it may be, it should be in writing on your calendar.
Leave a spot at the top of each month for your goals and your content focus. Keeping these ideas on your calendar, not just in your mind, will be a helpful reminder of what you’re working towards.
Even when you’re experiencing a bout of writer’s block, this will help you keep your creation process in line. Shifting your gaze to this section of your calendar will wheel you back towards the content and KPIs you need to focus on.
When it comes time to reporting on your progress for the month, it will also pay off to have these concepts in writing. As you crunch the numbers, you can cross-reference them with your calendar, gauging whether or not you achieved your goals or if your content focus worked.
On our social media calendar template, we give our monthly focus and goals a prime spot at the top of each tab. It’s intended to be one of the first elements you see as you open the document—the opposite out of sight, out of mind.;
Like your content focus on a micro-level, we recommend creating a set of content categories to leverage throughout the month and highlighting these beside your monthly goals and focus. While your monthly content focus will help you thread a throughline that links your posts together, your content categories will help you vary your content to keep things interesting. The goal here is to maintain a balance with your content and to avoid relying heavily on a particular category. For example, throwing in some curated content every once in a while, as opposed to pushing product-centric posts with “Buy Now”-type CTAs for weeks on end, will more likely keep your audience engaged.
CTAs, in fact, are a great place to start to generate your content categories. Think about the posts you like to share in terms of the CTA. Your “Buy Now” posts will most likely be lumped in a separate category from your “Read More” posts and your “Download Now” posts. See how many categories you can create by looking at the CTAs you’ve used in the past.
However, your categories don’t have to come exclusively from your existing content. Take inspiration from the posts you’d like to share, but haven’t given a try just yet. Giving these posts a spot in your categories list will help you keep them top of mind as you draft content for the month.
From there, give your categories titles that are meaningful to you and your team. List them at the top of your social calendar. If you’d like, assign each category a color. That way, you can color code your post drafts to more easily manage a balance across the different types.
On our template, we went with a rainbow color scheme—because why not add a little vibrancy to the content planning process.
All Channels, One Tab
Not all platforms are created equal. Sometimes, that means executing the same content in different ways across Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Do yourself a favor and keep your posts for each platform on the same tab so you can post on all platforms with ease.
With everything on one page, you’ll be able to more easily
- Scan your entire social engagement for the month with a single glance
- Copy/paste and edit posts across your platforms (i.e. format your LinkedIn posts for Instagram, your Instagram posts for Facebook, and so on)
- Coordinate your posting schedules as needed, especially when you have big announcements to make
Keeping all your posts on one page will definitely make the document longer. But in this case, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Trust us—after a week of switching back and forth between your separate platform documents, you’ll want to move everything over to a single source of truth for each month.
A Year’s Worth of Holidays, National & Otherwise
We’ve all been there: someone informs you that it’s National [Insert Thing Relevant To Your Business Here] Day and you realize you never saw it coming. Cue the last minute, half-assed social media posts to show your coworker that you haven’t dropped the ball as a social media marketer.
But you’ll never have to worry about being the last one to know about these holidays, regardless of their obscurity, if you take the time to plug them directly into your calendar.
Leave a spot open under each day for holidays or events.
As needed, plug in the name of each holiday with a bright color so it stands out from your other content; we use a combination of neon green shading and bolded, italicized text on our calendar that demands attention. I suggest taking some time before the end of each year to add all relevant holidays to the following year’s calendar—so you can plan for them from the jump.
A System for Status
Not having an effective system for marking the status of your posts could breed disaster. There’s a chance you could forget to schedule a week of posts, or even double schedule them by mistake. Marking the posts that have been approved, reviewed, scheduled, and/or published is risk mitigation for social scheduling, an important system to have just in case.
There are many ways to go about executing your system, but here are three of our recommendations:
Add a column (or columns) next to each post with check boxes.
Title these columns accordingly (“Reviewed,” “Scheduled,” etc.) and check the boxes as needed. Our calendar is built with a single “Approved” column to mark when posts have been reviewed and okayed for publishing.
If you’re not already color-coding for content categories, use a color code here.
Assign each post status a color and shade in the content as needed. Add a key to your calendar so you and your team can stay on the same page.
Use a combination of the strategies above.
For example, if you want to mark when posts are approved and when they’ve been scheduled, add an “Approved” column with check boxes and pick shade color to mark when the post has been scheduled.
No matter the method you choose, make sure the system makes sense to you. As long as you have one in place that you can easily abide by, you won’t be facing any scheduling mishaps anytime soon.
Your Calendar Is A Tool. Use It!
Your social media calendar shouldn’t just be a document that houses your social content for the year. Use it as a tool to encourage and inform your creation process. Ideally, your calendar should set you up for success, outfitted to help you generate, fine-tune, and improve your content strategy.
Fully equipped with the necessities and ready-to-use, here’s our 2021 Social Media Calendar to get you started. Check it out in Google Drive, save a copy for yourself, and get posting!
If you need any help filling out the details, let’s chat. We’ll work with you to complete your calendar in a mindful, consistent, and goal-oriented way.
- Megan O'Keefe
- Social Media & Content Specalist