How To Create A Social Media Calendar
15 Feb 2017

Initially, creating and managing a successful social media account for a business or otherwise seems like a relatively simple task. The reality is that it’s a much bigger mountain to climb than you might think. And, managing multiple social media accounts can be a beast. How do you ensure likes, followers and comments to your account? Well, just like with most things: Plan it out! Creating a social media calendar can save you time, energy and money.

Before You Create A Calendar
The trick to social media is treating it like a personal account. In order to create a calendar, you first need to have a few steps solidified. Primarily, what’s your brand? And, what’s this account about? After you’ve thoroughly answered those questions, you can create a calendar. The question is: How do you fully answer those questions? Let’s take a more in-depth look.

Pinpointing Your Brand
The number one mistake people and companies tend to make when they plan a social media strategy is not identifying, classifying and pinpointing their brand. Social media is the place to execute marketing on a relatable level. The smartest and most successful social media accounts focus on relating their brand to their audience. Treating social media like a platform for commercials and ads is an enormous faux pas that will cause you to struggle in your attempt to gain followers.

Pinpointing your brand is really about deciding on a particular lifestyle. This process starts with asking the question: Who is your audience or who do you want to be your audience to be? It’s crucial that you know whom you’re speaking to. This will greatly affect how you advertise. Being precise about your audience requires that you be specific on what it is that makes them like whatever you’re offering.

For example, if we labeled the audiences that the following three companies want to cater to in the most broad, unspecified manner, they would be:

Brandy Melville – wants their audience to be girls who like fashion.
Walmart – wants their audience to be people who shop on a budget.
Starbucks – wants their audience to be coffee drinkers.

If we became more specific about the audiences from a lifestyle vantage point, it’d look more like this:

Brandy Melville – wants their audience to be women ranging from their early teens to their mid and even late twenties. These women like a hip style in a too-cool-for-school way and semi-casual, affordable fashion.
Walmart – wants their audience to be middle to lower income families or people who shop on a budget.
Starbucks – wants their audience to be people who enjoy the luxury of pricey coffees and teas that come in a variety of options and consumed in a place with the atmosphere of a coffee shop.

It’s important to know what your audience likes so you know what to give them. This still applies even if you aren’t offering something tangible. Let’s say you have a consulting firm. One likely scenario would be that your audience, or your clients, are mostly high-income people who own businesses and enjoy the luxuries of life that come with their career. Your social media accounts should cater to what this audience wants, needs and enjoys in life. So you could pinpoint your brand to be the consulting firm that catapults businesses to their greatest heights.

This step may not be easy. It can take some real consideration and strategizing to elicit the best branding option.

Deciding What Your Social Media Account Is About
The next major question is: What is your social media account about? Say you own a clothes store. In that case, the answer is simple – this social media account is about your clothes store. But then you need to ask, what’s the lifestyle of the people who wear clothes from your store? What lifestyle do you want to portray on this social media account?

One of the best examples of a successful Instagram account for a clothes store is Brandy Melville. This Instagram account focuses on portraying the lifestyle of people who wear these clothes. It’s not a place for advertising directly, but rather, advertising via being relatable to their customers. All of the photos fit seamlessly in an Instagram feed without seeming like ads. At the same time, it also makes the audience think, “That’s so cute. I want that shirt.”

An important thing to consider in this step is recognizing what each social media platform is primarily used for. Many companies tend to connect Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They’ll post on one platform and share the same post on the other two platforms. This isn’t recommended or ideal for your audience. Why? There’s a reason these different platforms simultaneously exist – users get something different out of each one. Examine what’s most popular on each platform and focus your social media for that platform to that style.

For example, Instagram is about pictures. It’s a place to visually showcase whatever you’re offering with the ability to include a tidbit in the caption and a link in the bio if people want to see more than a picture. Twitter is a little more word-heavy, but with limited characters – it focuses on the highlight of information. Facebook is a combination thereof. Research shows that visual media is most popular on Facebook compared to mere text, but, unlike Instagram, it allows for more explanation and people do more reading on this platform.

Take all of that into consideration when determining what you are making that social media account about and when writing your posts!

Crafting Your Calendar
Now that you’ve pinpointed your brand and you have decided what your social media account is about for each platform it’s time to start planning. The next step is creating actual content ahead of time. You can’t have a calendar without content.

Create A Ton Of Content
Start with the basics. You already know what your brand is about and you’ve already decided on a lifestyle. Write down all the content you can create related to the brand and lifestyle.

How much you plan to post and how complicated your strategy is will affect how early you need to have your content already completed. It’s more stressful and difficult to create the content the day of or even the week of. Create as much content as you can in advance! And take serious care in every word choice, every character space and every picture you choose.

Create A Calendar
Now you can start your basic calendar. There have been studies done trying to pinpoint when the best times to post are and they always differ with each social media platform. The chart below details posting data for Twitter and Facebook:

++ Click Image to Enlarge ++
The Science of Social Timing Part 1: Social Networks
Source: The Science of Social Timing Part 1: Social Networks

When it comes to Instagram, the Huffington Post shared the details of a study conducted by Latergramme. In it, they found that posting at 2 am and 5 pm EST gave the best attention from followers, with Wednesday being the best day to post. Check out the full article for a drop down menu detailing the best results for every day of the week (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/get-instagram-likes_n_6751614.html).

Based on whatever research you listen to, decide how many times per day, week, month and year you want to post. From there, categorize the different content you’ve come up with and lay it out in your calendar however you strategize it’ll be most popularly received.

Once your basic calendar for posts is up and running, you need to ensure those posts are ready by their deadline. If your strategy is complex, you may want to create a separate calendar with deadlines for content set in advance of their posting date.

Fill In Your Calendar
Post on Trending Topics
It’s important to have that solid base calendar with content that is forever related to your brand. But you’ll additionally need to post on trending information and topics to make your account more popular. Don’t rely solely on trending topics or your account will merely be chasing trends for all of its posts. However, keep up with the trends and add those topics to your calendar as they arise. Be ready. You’ll need to come up with a spontaneous post related to something newsworthy.

Post About Holidays and Events
Another way to fill in your calendar is to post about popular holidays, events and celebrations. This connects your account to another topic, garnering more views, and also keeps your media relevant to what’s going on in the world and not just with your brand. But, be careful not to steer away from your brand. Make sure all of your posts consistently uphold the lifestyle you’ve been portraying.

Post About Causes
Supporting causes is also an excellent way to give a humanitarian edge to your account that reminds your audience actual people are posting all of these things. A great example of this would be decorating something related to your company in pink and posting it for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Post About Your Personnel
Showing personnel is another way companies make their social media relatable. Posting pictures from the office reminds your audience that real people work at this place and makes them feel like they’re getting an inside look by following your account.

Post Contests and Giveaways
These are tricky, but can be a great way to engage with your followers and the fans of your brand. The last thing you want is for your account to feel like spam or in any way gimmicky so be sure to create contests and giveaways with as much good taste as possible. Stick with the lifestyle brand you’ve showcased throughout your posts.

Your Calendar Is Ready
Fortunately, many social media platforms allow you to time posts. This means you can insert all of this content you’ve already created for your calendar and plan to release it at a certain day and time. That saves time and keeps you organized.

Having a social media calendar will allow you to breathe through the messy tangle of posts, likes, stats and follows. And, as your content is released, keep track of what does well and what doesn’t so you can adjust your calendar accordingly. Pinpoint your brand and get planning on your social media calendar today!

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