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If you don’t plan your social media output well in advance, you could find yourself scrambling for fresh content. Organization is especially important for businesses looking to publish a steady stream of content across multiple platforms, especially given that different social media networks have different “prime time” slots for maximum exposure.

Social content calendars can also save you time, especially if you’re managing marketing tasks along with other routine business activities. A few Facebook updates might not seem like much, but daily and hourly updates can stack up fast. In this post, we’ll show you how to build a social media calendar that will help you manage multiple formats, timelines, and platforms.

Consider Your Content Cache

Your first step is to figure out what kind of content resonates with your customers. The best way to do that is to see which past social media posts got the most attention. Pull all of your unique social media analytics using tools like Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Sprout Social, and check a few different metrics like total reach, clicks, and responses. Once you know what kinds of content grab the most attention, you can move on to the next step: themes and topics.

Develop Your Social Media Profile

Next, you’ll need to brainstorm potential content that will resonate with your customers. At this stage, we encourage you to envision your potential content storehouse as broadly as possible. For example, if your target audience is younger people, why not share articles about financial products designed to help them save money? Or a listicle about the best travel destinations for Millennials? Social media platforms often give you the chance to engage with customers in ways that are more social but still part of your overall brand – fun, friendly, and creative.

Looking for more advice on managing your content portfolio?  Read our guide to content audits!

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Set Your Publication Schedule

You also want to think about how often you plan to post. A lot of your frequency will depend on time and other company resources – for example, you might have a staffer who would leap at the chance to develop their communications toolbox, or a summer intern already savvy with social media platforms like Snapchat and Tumblr. However, another important factor is social media engagement habits, which are distinct for each network. This is a short list of recommended frequency rates from a post about social media scheduling on Constant Contact:

  • Facebook: 3-10 times per week
  • Twitter: 5 or more times per day
  • LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week
  • Google+: 3-10 times per week
  • Pinterest: 5-10 times per day

These are benchmarks rather than hard limits, but you can see how much optimum frequency rates vary from platform to platform. Remember as well that an update can include many different formats, from a link and a short caption to a blog post to an embedded video.

Looking to connect with customers on Twitter?  Read our post about building your brand on Twitter!

Build Your Content Storehouse

Now that you’ve figured out what kinds of content you want to publish and how much content you need, it’s time to start building posts. As we’ve discussed, original content is a great way to build interest in your company and pull traffic to your site, but your social media updates should also serve as ways for you to branch out and build your company’s virtual network. You can use a social media sourcing tool like Buzzsumo, Scoop.it, and Feedly to find high-powered content. You may also want to make a “short list” of sites for you and your team to check on a daily basis for relevant articles – look for publications with a strong media focus or specialization in your industry.

Image Credit: Edelman.com

Fill Up Your Social Media Scheduling Calendar

Now that you’ve got a baseline for topics, sources, and volume, it’s time to start inputing information into your social media calendar. There are several different programs you can use to create a social media calendar. Sprout Social and Basecamp are online project management options, and Google Sheets or Excel Spreadsheets are easy DIY alternatives. Some businesses prefer paper or whiteboard calendars, but online options are much more shareable. You’ll want subheadings for month, week, day, topic, and each social media channel. A “Notes” field is a great place for miscellaneous instructions.

Once you’ve established your template, add content to each cell. Different companies use different formats, but you’ll want enough information to ensure that each update is distinct and that multiple contributors can understand directives posted on the calendar. Simple color-coding will make it much easier to review the schedule at a glance – as in the graphic above, you can even color-code using signature colors like Twitter’s robin’s-egg blue. You’ll also want to include any vital information – links, word counts, and files to be uploaded are standard examples. As you move forward, remember to use analytics to course-correct over time.

Now that you’ve got a full social media calendar, you should be able to publish updates according to an organized, strategic plan. With these guidelines in mind, you’ll be able to curate social media content well ahead of schedule!

Are you interested in learning more about social media scheduling and other digital marketing strategies? Square 1 Group is a boutique web development team based in Los Angeles, California. Our design and digital marketing expertise makes us an ideal fit for real estate agencies looking to expand their business online. We provide all our clients with individualized support and maintenance, online marketing services, and content creation, and we are passionate about delivering premium quality at an affordable price.