4 Simple Steps for Creating a Social Editorial Calendar

There’s no possible way that you can spend every waking moment managing your brand’s social media presence – at least not without suffering from some serious social media burnout. And even if, by some miracle, you could stay at the computer all day every day, why would you want to?

One of the best ways to maximize your time and effort on social is to create a social media editorial calendar for efficient scheduling and posting of your social content.

This graphic (below) helps summarize the basics of the process, but we get into deeper details in the rest of the post.

(If you’d like a more hands-on lesson, sign up for this upcoming webinar about “How to Build a Social Content Calendar”.)

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Why do you need a social media editorial calendar?

We all know that content is king, and that effectively creating and curating content will put you ahead of your competitors. But why else should you spend your time putting a process like this in place? Here are a few key reasons to take advantage of a social editorial calendar.

To save time

Your time on social media is limited, and really, only around 20% of that time should be spent creating and curating content.

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That doesn’t give you too much time to source and schedule all of the content you need to maintain connection with your followers, but if you take the time to sit down and focus on filling your calendar all at once, it can be much more efficient than if you were to create posts on the fly.

In the immortal words of Ron Swanson, “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.”

To test best posting times

Usually, when you’re creating social media posts on the fly, there isn’t a ton of thought that goes into choosing when the best time to post it is. Social media content is typically posted as soon as it’s created. However, by planning in advance, you can test posting your content at various times of the day and night to see which time windows yield the highest levels of engagement.

For increased accountability

Social media blunders can lead to a lot of trouble for you and your brand and can cause long-lasting damage. Planning your content weeks, or even months, in advance gives you an increased window for detecting potentially damaging social media mistakes ahead of time.

Those are three solid reasons to justify spending just a little bit of time setting up your own social editorial calendar. If you think it might be worth your time, follow these four steps to get started.

1. Figure out which networks to post to

This is one of the first questions brands need to ask themselves when it comes to social media marketing – “which social networks should you be spending the time and resources to establish a presence on?”

With so many social media sites out there these days, it almost makes you jealous of the early adopters whose choices were limited to Facebook, Twitter or both.

There’s no universal answer when it comes to deciding which social networks brands should be on, however, there are a couple of basic research tasks you can undertake to find which networks are most relevant to your brand.

  • Look to past success – One way to find out which social networks you should spend time on is to look at which networks you’ve already been finding success on. It’s likely that you have a general idea of which sites are effective for your brand, but it can be much more effective to use an analytics tool. Try using a tool like Google Analytics to see which networks are currently driving traffic to your site.

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  • Check your demographics – If you’ve got an idea of who your perfect social media customer is – including age, gender and location – you can look to this infographic on social media demographics to find out exactly which social media websites they’re most likely to frequent.

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2. Choose a posting frequency

Once you’ve determined which networks you want to be on, you nest need to establish how often you need to post to them. The challenge here is that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to choosing how often to post to each of your social networks.

Here are some basic guidelines around optimum posting frequencies on each network.

  • Twitter – Three to six times per day. With 500 million tweets sent on Twitter every day, there’s a chance that your tweets could get lost in the shuffle, which is why you should send messages to the network multiple times every single day. There’s much more acceptance when it comes to posting frequently to Twitter, so why not take full advantage of it?
  • Facebook – Two to three times per day. Facebook has an average of 1.09 billion daily active users, which makes it an incredibly enticing network for marketers to post their content to frequently. However, you also need to consider engagement – Facebook’s News Feed algorithm rewards constant engagement, so if you post all day and annoy your fans, your engagement levels will drop, which will also, subsequently, impact your reach.
  • Instagram – One to two times per day. The burgeoning image sharing network has an average of 80 million photos posted every day, and you should make sure that at least one of those is coming from your brand. As the network continues to grow, users are looking for top brands to follow, so getting your content out there early is key.
  • Google+ – One to two times per day. Google+ is a wild card when it comes to posting frequency, but it’s safer to err on the side of posting more often than less. As you can see in the picture taken below, when people search for your brand terms on Google, they often see your most recent Google+ posts. So it’s better to always have a fresh post appear to show that you’re always creating great new content.

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  • LinkedIn – One to two times per day. LinkedIn poses a very unique opportunity for companies in the business-to-business space. The nature of LinkedIn draws in an audience that’s much more business oriented while visiting, so they may be more inclined to buy a B2B product. Companies in that space should take advantage of this and post more frequently.

3. Find and create fantastic content

Don’t be surprised if step two made you feel a little overwhelmed. We all know that content is king, but when did it become necessary to post over 10 social media updates per day – and how can you possibly find enough content to keep your fans and followers interested?

The answer is that you have source great content as well as create your own.

Here are a few quick ways to make sure you always have enough content to entertain your social followers.

  • Use Feedly – Feedly’s a content-aggregation site that helps you find some of the best content for sharing with your audience. Simply subscribe to your favorite blogs and publications and Feedly will pull all of the newest articles from those sources into your own content stream. You can then go on to manually share those articles with your followers, or you can set Feedly up to directly share these articles to your social profiles using a platform like Sprout Social.
  • Write a blog – No matter your situation, you have a unique perspective on your industry. Spend some time writing for your company blog – not only will a blog post give you something to share on social, but it’ll also expand your personal portfolio. If your company doesn’t have a dedicated blog, you can always turn to a content hosting site like Medium.
  • Create a video – Video is quickly becoming one of the most popular content mediums in the marketing industry. Take advantage of current video trend by creating your own to share with your fans. You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg; even a lower-budget video can resonate well with your audience – “Chewbacca Mom” is the most viewed Facebook Live video of all time, and that was filmed on a smart phone in a car park.
  • Create an image – If you don’t think a video would make for a good social post, then consider an image. This can be something that you take yourself, something that you design completely from scratch or a hybrid of the two. If you’re having trouble, check out this article with 36 free tools to help create unique social media images.

4. Schedule content to fill your calendar

Once you know which networks to post to, how often to post to those networks and exactly what you want to post, all you have to do is start to schedule those messages.

Some social networks have tools that enable you to schedule your posts, but it’s much easier to use a tool like Sprout Social to schedule social posts.

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With a system like this in place, you’ll know exactly how many posts you have scheduled for each approaching day, making it easy to gauge when exactly you’ll need to take some more time to fill up your social editorial calendar.

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