Do you ever hit a writer’s block? Do you ever log in to Facebook or Instagram, and then proceed to blankly stare at the screen, straight out of ideas on what to post?
Well, here is the solution to the problem: create a social media editorial calendar. Personally, I create it for a week in advance for Facebook, but you can plan out as much as three months in advance – whatever works for you.
I recommend that you use content planning tools for Facebook and scheduling apps for Instagram, but even a simple Excel spreadsheet will get you started on a path to rocking that content planning process of yours. Once you have the dates, the days of the week and the platforms all written out, we can start drafting ideas down.
Social media content ideas
Start with big dates and important events
My first step is identifying any major holidays or recurring theme posts.
If you post a Friday news round-up or a Monday “while you were away” industry post, put those in.
If not, you can still insert holidays to have a themed post and not forget to congratulate your followers.
Also, find fun, goofy holidays, like National Coffee Day or National Donut Day, because it will show your fun side! However, do not go out and create content for every obscure, silly “celebration.” Use this one in moderation.
Next, mark any other blog posts and big dates that are coming up. If your blog post comes out every Wednesday, make a mark on every Wednesday.
If a product launch is scheduled for the 20th of the month, definitely mark that day in your content calendar.
Are there any launches or news you’d like to tease about with a little preview or pre-launch teaser photos? You get the idea.
When you create a social media content calendar, you can schedule those out a week or two before the event date. If you’re hosting any kind of event, like gala, sales or fundraising event, do the same thing and plan a few posts prior to the date to sell tickets or foreshadow this event.
Next, find a few amazing articles on Facebook or share an insider insight into your industry on Instagram. Even if it’s not about your company, find articles that your followers will find educational, interesting or entertaining.
One type of content that works amazingly independent of the platform is tips and tricks. People love bite-sized tips, clever shortcuts, and productivity hacks.
I am sure, as an expert in the field, you know something others might not. Do not overthink it – sometimes the best advice is the simplest. Do not assume that if you do know this hack, everyone else does. You’ll be amazed at what people can find useful, so don’t dismiss something as too easy.
Finally, if you have articles praising your company, an interview with you, or even a simple mention in a local newspaper, proudly share those!
(See how the calendar starts coming together?)
Now that you have a good balance of self-promotional and educational content as well as curated content, it’s time to get some user-generated content.
The easiest way to do it?
Ask them for it.
Ask them to leave your business a testimonial. Not only will it help you look good on review sites, or to establish authority on your own site, it can also serve as a content. Overlay a cool image with an awesome testimonial and share it on social media. Bonus points for prompting others to share their opinions.
Ask them to share photos using your products. You can repost those later with their permission. If you want to build an impressive library of user-generated content, run a mini-contest. Offer them a small gift or a discount for your services. Once you get the ball rolling, more and more people will feel confident and encouraged to share their own photos.
Ask a question. Ask your followers about their opinions or struggles not only to start a conversation, but also to gain insight into your market. If you really have an idea you’d like to test out, create a poll with a few answers. Not only is it easier for your followers to respond to the poll instead of coming up with their own responses, it will also boost the engagement on your page tremendously. Besides, because you are letting your audience vote and comment on ideas, it will only reinforce a sense of care and community.
People love to feel like insiders of a special group. Create that feeling by sharing behind-the-scenes snippets. It doesn’t have to make up a majority of your content, but occasional sneak peeks and goofiness is welcome.
However, be careful with this type of posts. If you’ve worked really hard to make your Instagram feed look stunning with editorial content and professional images of you or your product, one dark, grainy random behind-the-scenes post can ruin the whole vibe.
So while it is more casual, this content has to be up to par with everything else you’re posting.
Keeping that in mind, the sky is the limit: sneak peeks of new products, inner working of your company, employee takeovers are just a few of the options available to you.
If you get a few gaps left here and there, fill them in with humorous posts. People love humor and everyone relates well to a kind joke, so keep it light, keep it friendly, and keep it appropriate.
It is best if your humorous post is relevant to your industry and your audience. This will ensure consistency in voice for your brand and higher engagement from your audience. However, you can also post things that all of us can relate to.
Plus, keep your aesthetics in mind, so one-off random meme doesn’t ruin the well-orchestrated branding of the page as a whole.
Another thing you can try is posting inspirational quotes. You get bonus points for posting an image with an inspirational quote that can somehow relate to your business or industry. Inspirational posts do very well, because, as humans, we all want to see something positive in the middle of our day right on our news feeds.
When you’ve used up all of the other ideas
Finally, once in a while post “Throwback Thursday” or “Flashback Friday” posts that give you an opportunity to reflect on how far your business has come or simply breathe a new life into your old blog post.
Do you want a social media calendar template?
How much planning do you want to do?
It’s great to have a month planned out, because you can see a bigger, yet not too stretched out, picture of your social efforts. Sometimes, you might not have a post ready, but marking it on a calendar helps you keep it on your radar. It’s harder to keep track of things in the nearest future if you plan only a week ahead.
Also, if you feel like you have a lot on your plate or you want to really drive your social media content strategy to a tee, try rough drafting a social media editorial calendar for three months in advance.
You don’t need to have a clean, ready-to-go copy just yet but you can start thinking of seasonal content or theme-oriented posts.
For example, December is big on talking about holidays all month long, so you can create posts that incorporate Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
March and April may be big on “waking up after winter hibernating” or “major spring cleanup.”
Going with that flow, summer is big on vacation dreaming and planning and the ability to spend more hours outside, so you can create posts about how your offering can help people in planning their vacation or enjoying more time outside.
Mastering the art of social media editorial calendars
Possibilities are endless, but you need to master a few “building blocks” of content. Your content needs to be:
- Have a good mix of promotional, curated and user-generated content, and
- Have a good mix of media in your posts. Use text-based updates, images, videos, infographics and even SlideShare decks.
Don’t forget that all of your posts need to provide some kind of value, whether it’s monetary or educational or simply entertaining. Build your social media presence in such a way that it is a resource of information and inspiration for your followers.
Creating social media editorial calendar will greatly help you identify any gaps in your strategy, whether it’s uneven mix of posts or not enough educational resources.
It will also help you mainstream your efforts and get on a more consistent positing schedule.
If there is more than one person in a company responsible for social media, this calendar will help you be on the same page and collaborate on ideas more effectively.
Do you have a process for creating social media content calendar? What does your process look like? Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation.