If you struggle to find direction on your social media channels, you’re not alone. Having a lack of concrete goals for your posts means they can seem scattered and disorganized, and it leaves you feeling like you gained nothing from all the time you invested in your social channels.
A social media calendar addresses these problems and then some. This guide shows you what, why, and how to turn your social channels into business-boosting machines.
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What is a social media calendar?
A social media calendar is the secret weapon you need to boost your business online. Simply speaking, it is the system your team uses to organize and streamline your social media content across all of your channels.
Any platform works, as long as it outlines all of your upcoming social media content in one place. Your calendar should include important items like:
- Posting days and times
- Goals of each post
- Campaign details
- Sales cycles
- Text and image details
- Tabs for each social channel
Many successful channels use social media software like Buffer, Hootsuite, or MeetEdgar to organize their content. These are great solutions, but not necessary if you are only getting started on your social media calendar journey. If you have extra cash lying around, this is better served boosting your posts so they reach a wider audience.
We’ve designed a free social media content calendar template to get you started without forking up dough on pricey software. Download Biteable’s social media calendar template.
Why you should create a social media calendar
Without a calendar, your social media feed can look and feel pretty scrappy. You try to be strategic, but you end up posting whenever the mood strikes you or when you find a spare moment.
Making a social media calendar helps you create and plan content based on specific, long-term goals. With an at-a-glance view of everything scheduled for your social channels, it is much easier to create a balanced variety of posts that all serve a specific purpose. Goodbye random cat videos shared on a whim. Hello to a feed full of diverse, engaging, and relevant content.
Whether you need to create one-off posts for special dates or a sales-focused series as part of a wider campaign, a calendar will make sure you never miss a beat.
How to make a social media calendar
Time to kick things off. When you plan your social media content, there are a few key things to consider. A little planning now goes a long way toward a thriving social media channel. Follow this guide and you’ll be a social media calendar guru in no time.
Understand your goals
Big picture, your social media channel has the same overall goals as the rest of your marketing platforms: grow your following, encourage sales, and boost brand loyalty. But each individual post also has its own goal.
These post-specific goals are dead simple, and it only takes a few seconds to figure out the objective for each. Since social posts are normally short and sweet, stick to one goal per post.
Common goals for social media posts include:
- Convey information: schedule changes, special occasions, etc.
- Increase brand awareness: gain followers
- Generate engagement: comments, shares, and likes
- Create conversions: inspire website clicks, email signups, or purchases
Figuring out the goal for each post might seem tedious, but it is a necessary step to increase effectiveness. The world of social media moves fast. It is vital that you get to the point quickly so your audience doesn’t scroll past your content without taking action.
The more targeted you are about your goals, the more successful each post is likely to be.
Including these goals on your social media content calendar also allows you to space them out so you don’t tread on familiar ground too often. The last thing you want is for your audience to get tired of a constant barrage of inspirational quotes or product highlights.
Plan your content (A.K.A The five P’s)
The five golden P’s of social media: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Once you get your social media calendar up and running, set aside a specific time — weekly, biweekly, or monthly — to brainstorm new ideas, write posts, prepare images, and plan out campaigns for important events.
You have a lot on your plate, so it’s easy for social media to fall between the cracks. By planning ahead, you’ll never get caught off guard and suddenly realize you haven’t posted for weeks. Aim to keep your social media calendar filled several weeks ahead, so you always have a steady stream of content.
Have you ever discovered a successful Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram page that posts once every few months? Probably not.
Regular posting is rewarded by the algorithms on all social channels. The more consistently you post, the more you show up on your audience’s feeds. (And no, posting ten times in one day doesn’t make up for lost time. Consistency is key.)
Consistency also means your followers will expect to see your posts in their feed, so they’ll keep an eye out and engage with your content when it pops up. They’ll also be more likely to recommend your page to friends, knowing it’s active and regularly updated.
Conversely, people can spot low-effort content in a heartbeat.
Just like taking time to put on a nice outfit before dinner, people notice when businesses invest time, thought, and care in their content. Even for your simplest posts, make sure you put in the extra few minutes to ensure it is up to scratch with the rest of your content.
Posting consistent, high-quality content goes a long way to building a rapport with your audience and creating a positive brand identity online.
Alter your content for different channels
Social media calendars not only help you plan out each piece of content, but they help you figure out the tweaks you need to make them equally successful on all your channels. It is worth the effort to make sure every piece of content gets the love it deserves.
Social channels are different beasts, each with their own nuances and content formats. For example, the standard aspect ratio for a Twitter video is 1:1 (a square) while an Instagram story is 9:16 (a mobile screen). Creating an Instagram story and sharing it on Twitter requires you to first change the aspect ratio from 9:16 to 1:1.
If all the chopping and changing ratios sounds like a bit of a chore, you can do it in seconds with Biteable. Our video resizer tool changes your video to the desired aspect ratio with the click of a button.
Schedule your posts
Forget setting your alarm to remind yourself to post. Instead, set it and forget it by scheduling a week (or more) of posts in advance.
But remember, don’t schedule posts for times when engagement is low or your audience is asleep. Gather a little data to find out when your audience is most likely to engage with your content. Try posting at various hours for a few weeks, then look for patterns to discover when engagement is highest.
If you get a lot of traffic between 11-12pm, when people are on their lunch break, this is the prime time to post content going forward. If your audience is a weekend crowd, schedule your most important content on Saturdays and Sundays and keep lighter items for weekdays.
Many social channels, like Facebook, allow you to schedule posts in-app. You’ll find this by going to your page, heading over to Publishing Tools and clicking Create Post. Click schedule post and it’ll go up at the time you’ve specified.
If you have a team helping you with your social media, your content calendar shows them which channel to post on, who is responsible for posting, and the specific time every post needs to go out. This ensures your content strategy runs seamlessly. Even if you have to step out for a day, someone else can pick up the slack with no hassle.
Planning is important, but it’s equally as important to stay flexible and agile. Even if you planned all your posts in advance down to the last emoji, leave room for last-minute changes and shifts to your calendar plans. Current events, exciting updates, and other unexpected happenings are all great opportunities to post something spontaneous. Don’t be afraid to switch things up — your audience will love you for it. And more content is never a bad thing.
How to fill your social media calendar with killer content
A social media calendar is only as good as the content it holds. Follow these best practices to create content worthy of your newly organized, calendar-loving self.
Mix it up
When planning, make sure you’re not posting the same sort of content day after day (unless your social channel has built up a reputation for something specific, like cat memes). Too many posts about the same thing gets boring to your followers and can lead to disengagement — or worse, unfollowing.
If one of your posts strikes a chord with your followers, it may be tempting to keep posting similar content day after day. Usually, this has diminishing returns. Even the best dinner gets old if you have it every night.
Instead, figure out what other types of content your audience likes and sprinkle these posts into the mix. When you first set out to do this, expect some trial and error. Figuring out what your audience likes takes testing and patience.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Curated content shared from other social media accounts
- Business updates
- User-generated content
- Gifs and memes
- Staff highlights
When you do hit on a high-performing piece of content, look at it alongside your other top posts. See if there are any similarities. Are they all funny? Do they link to your webshop? Is there some other quality that makes them highly shareable? Figuring out the connective tissue that joins your most popular posts allows you to diversify your content while still maintaining the core of what makes it great.
Strike a balance
Like a great action film, audience engagement isn’t held by staying at a breakneck pace 100% of the time. Between every killer sales post lies a humble listicle or an informative business update.
Figuring out how to balance your content requires you to dig deeper into the goals for each individual post, as we looked at above. A handy tip is to use the “rule of thirds” when you’re brainstorming post ideas and scheduling them into your social media content calendar.
- ⅓ of posts directly promote your business
- ⅓ of posts interact with your audience
- ⅓ of posts are relevant shares that will be useful, entertaining, or inspiring for your followers
This ensures a healthy blend of content that keeps your audience coming back for more. As time goes on, you may alter this split according to what performs best for your viewers. Remember — versatility is key.
Capitalize on special events
Holidays and other special dates are the perfect occasion to boost your social feed with relatable content. We all remember the big days like Christmas and Halloween, but lesser-known celebrations like Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, Penguin Awareness Day, and Lost Sock Memorial Day are all opportunities to create shareable, relevant, and engaging content for your audience. (Let’s be real — who doesn’t love a good grilled cheese?) More shares means more traffic to your page and hopefully more followers.
There are also big sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These are two of the most important days of the year for business marketing and a perfect opportunity to flex your video marketing muscles with some heavy-hitting sales videos. Add them to your content calendar now (seriously, right now) so you remember to plan and share relevant content in the weeks leading up to these sales so you’re ready for a big sale.
Pro tips for content calendar perfection
You’ve got the basics down, but the best social media guru doesn’t stop there. Level up your content calendar skills with these pro tips.
Practice makes perfect
Every month or so, go back through your social media content calendar template to review what worked and what didn’t. The more content you post across a variety of times, the more data you have to work with. In turn, this data helps you understand what ticks boxes for your audience and what doesn’t.
Remember: there is no such thing as a failed post. Tracking and measuring your most popular posts, and closely examining your less popular ones, enables you to build more content around what your audience really wants to see. It’s a win-win for everyone, and will ultimately lead you to a thriving social channel full of killer content.
Follow up on your previous posts
Another great reason for a social media calendar is to take note of when you or your team checks in on past posts. Yes, notifications exist for this very reason. But sometimes you’ll be flooded with so many that you’ll forget to check on a post from a few days ago and neglect to answer an important question from a would-be loyal customer.
If this is a responsibility shared amongst a team, mark down who is responsible for each post to prevent unnecessary overlap.
Following up on previous posts and engaging with your audience isn’t just good practice — it opens the door to new video ideas based on frequently asked questions or flattering quotes from your favorite customers.
Do a social media audit
You’re almost ready to go. But if you have a pre-existing social media account, a content audit is the last step. Look through everything you’ve previously posted and see what performs best. This gives you an idea of what your pre-existing audience enjoys and helps you tailor your new content to fit that mold. It also prevents any new content in your social media calendar from jarring with your previous style.
Of course, if you’re starting a page from scratch, skip this step. Just figure out your goals and get started. Happy planning!
Get started with Biteable
Skip the guesswork and get straight to publishing killer content on your social channels with the Biteable. Say goodbye to stressing out over the next batch of posts. Now you’ll never be stuck for content ideas again. Simply click on a social media template, tweak the text, add your logo, and schedule it for upload.