Content Marketing

5 Of The Best Social Media Calendars To Make Your Social Media Strategy A Success

Table of contents:

Forward planning is key to social media success. Here we share top tips for getting your social channels ripe and ready, and how you can use social media calendars to plan, share and execute your social strategy.

There are a few things we know for certain about social media. One: it’s fast-paced, noisy and chaotic. Two: more or less everyone is on there (somewhere), and every business wants to be nailing it. Three: it’s changing and evolving daily, and you always need to be on top of the latest algorithmic twists to ensure you’re still getting seen. 

So how on earth do you, the busy Social Media Manager, keep up? Are your tweets still gaining any traction? Are you Instagram stories always hitting the mark? 

More importantly, how are you managing? Are you frantically jumping on every trend, or are you forgetting to post because you have other priorities? Are you over-sharing, or feeling like you have nothing important to say? 

One secret to nailing social is intelligent forward planning. Whilst we know that a single post can quickly soar to astronomical heights if it jumps on a viral topic, social media is actually a slow burn. Your pages need to show consistent quality, maintaining a profile reliably known for a certain type of content. In doing so, you will gain genuine followers that really support your Inbound Marketing efforts. 

A thorough, well-maintained social media calendar is exactly what intelligent forward planning looks like, and it will help you: 

> Save huge amounts of time, by concentrating your planning efforts 

> Track, test and analyze your posts for better results

> Keep your brand voice consistent over long periods of time

> Ensure healthy and effective collaboration across your team

There really is no other way to see your engagement and leads grow, than by having your social media calendarized.  

So in this article we'll be doing two things: 

First up, I’m going to delve into more detail about how a social media calendar can do all those great things I have just listed above.

Second, we’re going to look at some real products that can help you create a fantastic social media calendar that is right for you, and your company. 

5 Simple Steps To Building a Kickass Social Media Calendar 

First up, decide: what are you going to be posting? 

Your social media calendar is where you plan what your posts are going to be, on what channels, and when. 

As I mentioned above, we can’t anticipate in advance a trending topic that comes out of the blue — a Super Bowl incident, for example, or the latest twist in the Netflix series everyone is talking about. So let’s leave that element of social media management to the side for the moment. 

Your calendar is where you plan to build your brand voice and identity. It is how you plan to target a specific audience, and where you think about the relevant content to deliver to them to attract them to your business. 

So to think about exactly what you should be posting, let’s break it down into a step-by-step process: 

1. Review your existing efforts 

Take a look back at what you or your company has done before, and do the best you can to identify signs of what went down well (or didn’t go down well) with your audience. Use analytics and data to back up your opinions. 

Remember it’s not just about likes — think of engagement. Comments, i.e. when people have taken the time to write, show a level of interest that is more than just a quick thumbs up. Take note of what you think caused them to react. 

If you’re starting from scratch, or a low base of posted content, you can check out what your competitors are doing for an idea of what resonates, and use that as your audit material. 

Once you have an idea of what works, you’ll want to create content that utilizes those successful experiences, without being repetitive.

3. List out your topics 

The topics that you post about should be relevant to your business, but also broad enough that people browsing will be able to find you. 

A good topic for you will be something that you have experience in or deal with on a regular basis, and one where your voice or input adds value to the conversation. 

For example, if you’re a pet store, animal welfare could be a good topic, but veganism might be stretching it. If you’re an insurance company, home security, travel safety or the climate crisis’s impact on extreme weather are good topics, but crime in general might be too broad. 

Assessing your impact on the topic is also important. If there’s a topic, or hashtag, that has millions of uses, then your voice will be just a drop in the ocean. Equally, targeting something too narrow or specific will be a waste of your efforts — too few people will read it! 

4. Think of the function

Each time you post, you’re posting for one of two reasons. The first is very open, and we can define it as essentially ‘to entertain’. It is emphatically not to sell. It can be about gaining awareness, of course, which has a commercial function, but you are not trying to convert to purchase. 

The second reason to post is the opposite. It is sharing a promotion, deal, giveaway or product development that you hope will be the final nudge one of your followers needs to make a purchase. 

So how often should you be doing ‘entertaining’ or ‘selling’ posts? 

That idea of the hard hitting ‘always be selling’ or ‘always be closing’ mantra goes out of the window with social media. If you are constantly pushing a sales tactic, you will lose your followers in droves. 

Gary Vaynerchuck developed a neat understanding of the ratios you need, in his book ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’. The idea is that you have 3 ‘jabs’ of quality, entertaining content to every ‘right hook’ of sales. Whether it’s precisely 3:1 can be determined by you, but this is certainly the approximate numbers you should be working with. 

5. Think of your message 

Here, I want you to think of your ‘message’ as being a term that covers both what you say, and how you say it, consistently over time. 

This differs from the specific wording of an Instagram caption, for example, and instead refers to the tone of voice you want to have, and what it is about your brand that you want to communicate most prominently. 

To illustrate, think about well known sports brands like Nike or Adidas. Their message is motivational-inspirational and they use empowering language with a somewhat serious, focused attitude. This reflects the diligence required for aspiring high performance athletes. 

Defining your message helps you set your tone of voice so that, whilst each time you will be using different words, you are consistent in what you are trying to say. 

Great! So if you go through those four steps, you should now have a rough idea of what content ideas work for you as a business, which topics you want to target, how each of your posts will function, and the tone of voice your posts will have. 

Now, Let’s Get To Scheduling... 

Like so many things in life, timing makes all the difference. Precisely when you post will have a huge impact on whether your content flies or falls flat. To make sure your posts are going to positively affect your Inbound Marketing efforts, you need to focus on posting at just the right time. 

Firstly, don’t worry about needing to be online to post. There are plenty of scheduling apps that will help you post at the time you desire, some of which we will look at below. 

But how do you know when that right time is? To do that we need to tackle the what, the where, and the who... 

What are you saying? 

If your content is time limited, make sure you are scheduling at the very beginning of that period, whether it’s a seasonal piece of advice or a one week ‘money-off’ promotion.

Also consider any wider context and relevance, such as the tone of certain content around specific religious holidays or remembrance periods. Does what you’re saying match the national mood? 

Where are you saying it? 

Each channel has its own unwritten rules and conventions about what is an appropriate amount to post. Channels such as Twitter and Instagram have a naturally high rate of posting that everyone expects and accepts. You can forget about building a presence on Twitter if you’re only planning weekly posts, as here you should be thinking about at least two to three times a day. 

Conversely, you’ll look nothing short of erratic if you start uploading content to LinkedIn at that rate. On LinkedIn, an intelligent piece of commentary posted weekly is a solid strategy. 

As a rough guide, you can consider these posting rates:  

Facebook: Once a day 
Twitter:
2-5 times a day
Instagram:
One post every 1-2 days
Instagram Stories:
2-6 story ‘story’ items per day
Pinterest: 3-10 times a day
LinkedIn:
Once or twice a week 

Please remember these are not mandatory minimums.

Your content should always be of high quality and should always be relevant. So if you have nothing good to say, it may be better to not say anything at all! 

However, if you find it a continued struggle to post at the required rate, consider whether the platform is a right fit for you, your business and your capacity. It is better to have one highly successful channel than several poor performers. 

Who are you saying it to? 

Always have your buyer personas at front of mind when thinking about your social media activities. Are you targeting a persona that works a night shift, or are they usually commuting and browsing their social channels at 5:30pm on the way home? 

This is where you have to get into the data. Most social media business profiles will show you peak usage times for your audience. So hit them when they’re online! Otherwise your efforts will get buried amongst posts from businesses who are targeting the busy periods accurately. 

Think about whether your audience is taking a peek at their social channels whilst at lunch, or even at work. Many of us have a higher usage of social media whilst we’re on the company clock rather than at home…. Just don’t tell the boss!

Don't Forget to Track and Analyze Performance

Your social media calendar is a forward-planning document, but that doesn’t stop it being the place where you also track the performance of posts. It’s crucial that you pull the numbers from each post and log them in one document, so you can quickly and clearly see what really resonated with your online audience. 

If you’re not learning what worked, you don’t stand much of a chance of growing a social media presence that can really make a difference to bringing in quality leads for your company. 

As an end-of-week task, open up your social media accounts and input the engagement data in your calendar. 

Sharing and Collaboration Is Key

Your social media efforts might all be managed by one person but the likelihood is that, in bigger companies, you’ll have several team members involved. These will range from people in the line of reporting, to designers, content writers, video producers or even creative directors.

Having a clear and accessible calendar will help all members get aligned with what the company is doing socially, and also what they need to do in their role to make it happen. They will have instant point of referral that they can check themselves, rather than constantly badgering the marketing or social media team. 

Awesome! Now let’s take a look at what products are out there to help you build your social media calendar. 

The best Social Media Calendar tools and templates for your business 

Before we start looking into what is on the market, I want you to put yourself center stage for a minute. Think about your day-to-day, as a worker and as the person in charge of social media for your company. How do you like to work? Where and when is it best for you to receive information? 

The best tools are those that help us improve how we work, not those that conflict with how we’re used to getting things done. Of course, you have to be prepared to modify your habits to get better results, but if you never use apps but love setting up you day in Google Calendar, think about an option that fits naturally into that rhythm. Equally, if you’re a writer of to-do lists on scraps of paper, why not simply write into an app that can automatically turn notes into a shared workflow? 

With yourself and how you work as the focus, let’s get to analyzing some of the options out there...

Monday.com

How does it work? 

Monday.com is a SaaS that helps you plan, coordinate, assign tasks and set deadlines, both on your screen and on your phone. It can help plan anything, including your social media, but also the office Christmas party or your next big corporate project. 

Who is it for? 

Monday.com names Carlsberg and Fiverr as its customers, and it’s a solution that feels most appropriate for larger teams — especially if your team members might not be working from the same location.

How much is it? 

Prices start at $17 per month for 2 users, and go up to $2399 for 200 users. If you’re bigger than that, you’ll need to give them a call for their enterprise pricing. 

What do people say? 

Reviewers out there are loving the vibrant colors and easy to use layouts. However, for the price, some are left wanting more in-depth features such as a chat function. The sheer amount of options might prove overwhelming for some, so if you don’t feel the need for larger scale coordination, Monday it might not be for you. 

Sprout Social 

How does it work? 

Sproutsocial is a platform exclusively for social media management, and includes scheduling, optimized send times, analytics, tagging, tracking and social listening. You can manage all your different accounts from one space, making you super efficient whilst having all the data in an easy to use dashboard. 

Who is it for? 

This is for companies that have either a business based around several social media channels, or for those large enough to have social media teams within their corporation. 

How much is it? 

Prices start at $99 per month for the standard and up to $249 for the Advanced. There doesn’t seem to be an enterprise level, so if you’re a large company, $249 would feel like super value.

What do people say? 

Users note a small learning curve but are positive about many of the features. However the cost could be inhibitive for small companies and startups. 

Trello

How does it work? 

Trello recreates the experience of moving Post-Its along a board, advancing the task along as it progresses from idea through to development. You can assign tasks, add information and attach files. Importantly for your social media efforts, you can integrate a calendar for your scheduling. 

Who is it for? 

Because of Trello’s simple set-up, free-to-start subscription and quick-to-grasp functionality, you’ve probably already come across it somewhere along the line. It can be used by individuals and companies, big and small. However, it doesn’t have functionality that is specific for social media management, so it won’t help you monitor analytics or schedule your posts. 

How much is it? 

Free! You start paying at $9.99 a month when you want some business upgrades, and $20.83 at enterprise level. So this is not a wallet-buster. 

What do people say? 

Trello is going to be for you if you’re a Post-It note scribbler. For some people, the functionality really works for them and it’s a god-send piece of software. For others, you might feel like you’re missing features or functions which could add value and upgrade your productivity. 

Google Drive (Calendar, Sheets, Excel)

How does it work? 

Google has a massive suite of tools that you can use to set up your social media calendar. You can use a spreadsheet that you link to your Gmail calendar, and away you go! The big difference here is that these are more like hammers and nails, whereas other solutions in this lineup are more like pre-built houses. With Google Drive, you’re doing the building of your calendar all by yourself!

Who is it for? 

This is for those who don’t want to spend a penny, and for those who want to keep things completely customizable to their needs. You can whip up some quick scheduling and planning to help you keep track of your efforts, but it’s really only a solution for very small businesses or individuals. 

How much is it? 

Completely free for those who have Gmail accounts. 

What do people say? 

Some people find Google Sheets a little frustrating, if they are used to Microsoft Excel. The changes in functionality can feel jarring, but for something that is free to use, you can’t complain too much. 

Evernote


How does it work? 

Evernote helps your bring order to your chaos. You can write notes wherever and whenever you want, then turn them into workflows. Add documents, assign team members, manage your projects and basically capture all your super ideas before making them business actions. 

Who is it for? 

Evernote is for the person who has their ideas on the train or walking in the park. They need to scribble it down straight away or they lose it. I feel like Evernote really helps those who struggle to turn their creativity into processes that others can get involved with, so this is a tool for turning individual brain power into organized teamwork. 

How much is it? 

Free to get started, then just $10 a month for business level. 

What do people say? 

Evernote’s been around since 2004, so there are many fans of this note-taking app. I doubt this would be the only tool you need for your social media calendar efforts, as you would probably need to supplement it with a shared calendar too. However, as something for creatives in your team to capture and share ideas, it’s great. 

So there you have it!

Everything you need to start planning social media success

As always, if you need any help or support from us along the way, we’re here to help.

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