Your content marketing plan should be a major part of your overall marketing strategy. Content marketing includes any informational or other content that you create or collect and share with others online. It comprises your website content, your blog, and, of course, social media content. Pre-planning content marketing is essential for your small business so that you don’t experience content distribution burn-out, so that you have clear goals for the content you post, and so that you have a definite timeline for when, what, and how you post.
A social media content planning calendar is a very helpful tool for this type of planning. A content calendar gives you an overview of what you’re posting so you can ensure that you cover all the topics and products you want covered. It ensures that you’re not repeating yourself.
Creating a calendar forces you to think about what’s important and what’s not so you don’t fall into the trap of posting content just to fill a void. A content calendar also creates consistency with your audience and your content. Finally, it helps you to organize your marketing efforts.
Types of Social Media Planning Calendars
You can have two types of content calendars. One is a larger roadmap of promotions and special events throughout the year to highlight. The other is a weekly calendar that can give structure to your exact daily content such as photos, blog links, questions, or video links.
The Overall Calendar
An overall content calendar helps you plan out content marketing for all your online platforms, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, blog or website. Planning helps to avoid duplication, strengthens your brand, and gets the message out that you want out. It also keeps you focused on your marketing plan and goals.
Here is an example of an overall content marketing calendar. It is an Excel spreadsheet that you can download and change in way that fits your business needs:
The Weekly Calendar
A weekly calendar lets you organize your content ahead of time for any given week. You can include two or three planned posts for a week for the month. Keep in mind that topics and posts can, and likely will, change depending on current news or any last-minute promotions you might come up with. The calendar helps you set a clear focus for social media engagement and assures you’re posting consistently and regularly.
This is an example of a weekly calendar outline for your Facebook business page:
|Monday||Link to an interesting relevant article||Photo (product- or service-related)|
|Tuesday||Link to your own blog post (assuming you post weekly)||Question of the day (something relevant to your niche, or question to find out more about your customer base, or about something in the news)|
|Wednesday||Fill in the Blank post (have fans fill in a sentence with a word)||Comic post (sharing a comic that may be related to your industry)|
|Thursday||Post a few lines or a paragraph from your most recent blog post to generate additional interest||Review your fans’ comments to find ways to engage/reply to them|
|Friday||Link to an interesting article that relates to your industry||Add a weekend-related post (e.g. encourage fans to drop in to your store over the weekend, or mention a sale you’re having)|
More Calendar Planning Tips
This gives you an idea of how social media content planning works. However, a plan like the one above is not something that should be set in stone for your own business. Keep in mind that, as you develop your weekly content calendar, your audience will come to expect certain posts on set days, so it is important to plan a schedule that works for you so you don’t feel overwhelmed and stressed out because you feel you need to meet those expectations. If you can recruit help to keep your schedule up-to-date and workable, whether it be a staff member or an outsourced social media manager, all the better. That frees up your valuable time for running your business.
Some additional tips for setting up your content calendar:
- Set up a spreadsheet with monthly worksheets, and
- create columns for the post date, day of the week, content topic, and actual posts and tweets
- Upload the calendar to Google Docs if there will be more than one person posting, then it can be accessed easily online or use my template.
- Be sure to measure the impact of your social media postings by checking which types of posts get more engagement from your audience (using, for example, Facebook Insights or Twitter Retweets).