Depending on your business or client’s industry, size, and overall KPIs, your calendar can greatly vary not only in content but structure as well. Someone working on a very editorially-focused content calendar will have a vastly different structure to someone who is aligning with a production schedule. However, there are five main considerations or principles for most content calendar creation:
To me, cadence is something that should be considered ahead of physically making a content calendar. Cadence should be dictated based on your overall goals and KPIs, as well as your internal resources for social content creation, scheduling, and reporting. When a calendar is made, it’s easy to get swept up in too empty or too full space, so it behooves an internal discussion, so that ultimately, the cadence to which is agreed-upon internally can reflect the structure of the calendar, and can reduce the mystery behind why and when social is posted when it is.
If you look at your brand new, totally blank content calendar and feel a sense of anxiety about what to fill in first, an easy way to appease this anxiety is to start by filling out the most important dates to you or your company. This can be important dates for the next month, next quarter, or even the next year if you work that far out. By having these dates to fill in first, it not only helps your “blank page” anxiety but also can be a great tool in working backward from these important dates to ensure those dates make the biggest splash possible on social. In many cases, pre-planning is almost as important, if not more important than the actual launch itself.
While getting ingrained in your own personal or business timelines is easy, something to keep at the forefront while developing you, or your client’s calendar is the larger social conversation that will be occurring on the days you’re planning posts. Is there a holiday you can relate to your content? Whether it’s New Year’s Day or National Pancake Day, these holidays and social moments will inevitably assist in your content attracting more eyes, and can help you possibly even develop personalized content for these days. On the flip side, you can plan the days that may have some sensitivity on social, and that you may want to stay quieter/really consider your content more closely. These are a little harder to predict in the long run, which can be a major cause for real-time updating of your calendar.
Your social content calendar goes far beyond just what is widely considered social. No matter how large or small your organization is, the calendar should reflect every facet of your business. Even if most of the additions are just for visibility internally, having a holistic view of everything happening in the organization will not only increase more singular messaging but also can cut down on last-minute requests or missed opportunities due to internal miscommunication. Product launches, panel discussions, even internal growth goals should all have a space on your content calendar! These keep KPIs and milestones at the forefront.
A final, yet very important, tip to creating a successful content calendar is to ensure it’s something that can be replicated week over week, quarter over quarter, and year over year. This is important because looking back to track successes and failures within your social strategy is imperative to growth and maintaining a cohesive brand. Additionally, knowing what was a pre-planned social post vs. a spur of the moment trending post can help dictate where efforts should be placed going forward. Did a last-minute trending topic post outperform some pre-planned holiday content? This can inform where assets should be prioritized in the future.
As mentioned before, content calendars can vary as greatly as someone’s personality, as they really come down to what works for you as an individual with a certain working style. Whether you dictate content by the day, hour, or even just quarter, it all depends on what you think your own, or your client’s own, business needs are. The heavy-lift at the start of a new, blank, content calendar may seem daunting, but your future self will thank you for the pre-loaded work you put in later on down the line.
Going forward, past content calendars become a great way to not only retroactively see what you were able to accomplish, but can also be a great, physical barometer for where you, and your social presence, can go! Also, it’s kind of like looking back at old high school yearbooks: fun to look through, and see how far you’ve come--only instead of ill-advised bangs, you just get to relish in how far your copywriting has come!