How to use a social media calendar effectively
Social media really matters for your business. It’s a cost-effective way to communicate the story of your brand.
But the pressure to create and promote engaging content for social media can feel overwhelming at times, and not knowing where to start is normal. You have to coordinate posts between different platforms, respond to comments and messages, and follow feeds of other companies and influencers.
“Social media can be very rewarding” says Elizabeth Brodeur, BDC Senior Advisor, Social Media. “Social media can be a great way for small business owners to connect with prospects and customers. Done right, it can really help sales take off.”
Essential tool for planning
Once you have established your social media strategy, Brodeur recommends using a social media content calendar to simplify the task of managing posts on different platforms.
“I use my calendar daily,” she says. “It’s an essential planning tool. It allows the team to centralize the content we share and to have a detailed view on your posts.”
Brodeur offers five tips for entrepreneurs who want to use a social media calendar.
1. Start with a basic calendar
At its most basic, a social media calendar is just that—a calendar. You can use a spreadsheet.
You use it by entering information about what you want to post in coming weeks and months. You can also note down any upcoming events, such as product launches, company activities or marketing campaigns that will affect your social media strategy.
“It’s a bird’s-eye view of what’s coming,” Brodeur says. “You don’t need a lot of details. You can make it as simple or sophisticated as you want.”
2. Put all your information in one place
As you gain experience, you can add more columns or rows for each date to include extra details.
The BDC social media calendar template, for example, has a separate spreadsheet for each month.
Every row has a dozen columns to write down details, such as the text to be used, time scheduled, tags, url, character count, approval status, type of post, language in which the post is written and miscellaneous notes. There’s also space to jot down any important events scheduled that day.
Brodeur is quick to say it’s okay for businesses to have fewer than 15 daily posts. “Posting twice a week may be enough for your business,” she says. “What’s important is engaging with your audience. You can expand your efforts as you go along.”
3. Share a good mix of content
A social media calendar can help you make sure you have a good blend of different types of posts, such as self-promotional vs. value-added content (educational or fun posts that engage your audience).
It’s important for most of your posts to be value-added material, with only an occasional sprinkling of self-promotional posts. Tooting your horn too much tends to alienate visitors.
4. Don’t do it all yourself
Appoint someone to maintain the calendar and be responsible for gathering content and publishing it. As you grow, you may even hire a full-time dedicated social media professional.
The person responsible for social media should regularly review your calendar to add upcoming activities and make necessary tweaks.
“Consistent posting is key if you want to see benefits on social media,” Brodeur says. “It’s a common mistake for businesses to start with good intentions, but a few months later the calendar isn’t being used. It should be a central part of your communication efforts.”
5. Share it with your team
Share your social media calendar with key employees to ensure everyone is aware of your efforts, working together and able to offer ideas for content.
“You can use the calendar to communicate between teams,” Brodeur says. “It’s a collaborative and agile tool for everyone to see what’s coming and coordinate efforts.”