The first thing I use every day is my Content Calendar. I don’t know how or if any organization is able to successfully market online without one. When you think about any other marketing campaign for print, T.V., radio, billboard, etc., there’s always a plan mapped out for the way in which the content comes together, how it will look, and the action steps for following up once the campaign ends.
So why wouldn’t you approach social media in the same way?
In case you need some convincing about the importance of a Content Calendar, here’s a great blog post describing how it can save you from wasting your time online: 5 Reasons Why a Social Media Calendar is Important For Your Business.
My Content Calendar lives in Google docs. It’s the easiest way for our marketing team to see what I’ve got in the works across all of our social media channels. Here’s a piece of it:
This is just the top portion of my Content Calendar that lists basic information about some of our YS social media channels. In the first row, you’ll see the Sunday-Saturday dates for this particular week. Then you’ll see sections dedicated to our Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram.
Underneath each day, you’ll see a breakdown of times and a short description of the content that I want scheduled for those times. Each day is a little different, following the activity of our audience for that particular day of the week. I track how well our followers have responded to content from previous weeks and use that information to edit time-slots for each day and the content type to fine-tune my work for the next week. That way we’re honing in on what people are responding to and creating more of that kind of content.
The orange text signifies that the content will be selling something, promoting a resource that our audience can purchase or an event that our audience can register for. By highlighting these in orange, it is easier for me to see if I’m maintaining a balance of content. I don’t want to sell too much but I also don’t want to sell too little, otherwise I’m missing opportunities. After all, we exist to provide amazing resources that help churches do youth ministry and I want youth workers to know about each of them.
The green highlighted cells represent content that is already created, loaded into our content manager (we use HootSuite), and is either scheduled for release or has already been published. This helps me know what I have left to do each day so I don’t miss a thing.
What you don’t see listed here is the actual content that I create. That’s in another place. Some people like to keep it all in the same document but it is really just up to you and how you work best.
Also, below the screenshot is a track record of all the individual conversations I have throughout the week. Those conversations might be reply tweets, direct messages, Facebook comments, Instagram comments, etc. It’s all the interactions I have each day of the week so that I can keep better track of my efforts and energy. I’ve found that if I don’t track those things, social media turns into this black hole that can waste a lot of my time, and no one needs that.
Content Calendars look different for everyone. If you’d like a downloadable template to use, you can either google “free social media calendar templates” or use one of these three:
The important thing is to find or create a calendar that works with your approach to social media and that you’ll actually use. Then track your progress, see how you can create better content, and watch as you start to build relationships through your channels.