No matter the size of your business, if you want to help it grow, there needs to be at least some focus on social media. Whether you’ve already come with a streamlined social media workflow, or if you’re trying to develop one for the new year to help you accomplish your business goals, setting a few minutes aside now to plan where the next 12 months are going on a social media calendar can save lots of time later when you get busy with other aspects of running the business.
Use a Template
There are a ton of various social media calendar templates available online, and to make it easier for you, I’ve selected a few to help you get started.
Weekly Template: This Excel template allows you to fill in the title and description of the content, links to the supporting documents, the author or the writer, the deadline, and the channels it’ll be promoted on.
Social Media Content Calendar: This Excel template allows you to plan out all the social media messaging you’ll use to promote your content. It is organized by date and time. You can’t plan the engagement in advance, or course, but it can help make sure you’re not neglecting any social channels. It includes Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Additional rows can be added for more updates or other networks.
Weekly Content Calendar: This Excel template allows you to plan everything you’ll need for a social media calendar, giving you room for the content title, the copy, images, links, and lets you note click engagements. This way, you can tell which types of content or posting times are working best for your audience.
You can always customize the template to your needs, but this helps you make sure you’ve got a status update in mind for each time you plan to post every day. Some templates, like the one from Hootsuite, make batch scheduling updates easy, too.
Start with Holidays and Themes
It’s super easy to plan content for holidays your business and audience celebrates. You don’t have to plan every single word of your content for the later holidays on your social media calendar, but at least you’ll get an idea of the content you will need to create before the holidays approach.
- January: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Super bowl Sunday, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras
- March: International Women’s Day, Ides of March, St. Patrick’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday
- April: April Fool’s Day
- May: May Day, Star Wars Day, Cinco De Mayo, Mother’s Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day
- June: Flag Day, Father’s Day, Junetheeth Day,
- July: Independence Day
- August: No federal holidays, but many brands can tie into Back to School season
- September: Labor Day, 9/11 Remembrance Day, Grandparents Day
- October: Rosh Hashanah, Columbus Day, Yom Kippur, Halloween
- November: Election Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day,
- December: Festivus, Chanukah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanza, New Year’s Eve
After going through holidays, think about themes related to your niche, or any unofficial holidays you can take advantage of, like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Green Monday.
For instance, Holiday Insights provides a full list of strange holidays for the entire year. January 4 is National Spaghetti Day, which would be a great tie-in for an Italian restaurant. National Pasta Day comes along on October 17.
Next, think of themes you can use to your advantage every month.
- National Bath Safety Month
- National Blood Donor Month
- National Braille Literacy Month
- National Hobby Month
- Hot Tea Month
- National Oatmeal Month
- National Soup Month
- American Heart Month
- An Affair to Remember Month
- Black History Month
- Canned Food Month
- Creative Romance Month
- Great American Pie Month
- National Cherry Month
- National Children’s Dental Health Month
- National Grapefruit Month
- National Weddings Month
- Irish American Month
- Music in Our Schools Month
- National Craft Month
- National Frozen Food Month
- National Irish American Heritage Month- designated by Congress in 1995.
- National Nutrition Month
- National Peanut Month
- National Women’s History Month
- Red Cross Month
- Social Workers Month
- National Humor Month
- International Guitar Month
- Keep America Beautiful Month
- Lawn and Garden Month
- National Poetry Month
- National Pecan Month
- National Welding Month
- Records and Information Management Month
- Stress Awareness Month
- Sexual Assault Awareness Month
- Week 1 Library Week
- Week 1 Read a Road Map Week
- Week 2 Garden Week
- Week 3 Organize Your Files Week
- Week 3 Medical Labs Week
- Week 4 Administrative Assistants Week
- Week 4 National Karaoke Week
- Date Your Mate Month
- Foster Care Month
- National Barbecue Month
- National Bike Month
- National Blood Pressure Month
- National Hamburger Month
- National Photograph Month
- National Recommitment Month
- National Salad Month
- Older Americans Month
- Week 1 Nurses Week
- Week 2 Wildflower Week
- Week 3 National Bike Week
- Week 3 National Police Week
- Week 4 Emergency Medical Services Week
- Aquarium Month
- Candy Month
- Dairy Month
- Fight The Filthy Fly Month
- Gay Pride Month
- National Accordion Awareness Month
- National Adopt a Cat Month
- National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
- Rose Month
- Turkey Lovers Month
- Week 1 Fishing Week
- Week 1 National Gardening Week
- Week 2 Email Week
- National Blueberry Month
- National Anti-Boredom Month
- Unlucky Month for Weddings
- National Cell Phone Courtesy Month
- National Hot Dog Month
- National Ice Cream Month
- National Picnic Month
- Week 2 Nude Recreation Month
- Admit You’re Happy Month
- Family Fun Month
- National Catfish Month
- National Eye Exam Month
- National Golf Month
- Peach Month
- Romance Awareness Month
- Water Quality Month
- National Picnic Month
- Week 1 International Clown Week
- Week 1 National Simplify Your Life Week
- Week 2 National Smile Week
- Week 3 Friendship Week
- Week 4 Be Kind to Humankind Week
- Classical Music Month
- Hispanic Heritage Month
- Fall Hat Month
- International Square Dancing Month
- National Blueberry Popsicle Month
- National Courtesy Month
- National Piano Month
- Chicken Month
- Baby Safety Month
- Little League Month
- Honey Month
- Self Improvement Month
- Better Breakfast Month
- Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
- American Pharmacist Month
- Apple Jack Month
- Awareness Month
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Clergy Appreciation Month
- Computer Learning Month
- Cookie Month
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month
- Eat Country Ham Month
- International Drum Month
- Lupus Awareness Month
- National Diabetes Month
- National Pizza Month
- National Vegetarian Month
- National Popcorn Popping Month
- Sarcastic Month
- Seafood Month
- Week 1 Get Organized Week
- Week 1 Customer Service Week
- Week 2 Fire Prevention Week
- Week 2 Pet Peeve Week
- Week 3 Pastoral Care Week
- Aviation History Month
- Child Safety Protection Month
- International Drum Month
- National Adoption Awareness Month
- National Caregivers Appreciation Month
- National Diabetes Awareness Month
- National Epilepsy Month
- National Model Railroad Month
- National Novel Writing Month
- Native American Heritage Month
- Peanut Butter Lovers Month
- Real Jewelry Month
- National Sleep Comfort Month
- Week 1 Chemistry Week
- Week 3 Game and Puzzle Week
- Bingo Month
- Write a Friend Month
Move into Your Blog’s Editorial Calendar
Once you have a basic idea of the main holidays and themes you want to address with your social media accounts, take a look at your blog’s editorial calendar to see which posts you’ll promote where, and how often. Plug those in where appropriate, as they align with the calendar year and your marketing campaigns. At this point, you should at least have a general idea of the social content you’ll post over the course of the year.
If you need help with your blog’s editorial calendar, there are templates to assist with that, as well. And, you can use the holidays from above to generate new content ideas for your blog, if you want.
Move into Your Blog’s Archived Content
If you’ve got an established blog, there’s plenty of content available that you’ve written in the past that can be worth sharing again. For example, if you have a health blog, you’ve likely already written a post about National Diabetes Month in previous years. You don’t have to write an entirely new post this year – you can just edit it slightly to update it for any new events you may know of, and then share it again.
Which blog posts should you use? Hop into your Google Analytics account and look at the most popular posts for each month over the last year. Then pick the top two or three, and figure out where to schedule them. Keep in mind that you don’t want to be overly promotional, and you’ll need to leave room in the calendar for the current content, as well.
Sprinkle in Some Curated Content
Now that you’ve got the basics of what you’ll be promoting for your business throughout the year, it’s time to move on to what you’ll promote for others. You don’t want to plan too much curated content at once – because just like you, others will be producing content throughout the year.
If you don’t want to plan too much actual curated content – you can at least make sure you have the placeholders in the template, so you know when and how much content you need to pull to fill it in.
I’ve already written on this topic, so you can check out my post on 9 Content Curation Tools you can use to fill your queue with top quality content your audience will love. Since you should aim for no more than than about 20% of what you share on your social media channels being promotional or related to your business, the bulk of your content should be curated from other sources.
Leave Room for Humor and Engagement
Not every single post you share on social media for the year has to have a link to your blog, or another blog your audience finds useful. You can leave room in the calendar for sharing funny memes, (or any other meme that’s in line with your brand voice, if humor’s not really your thing) and for asking questions to help foster engagement.
- What’s your favorite _____ and why?
- What’s your most hated ______ and why?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- What’s your favorite color?
- How old were you when you first ______?
- If you won the lottery tomorrow, the first thing you would do is ______.
Depending on the questions you ask, you can use them to get insight into your audience. For instance, if you’re planning a new product launch soon, and you want to know what colors you should make it in, asking the favorite color question may be useful so you can see what colors they’d be most likely to buy – without outright asking them.
Beyond questions, you can create polls to use right on Facebook, too.
Use a Social Scheduling Tool
Though I don’t recommend scheduling things too far out in advance, you can use something like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your social media posts for at least a week, or even a month or two ahead of time.
As you work on building your 2017 social media calendar for the year, focus effort on getting concrete post content ready for January so you can pop it into the tool of your choice and stay ahead of the game the rest of the year.
Save Time and Rock Social Media
Okay, so maybe you won’t have your entire social calendar planned out in minutes – and you really shouldn’t want to… but at least you’ll have a general idea of everything you’ll cover over the course of the year. As you plan your updates, remember that you shouldn’t use the same exact update for each social media platform. If you’re struggling for ways to change things up, I’ve also written on foolproof ways to adapt social content so you can use the same content across all your channels, in the format that’s most conducive to the platform.
The bare bones plan for the entire year will make the actual development of the calendar each month go much faster than if you start each month with a blank canvas.
How far in advance are you trying to plan your calendar? Do you find that having a roadmap for the entire year helps?
Photo credit: Pixabay