Build your Own Social Media Calendar
In our hectic day-to-day work activities, tasks can be delayed, important events forgotten and deadlines missed. However, with proper planning and preparation, and a handy tool or two, your social media tasks don’t have to suffer.
When I came aboard at ECF last March, running the social media accounts was going to be just a portion of my job. With that in mind, I knew that I would need a way to organize our social media efforts so that I could be as efficient as possible. I soon came to the conclusion that a social media content calendar was the answer.
Social media content calendars are exactly what they sound like—a way to organize and plan your social media copy and assets across all of your channels. They serve a number of purposes, including, sharing copy (text you have written) with co-workers, keeping track of important days and events, and organizing copy and assets (pictures, graphics or other items to go with your text). This article explores the reasons for implementing a content calendar and how you can create one.
Why use a social media content calendar?
We can all use a little more organization in our lives. A content calendar can give you that. If you are the only person with access to your church or organization’s social media accounts, it can help keep you organized. If you share access with other coworkers, it can be especially useful as you all work through one document. It will help keep your messages consistent in both tone and timing.
Not only does the content calendar keep your day-to-day posts organized, it can also help your planning for the bigger picture. For example, do you highlight specific programs at different times of the year? Using your content calendar, you can develop a plan for the timing, frequency, etc. of your posts.
Plan for important events
Have an important event coming up? Write it down in your content calendar and never miss a big day again! Being able to see a big event coming up means you can more effectively plan your messaging leading up to the event as well as day of postings.
Planning your content ahead of time and avoiding the last minute scramble for copy and assets saves you time in the long run. If you are the only person who runs the social media accounts, you can plan for the full week, and with the help of a scheduler, like Hootsuite, you can even schedule your posts. This is also handy when you are away on vacation, ensuring that social media does not suffer in your absence.
Build your social media presence
Building your social media presence requires consistency. Being able to easily visualize your content allows you to see holes in your messaging or a tendency to post too frequently on one channel over others.
It can also help you to create better content. Seeing everything laid out in the calendar, and studying your analytical data, shows you trends in what works well with your audience. Perhaps posts that go out on certain days or at certain times do better. The time you are saving with the content calendar can give you the time to really investigate these trends.
How to make a social media content calendar
Now that you are on board with having a content calendar, let’s discuss how to make one. You can keep it very simple and use an Excel spreadsheet. Here at ECF, I use Google Sheets. I find it works a little better for managing a living document shared by a couple of people.
Let me walk you through how I made my content calendar in Google Sheets. As you can see here, my calendar is simple—one space for each of my channels and that’s it. I write my copy in the document and highlight it in blue when I schedule it. Since we highlight certain programs at different times of the year, those posts are highlighted in purple. This helps me visualize the timing for posts about these particular programs.
If you aren’t a fan of the idea of building your content calendar yourself, there are plenty of other options. A quick Google search will yield numerous examples, free templates and other resources to guide you. These two examples from Hootsuite and Smartsheet provide lists of available templates. There are a lot of helpful things out there!
Included here is a content calendar for the next three months as a resource for you. Feel free to try it out and see if it works for you and your situation. As you fill in your calendar, remember that working with social media requires you to be flexible. Be prepared to move things around or delete them entirely if the content no longer works.
With a social media content calendar, be ready to become the most efficient social media manager possible!
Kjerstin Besser is Associate Program Director for Leadership and Communications at the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF). She assists with the production of the online publication, ECF Vital Practices, and with ECF's educational events and resources. Prior to working for ECF, Kjerstin was the Information & Referral Specialist at the National Down Syndrome Society. She earned a BA in International Relations from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL.
- Social Media Campaigns by Charis Bhagianathan, Vestry Papers, November 2016
- Social Media Evangelist by Richelle Thompson, ECF Vital Practices blog, April 28, 2015
- Making Social Media Easy by Jeremiah Sierra, ECF Vital Practices blog, May 29, 2012
- Episcopal Share: A Book of Common Prayer for Social Media, ECF Vital Practices Tools
- Handling Blowback: When Social Media Gets Mean by Jake Dell, ECF Vital Practices blog, July 8, 2011