The only thing that’s harder than creating a custom content calendar is trying to come up with content on the fly every single day.
As a close-knit, small team, we love a good spontaneous moment or social media post.
However, if you rely completely on spontaneity to fill your social media feed, you’re likely to not have very much to post each day, without suddenly feeling stressed and forced to get creative.
Instead, we prefer a much more planned approach, that allows us to be prepared for the month ahead; taking into account important events, holidays, hiring needs, educational content, and promotion of new products/services.
Then, when a spontaneous moment occurs, we can easily say, “Go for it!” and work it in.
We take the same approach when planning our client’s monthly content calendars.
Now that you know more of the why behind it, let’s talk about what a content calendar is and how you can create a custom one for your business, too.
A content calendar is simply a document, system, or program that outlines the content you’re going to publish on your social media channels (&/or blog) each month.
There is an endless supply of free content calendars out there (just try a quick Google search), which are great to use as an example or a jumping off point, but we’ve found that most will need some tweaking.
As no two businesses are alike, it makes sense that your strategy will have specific needs. For example, your business may have multiple team members who need to collaborate on the content calendar together. In that case, maybe a web-based software program suits your needs well.
Or maybe an extra software subscription isn’t in the budget, so you need to rely on something more traditional, like Excel, Word, or their Google counterparts.
Let’s consider this Step 1.
Think through what medium – or program- would work best for your team. Here at R&A, we honestly use Excel. After trying a number of different things, we determined that you really can’t beat the flexibility or control that Excel offers. Not to mention its accessibility, low cost, and ability to save in different formats, like a PDF.
Next, is some big picture or month-at-a-glance thinking. If you sat down and just tried to start filling in 30-day’s worth of content without much forethought, it would be pretty difficult, don’t you think?
By outlining some monthly themes or topics, hard deadlines or launches, and events or holidays, you can start building out a structure. (Go ahead, breathe a little sigh of relief!) Consider these are your ‘no-brainer’ content items.
Now, not every holiday or “National _____ Day” will apply to your brand. You don’t have to promote or feel forced into talking about something that just isn’t the right fit.
Your audience always knows when you’re being genuine or not! So stick to what makes sense or feels natural for your brand.
Now that you’ve started filling things in a bit, you’ll want to identify and outline what elements you need to know for each post.
If you’re using Excel, these items will make-up your ‘columns’.
For Example, you may want to include the following:
- Social media channel
- If you’re active on multiple, you will want to slightly tailor your posts to the ‘language’ of each channel.
- Or type of post – this will help ensure you’re adding variety
- Or the copy
- If applicable
- As high-quality & on-brand as possible
- As relevant
- Other to consider:
- Delegation (list the team member responsible)
Now, input your big-picture items from Step 2 as the ‘rows’ (if using Excel or Google Sheets). Here’s where it all comes together! Continue filling in your posts by date and alternating between your different categories.
For example, you don’t want to overly market your products/services, but you don’t want to never talk about them either. (How else will you sell them?) Intermixing lifestyle or more culture-related content is still very important because it humanizes your brand and allows your audience to view or interact with your brand in a new light.
After all, it is social media. Even though you’re a brand, you’re still a brand made up of humans!
Continue filling in your content until it’s complete. There’s no set number of posts you should have each month. What’s most important is that you’re consistent and it stays high-quality. If you can only reasonably handle a certain of posts a week, then stick to it. Don’t post a cat meme just because it made you laugh on your lunch break and you feel like you have to post something. It’s okay to be picky!
If you’re new at this, aim for 15 posts/month and if you have spontaneous moments to add in throughout the month, great! If not, you have a solid amount of content consistently being shared with your audience.
You did it!
Looking for a bit more help or guidance? Want us to help execute your monthly content? We’ve got a social media team just for you! Get in touch here.
Got a content strategy down already? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below.
-The R&A Team