4 Simple Steps for Creating a Social Editorial Calendar

By Guest Comment

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There’s no possible way that you can spend every waking moment managing your brand’s social media presence—at least not without suffering from some serious social media burnout. Even if by some miracle you could stay at the computer all day every day, why would you want to?

There are so many different tools and strategies out there that can save you precious time on social that you can use to take care of other important things, like sleep.

One of the best ways to save your limited time on social is to create a social media editorial calendar for efficient scheduling and posting of your social content.

Our graphic below helps summarize the process, but we get into deeper details in the rest of the post.

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Why do you need a social media editorial calendar?

We all know that content is king, and that effectively curating content will put you miles ahead of your competitors, but why else should you spend your time putting this process in place? Here are a few key reasons to take advantage of a social editorial calendar.

To save time: Your time on social media is limited and only 20 percent of that time should be spent creating and curating content.

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That doesn’t give you too much time to source and schedule all of the content you need to entertain your followers. But if you take the time to sit down and focus on filling your calendar all at once, it can be much more efficient than if you were to create posts on the fly. In the immortal words of Ron Swanson, “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.”

To test best posting times: Usually, when creating social media posts on the fly, there isn’t a ton of thought that goes into choosing when the best time to post it is. Social media content is typically posted as soon as it’s created. However, in planning in advance, you can test posting your content at various times of the day and night to see which time windows yield the highest levels of engagement.

For increased accountability: Social media blunders are permanent, and accidentally posting the wrong message online can lead to a lot of trouble for you and your brand. Planning your content weeks—or even months—in advance gives you an increased window for finding potentially damaging social media mistakes.

Those are three solid reasons to justify spending just a little bit of time setting up your own social editorial calendar. If you think that it’s worth it, just follow these four steps to get started.

Figure out which networks to post to

This is one of the first questions brands ask themselves when it comes to social media marketing. Which social networks should you spend the time and resources establishing a presence on? With so many social media sites out there these days, it almost makes you jealous of the early adopters whose choices were limited to Facebook, Twitter or both.

There’s no universal answer when it comes to deciding which social networks brands should be on. However, there is some research you can conduct to find which networks you could thrive on.

Look to past success: One way to find out which social networks you should spend time on is to look at which networks you’ve already been finding success on. It’s likely that you have a general idea of which sites are effective for your brand, but it can be much more effective to use an analytics tool.

Try using a website analytics tool like Google Analytics to see which networks currently drive qualified traffic to your site.

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If you’ve set up your Google Analytics account you can access this example screen by navigating to your Analytics homepage, and drilling into Acquisition > Channels > Social.

Check your demographics: If you have an idea of who your perfect social media customer is—including age, gender and location—you can look to this infographic on social media demographics to find out exactly which social media websites they’re most likely to frequent.

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The example above has the demographics for Instagram. If your ideal customer is consists of females between the ages of 18 and 29, that would be a great website to spend time on.

Choose a posting frequency

Once you determine which networks you want to be on, you should figure out how often you need to post to them, but the difficult thing is that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to choosing how often to post to each of your social networks. Here are some basic guidelines for how often to post to each network.

Twitter: three to six times per day. With 500 million tweets sent on Twitter every day, there’s a chance that your tweets could get lost in the shuffle. That’s why you should send messages to the network multiple times every single day. There’s much more acceptance when it comes to posting frequently to Twitter, so why not take full advantage of it?

Facebook: two to three times per day. Facebook has an average of 936 million daily active users, which makes it an incredibly enticing network for marketers to post their content to frequently. However, it does seem as though the Facebook News Feed algorithm will reduce the reach of your organic posts if you post too frequently. So post sparingly, and make sure your content garners engagement.

Instagram: one to two times per day. The burgeoning image sharing network has an average of 70 million photos posted every day, and you should make sure that at least one of those is coming from your brand. As the network continues to grow rapidly, users are looking for top brands to follow, so getting your content out there early is key.

Google+: one to two times per day. Google+ is a wild card when it comes to posting frequency, but it’s safer to err on the side of posting more often than less. As you can see in the picture taken below, when people search for your brand terms on Google, they often see your most recent Google+ posts. So it’s better to always have a fresh post appear to show that you’re always creating great new content.

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LinkedIn: one to two times per day. LinkedIn poses a very unique opportunity for companies in the business-to-business space. The nature of LinkedIn draws in an audience that is much more business oriented while visiting, so they may be more inclined to buy a B2B product. Companies in that space should take advantage of this and post more frequently.

Find and create fantastic content

Don’t be surprised if step two made you feel a little overwhelmed. We all know that content is king, but when did it become necessary to make over 10 social media posts per day? How could you possibly find enough content to keep your fans and followers interested?

The answer is that you can have to make content as well as source great content to keep your social media posting queue full. Here are a few quick ways to make sure you always have enough content to entertain your social followers.

Use Feedly: Feedly is an awesome content-aggregation site that helps you find some of the best content already created for sharing with your audience. Simply subscribe to your favorite blogs and publications, and Feedly will pull all of the newest articles from those sources into your own content stream. You can then go on to manually share those articles with your followers, or you can set Feedly up to directly share these articles to your social using a platform like Sprout Social.

Write a blog: Whether you manage social media full-time, are covering for someone out of town or are the owner of the business behind the social profiles, you have a unique perspective on the industry. Spend some time writing for your company blog. Not only will a blog post give you something to share on social, but it also expands your personal portfolio. If your company doesn’t have a blog, you can always turn to a content hosting site like Medium.

Create a video: Video is quickly becoming one of the most popular content mediums in the marketing industry. Take advantage of current video interest by creating your own to share with your fans. You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg; even a lower-budget video can resonate well with your audience.

Create an image: If you don’t think a video would make for a good social post, then consider an image. This can be something that you take yourself, something that you design completely from scratch or a hybrid of the two. If you’re having trouble, check out this article with 36 free tools to help create unique social media images.

Schedule content to fill your calendar

Once you know which networks to post to, how often to post to those networks and exactly what you want to post, all you have to do next is start to schedule those messages. Some of the networks have tools that allow you to schedule your posts, but it’s much easier to use a tool like Sprout Social to schedule social posts.

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With something like this, you’ll know exactly how many posts you have scheduled for each approaching day, making it easy to gauge when exactly you’ll need to take some more time to fill up your social editorial calendar.

Michael Patterson is a digital marketing specialist at Sprout Social, a social media management platform for business.

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