food for thought

How to Plan a Social Media Content Calendar You’ll Actually Use

We recently partnered with Colorado Proud to offer a six-part, FREE webinar series on marketing tips and tricks. Our webinar on “How to Plan a Social Media Calendar”  inspired this blog post. You can watch that webinar here. For info on the remaining webinars, click here.

By now, most businesses understand the importance of showing up genuinely and often on social media. While every company may have a different strategy, consistency is key for everyone—and that requires a plan.

Developing a social media calendar helps you align your content with strategic business objectives while keeping yourself on track to post on social media regularly. If you were building a house, a social media calendar would be your blueprint. Without a master plan, even the best-laid plans fall apart.

In this blog, we dive into creating, planning, and executing a monthly social media calendar. You will learn how to set yourself up for success each month instead of a last-minute “what-are-we-posting-today??” panic.

What exactly is a content strategy?

While “content strategy” might sound like a fancy buzzword, seeing the bigger marketing picture helps you understand the goal of social media for your business in the first place. Content strategy is the creation, execution and management of all owned media that represents your brand. It continuously shows who you are and why you are the best in your industry.

Blog posts, newsletters, social media posts, website, PR, and cross-promotional partnerships are examples of efforts that make up a content strategy. Every time you post on social media, you support the other pieces of your content strategy. Social media is a piece of your marketing puzzle, but not the whole picture.

Social media content strategy is figuring out:

  • What you want to say
  • How you want to say it
  • Which platforms you will use

It’s also important to find a sustainable social media planning process that fits your schedule. With so many false “truths” about social media floating around the internet, it is hard to know where to focus. Let’s get some clarity here first:

Things not to focus on:

  • “Best” time of day to post
  • How many hashtags you’re using
  • Your follower count fluctuations

Things to focus on:

  • What time of day will you be able to post?
  • When will you make time to engage with followers?
  • When and how will you create content?
  • How often will you be able to post?


Using a social media content calendar

Now that you understand your focus, let’s dive into the details of formatting your social media content calendar. The format and structure of social media calendars vary widely, but the basics you need to include in your calendar are: posting date, platforms you’ll post on, copy, images/video, people you’ll tag in the post. There are many different options for hosting your calendar, like Airtable, Google Spreadsheets, HeyOrca! and Asana. Here’s an example of a Google spreadsheet calendar.

Instagram screenshots

Recurring and foundational content

There are certain types of posts you’ll repeat every month—like product/service promotional posts, employee highlights, mission/vision reminders and company updates. These are what my mentor Andrea Jones calls “Foundational Content.” You will want to repeat these posts over and over again.

Here are a few examples:

  • Email sign-up asks
  • Product/service features
  • Blog posts
  • Customer success stories
  • Who we are
  • What we do
  • Brand pillars
  • Industry news

Recurring content helps you know what is important to repeat every month. Notice we said the word “repeat.” Many businesses feel like they are too repetitive if they repeat messages or content. It is important to remember that ~10% (or less) of your followers see your posts the first time, so repeating is essential to reach more people.


Mapping your monthly content

Once you have your recurring content, you’ll want to add more timely posts—like national days, seasonal trends and newsworthy announcements. Think of your profile as your company’s resume. Not only do you want to show off your product or service, but you also want to show the people, values and ideas behind them. Anticipate questions people who have just discovered your brand on social media might ask, and work those into your content to answer them before they even have to ask you.

As you’re brainstorming posts, remember: if you’re not excited about your content, your followers won’t be either. If you’re just posting to fill the calendar, rethink your content.

How many posts should I pre-plan?

The short answer is that it depends on the business, but pre-planning 8-10 posts per month is a good starting place. But, remember, you do not have to post every day; think quality over quantity. Once you have an overview of the month, you’ll have a good idea for any holes you might have in the calendar.  Do leave some gaps because often, those in-the-moment posts have more energy and perform even better than your pre-planned content.

Your social media toolbox

Having the right tools in place to help you post is as essential as pre-planning your content. Whether you decide to pre-schedule your content, or post natively, is up to your schedule and budget needs, but pre-scheduling posts ensure you will not forget to post if your day goes haywire. I recommend Planoly, Hootsuite and Facebook Business Suite for pre-scheduling content.

For creating social graphics, Canva is the way to go. Canva enables you to quickly resize for different social platforms, develop repeatable templates and save your brand fonts, logos and colors for easy use. For video editing, IG Reels and TikTok have many native video editing tools within the apps that you can use for free. Grammarly can also be a lifesaver when it comes to avoiding typos and improving your writing.

Your monthly plan

Now that we have gone through all of the steps, here’s an overview of your monthly plan:

  • Start with recurring content ideas
  • Add in holidays & seasonal posts
  • Put them into your content calendar
  • Write posts + create graphics
  • Block out an hour to schedule all posts
  • Leave room for in-the-moment posts
  • Analyze, iterate, repeat

Now that you’re armed with the tools and knowledge to pre-plan your social media content, you can go forth and conquer!

Interested in learning more about social media strategy and using social media to grow your business? Get in touch with us about our social media training programs.


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