If you’re not taking the time to plan your social media calendar in advance, you could find yourself scrambling to find something to share. This is a big problem because sharing quality content across your social channels is one of the most important things you can do to engage your audience and attract new followers.

That’s why one of the most critical things marketers can do is take the time to plan out their own social media content calendar. Social content calendars allow you to plan out months of quality social posts ahead of time, and save a ton of time sharing it on social.

This post details how you can create a unique social media editorial calendar, and some of the tools that make it easy to find and share social content.

Why You Need a Social Editorial Calendar

Sometimes companies can churn out social posts very quickly. Oreo, a company known for their strong Twitter presence, was able to send out this tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl mere moments after the power went out:

But more often than not, it takes companies more than a few minutes to find or create something to share. In the case of digital agency Huge, it took two entire months to plan and send this tweet on behalf of their client President Cheese:

Planning social media posts in advance will ensure that you always have quality content to share with your social media followers.

How to Create Your Social Media Editorial Calendar

If your company is new to the idea of setting up an editorial calendar for social, or if you want to take a look at a unique way of setting one up, here’s a four-step process for implementing and maintaining an efficient social media calendar for reliable content posting.

  1. Figure Out What Content Resonates

Before you start searching for content to share on social you need to figure out what your audience actually likes. A fantastic way to do that is to look at past social media posts to see which were most successful. We’ve written an in-depth article on how to find your successful posts by conducting a social media audit, but the easiest way is to access your social media analytics.

Pull all of your unique social media analytics with a tool like Sprout Social, Twitter or Facebook Insights. Below is an example of how to view your Sent Messages with Sprout (available with a free trial).

Make sure you’re sorting your messages by the metric that is most important to you, whether that’s clicks, responses or total reach. Once you have an idea of what kind of content works best you can move onto the next step.

  1. Decide On How Often to Post

This step depends on a handful of different things like the company, your audience, the campaign, and the social networks being used. Always keep your audience in mind and ensure you’re not bombarding them with posts that are irrelevant or inappropriate.

If you’re looking for some basic standards, though, Constant Contact wrote a post containing guidelines on how often to post to social. Here are some of the highlights:

Facebook: 3-10 times per week

Twitter: at least 5 times a day

LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week

Pinterest: 5-10 times per day

There’s a great chance your post frequency will depend on the amount, experience and authority of your social media team, so don’t feel like you have to send out less than stellar content to meet these guidelines.

  1. Create or Source Great Content to Share

Once you have an idea of what kind of content your audience enjoys and how much you’ll need to satiate the quantity of posts you need to create, it’s time to find links to share. If you don’t have enough of your own content to fill your calendar, use tools to curate relevant content.

  1. Fill Up Your Social Media Editorial Calendar

You’ve got the process in place, now it is time to start filling up your editorial calendar. You’ll want to use a tool that allows you to schedule your social messages and visual your entire content calendar. Sprout Social has built out publishing tools for just this purpose. Check out a completely free trial and schedule a months worth of content today.

Fill in the calendar with links to relevant content, resources and your own posts. These social messages will ensure you’re providing your audiences with smart, useful content and give them a reason to follow you. Additionally, you can find relevant holidays or events–from Thanksgiving to National Ice Cream Day–that you can tie in with your business. In fact, Sprout Social created it’s own hashtag holidays calendar so you can keep track of all the eccentric holidays. These timely events will help populate you calendar and bring personality to your feed.

Think through your must-haves, whether it is a product release or scheduled company announcement, and develop content to promote those initiatives. Additionally, make sure you’re planning out how much promotion each initiative warrants; some large releases should have multiple social posts while others only warrant one.

Lastly, pump up the personality of your editorial calendar by planning out posts that highlight company culture or showcase who you are as a brand.

Other Tools for Building a Social Editorial Calendar

If you’ve made it to step four but need a separate tool for your actual social media scheduling, never fear. Although not specifically created with social media in mind, there are a handful of different calendar apps that can help you out.

Base Camp

Base camp is a project management app, and it can be used effectively from the content creation part of the process all the way through to scheduling. It’s easy to manage multiple projects at once, and even comes with a free trial.

WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin

This plugin is mostly for planning and scheduling content for your blog, not social media. However, if you have your social profiles set to share your blog posts, it will take care of the social portion as well.

Edit Flow

This is another editorial calendar tool that works right in WordPress. Edit Flow gives you the ability to view a month-by-month editorial calendar, write customer comments on the content and create segmented teams.

Google Calendar

If you want to keep it simple you could always just create a new Google calendar for the process and invite everyone on the team to view it. Those teammates could also add all of their own posts and ideas to the same calendar.

Practice Makes Perfect

It can take even the most socially-savvy companies time to set up an effective workflow for creating and posting social media content. The main idea is to plan far enough ahead and give yourself time to work everything out with your teams so that each post is thought-out and strategically aligned by the time it reaches your audience.

Some More Quick Links: