In the last five years, social media has grabbed more and more of the spotlight from traditional marketing. Our clients are seeing the value of a social media presence and are rerouting their tactics to incorporate these new previously unchartered efforts. Even though social media strategies and best practices seemingly change daily, one must-have item has stayed strong in our quest for success: the social media content calendar.

When Matrix Partners first started exploring the social media landscape, we were on equal footing with our clients – we knew about it, but we didn’t necessarily know how to do it. To put ourselves ahead of the game, we hired experts in this field and created a department focused on this emerging new media. The first thing those experts did? Implemented a content calendar.

Too often, we see brands flailing in the social media space because they think “how hard can it be?” Posting to your own personal profiles is vastly different than what brands should be doing, and having a strategy should be the first step. Posting at random – when you see a competitor’s post, when you have a sale, etc. – is fine for the occasional like or click, but you aren’t getting the most out of your potential audience. With a content calendar, you’re able to plan ahead, find the best posting times and even schedule things out in advance if you have the know-how.

For the sake of this blog, assume we’re talking about Facebook. In terms of scheduling, reporting and audience insights, this is the platform that offers the most for a brand testing the social media waters. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn all require their own structured strategy and might work well for your business, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick with the #1 social network.

For our clients, we like to plan a month in advance, as this gives us time to incorporate larger campaigns, giveaways, sales or events that they may be planning. It also gives us time to make adjustments if something pops up last minute. Because we have a devoted team, we’re able to make this timeline work, but even 1-2 weeks worth of content is a great start for someone who might not be able to outsource their social.

The amount of content you find or create depends on your strategy, but you can save some time and effort with an ad spend. Because the pet space is so crowded, we recommend that all of our clients have at least a nominal ad spend each month, to help keep their content and brand top-of-mind with potential customers who are active on Facebook. We also recognize that Facebook isn’t the most effective place for businesses who want to rely only on organic engagement; Facebook uses algorithms to decide what content is served and when, and business content has suffered in past years. Promotional content is often deemed less engaging than other types, and is therefore pushed to the bottom of newsfeeds or not served at all. Depending on your audience, you could be posting twice a day, every day, and still receive the same reach as a business posting only twice per week with a hyper-targeted ad spend strategy.

If you’re employing ad spend, you can rely on fewer posts. Promoting content allows you to serve your post over the course of multiple days, creating a longer lifespan for one piece of content. This is not only ideal for saving time, it’s also the best practice for targeting your posts to the people who are most likely to take action on them.

Strategy – both ad and content – changes from business to business. Each company has their own unique set of goals, and in almost all cases, there’s some aspect of social media that can help you reach them. Ad strategy is complex enough for its own blog post, but basic content strategy can be more easily digested. The key to success with your content is knowing your audience – are they fans of rescue pets? Do they prefer positive reinforcement training? Do you work closely with therapy dogs and their owners? Sharing content that’s engaging, informative and entertaining to your core demographic is the best way to fill out a successful content calendar.

Let’s say you have a list of things to share with your fans, but you’re just not sure how to organize it. Firstly, check out your Facebook Insights to see what days and times your audience is online. Even with an ad strategy, it doesn’t hurt to post content when it’s most likely to be seen organically. Secondly, space it out so you’re not bugging your followers – if you have a substantial number of people hiding your posts or unfollowing your page, you’re doing too much.

Once you have the content types and posting frequency under control, add the following information to your content calendar:
– A status to keep track of what’s scheduled, what needs approval and what’s already gone out.
– Ad spend allocations so you can keep track of your monthly expenditures and which posts require more money.
– A section for each platform with adjusted copy for each (hashtags for Instagram; adjusted posting times for Twitter, etc.).
– Images to be used to accompany posts.
– Dates and posting times for each post.

As an agency, it’s imperative for us to be organized so we can deliver a measurable product to our clients. With a content calendar, we can demonstrate the work that our social and design teams have put in and we can get input from the clients themselves. In this way, we’re taking the brunt of the work off of the client’s plate, but keeping final say in their court.

As an individual or an in-house marketing professional, it’s just as imperative to keep your thoughts and strategy organized so you don’t miss out on the opportunities that social media can offer. A content calendar is a perfect start for a basic strategy. If you’re not sure where to go from there, shoot us a quick email at info@matrix1.com to talk social strategy for your business.