7 tips to create a social media content calendar

For a vibrant online community, think visually, develop recurring features and continuously measure. Fans will start engaging in no time.

“Share this news!” “Retweet this great testimonial!” “Pin our new infographic!” “Promote our contest!” “Get them to like us—really, really like us!”

It’s good to be popular. Once the forgotten bunch, social media managers are becoming increasingly popular as their brand and marketing colleagues clamor to get their babies some social media love.

Before you post, keep in mind that we’re publishers now, and with that comes great responsibility. It’s not just about keeping our internal clients happy, but our followers as well. It requires a careful balancing act.

Sure, there are serendipitous and random conversation opportunities you can’t plan in advance—after all, you want content that is disruptive and fun. But you need to supplement that with an organizational framework that ensures social media engagement efforts are tightly integrated with the organization’s marketing, PR and communications plans.

To do this effectively, you need to create, consult and maintain a content calendar (weekly or monthly) that serves as a roadmap for all social media efforts. What’s more, you need to share the calendar across the organization to get everyone onboard, and to improve and extend your social media reach and results.

Here are seven resolutions to make before you publish:

1. Target appropriately. For each social media channel and piece of content, ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish? Who are we talking to? What brand messages do we want to convey? Align and craft posts accordingly to ensure they are relevant and engaging to your various audiences.

2. Take inventory. Audit the timely and compelling content you currently have or have in the works. Create a worksheet to organize it by topic and type (news links, blog posts, poll questions, videos, infographics, e-books, events, etc.).

3. Create themes. Pick topics or themes in broad categories that you can break down into sub-categories. Align your theme accordingly based on the demographics/interests of each social network. The key to success is to decide upon a manageable number of categories, product areas or marketing promotions to focus on each month.

Consider developing recurring features (e.g. “Fun Fridays”). And don’t forget freebies-holidays, national observances, events and cultural happenings all provide opportunities to make connections and spark conversations. Authenticity is key: Don’t make brand connections that feel forced.

This approach provides a powerful framework to guide your efforts, spark ideas for compelling messages and identify potential content gaps.

4. Sell softly. Shake things up; it shouldn’t be all about you. Social media expert Paul Chaney recommends the 70/20/10 rule. Seventy percent of content should focus on your customers’ interest and needs, 20 percent should be other people’s content, and 10 percent should be promotional.

5. Think visually. Countless studies demonstrate that visually compelling posts are more engaging than links and typically get more conversations and shares than other types of content. What picture conveys the story you want to tell?

6. Give people a reason to follow or like you. Compelling content remains king. You can enhance your content by providing exclusives, products, events and offers. Don’t forget to ask for feedback and recognize your followers.

7. Continuously measure. Track and record results within the calendar to determine what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Keep these approaches in mind to make the social media content and engagement planning process less daunting and more efficient and effective.

What would you add to this list?

Peter Duckler is a senior consultant at ComBlu, and specializes in social engagement strategy and execution. A version of this article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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