Tips for creating a social media calendar

4 February 2020

There’s no better time to get organised with your social media activity than the start of a new year. If you’ve been pushing that social media calendar down your list of priorities for the last 12 months, now is the time to tackle it. It will keep your social media activity on track in 2020 and beyond.

Why invest in a social media calendar?

It’s one of those tasks that’s easy to put off. There always seems to be something more urgent to do. But having a content calendar in place will keep you organised and save you time. Rather than spending each day thinking about what you’re going to post, you can schedule your content in advance. This will free up your time to analyse your content and fine tune it.

Having a well thought through calendar also helps you to keep sight of the bigger picture. Jessie Hunt, freelance consultant and social media coordinator for Action on Postpartum Psychosis, says it’s crucial to align your social media content with the wider objectives of the organisation. “That way you know what social media is being used for over the coming months and years.”

Six steps to creating a social media calendar

1. Be clear on audience

Before you start building your calendar, you need to be clear on your target audience. Ask yourself: Who are we speaking to? What are they interested in? This will help with what type of content you should be posting on your social media channels. Keep your audience in mind whenever you’re writing your posts.

2. Carry out an audit and background research

Review your analytics and look at how previous posts have performed. You’ll be able to see what type of content people have engaged with. It will help you to assess which platforms work best for your target audience and what time of day they are mostly likely to be online. Also, spend time researching relevant hashtags that will connect you with your target audience.

You should also look at what your competitors are doing as this will inspire ideas like Lucy Noble, digital manager at Overcoming MS, does. She says: “We’ve been looking at what people in the MS community are saying about the organisation, as well as what other charities are talking about. This has helped us to plan topics.”

3. Build your calendar

There are different options for building a social media calendar, ranging from Excel and Google Drive to online project management tools. Whatever tool you choose to use, decide how you’re going to layout your calendar and make sure it works for you and your organisation.

You may want separate worksheets/pages for different platforms. You’ll then want fields in the calendar to input copy for posts, the date and time posts will go out, and information on what image or video you’re using. It’s also helpful to record which team member is responsible for scheduling each post and a note of when each post has been scheduled.

4. Populate your content

For starters, plot in awareness days, key activities happening in the organisation and wider news that is relevant to your cause (for example, the launch of a new report on loneliness). These will provide useful hooks for social media posts. Having a pool of case studies, images and videos to hand will also inspire posts.

It’s important that you have a variety of content. No one wants to read promotional posts all the time. Make sure you strike a good balance between posts that promote your charity and posts that entertain or provide useful information, such as curated articles and news stories relating to your cause area. Think about the value for readers. Also, user-generated content (for example, photos and videos featuring your service users) makes for a more powerful and interesting way to tell your charity’s story.

5. Involve your colleagues

The 24/7 nature of social media means you need a constant flow of new content. By encouraging your colleagues to contribute ideas and suggestions, you’ll start to build up a pipeline of social media posts. It also means that your calendar will capture what is going on across the whole organisation, rather than just focusing on pockets of the charity’s work.

Both Overcoming MS and Action on Postpartum Psychosis have put processes in place to make sure they are posting a variety of content on their social media channels. This includes colour coding their calendars and supporting staff to share ideas for social media.

To get your colleagues feeding into social media, set up a process that allows them to share news and activities from across the organisation. This could be a regular meeting or asking them to email you each week.

6. Analyse and refine

Once your scheduled posts are going out, start measuring the performance of your posts and see what is working and what isn’t. You’ll be able to use this information to tweak your content.

For example, if staff at your charity regularly ask you to post content that doesn’t perform well online, show them the data. Remember data analysis can be your friend – it’s hard for colleagues to argue against the evidence.

It probably feels like there is a lot do but following this step-by-step approach will help you to break the process down into manageable chunks. Once you’re up and running, you’ll be a better position. You’ll be more organised, have time to measure how your posts perform and have a strong understanding of how your social media content is supporting your charity’s wider goals.

Photo: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Kellie Smith

copy writer, editor and proof-reader, freelance

Kellie Smith is a freelance copywriter, editor and proofreader, with over seven years of communications and content experience with charities. Before working in the third sector, Kellie worked in journalism and copywriting across a range of trade and consumer titles.