The part-time social media development role I’ve been working in since last November is coming to a close. The scoping and planning phase is almost done, and one of the things I’ve stressed throughout this initial phase is the importance of having a plan. On another day I’ll look at putting together a social media plan, but for today I want to keep things relatively simple and talk about a content calendar.
I like having a schedule. It makes me feel much more secure to know I’m not jumping into each day without any idea of what’s going on. That’s not to say I’m completely rigid and unmoving in my activity; however, I find that having a good base makes me more confident and comfortable when going off book and rolling with new information or breaking news.
Developing a schedule
For me, a content calendar can be as simple as a note of the day’s activity in my diary. This can scale up to a spreadsheet with a calendar month per sheet, detailing what platforms I’ll be posting to on that day and giving a brief outline of the topic being covered. This schedule may encompass some recurring styles of post, such as listicles, reviews, profiles, infographics and so on. Method of delivery and content will depend on the subject matter, but there are many options available.
For the more detailed spreadsheet-based calendar, I work out some baselines to hit that month. This could be something like:
- 1 post to Facebook each day
- 1 share on Facebook each day
- 1 unique Tweet each day
- 4 retweets each day
- 1 blog post per week
- 1 video per fortnight
From this starting point, I consider relevant content areas. Do I have any upcoming events to promote? Am I producing new material that I would like the share during this period? Are there stories or themes trending in areas of interest to my readers that I’d like to highlight?
Then I draft as much as possible – be that writing text, preparing images or editing video. For social media, I also suggest utilising scheduling tools (like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck) to have at least some upcoming posts ready to go live automatically on a pre-decided date and time.
Flexibility is massively important, too, particularly with how quickly things develop these days. Breaking news, trending topics and more may necessitate a change in schedule to be current, join in conversations and provide the best experiences to your audience.
Once the base plan is in place, I find it’s much easier to have that level of flexibility. Late-breaking content can be slotted in to replace a planned or scheduled post, which may be able to be reused later.
In my opinion, that’s preferable to realising on the day that you’re due to put up a blog post, and that you really should post something to your social networks, and then having to scramble to come up with the content. Content development takes time, so by having some baseline posts created, it takes the pressure off and means you can stay ahead and focus on moving forward rather than always trying to catch up.
Consistent delivery of interesting, engaging content is an important part of being a contributing, effective and valued member of the online community. It helps your audience trust that you will be there to provide them with something that is both useful and interesting.
Do you use a schedule for posting content on your website or social media? Do you prefer to wing it? Or is a middle-ground approach more appropriate?
Coming up next week: 10 tips for content development