Does the idea of creating a content calendar leave you scratching your head and feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start? I get it. We all struggle with content creation. It can be a lot to think about planning content in advance. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m going to walk you through why you should plan content in advance and how to do it.
Why you should plan content in advance
Planning your social media content in advance has many benefits. Here are some of the most impactful:
- Increase growth. You have to be active on social media to grow your following. The best way to do that is to share valuable content consistently. Keep showing up and stay top of mind by posting engaging, valuable content consistently.
- End the what to post scramble. Do you find yourself constantly scrambling to just post anything because you feel like you have to? By having a plan and schedule you don’t have to worry about that anymore.
- Utilize batch working to spend less time on daily social media posting so you can focus on engagement instead. By spending focused time on your social media content you will end up with higher quality content and ultimately spend less time on social media content. By sitting down and blocking out some time to plan, you’ll save hours compared to taking time out of each day to plan your posts.
- Plan ahead for anything that you need to create. When you create a social media plan, you will also be able to batch work other elements of your social media strategy. Looking ahead, you can sit down and write and schedule blog posts for the month all at once, you can spend focused time creating all the graphics you’ll need for the week or month. This will free up more time and energy in your daily schedule, and will also make your content and graphics more consistent and cohesive.
- You’ll be less likely to miss something important. When you plan ahead, you can take time to look at the upcoming national and “social media” holidays and work those into your calendar.
How to start planning your social media content in advance
When you are getting started with a plan, start small. If you have always just flown by the seat of your pants, start by planning a week in advance. Once you get the routine and habits down, you can start to plan for longer periods of time. Here are important things to keep in mind when planning:
- Check your analytics. If you are going to take time to plan content, look back at your past posts and see which ones are performing best. You can learn about the Instagram stats that matter most here. Look at your insights on all of your platforms (some have more in depth stats available than others). What trends can you see? Are your videos getting way more engagement than others? Certain types of photos or content topics? Use that as motivation to do more of those types of posts. You want to keep up the momentum with what’s working for your audience.
- Set goals for each channel. Based on the stats you’ve reviewed, set goals for the time period you are planning for. Do you want to increase engagement? Increase traffic to your website? Grow your following? Set realistic goals to keep you on track.
- Plug in important dates and holidays. Take a look at the month as a whole. Plug in national and “social media” holidays at the start so you can plan and schedule around that.
- I recommend trying to plan 1 month at a time. Some people plan a full quarter ahead of time, but you have to know yourself and your audience. I am always coming up with new ideas or things I want to create and then I have to change too many things up if I plan 3 months in advance.
- Roughly plan out the month, and then revisit your plan each week to make adjustments. You want to have a plan but also need to be able to be flexible. Things are always changing (especially right now), so don’t be afraid to change things up.
- Schedule posts in advance. There are so many social media scheduling tools out there. Find the one that works best for you. My favorite is Buffer.
Leverage Content You’re Already Creating
Create content that can be repurposed. If you create a blog post, how can you leverage that into multiple social media posts? Create a long-form video summarizing the key points. Share that video, but also break the video out into multiple, shorter videos to share. Encourage people to read the full post for more. Also, create multiple social media posts about the content.
Example of repurposing 1 blog post:
- Write post
- Share short summary and link on social pages
- Pull three takeaways – create a social post with photo for each
- Pull a “quote” from the post and create a graphic of the quote
- Film a long-form video about the topic and post
- Create 3 short videos highlighting your 3 takeaways
That means from 1 blog post, you can get at least 9 social media posts out of the content. Multiply that by however many blog posts you can write in a month, and there you go. If you can write 1 blog a week, that’s 36 social media posts you can schedule during the month. You can spread these out over the month so you are getting leverage and longevity from each blog you write.
If you want to dive even deeper into how to create content for social media, along with so many other tips for mastering social media, you should look into my on-demand 5-day social media workshop. The 3rd module is all about content.
Tools to Use
- Calendar: You can use Google Calendar, a built in calendar in your social scheduling tool, Excel or Google Sheets, or pen and paper. When I am doing my initial monthly planning, I like to start with pen and paper. I print off a blank monthly calendar (here’s one you can use), and plug in important dates to start. Again, you have to use what works for you. You could have the coolest, most high-tech tool, but if you don’t use, what’s the point?
- Social media holiday lists. You can Google to find lists of popular social media holidays. Here is one I like. Be sure to do your own research and make sure you are using the best hashtags and that the holidays you “celebrate” are relevant to your audience. Don’t just post about all of these days, or they will lose their fun and impact.