How to create a social media calendar
Maybe your social media efforts started out organically—a post here, a tweet there—and grew over time into a colossal web of complexity. Maybe you’re rarely posting today, because you can’t justify the investment of time. You know other brands use social media to grow their business or spread awareness, but your best intentions often disintegrate under the weight of more pressing everyday tasks.
If you want to get strategic with your social content, creating a social media calendar is a strong starting point. It allows you to get focused, lay out a plan, assign tasks to particular team members, and—most importantly—hold yourself accountable to your goals.
Read on for the benefits of creating a social media calendar, exactly how to create it, and where to download social media calendar templates that can help you get started.
Social media calendars are important because they directly map social media strategy to daily tasks. They give you an overview of your social media efforts, so you can make better plans, execute campaigns across channels, and quickly see gaps in your posting cadence.
When you can easily see the patterns and particulars of your posting schedule across platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and any other social media channel you use) it’s that much easier to keep your social media team in sync, reduce redundancy and errors, and plan ahead for important dates such as holidays or product announcements. A social media calendar is ultimately a time-saving, outcome-boosting tool.
Even if you know why you need a calendar, the how to get there can be tricky. As with any complex job, it helps to break it down into actionable tasks. Here’s a play-by-play guide to creating a robust and effective social media calendar.
Start with a “state of the union” on your brand’s social media presence. Get a clear handle on your current posting cadence—both how often you’ve been posting and where. If you aren’t already doing so, get a baseline of performance, and set some simple goals. Many brands focus on engagement metrics (such as views, likes, and clicks), which most social platforms monitor “natively”—meaning that you can see the performance from within the platform itself. But (especially when you’re just starting out), you may also want to monitor production—maybe you have a goal of increasing your posting cadence by 2x, or producing a social media marketing campaign.
There are dozens—maybe even hundreds—of social media platforms, and each social platform has specific parameters and best practices. Most brands focus on the “big four” (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram), but as the rise of TikTok has taught us, investing early in an interesting new channel can pay off in the long run.
Most social media platforms will give you multiple posting options, and you might publish a different mix of content depending on your goals. On Facebook, for instance, you can create organic posts in your News Feed and Stories, which your followers will see, or you can pay to promote your content even beyond your follower list.
Your strategy might change over time, but setting down intentions—in line with your budget and resources—will ground you going forward. Your social media calendar should help you surface trends and insights so you can hone in on what works best for your brand over time. For example, you may realize that time and money spent on Instagram gains more traction than your Twitter efforts.
How will you and your team create social media content? Will it be entirely original (or “social first”), or will you use social media to promote other types of content (such as blog posts, videos, infographics, webinars, etc.)? Will you use your accounts to engage in conversation with other brands and followers? Most brands use a combination of types of social media posts—some of them tied to current market trends and events, others less timely (or “evergreen”).
If you decide to include images or video in your social post (which typically will increase engagement with your content), you may want to track and even store that media within your social media content calendar.
Using Airtable for social media calendars enables you to embed social media content right in your calendar as individual records. These records can be linked across tables so that, for instance, you can view the same information about content in calendar view or in list view, filtered by owner. Because the content—headlines, copy, images, and anything else—exists as independent records, it can easily be repurposed within your content calendar.
Your creative review process might be as simple as “I got an idea, so I tweeted about it right then and there.” But as your social media strategy gets more complex and professional, and your posting gets more rhythmic and intentional, your workflow will evolve.
A workflow in a typical marketing organization with multiple stakeholders involved in creating social media content might look something like this:
Campaigns planned out in terms of theme and specific posts
Assignments made to contributors
Copywriter writes copy
Designer creates graphic
Marketing manager approves post
Post is published
Metrics are tracked
….. And this entire process is multiplied by however many social media posts you make a day.
When you’re designing your social media content workflow, you’ll want to consider things like:
How frequently you’ll meet with your team to brainstorm content ideas and highlight important upcoming topics
What your posting rhythm should look like
Who will own which task, and what order tasks should go in
Who needs to approve social content before it’s published
Which engagement metrics to track, and how and where to track them
Ideally, this entire workflow can be represented within your social media calendar. For example, you might use custom statuses within Airtable to indicate that a post is “In review”, “In design” or “Ready to publish.”
Once you have a clear picture of your workflow, it’s time to get buy-in from your team and stakeholders. When everyone agrees on who carries which responsibility, choosing a tool to use should become much simpler. But the more stakeholders you have on your team, the more flexible and user-friendly a tool should be.
Tip: The ability to view content in different ways within Airtable makes it a flexible, intuitive tool for all kinds of content marketing stakeholders. More on this in the next section.
The technology supporting your social media content calendar will have a huge impact on future scalability and flexibility. While a traditional spreadsheet might be a good place to start for very simple needs, it won’t allow for automation or embedded workflow capability. Choose a platform that meets your needs today, but can scale and evolve with your strategy over time.
Airtable’s social media planning and design template allows you to plan out posts across social platforms with a tool that’s flexible, visual, and intuitive. You can collaborate with your entire team, create social media posts right within the template, and automatically check the character counts for posts so you don’t go over the max set by each individual social platform. You can even preview how the post will look once it’s officially published.
Tip: Try Airtable's social media planning and design template for free.
Once you’ve designed the structure of your content calendar, you can begin to create the actual social media content. This will be an important test of the workflow you’ve mapped out, and the social media content calendar you’ve put in place. You may find yourself making tweaks to both as you use them.
As you publish social media content, track what’s live within your social media content calendar. If you’re using “Status” fields to indicate what’s been published, you can also group your records by status—so it’s easy to track your content.
Beyond performance KPIs, there’s another kind of feedback that matters, too, and that’s the qualitative feedback of your team. How is your social media content workflow going, and is the calendar you’ve created working in the ways you hoped it would? By gathering feedback and periodically reevaluating your systems, you can continuously refine and improve.
These are the basic foundational steps of creating and using a social media content calendar. To get some insight into how a robust, flexible social media content calendar can help you with strategy, keep reading.
One thing to keep in mind: your social media calendar should be useful beyond your social media team. Here’s an example of a social calendar, built in Airtable, that surfaces insights to the whole marketing team.
A designer, for instance, might want to focus on the visuals associated with social media posts, with access to a library of existing design assets. If you’re using Airtable, that would be made possible by a gallery view:
The marketing director or project leader often needs to see an overview of where social media content lies in the pipeline, which might look like this:
Or another view, with your social media content plan organized by creator:
You could also create individual views for everyone on your team, so each contributor could easily see open tasks.
In short, creating a social media content calendar on a platform that allows for flexible viewing, filtering, sorting, and searching ensures that you can always see the information you need.
Yes, setting up a social media content calendar takes a little bit of upfront time—but it’s well worth the effort.
Airtable makes an exceptionally good platform for social media content calendars because it’s cloud-based and can be shared and accessed by multiple stakeholders on various devices from wherever they happen to be. Flexible views ensure that each marketing stakeholders has access to the view and filters that work best. And because you can create content in standalone records, you won’t have issues with versioning or redundant data, no matter how many people are using your base. Make a change, it propagates across every table that record is referenced in, and every kind of view.
To get started, try one of Airtable’s existing social media content calendar templates:
For a free trial version of Airtable, sign up today.
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