Over the last few years we have worked with numerous organizations helping them manage their social media and content marketing. For many organizations, social media is only a small piece of the puzzle compared to some of the other marketing initiatives they do… all while they are trying to run their business. What is supposed to take 15 minutes a day can turn into a full day job. One of the key tools we find helps us and clients stay organized and focused is a content calendar.

A content calendar is a shareable resource that can help you plan out your marketing activities and events. The benefit of having a content calendar versus a list or ideas in your head is that when you write it down you start to see other opportunities come together. It can free up your mind to stop thinking about what you need to be posting and get back to focusing on your business.

The most important aspect about creating a content calendar is creating one that meets your needs and is designed to help you, not hinder you. Also, if you have a team of people helping you with content you can easily assign tasks to them.

Here are some of the key elements we include in your content calendar:

#1 Key events, promotions and dates

Having a content calendar that has all your key dates, promotions, contests, specials, events and more in one place can help you stay focused. It can also help you see additional opportunities to post content and potential gaps that you might have.

#2 National dates and events

Including national events that relate to your industry such as World Oceans Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month or National Coffee Day can help you to create content that aligns with your brand. If you are a local coffee shop, maybe you want to run a little promotion on National Coffee Day, or if you are a local outdoor store, maybe reminding people to help protect our oceans on World Oceans Day could be an engaging piece of content.

#3 Content Plan By Platform

Keeping everything in one place is key to being organized. Include columns for each social media platform and what you plan to post on each of them. It’s important to tailor your content for each specific platform and this makes it easy to change and adjust what you plan to do.

#4 Daily and weekly tasks

In addition to posting content on a daily or weekly basis, there are other tasks you can remind yourself of such as changing your cover photos, updating a link in your bio or pinning a new post to the top. Including these simple tasks in the content calendar can take you from being reactive to proactive.

FREE Content Calendar

To help you get started, download our FREE Content Calendar template. This template includes an annual calendar where you can plan out your year and a more detailed monthly calendar to help you plan out each month with specific content and action items.

Here are a couple of guidelines for using this calendar:

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  • This calendar is a template; feel free to change, add, adapt and remove any items to make this an effective tool for you.
  • Annual Calendar: The first section is where you plan out your year with any key events, dates, promotions, campaigns and sales that you know you’ll need to plan content around. We have added in some common national events to also help you get started.
  • Monthly Content Calendar: This second section is where you can start to plan out the details for each post on each platform. It’s also where we list the daily and weekly maintenance items that you need to remember to do such as promoting and boosting posts, liking and commenting, pinning content and changing cover photos. We suggest coping this tab and creating a new one for each month.
  • Social Media Stats: In this section, you can monitor the growth and metrics of your accounts. We have listed some of the basic metrics but you may want to add more specific metrics depending on your campaigns and objectives.
  • If you have more than one person working in the calendar, make sure you assign responsibilities by identifying which platforms they are responsible for or assigning a color to each person for the tasks they need to manage.
  • Once a task is scheduled or completed mark as a single color so everyone knows that it is completed.

A great content calendar can provide you with a bird’s eye view of your marketing and also allow you to dive deeper. It will help you stay organized and on top of the daily actions you need to take without overwhelming you and your team.

We find that working with a content calendar helps us to stay organized regardless if our team is 10 people or just one individual. Let us know what you think by sending us a tweet @KattStearns.