Content calendars: Why you need one and how to create it

“What have you been up to?” asks your Facebook page. And, you’re not so sure. But you’re not the only one. The majority of business owners struggle to come up with a status update. This situation applies to all social networks, not just Facebook.

The demands on a small business owner are countless, and unfortunately social media is just another one added to the list. Yet, you can turn the situation around by using a content calendar. A content calendar can be as simple as a calendar spreadsheet in which you schedule your content —also known as an editorial calendar.

Content calendar

Image courtesy of Solo PR Pro

A content calendar will make it easier for you to plan in advance what you will share in your social media accounts. It will also help you to identify what is important for you to promote and make sure you cover every relevant item within your social communication. A calendar essentially encourages you to think strategically about content in relation to timing — for special events, holidays and important promotions — to get the most out of every post. You can even save time, as following the calendar will take the guesswork out of your schedule so you can get on with other tasks.

How to make the calendar work for you

Content calendars can be made up of content themes. Hold a quick brainstorming session to decide on your themes. Ask these questions to help identify them:

  • What are the topics that are of interest to your target market?
  • What are the areas of your expertise that are of value to your community?

Typically a small business will have around 3-5 content themes. For example, a restaurant may have these themes: Recipe of the week, news about the restaurant, daily (or weekly) specials and deals, interesting stats or facts about the specialty cuisine, and news about community initiatives the restaurant supports. The restaurant would have 3-4 posts featuring different content pillars in a typical week.

It’s very important to keep the number of business related posts (including offers) to a minimum without eliminating them altogether. A good ratio is 1 business post out of 3-4 posts. Any more and you risk appearing self-serving. Your followers want useful and interesting information, not just sales pitches.

The content calendar can be as simple as described above, and as you get more used to it, you can start to make it more comprehensive. You can add the type of post (copy, photo, video, infographic, or statistic), social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Instagram, blog) and extend the time covered in the calendar to months, quarters or even longer.

Content calendar templates

You can easily create a content calendar by using a basic spreadsheet and only adding what you need. The simpler it is, the more you’re likely to stick to it.

Another alternative is to use existing free content calendar templates. Here are links to free templates you can download. Although these calendars are also for blog and newsletter content (not just social media), you can tailor them for your needs.

A content calendar is handy for consolidating and maximising your social media efforts. It’s the essential planning tool for corporates, and more and more small business owners are relying on it too. Try it yourself and see if you have the right answer when Facebook asks you the inevitable question!