Content calendars are equivalent to a Bible when I plan social content and posts for my clients. I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to organization, but it tends to work in my favor when creating content calendars and planning for the upcoming weeks and months. My preferred way of creating content calendars is to first start with an overarching monthly calendar that notes any special holidays, product releases, or events that our brand should be aware of (a new post on holidays and events not to miss is coming next!). I like to physically print this calendar so that I have a hard copy right in front of my face at all times. I can make notes on it, highlight certain dates, cross things out, etc. 

The second type of calendar I like to make is a weekly content calendar. The weekly content calendar is created one week in advance and includes all of the details for posts including the date/time for posting, the visual asset, the corresponding copy, and trackable links (where appropriate). This calendar is broken up by platform, so where there may be crossover in the message that we’re relaying between Facebook and Twitter, the way that we tell that message is usually slightly different. Twitter gives you a 140 character limit and Facebook posts tend to perform better with a bit more explanation. We don’t communicate with our followers in the exact same way across each separate platform. Below is a little clip from a weekly content calendar that I created for AG a few months ago:

Beyond being the spine that keeps you standing as a brand in the social space, content calendars help keep you organized and prepared in little ways that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Below are 5 reasons that you should absolutely be working off a content calendar if you really want to see your brand grow on social media. 

1. Equal Attention

Without a content calendar to guide you through the process of sharing content on your social channels, you’ll find yourself working in the wild west. Imagine if a customer tweets at you and that becomes the reminder that “Oh! We have customers watching us on the tweet deck! We should probably tweet back and then share some new content for our followers.” This is certainly not the best approach. Your efforts on social media should not be primarily based on responsiveness (although you should absolutely be responsive to outreach from your customers on any platform). It should be a balance of proactive intent and responsive behavior. Creating a content calendar allows you to make certain that no platform gets left out from one week to the next. 

2. Content that Performs

When you use a content calendar, you’re also keeping a record of what you have shared in the past. You can use this as a reference when you are planning upcoming campaigns and content features for a new season. Which pieces performed well on Facebook? Why did they perform better than other pieces of content? Did we share a video? Did the post encourage a call-to-action? We can more easily evaluate and adjust the content that we share with our audience when we have a content calendar as our guide. 

3. Important Dates

I think we’ve all probably bowed down to Facebook once or twice for sending us a reminder about our good friend’s birthday — we so would have missed it. Important dates can sneak up on us and some holidays and events are a must-acknowledge for brands on social media. Although the dedicated individuals that run your social media never really sleep, it’s common that holiday’s are a “day off” from work. Even so, this doesn’t mean that your social accounts should take a day off. By creating a content calendar and planning for holidays and special events (product launches!) ahead of time, it will reduce a lot of stress for your entire team. 

4. Small assignments turned BIG.

Have you ever had something on your to-do list that seemed to be a simple, quick task that turned into an all day adventure? This can happen more often than you might imagine when planning content for the upcoming week or month for your brand. It happens to everyone and it can be stressful. By creating content calendars ahead of time, you are giving yourself a comfortable window that allows you to research, write, capture the photo, and edit before it’s crunch time and the pressure is on. The outcome is better content, better engagement, and a more satisfied audience. 

5. Getting Sign Off

Although every once in a while there is a piece of content that should be shared in real-time, it’s a good idea to get the content that will be shared to your brand’s social media pages signed off ahead of time by the project manager. A second (or 3rd) pair of eyes never hurt anyone. A content calendar is a comprehensible document that can be shared easily via email with anyone on your team.