A social media calendar is an essential tool in any agency.
Because let’s face it, social media is hard. Creating engaging social media posts consistently for multiple clients (and their multiple social media accounts) is harder. And building an audience…let’s not even go there. It requires planning, researching, content creation, editing each post to perfection, and once the post is live, detailed tracking and optimizing.
And if you’re not using a social media content calendar to manage your workflow (plus your clients’ workflow), collaborate easily with clients, and keep everything organized, you’re missing out big time.
In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to discuss the what, why and how of social media calendars. So if you’re looking to streamline your workflow, organize your social media efforts, and scale your agency, read on.
What’s a social media calendar?
First things first, what is a social media content calendar?
Just like any other regular calendar, it helps you visualise and organize your (and your clients’) social media posts by date. It not only helps you keep on top of deadlines, but also allows you to keep clients in the loop with everything you’re planning.
There are two common ways of formatting a social media calendar:
This gives you the larger picture of your social media strategy and activity, and ensures that you’re meeting your clients monthly and quarterly goals.
You don’t have to have every little detail mentioned here, just key highlights for each week work great too.
For example, if there are important events or holidays coming up, you can highlight that entire weekend or week to make sure you create great content for it closer to the date.
This is a more in-depth calendar that shows exactly what you’re posting for each client, every day, and on all their social media platforms.
It should include the post itself, caption, hashtags, and other important details.
Do you need a social media calendar for your agency?
And it does take considerable time and effort to create a social media calendar – curating the right posts, creating mock-ups of your content, collaborating on social media content, creating engaging captions, doing hashtag research, and so on.
So when does it make sense to create a social media calendar or use a social media calendar tool?
If you’re looking to save time
Social media moves fast. Especially if you manage multiple social media accounts for various clients. If you’re not using a social media calendar to manage your content schedule, then you’re likely finding yourself in a constant race to meet deadlines.
You might have a sudden client meeting, a family emergency, or just a bout of creative block. How do you create high quality content then?
Batching content and adding it all on a social media content calendar helps you plan ahead and ensure that you’re not scrambling to find create last second content.
While it sounds like a lot of work, creating a week or a month’s worth of social media content in one (or a few) sittings, can actually save you time. You don’t have to switch your brain from task to another (and then back). After all, multiple studies show that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption.
The New Yorker also reported that 98% of the people focus best when facing a single type of task, instead of multiple tasks.
Thankfully, social media calendar tools like HeyOrca make it easy to create, schedule, and collaborate on social media content in a fraction of the time it would take if you’re using basic spreadsheets (or nothing at all).
If you’re looking to create higher quality content
Did you know, 83% of people use Instagram to discover new products and services and 87% said they took specific action, like making a purchase, after seeing product information?
If you’re not consistently creating high-quality content for consumers, you’re leaving money (yours and your client’s) on the table.
As an agency, a huge part of your reputation is based on your agency’s content creation skills. Good content requires prior planning, and that’s where a social media calendar comes in handy.
Creating a social media calendar allows you to plan in advance, discuss content briefs and storyboards with your design team, and ensure you are posting high-quality content regularly.
If you’re trying to go big with your social media strategies
Whether you’re looking to experiment with Instagram Reels, or repurposing a client’s podcast into multiple viral-worthy tweets, working on new social media strategies needs lots of prior planning.
If your client is constantly running marketing campaigns or releasing high-value content, you won’t be able to get away with last-second ad-hoc content.
A social media calendar allows you to experiment with different social media strategies, try new things, and gives you a lot of time for trial and error. Both you and your clients will get visibility on all the social media content you’ve got planned.
If you’re looking to provide a collaborative client experience
Regardless of the type of clients you manage, most social media clients will want to get a sense of your social media marketing plan.
Clients that are more involved, may require that you submit your social media posts for approval before publishing them.
In any case, having a shareable social media calendar allows you and your clients to stay on the same page. Your clients will be grateful for this.
If you’d like to stay on top of all important events (and holidays!)
Keeping track of over 263 social media holidays can get a tad bit difficult.
And skipping important ones would be a missed opportunity. After all, 1/3 of shoppers state their holiday weekend purchases are driven by promotions.
Marking them on your social media calendar and creating content for them prior to publishing.
If you’d like to hold your social media team accountable
A social media calendar that outlines all the important details of the content you’re going to post helps you keep a check on your social media content creation team.
Are they meeting their goals?
Are they hitting deadlines?
Are they creating high-quality content and all that goes with it?
Are they tracking and optimizing top-preforming posts?
Especially when you have multiple clients and you’d like to stay on top of all the work that’s being done by your agency, a social media calendar is a must.
If you’d like to scale your agency
And finally if you’re looking to scale your agency and grow it (aren’t we all?!), using a social media calendar helps.
It streamlines your workflow massively, it ensures all team members are hitting their deadlines with awesome work, keeps clients in loop, and helps you keep a check on everything.
All of these benefits lead to higher client satisfaction and client retention. Not to mention, the additional bandwidth you’ll free up to onboard new clients by streamlining your social media processes.
How to create an awesome, results-oriented social media calendar?
So how do you create a social media calendar that reaps results?
Step 1 – Outline your social media goals
Increasing brand awareness?
Driving traffic to your website or landing page?
Generating new leads?
Boosting brand engagement?
Whether you’re creating a social media calendar for your own brand or for your clients, you need to set proper goals for your business.
Abby Herman, of Snap Agency, shares that the most important thing to do before starting to work on your content calendar is to define your goals.
“What is it that you want to achieve on social media? Once you have an idea of what that is, creating a social media calendar will flow a little bit easier, because you have a path to follow.
Whether it be for your agency alone or the clients you manage, posting content with no goal, or target in mind will be a waste of creative effort, because there will be no direction. Once you do have the goal defined, then you can use a tool, template, or even a spreadsheet to pen down all the posts during a batch content creation that you and your team can review, correct and apply any feedback.
Without setting SMART goals, it’s very difficult to measure how well your social media strategy is performing.
Step 2 – Audit your social media networks and content
A social media audit is critical in analyzing your (or your clients) current social media presence. It helps to find new opportunities to grow, pinpoints what’s working and what isn’t, and basically helps you understand what’s happening on each of your social media accounts.
While the word ‘audit’ may sound scary, conducting social media audits is anything but.
It’s a simple, repeatable process.
- First and foremost, find out which social platforms you’re active on.
- Check if the basic profile on all platforms is in sync with your brand image. Similar brand colors, same profile picture, same bio, and so on.
- Track your best performing posts and analyze them. Why are they performing so well? What time do you mostly post on? Does your audience engage most with picture posts or long captions? Find key metrics for all your best performing posts by using a social media analytics tool.
- Now evaluate each social media channel. Which one’s working best for your brand? Use Google Analytics to track which social media platform brings in the most leads.
- And lastly, consistently track results to spot seasonal variations and other nitty gritty details that are important in optimizing your social media efforts.
Conducting a social media audit helps to understand which social media platforms you need to focus on and which ones you can afford to miss.
Here’s an excellent example of a social media audit by Harvard Business Review.
Step 3 – Decide on the types of content you’d like to create
Now’s the time to decide what type of posts you’d like to create for each of your social media platforms.
From sharing memes and short product videos, to creating social media contests and giveaways, there’s a place for all kinds of content on social media.
Follow the golden rule of social media marketing – upload 60% non-promotional, entertaining content and 40% promotional (but still fun!) content.
Sierra McAliney, Founder at Freckle Media, advises agencies to create content buckets and then rotate each day with a different bucket.
“For example, one of our clients is a real estate agent based in New Jersey. We rotate sharing tip videos, neighborhood shots, photos of our client and home decor to make sure her social pages get enough variety throughout the month,” shares McAliney.
TIP: If you’re using HeyOrca to manage your social media content, you can use the Event Strips Feature to map out recurring/themed content like tips and client videos. This is a great way to manage your content and create clear expectations for your clients.
And don’t forget to figure out how often you’d like to post on each social platform for each of your clients. Some businesses require consistent once/twice a day posting while others require two to three times a week posting.
TIP: HeyOrca’s social media calendar tool helps you take an even more strategic approach to your posting schedule by recommending the best times to post for higher engagement on the different accounts you manage.
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Step 4 – Create content in batches
Start creating social media content in batches.
And by content I don’t just mean just the posts, but also the captions, hashtags, and graphics that’ll go with each post.
You can either group your content creation process by social platform, or by topic.
Most social media managers will create their content calendar by topic, then modify the content for the different social networks they manage. This is especially easy if you are using a tool like HeyOrca, that allows you to instantly copy your post to the different social accounts you manage.
Think of your social media calendar as a huge puzzle, where you’re fitting different content as you go. This is also where color coding different types of content comes in.
Step 5 – Choose the right social media marketing tool for your needs
The right tools to create, track and optimize your social media calendar and posts can make a huge difference to your business.
Paid Social Media Calendar Tools
If you’re looking for a paid all-in-one social media content calendar tool with publishing, analytic and other helpful features, here are a few great options for your agency:
HeyOrca is a social media scheduling tool that is built for agencies and social media managers that oversee multiple brands. It’s known for its collaboration features, approval workflows, ease-of-use, and visual calendar.
While it’s designed for agencies and folks who manage multiple brands, the affordable pricing structure makes it suitable for any brand that’s looking to save time on their social media process.
Here are just a few reasons why HeyOrca has earned a 4.8/5 star rating on G2:
- You can easily create and schedule posts for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google My Business. The post will appear on social networks exactly as it would in the editor!
- Unlike other social media management tools, every HeyOrca calendar comes with unlimited users, unlimited social posts, and up to 10 connected accounts.
- HeyOrca’s collaboration features allow you to share scheduled content for approval and feedback directly within the platform. You can set multiple approvers and automated reminders.
- HeyOrca’s visual calendar also allows you to insert “Event Strips” to map out recurring content or upcoming campaigns in your calendar.
- HeyOrca is constantly releasing new features to help social media managers save time based on customer feedback. Recent updates include 3 New Instagram Publishing Features, Best Times to Post, Facebook Post Promotions, and Instagram Grid Previews.
With zero learning curve, an affordable price tag, and excellent features, it’s the perfect social media marketing tool for agencies.
Already using HubSpot as your all-in-one marketing automation platform?
HubSpot offers some useful social media management tools and a Calendar View your upcoming social posts.
If you’re a small business looking for an affordable solution for your social media needs, Buffer is a solid option for you.
With paid plans starting at $15/month, it’s an excellent option if you’re looking for an affordable social media management software.
Free Social Media Calendar Solutions
And if you’re strapped for cash or your social media process is, you can always opt to use free solutions like Spreadsheets, or project management tools.
When building your own social media calendar, Elizabeth Piper at Sparkloft, suggests making sure to first consider your audience, objective and the platform you are writing content for.
“Adding columns into your social media calendar around these categories will help ensure you are reaching the right people with the right message at the right time,” says Piper.
Spreadsheet Content Calendar Templates
- The folks at Microsoft have built a Free Social Media Content Calendar Template that is ready to use in Excel. Make sure to check out their Social Media Template Library for additional, ready-made content.
- Not an Excel user? There are plenty of great social media calendar templates available for Google Sheets like this one from the Google Sheets Geeks.
- HubSpot also offers a great social media calendar template for Excel users that makes use of manual color coding, similar to HeyOrca’s Event Strips feature.
Social Media Content Calendar Templates for Project Management Tools
It’s likely that your agency is already using a project management tool to manage internal processes. Many of the most popular platforms offer pre-made social media calendar templates that you can put to good use:
- Asana Social Media Calendar Template
- Airtable Social Media Calendar Template
- Monday.com Social Media Planner Template
- Wrike Social Media Plan Template
- Trello Social Media Schedule Template
- Todoist Social Media Calendar Template
- Smartsheet Social Media Editorial Calendar Templates
- Xtensio Social Media Content Calendar Template
Step 6 – Track and optimize
And lastly, don’t forget to constantly track and optimize your social media posts.
Use a tool like HeyOrca to measure the performance of your social posts to see which types of posts perform best across the different channels you manage.
Alternatively, you can also manually collect data using native reporting features included in your social channels.
Experts share 5 tips to get the most out of your social media calendar
To further help you ace your social media game, we asked social media marketing experts and agency owners their best tips on creating social media calendars.
And here’s what they said.
Create evergreen content for days when you don’t have anything to post
When creating posts for social media, always create a few extra evergreen posts for days when you need to post in hurry.
Fun, branded graphics like this work out great.
Daniel Foley shares, “When your routine is disrupted, timeless content can also come in handy. Since it can be produced and released at any time, it’s a smart idea to have ready-made content on hand for occasions when the team needs to focus on other tasks.
There should be a place in your calendar reserved for ideas for timeless material that can be used at any time.”
You can also use user-generated content and save their links on the calendar!
Ensure that each client on their calendar has their own theme
“This means their own font, own colors, a specific layout that you will use whenever making that client’s social calendar,” explains Taylor Eaton of TLC Marketing & Creative Service.
“Keeping just the little things the same each month will save you from having to find a new theme/font/color/etc. Once you have saved those in the platform you use to make your social posts, you can use that going forward.”
Make your calendar super easy to understand and visualize for your clients
Not all your clients have the bandwidth to grasp complex flow charts and industry jargon. So make it easy for them to understand what’s happening on the calendar in one glance.
“When creating posting calendars for our clients to review, we make it as easy as possible to understand the content and not leave them wondering.
In our calendars, we break each post down by date, subject, social media platform, copy, hashtags and geotags when appropriate, images, links, and any other information they would need to know to quickly review and edit content on a weekly or bi-weekly basis,” shares Cheyenne, business development manager at Cosmitto.
TIP: HeyOrca’s social media calendar tool is built for this exact reason. At a glance, your clients can see exactly what posts are scheduled, which ones require approval, and which posts have been published. They can even see how scheduled Instagram Posts will appear on their profile using the Instagram Grid Preview tool.
Keep in mind the important analytics and marketing goals when creating content calendars
Laura Rike suggests keeping analytics at the forefront when creating social media calendars and content for clients.
“When creating content calendars for our clients, I encourage my team members to keep in mind the most important analytics – what is going to drive the best ROI (whether the client’s goal is sales, visibility, etc), and to analyze the behaviors of each client’s following (when are they online? What do they respond best to when we split test different graphics?)”
Keep open slots for newsjacking
From the royal wedding to a celebrity breakup, a lot of brands like to make use of trending events to engage with their audience on social media.
As an agency handling these clients, it is your responsibility to keep open slots for such events.
Nathan Sebastian, Content Marketer at GoodFirms, says, “While creating the social media calendar, most of the marketers would plan campaigns keeping in mind national holidays, cultural days, festivals, and seasons among many other targeting criteria. But often they miss putting buffer slots for possible newsjacking ads. Eventually, the calendar would be too occupied with planned posts that a new, topical, and intriguing post of much more potential has to be sacrificed at the moment. This could result in missing out much quantity and quality of the audience.
Social media marketers should optimize posting times for the best times to post on social media, and keep open slots for the topical content. Marketers could even carve out permanent slots per week, or month according to their convenience, for newsjacking. And make a habit of voicing the brand over current issues and events. This would not only let you take on unexpected mega-news but also maintain a constant brand reputation.”
Are you constantly worried about what to post next, missing key events, playing catch-up on content, and providing your clients with daily updates on the content you’ll be creating for them?
To grow your agency, you need to work more efficiently and effectively. You need to streamline your processes and make it easy for clients to collaborate with you.
This is where social media calendars come in.
Try HeyOrca free for 14 days and see how you can fight burnout by saving time planning, publishing, and collaborating on your social media content.