Taking the time to plan out your social media efforts for certain events and holidays can make or break the social engagement you see at those times.

Just because it only takes a few seconds to read a tweet doesn’t mean it will only take a few seconds to write it. In fact, crafting the perfect social message often takes multiple steps, people, and days.

Why It’s Important to Use a Social Editorial Calendar

Sometimes companies can churn out social posts very quickly. Oreo, a company known for their strong Twitter presence, was able to send out this tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl mere moments after the power went out:

 

But for every quick-witted, real-time tweet like Oreo’s, there are hundreds more tweets that take hours of planning and a lot of creative power to make, especially when a single tweet can help drive an entire strategy.

In the case of digital agency Huge, it took two entire months to plan and send this tweet on behalf of their client President Cheese:

 

Most social posts, however, fall somewhere between these two examples; they’re instant, viral responses to a huge event or global campaign kick-off. However, thinking through the cadence, timing, and nuanced language of all your tweets by developing an editorial calendar ensures that every tweet contributes to your overall social strategy.

How to Create Your Social Media Editorial Calendar

If your company is new to the idea of setting up an editorial calendar for social, or if you want to take a look at a unique way of setting one up, here’s a four-step process for implementing and maintaining an efficient social media calendar for reliable content posting.

1.  Figure Out The Social Posting Workflow

This way you can assign roles to make sure the necessary work is being taken care of during each step of the process. Typically, a more established company will require more individuals and approvals in the process to make sure nothing goes awry. However, a typical workflow should consist of some or all of the following steps:

  1. Brainstorm an idea and create a concept.
  2. Make sure the idea has authorization.
  3. Write the copy for the post.
  4. Edit the copy and make sure it’s fit for publishing.
  5. Come up with a fantastic image. (We know it can be tough to get a unique image for each social post, so if you’re having trouble, check out this list of free image creation tools.)
  6. Post to the social networks.

It’s also important to note that the social team will frequently work with several other departments like PR, SEO, and business development. Make sure those divisions are included in the process so they can support your efforts within their own fields.

2. Decide On How Often to Post

This step depends on a handful of different things like the company, your audience, the campaign, and the social networks being used. Always keep your audience in mind and ensure you’re not bombarding them with posts that are irrelevant or inappropriate. If you’re looking for some basic standards, though, Constant Contact wrote a post containing guidelines on how often to post to social. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Facebook: 3-10 times per week
  • Twitter: at least 5 times a day
  • LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week
  • Google+: 3-10 times per week
  • Pinterest: 5-10 times per day

There’s a great chance your post frequency will depend on the amount, experience, and authority of your social media team, so don’t feel like you have to send out less than stellar content to meet these guidelines.

3. Find Out How Long it Takes From Idea to Execution

It’s important to get a good idea of how long it takes you and your team to create a post for each individual social network. That way you’ll have a better idea of how long before an event you should get to work writing.

If you’re the business owner as well as the main social media marketer, chances are it won’t take you nearly as long as a larger company to hit publish. You probably already have a good idea of what you want to say, and the approval process is as simple as deciding whether or not you want to post it it.

However, larger companies and agencies will often find the approval portion of the process the most challenging. Sometimes the social team will have to come up with several variations of the same social post before they’re approved.

4. Start to Fill Up Your Social Media Calendar Events and Content

You’ve got the process in place, now it is time to start filling up your editorial calendar. Think through your must-haves, whether it is a product release or scheduled company announcement, and develop content to promote those initiatives. Additionally, make sure you’re planning out how much promotion each initiative warrants; some large releases should have multiple social posts while others only warrant one.

Next, fill in the calendar with links to relevant content, resources, and your own posts. These social messages will ensure you’re providing your audiences with smart, useful content and give them a reason to follow you. Additionally, you can find relevant holidays or events – from Thanksgiving to National Ice Cream Day – that you can tie in with your business. These timely events will help populate you calendar and bring personality to your feed.

Lastly, pump up the personality of your editorial calendar by planning out posts that highlight company culture or showcase who you are as a brand.

Editorial Calendar Tools & Plugins

Managing this entire process internally can be tough. It requires a lot of communication between departments, and unfortunately sometimes things can slip between the cracks. That’s why we’d recommend some of the following tools to help make the process easier.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social makes it easy to work with all of the members of your team. It gives you the ability to quickly draft new ideas for approval, schedule and queue social posts to go out, and, above all, gives you a shared social media calendar. If you’re not convinced, just give it a free 30 day trial!

4 Steps for Creating a Social Media Editorial Calendar

Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management app, and it can be used effectively from the content creation part of the process all the way through to scheduling. It’s easy to manage multiple projects at once, and even comes with a free trial.

basecamp screenshot

WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin

This plugin is mostly for planning and scheduling content for your blog, not social media. However, if you have your social profiles set to share your blog posts, it will take care of the social portion as well.

wordpress editorial calendar plugin screenshot

Edit Flow

This is another editorial calendar tool that works right in WordPress. Edit Flow gives you the ability to view a month-by-month editorial calendar, write customer comments on the content, and create segmented teams.

edit flow plugin screenshot

Google Calendar

If you want to keep it simple you could always just create a new Google calendar for the process and invite everyone on the team to view it. Those teammates could also add all of their own posts and ideas to the same calendar.

google calendar screenshot

Practice Makes Perfect

It can take even the most socially-savvy companies time to set up an effective workflow for creating and posting social media content. The main idea is to plan far enough ahead and give yourself time to work everything out with your teams so that each post is thought-out and strategically aligned by the time it reaches your audience.