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How to Use a Social Media Content Calendar

As a small business owner, you're no stranger to wearing multiple hats, and adding social media to your skill set is a smart move for growth. Effective digital marketing, particularly through social media, plays a significant role in the success of modern businesses. Here’s where a social media content calendar steps in as a key tool in your management toolkit.

In this article, I walk you through everything you need to know about social media content calendars. Find out what they are, why they're essential, their benefits, and how to use them effectively. Plus, we have a look at some handy do's and don'ts to make sure you're maximising every post. 

Ready to get your social media content strategy on track? Let’s begin!

Social Media Content Calendar

What is a Social Media Content Calendar?

Think of a social media content calendar as your garden planner. Just as a gardener plans what seeds to plant, where to plant them, and when they should be sown for optimal growth throughout the seasons, a social media content calendar helps you plan the seeding of your content across various platforms. This planner includes an array of content types, such as articles, infographics, videos, and images, which you will strategically distribute to achieve a specific goal that you have set for your business.

Just like careful planning helps a garden maintain a continuous and vibrant display of flowers, a social media content calendar ensures that your online presence is consistent and effective. So, it’s important to see a social media calendar as not just a schedule but also as a strategic tool that helps you lay out your digital marketing efforts efficiently and effectively. With it, you can foresee and align your posts with upcoming promotions, specific dates, and industry events. Doing this ensures that your social media ‘garden’ blooms and attracts your ideal audience.

Why is a Social Media Content Calendar Necessary?

Now that we have a better understanding of what a social media content calendar is, let’s consider why you should consider adding a social media content calendar to your business and marketing management toolkit. 

Essentially, we can look at a social media content calendar as a central command station for all your social media activities. It meticulously organises when and where you'll post your content and the finer details like themes, keywords, and hashtags. This level of organisation is especially necessary when, like so many of us, you're managing multiple social media accounts. With a social media content calendar, everything is laid out clearly, allowing you to see what is happening for the day, week, or month, making it much easier to manage your online presence without feeling overwhelmed.

This is mainly because planning your content sidesteps the panic of needing to create something new every day. By setting aside time to batch-create content, you prepare multiple posts at once, which is a far more efficient use of your time and ensures that your brand's voice remains consistent across all posts. The efficiency that this creates frees up your time and energy to focus on other important business-related tasks that can't be automated.

This management, at a glance, also helps with consistency. It’s important to understand that you need to share content regularly if you want to grow and effectively take advantage of the benefits that social media has to offer your business. The concept of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is especially important for social media, and your followers need regular updates; otherwise, they will forget about your brand. A social media content calendar is your tool to ensure you deliver content at that level of consistency. Steady, predictable posts build trust and keep your audience engaged with your brand. Sticking to a consistent posting schedule can also enhance your content's performance on social media platforms because algorithms favour regular engagement. So, when you post regularly, your audience regularly engages with your content, which tells the platform to keep putting your content in front of relevant users, allowing you to build your audience. 

Finally, a content calendar is not just about keeping things organised; it's a strategic tool that you can use to align your social media content and activities with your broader business goals. Whether you are planning on launching a new product or running a promotion, your content calendar allows you to schedule posts that synchronise what you are doing online with these events, ultimately maximising their impact. This alignment helps to ensure that your content has a purpose and goes a long way towards achieving your business goals. 

Benefits of a Social Media Content Calendar

Better Time Management

We touched on this above, but it is worth discussing in more depth. Think about how often you find yourself scrambling to post something on your social media channels. A social media content calendar all but eliminates this stress. By planning your posts, you can schedule them to go live (be posted), and you can do this at times when your audience is most active. This means that you’re not just sticking to a schedule; you’re strategically choosing the best times for maximum engagement, which can vary from platform to platform. By scheduling these posts, you’re also freeing up your time to focus on other aspects of your business. This kind of efficiency is especially beneficial during busy periods or when you're short-staffed.

Enhanced Creativity

When you're not constantly under pressure to post something right now, you give yourself the space to be more creative. This is because planning not only gives you more time to brainstorm and refine your ideas but also frees up the necessary emotional energy and headspace to do so. Think about how much more engaging your content could be if you had the time to consider different concepts and experiment with new formats. Giving yourself this breathing room improves the quality of your content and helps to maintain a cohesive narrative across your channels and your content, making your brand more memorable and engaging.

Improved Tracking and Monitoring

When you know what you've posted, coupled with knowing what you are going to post in the future, you can easily compare different copy, themes, and content types to see what's working and what isn’t. This approach allows you to adjust your strategy and what you do online based on real data and feedback. Are instructional videos getting more engagement than image posts? Do posts with questions generate more comments? You can answer these questions when you track your content. This then, in turn, helps you make better decisions about how to spend your energy when it comes to social media content, making your marketing efforts smarter over time.

Stress Reduction

Lastly, a social media content calendar reduces stress. Social media is relentless; it never sleeps, and the demand for fresh content is no different. Having to come up with new, engaging content every day is stressful, especially if social media is only one of your many business responsibilities. With a content calendar, you sidestep this stress. Knowing what you're going to post and when you're going to post it eliminates the panic of last-minute content creation, which can often lead to less-than-ideal posts that don't really hit the mark.

How to Create and Use a Social Media Content Calendar

If you have never used a social media content calendar before or don’t feel confident starting one from scratch, I highly recommend downloading a template. You are welcome to have a look at THIS one that I have available on my website. 

However, simply having a template isn’t enough. You need to know how to use it. Let’s take a look at the steps involved in effectively setting up and using your social media content calendar. 

Choose the Right Tools

First things first, you need the right tools to create and manage your social media content calendar. Think of this like picking out the best gardening tools for your specific type of garden. For some, a simple spreadsheet like Google Sheets does the trick; it’s free, flexible, and great for starters. Others might prefer something more robust, like Hubspot or Canva, which is fantastic for visual organisers. If you're looking for something designed specifically for social media, tools like Buffer or Hootsuite might be up your alley; they come with built-in features for scheduling posts directly to your social media channels, analytics, and more. The key is to choose a tool that fits both your business’s needs and your budget, and to start with something basic before moving on to tools with more advanced features.

Set Your Goals

Now, let's talk about why you are on social media. What do you want to achieve? What are your goals for social media? Setting clear, measurable goals should be at the top of your to-do list when setting up your social media content calendar because it is like having a roadmap that guides your journey and keeps you focused. Are you looking to increase engagement, drive more sales, or boost your brand awareness? Maybe you want to achieve all three! Whatever your goals, defining them clearly will help you determine what kind of content you need to produce and how you’ll measure if it’s working or not.

Plan Your Content Mix

Now that you understand what your goals are, you can start planning your content mix. This is where you decide what types of content (images, videos, links, blog posts) and themes (educational, promotional, community-building) you’ll use. Think of it like planning meals for the week. You want a balanced menu that keeps things interesting and nutritious for your followers. For example, if you run a small bakery, your mix might include behind-the-scenes videos, daily specials, baking tips, and customer shoutouts.

Schedule and Automate

Once your content mix is ready, it's time to fill out your calendar and schedule your posts. Thinking about our gardening analogy again, this step is like setting up a drip irrigation system for your garden; it ensures everything gets the attention it needs without you having to water it by hand every day. Most social media tools allow you to automate posting, which means you can set up everything in advance and have your posts go live at the best times for engagement, freeing up your time to focus on the other elements of your business that need your attention.

Monitor and Adapt

And finally, you need to regularly check how your posts are performing. Which types of content resonate with your audience? What times are giving you the best engagement? Use this information to refine your content calendar. It’s like pruning and fertilising the garden we’ve been talking about based on what the plants tell you they need more or less of.

Do's and Don'ts for Using a Social Media Content Calendar

Now that you know the basics of setting up and using a social media content calendar, let’s have a quick look at some quick, basic do’s and don’ts for using your new social media content calendar:


  • Do review and update your calendar regularly: Keep your content calendar flexible and review it regularly to align with current trends, seasonal events, or shifts in your business strategy. It’s a living document, not set in stone, and should evolve as your business and the digital landscape change.

  • Do engage with your audience: Engagement is the soul of social media. Beyond just using your content calendar, allocate time in your schedule for interacting with your followers. Respond to comments, answer messages, and participate in conversations. This doesn't just boost your posts in the algorithm; it builds a community around your brand.

  • Do include as many content types and platforms as you can: Your audience is diverse, and they hang out in different places, enjoying different types of content. Some may love the quick visual stories on Instagram, while others prefer in-depth articles on LinkedIn. Using a variety of content types and distributing them across different platforms ensures you reach more of your audience and you reach them wherever they are most comfortable.


  • Don't ignore social media analytics: Use the insights gathered from social media analytics to understand what's working and what isn't. This data is invaluable for optimising your content strategy to better meet the needs of your audience.

  • Don't over-promote: It's natural to want to promote your products or services, but if every post you make is a sales pitch, you’ll quickly see your audience’s interest wane. Mix sales content up with informative, educational, or entertaining content that adds value without always asking for something in return.

  • Don't set it and forget it: Social media is ever-evolving, and so should your approach. A strategy that’s set in stone is likely to become obsolete. Be agile and monitor the effectiveness of your posts and be ready to change and tweak your plans based on what the data, current trends, and direct feedback from your audience tell you.


So there you have it! Armed with this guide and a well-structured social media content calendar, you're more than ready to take the reins of your digital marketing, even without a dedicated marketing team. 

It’s important to remember that using a social media content calendar isn't just about keeping posts organised; it’s about giving yourself the space you need to effectively manage your time and energy. With each post planned and each goal aligned with your overall business objectives, you're setting yourself up to consistently connect with your audience, engage in meaningful ways, and grow your brand’s visibility and influence.


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