Social media is often an afterthought for marketers. It’s not our fault — we’ve got a lot on our plates and not a lot of time to do it. But if you’re not paying enough attention to social, you’re definitely missing out.

No matter your market, there’s a good chance that a large portion of your audience is using social media. In fact, about 90 percent of Millennials, 77 percent of Gen Xers, and 48 percent of Baby Boomers are active on social media. And for a good portion of Gen Z’ers and Millennials, social media is the most relevant advertising channel driving their purchases.

With so many people heavily engaged in social media — both in terms of day to day life and purchase decisions — having a sound social strategy is key. And for that, you’re going to need a social media calendar.

Posting is a lot easier when you know what you’re going to post, when you’re going to post it, and how it fits into your broader digital marketing strategy. Here’s how to start planning and putting together a social media calendar that helps you finally take advantage of all that untapped potential.

Establish a Content Plan

Content planning helps you narrow down your efforts and focus on what matters. What types of content you post on each social media channel depends on what works well for that individual platform. While it might be easier to assign the same content and ledes for all channels, if you don’t optimize your content plan, you’re going to end up with a lot of unsuccessful posts.

Here are some examples of what works best for different types of social channels:

  • Facebook: Behind the scenes posts and glimpses into your company and its team members. This includes company culture posts, team updates and outing, and volunteer work. It doesn’t hurt to also share blog content and articles, which help show your followers what your bread and butter is. Include some lead generation posts, too, like gated content and guides.
  • LinkedIn: This is a professional social network, so stick to posts that focus on your content and services, as well as lead generation. Examples include job listings, blog posts, and guest-contributed articles that allow you to place content on other websites. Other useful types of LinkedIn content are industry trend reports, interesting articles from reputable publications and thought leaders in your industry, gated content, and special promos like free trials or newly released content.
  • Twitter: Due to the fast-paced nature and high traffic of Twitter, you can up the frequency on your postings here. There aren’t many rules in terms of what content does and doesn’t work. Test out all of the various types mentioned above and see what performs best.
  • Instagram: Because of its algorithm, sharing a ton doesn’t help you on Instagram like it might on Twitter or LinkedIn. In addition to paring down the frequency of your postings, focus on edited and brand-consistent imagery. Examples of what to post include new product releases, company updates and insights, team outings, and other visually-driven news.

Map Out Your Strategy

Once you’ve established what kinds of content you want to be sharing on your various social media platforms, it’s time to put together your actual calendar. Create a spreadsheet that includes:

  • Each social platform you’ll be posting on
  • The days of the week you’ll be publishing social content
  • The kinds of content you’ll be posting each day, per platform

Be as specific as you can, and make sure to include particular items that don’t happen frequently but are worth posting, such as webinars, whitepaper releases, and conference speaking engagements or attendances.

This spreadsheet will help you see your social media strategy as a whole. Pay close attention when looking at it to ensure that you’ve scheduled enough posts for each platform and that they’re the right kind of posts. Be ready to adapt this schedule as needed to accommodate new content and factor in existing reports and data on what days, times, and types of content have already been performing well for you.

Track Results and Adjust Accordingly 

Crucial to any good calendar is tweaking it when the situation warrants. For your social media calendar, you’ll want to optimize it each month, depending on the analytics around how your posts are doing and the KPIs that you’re trying to achieve. Be sure to have an idea of what you’re hoping to get out of your posts so that you have a goal you can track progress against.

Keep your KPIs specific to each platform. Some goals that you might want to keep in mind are:

  • Increasing followers by a certain percentage in three-month increments
  • Generating X amounts of leads on LinkedIn each month
  • Getting X amount of retweets on Twitter each month

Knowing your goals — and having a content and timing plan for how to achieve them — is the crux of what your social media calendar is all about. Once you have your spreadsheet template made, it should be easy to adapt month to month. Good luck, and don’t forget to keep a close eye on those all-important analytic reports.