SUPER LONG POST ALERT (but with SUPER-DUPER helpful info so it’s worth the read!)
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You’re a wedding pro so “schedule” is basically your middle name. I think we can all agree that maintaining a consistent publishing schedule of high-quality content on social media is challenging, time-consuming + can end up costing you a pretty penny.
I know, insert eye roll here. Scheduling your social media is not for the faint of heart + can really strike fear in the fiercest of wedding pros. I’m here to tell you not to let it get the best of you!
Why, you might ask?
Well, it turns out that you can make the process — and your life — incredibly easier by using a social media calendar.
I know what you’re thinking.
“How the heck do I create a social media calendar?”
Ask and you shall receive.
What Is a Social Media Calendar?
A social media calendar (aka editorial calendar) is designed to make social media content planning and posting easy, which makes you + your potential brides + grooms happy with high-quality content that you post on a consistent basis.
“Content” comes in a variety of shapes and forms:
- From the humble printed worksheet: download your free social media calendar template.
- To the online, editable Google Doc file: check out this free social media calendar template.
- To a professional, dedicated tool, such as Loomly.
No matter which method you choose, for each post, you’ll generally want to keep track of (at least) five key elements:
- To which social networks you’re posting
- The date and time each post goes live
- Any pictures, videos, or audio clips you use
- Comments, notes + approval from team members during the creation of the post
- Post-publishing metrics (such as likes, comments + shares) to track the success of each post
This can feel like a lot –that’s probably because it is a lot!
So here is the deal.
Keeping track of this data is important to make sure that you’re planning ahead while analyzing + improving on the content that resonates most with the brides + grooms you want to work with.
“Unlike traditional marketing, where you bombard prospects with sales messages – social media is a two-way process. You need to listen, engage, show empathy, become involved, and provide value if you want to create a seamless relationship with your prospects that can eventually lead to sales.”
— Jeff Bullas, JeffBullas.com.
So, then the question becomes:
Who Needs a Social Media Calendar?
The short answer is EVERYONE, EVERY business — big, small, or anywhere in between.
A social media calendar can help you achieve your goals, whether you’re trying to expand your social media presence to new platforms, boost the number of your followers, or increase engagement.
A few of my fave benefits include:
- Efficient collaboration with your clients, while maintaining your brand identity + ensuring consistency in your brand storytelling.
- Tracking important audience metrics to analyze + improve the success of your posts
- Save time by planning posts + batching
- Improve the editorial workflow + accountability at the multiple stages of the publishing process
- Keep your readers happy with consistent, high-quality content by optimizing your editorial workflow, tracking data on successful (and unsuccessful) posts, and moving onto the next month with new insights and new goals.
I know you do so keep reading.
How To Create Your Social Media Calendar in Five Easy Steps
Loomly created this simple step-by-step guide to break down the process of organizing your social media calendar to help you manage each part of your editorial and publishing process efficiently.
Step 1 | Define Your Publishing Guidelines
Creating your social media calendar is all about producing + (always) publishing better content.
But hold on there before you jump in with both stilettos. Before you start writing + publishing posts, you’re actually going to have to set the groundwork for establishing an editorial calendar.
Groundwork = publishing guidelines.
Publishing guidelines = a type of style guide/brief you can refer to as you write to ensure your content aligns with your strategy.
Now, let’s start building that groundwork with these five essential building blocks for a strong social media calendar brief.
Step 1. 1 | Craft Your Editorial Line
Simply put, your editorial line is a set of rules that determine how you communicate with the brides + grooms you’re trying to attract.
Crafting your editorial line does not have to be a complicated process.
In fact, it can be as simple as answering a few simple questions on one page.
- Personas: Who are the brides + grooms you’re trying to attract with your content? (demographic, social & occupational groups.)
- Themes: What do you want to say? (topics to be tackled and topics to be avoided.)
- Hashtags: Are there hashtags you want to emphasize on? (brand, product, campaign, season, “coined” term, etc.)
- Angle: How do you want to approach the subject? (being educative, informative, entertaining, etc.)
- Voice: Who is “speaking” in your posts? (who is virtually or literally “signing” your posts.)
- Tone: How do you talk to your brides + grooms? (with assertiveness, pedagogy, complicity, etc.)
Step 1. 2 | Choose Your Social Channels
You may already have an idea of the social networks where your brides + grooms are hanging out –so it’s where you want to establish your brand.
If you don’t — or if you are having second thoughts — here’s a simple social media cheat sheet, providing you with the most synthetic definition of each platform’s unique value proposition (namely: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr, Medium, Reddit, Quora, VKontakte, Sina Weibo, & Steem.io) :
Made your decision?
Step 1.3 | Decide How Frequently You Are Going to Publish
There are several studies on how to optimize the number of posts you publish daily so you can maximize your reach on each social media platform.
In general, more posts are better to keep your wedding couples engaged, but we highly recommend keeping an eye out on how many high-quality posts you are able to commit to posting every week (or every month).
Quality vs. quantity. It’s the age-old battle between marketers. Is less really more or is more the new black? Less is more. But only when that content is: relevant, valuable, and personalized.
— Rebekah Radice, RebekahRadice.com
Keep in mind:
Building a brand and a community is more like running a marathon than a sprint, and consistency is the most important key success factor in the long run. (Tweet this social media word of wisdom by clicking here.)
Step 1.4 | Determine Your Editorial Cadence
Editorial calendars are typically set up on either a monthly or weekly cycle:
- Monthly calendars can help you batch your content so you can get a lot done faster.
- Weekly calendars can help you pivot and adjust quickly so you can adapt + share new info in a timely manner + more data more frequently.
The right cycle length for your biz depends on how often you want to sit down, analyze the previous cycle, and prep for the next one.
Last but not least:
Step 1.5 | Define Your Approval Workflow
Your approval workflow corresponds to the process of reviewing content before it goes live, to make sure the right post gets published at the right time, in the right place, by the right person.
This helps create a layer of accountability in case a post does make it onto Facebook with a typo or an Instagram Story goes viral.
Depending on the size of your team and the level of accountability you need, your review and approval workflow may vary. This may or may not apply to you, depending on whether you’re a solo-wedpreneur or you have someone who takes care of writing +publishing content for you.
- If you work on your own: A simple checklist to remind, well, you to check your posts for potential typos, broken links + any other inaccuracies can keep you on track.
- If you need approval from one collaborator: Share a similar checklist with the person in charge of approving posts, with clear approval deadlines, making sure to include some buffer to allow for some back-and-forth.
- If you need approval from multiple collaborators: Go with a more comprehensive team-wide, sign-off process to collect approval from your legal, marketing + editorial departments before posting.
Once you have defined your editorial line, social channels, publishing frequency, editorial cadence + approval, you are in great shape to start creating content.
Let the fun begin:
Step 2 | Fill Your Calendar with Post Ideas
Going straight from a blank page to a whole bunch of fully-fledged social media posts may seem overwhelming.
Because (again) it is!
Just like with any big task, the secret is to break it down into smaller pieces.
This is where the magic happens:
At this stage, you do not need to create actual posts: all you need are post ideas.
When you start planning your ideas, you can get inspired. It’s often easier to come up with ten ideas in one go than ten ideas individually when you’re on a deadline!
— Ian Cleary, RazorSocial.com.
And it gets better:
As you have already defined how many posts you want to publish, you now have a very clear goal to achieve.
Want to know the best part?
There is a simple method to hit that number, whatever it is, and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
This method actually works similarly to the Rocks, Pebbles & Sand Story:
Step 2.1 | Mark Down Important Dates for Your Brand
First things first, let’s start with what you know best: Your brand.
Simply list events that matter to your brand + the wedding couples you’re trying to attract, such as:
- Product releases, sales + special events.
- Brand or company milestones such as anniversaries, achievements + awards.
- Major holidays + events in the wedding industry.
You want to start with this type of post ideas, as they tend to be date-related and offer limited flexibility as to when you can write + publish your content.
Just like that, you should get between 30% and 50% of the post ideas you need for your next publishing cycle:
(These are your “rocks”: now, on to the “pebbles”.)
Step 2.2 | Strategize Publishing Based on Days of the Week
When you plan your content around major events and holidays, you’re going to have some empty dates on your publishing calendar.
In order to fill those dates, you need to draw inspiration from somehwere to come up with post ideas. But before you jump into coming up with ideas, first choose the dates/days of the week you’re going to publsih carefully.
It really comes down to the social platforms where you’re publishing your content becasue some days of the week are better than others on those particular platforms.
According to the experts, here’s the skinny:
You can hunt for post ideas inspired by those days of the week:
- Relative dates: Leverage hashtag days, such as #TBT or #TGIF. Louise Myer’s list of 50 hashtags for each day of the week is a great place to find these kind of post ideas.
- Absolute dates: Celebrations, “international days of …”, sporting events, major movie releases and season changes are all good candidates for coming up with posts. Check out Days of the Year, This Day in History, Topend Sports and Movie Insider for these type of post ideas.
This should provide you with another 20% of the post ideas you need to fill your calendar.
(These are your “pebbles”: time to take care of your “sand”.)
Step 2.3 | Fill in the Gaps with Evergreen Ideas
Even with all of these dates, days + ideas, you still have empty dates in your publishing schedule. It’s a good idea to fill these dates in with evergreen content — content that never goes out of style.
Here are some efficient ways to source these additional post ideas:
- Feature user-generated content, such as a follower mentioning your brand or your product in one of their posts.
- Curate content with tools such as Feedly, Pocket or Flipboard and find an insightful or interesting third-party or industry-news piece.
- Look at some of your older posts that performed well and replicate your thought process.
- Take a look at what competitors are doing and repurpose an idea for your brand + your audience.
- Check out social media trends, breaking news + weather forecasts to get hot, contextual ideas.
That should take care of another 30% to 50% of your post ideas.
(You just got yourself some “sand”: your jar is now full, great job!)
At this stage, you should have a clear scheduling roadmap of what you are going to publish, on what dates and on which social networks.
Step 3 | Create + Customize Posts for Every Social Network
It’s (finally) time to transform your ideas into actual posts.
Note: depending on the configuration of your team and the approval workflow you defined in Step 1, your next task may vary:
- If you are a one-person team in charge of your own brand, it’s a good time to create full + final versions of your posts.
- If you need at least one collaborator to review + approve posts, you may want to have them review your post ideas before proceeding.
Essentially, a social media post is made of 3 elements:
- Publishing date + time
Let’s take a look at each element one at a time.
Step 3.1 | Publishing date + time
Now you need to determine the best publishing time for each social network.
Here’s what the experts have to say about the time od day to post on each social media network.
Keep in mind that the brides + grooms lurking around on each social network platform is different. This means that finding the best time to publish requires some experimentation on your part.
Pick a time.
Publish a post.
Measure the post engagement rate, learn from it, adjust or repeat action based on engagement success/failure rate.
Step 3.2 | Text
A social media post tends to be quite short — compared to a blog post — so crafting the copy for a social media post comes down to making a couple of small decisions:
- Plain text: This is the copy that contains the core message of your post. You want to align it with your editorial line + within the limitations enforced by each social network (i.e. 280 characters on Twitter).
- Punctuation: Introducing question marks + exclamation points can give life to your post — making it more engaging for your audience.
- Links: Including a link in a post is a great way to get your brides + grooms to take action. On Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, you will be able to decide whether you want to include link metadata in your post as well and generate a link preview (called a Twitter Card on Twitter) — or not.
- Hashtags: Using hashtags in your posts allows you to add meaning to your message + make your post more likely to go viral, letting users find it when searching for a hashtag it includes.
- @mentions: Tagging another account in a post, be it a brand or an individual, provides you with an opportunity to ping them publicly, potentially establishing a connection between your audience and theirs.
When you publish the same post on multiple social networks, you can publish the exact same text on all platforms — there is no rule against that — but it is usually better to customize your post for each platform, complying with technical limitations, community best practices + audience expectations.
For instance, if you publish the same post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram + LinkedIn, you may want to have a base version of your post for Facebook, a shorter version for Twitter, sprinkle in hashtags for Instagram + make it a bit more formal on LinkedIn.
Step 3.3 | Assets
Social media posts tend to include more and more multimedia assets, such as:
- Photos: Static images + animated .GIFs are great to convey a message in a snap.
- Videos: Uploaded files, live recording + stories share more information in a playful format, optimizing for the attention span of your audience.
- A combination of the above: Slideshows, albums + carousels encourage your audience to interact + consume your content.
While there is virtually an infinite number of ways to come up with great visuals for your social media posts, here are three you may want to consider first:
- Original visuals: If you have some basic design or photography skills, putting together some custom assets for your brand and your audience, with tools like Adobe Photoshop, Canva or Easel.ly is usually the best option.
- User-generated content (UGC): Another popular option is to feature content published by your fellow wedding pros (with their written consent) about your brand, such as a quote or a service review.
- Stock photo banks: You can source nice assets from online image banks, from iStock (Getty Images), to Unsplash (free, high-resolution photos) and Giphy (animated .GIFs).
However you decide to source your assets for social media, a good idea is to create a content pool: this is a fancy word to represent a Dropbox or a Google Drive folder where you save all your visuals, both from posts already published + with future posts in mind.
Here again, if you publish the same post on multiple social networks, you will ideally want to optimize your assets for each platform in terms of file format, aspect ratio and size, to achieve the best quality possible within each service’s technical limitations.
You just transformed your list of post ideas into an actual content plan.
Step 4 | Review, Approve + Schedule Posts
I realize you feel like you’re ready to hit the publish button on your content BUT wait.
You want to review, approve + then schedule the posts.
Going through these motions goes a long way in boosting the quality of the posts + the efficiency of your publishing process.
Step 4.1 | Review your posts
If you use a spreadsheet — be it Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, Google Spreadsheet or any other open source format — chances are your social media posts will look something like this at this stage:
While that is certainly fine, such a document may not provide you with the best context to review (or preview) your posts, figure out how they will render once published and therefore how good they are.
One option is to generate mockups of your posts, for instance creating some templates with Adobe Photoshop:
I know, you’re probably thinking:
How is that additional work supposed to streamline my publishing process?
When you need to publish many posts, or when you work under tight deadlines, a clear review process makes you less prone to errors, hence, less work for you down the road.
Step 4.2 | Approve your posts
Indeed, the number one reason why you want to generate mockups and preview your posts it to be able to approve them efficiently, i.e. in a fast and reliable manner.
That stands true, whoever is involved in your approval workflow:
- If you approve your own posts: This provides you with peace of mind, making sure that WYSIWYG.
- If you need approval from one person: Sending a mockup to the decision maker makes it easier for them to get back to you with a clear GO or NO GO, as well as provide feedback.
- If you need approval from multiple persons: Sharing a mockup allows everyone to be on the same page, minimizing room for interpretation between the different areas of your company.
As a rule of thumb, you want to proofread your posts for:
- Consistency with brand values (message).
- Compliance with brand guidelines (format).
- Alignment with brand strategy (goals).
- Any potential contextual risk (trending news).
- Residual typos.
Ideally, you want to implement an approval system allowing you to keep track of team feedback, save post changes + make collaborators accountable for their actions (you know, in case something goes wrong).
You can usually bet on one of the following three solutions :
- A DIY kit: Think spreadsheets, Dropbox, email + Slack.
- A generic project management & creative suite combo: Basecamp, Asana or Monday combined with Adobe Photoshop or Canva, to name a few.
- A dedicated social media calendar tool: Loomly offers an end-to-end collaborative review workflow including post mockups, approval statuses, commenting system & version history.A
Regardless of the approach you choose, at this stage, you should have a beautiful (list of) post(s) ready to go live.
It’s (finally) showtime!
Step 4.3 | Schedule your posts
To actually get your carefully crafted and thoroughly approved posts from your social media calendar in front of your audiences, you basically have three options:
- Check your social media calendar daily + manually publish your posts: This is appropriate for sensitive content you want to review again right before publishing it.
- Create reminders in your “regular” calendar to publish: This is more practical if you are not able to check your social media calendar every day.
- Schedule your posts in advance for automated publishing: This is the best option to optimize productivity + minimize publishing mistakes.
Let’s focus on Option 3, which tends to be the norm in the industry, as it provides significant upsides:
- Never fall behind schedule: Whether you are at an event, a vendor meeting, or just away from your computer, your posts will still get published exactly on time.
- Batch your work: Schedule all/a chunk of your posts in one sitting
- Focus on what matters: Save time on publishing so you can spend time on creating better content for your audience + your other money-making activities
So here’s the conundrum.
Besides Facebook, very few social networks allow you to schedule posts ahead of time, which means you need a social media scheduler to do the work for you.
A quick Google Search pulls up plenty of options.
Assuming you have found your weapon of choice, you can:
- Select the date and time you want your scheduler to publish for you
- Paste in the copy from your calendar to your scheduler.
- Upload any asset from your computer or your content pool.
Repeat the process for each post, sit back, relax + watch the magic happen.
Step 5 | Measure & Improve on Your Audience Engagement
After couple of days (or even weeks) have gone by, it’s time to track the performance of the posts.
- Native social network analytics: Most social networks provide native analytics features to help you track how well (or not) each post did. These tools can be convenient because everything is built into the social media platform to collect data.
- Dedicated social media analytics tools: Premium analytics features from social media management tools, or even standalone analytics tools, can provide insights across multiple social media platforms + streamline your analytics, reporting + optimization process.
Regardless of the approach you choose, keep an eye out for at least a few data points:
- Impressions + reach are solid indicators of brand visibility, showing you, respectively, how many times + by how many people a post is seen
- Likes, reactions, comments, clicks + shares are absolute measures of engagement, which tell you how + how many times users interact with a piece of content
- Engagement rate is the king of metrics, defined as the ratio of engagements/reach (or, sometimes, as engagements/impressions), providing you with a strong foundation to normalize and compare post performances accurately.
Keeping track of the metrics at the end of each publishing cycle (weekly, monthly or otherwise), tells you:
- Where to post: The social networks where your content performs significantly better than other networks
- When to post: The days of the week and times of the day when posts significantly perform better than other days + times
- What to post: The topics, themes + subjects that your wedding couples visibly enjoy + engage
- How to post: Include certain types of content, such as photos, videos, slideshows or links because your brides + grooms engage more with this type of content
- Who your audience is: Looking at the demographics for your wedding couples helps you identify patterns of who consistently engages with your posts
The bottom line:
Keep tabs on what your audience likes (literally) in your social media calendar and leverage those takeaways when creating new posts in your next publishing cycle.
How To Manage Your Social Media Calendar
Creating your social media calendar means finding or building the right tools to make it easy to organize your editorial workflow + track data to improve your creation process.
Once you’ve set-up your initial social media calendar and publishing schedule, you’ll find that each post will have a simple life-cycle: from inspiration + first mockups, to creation + approval + publishing + evaluation.
It’s entirely possible to build out these tools and tracking methods using templates.
This can also eat up a ton of your time that you should be focusing on other activities.
If you have made it this far reading this post, you are probably serious about creating + managing your social media calendar.
This is exactly the reason Loomly was created.
To assist you with the entire content publishing process, with all the features you need in one tool:
Want to know the best part?