Blog Post

Elements Of a Social Media Calendar

In a previous post where I discussed the concept of a social media calendar to manage your social media outreach and messaging, Bob Hazlett commented and offered up his calendar to use as an example. I’ve downloaded it and thought it might be useful to show discuss his calendar and my own company’s version as examples and look at the elements that make up these calendars and how best to use them.

Here’s a screenshot of Hazlett’s calendar:

Hazlett’s calendar is pretty straightforward and gives a solid starting point for planning out your social media messaging. He breaks it down by months, weeks and days and then has the following additional fields:

  • Focus
  • Theme
  • Keywords
  • Events

I think this is a good place to start and gives a good overview. My company is finding as we implement multiple, highly-detailed and evolving social media marketing campaigns for clients is that we need more specificity than this, though.

Here’s a screenshot of the social media calendar my company developed and is using:

The elements are as follows:

  • Date. We break campaigns down by week, and then by day.
  • Client. This is where we put the tasks that fall on the client to do.
  • Consultant. This is where we put the tasks that we’ll handle.
  • Blog Post/Theme. This is where the campaign “hooks” reside. We see blog posts as the hub of a wheel and all social media conversations are the spokes from that hub. So if we have a contest, an offline event, a promotion or anything else that is the core of a campaign, we make sure blog posts give all the necessary details and use it as a returning reference point as links in the social media messaging we put out.
  • Blogger. We utilize a number of professional bloggers in addition to our own staff, so we specify who will actually write and/or edit the blog here. In advance, we establish a single person with the power to publish, although we always have a backup who knows how to do it in case the publisher is not available.
  • Deadline. We are sticklers for deadlines and make sure our calendar includes them if something needs to be produced in advance. We’re also learning hard lessons about what happens to your timeline when it is the client who misses deadlines and not your team. You should have a clause in your contract stating that all deadlines will automatically shift based on client delays, but you will still make efforts to deliver per original deadlines when possible.
  • Publish On. This date is also critical so everyone knows when something is going to appear online and can activate other social media marketing steps.
  • SM Messaging. While we don’t like to produce canned messaging except under certain circumstances — such as a daily empowering quote where all quotes are pre-programmed to release at future dates — we still include ideas for tweets and status updates that spring from or complement that blog post or theme. These are used more as ticklers and reminders.
  • Done. Accountability is a major issue in any process with a lot of moving parts and multiple players. We make sure a date is added to the Done column when the person responsible for the task completes it.

Here’s what a portion of this calendar might look like filled out:

An effective social media calendar should include:

  • Clear designations of each task.
  • Clear assignments to specific people.
  • Clear deadlines to set expectations.
  • A place to show a task is complete to demonstrate expectations have been met.

Overall, your calendar should be clear, specific, and emphasize accountability with enough detail to support tracking and management of the many moving parts of your active social media marketing campaigns.

Do you have an example of a social media calendar you can share? Any thoughts on the ones shared above?

9 Responses to “Elements Of a Social Media Calendar”

  1. Outstanding post! Thank you. I was led to this one from the link in your “6 ways to Revive a Dead Social Media Channel.” The calendar is a great idea and even though this is an older post, I think it needs to be revisited!

    Thanks again.

  2. Great resource. Thanks! I’m finding that this is a very time intensive task and one that takes a great deal of discipline. Really interesting to plot out how each social property can be integrated… for example… using a Twitter post that links to a landing page but also promoting the same themed conversation in a different way on Linkedin and Facebook pages. All, of course, feeding into the same ultimate destination. It seems that this is really early on in the maturity of this practice given the limited tools to help automate this process. Other than Hootsuite and other Twitter based planning tools, does anyone know of any campaign tools that help plot out these comms plans in a way that is more structured / automated than say… Excel? Thanks again for a great post.

  3. Thanks for the great information. I think this is something I’d like to start using as we dive deeper into the world of social media. I’m curious however; are you using this to just record what has been done or are you using it to plan out tasks? If you’re planning out, how far in advance are you going, weeks, months, the entire year?