Running a brand or small business requires you to wear many hats – from business owner, product developer, customer service, and of course social media manager.
Social media marketing is an essential part of running a business or brand but often times it can get a little hectic to manage. Creating and publishing content in the moment can disrupt your workflow, particularly when you’ve got so many other things to do.
That’s where a handy social media content calendar comes in. Content planning is essential for social media marketing and managing various social media accounts and can take your social media game to the next level.
The team at Sked has done the hard work for you with a step-by-step guide to creating a social media calendar template through Excel to improve your social media planning. With our tips and tricks, you’ll be making content and scheduling posts in no time.
Ready to learn how? Let’s begin!
What is a social media content calendar?
A social media calendar is a one-stop-shop planning document and management tool that organizes your social media content into different categories and dates. This allows you to plan out and keep track of the content you’re planning on posting to your various social media channels in an efficient and easy way.
In a nutshell, your social media content calendar should give you a birds-eye view of what you’re posting to each channel (and when). It’s really what it says on the tin: a calendar that outlines exactly what you’re going to share to your social media channels.
With a single focus on your social media profiles, this content calendar is a handy way to:
- Plan out your Instagram feed and ensure your content flows and looks aesthetically pleasing on your profile.
- Batch create your social media content to ensure you’re saving time and effort by tackling a week or even a month of content at once.
- Show up consistently on social media by planning all your posts in advance and ensuring your stick to a consistent posting schedule.
In business, the most successful companies are those that put the systems, processes and plans in place to hit their goals. While developing a social media strategy is important, putting this strategy into action with a content calendar is even more important to your success.
Why you should be using a social media content calendar to optimize success?
Whether you’re a small business, content creator, or a large brand, a social media content calendar is an essential part of your content marketing strategy. This document allows you to keep track of all your content ideas and content development across different social networks.
Let’s dive into some of the ways a social media content calendar can optimize your success and keep you on track to hit your business goals.
1. Saves you time
Whether you’re doing your social media alone or you have a marketing team, a social media calendar will save you time by organizing your content and ideas into one spreadsheet.
Rather than writing down ideas that pop into your head in your notes or attempting to remember all the types of content you want to execute, using a social media content calendar will help you keep track of all your ideas so you’re not wasting time trying to remember them all.
Plus, it allows you to work smarter not harder through batching your content creation. By planning ahead, you can design all your graphics, write all your captions and schedule all your content in one sitting (rather than posting reactively or in the moment).
2. Keeps you consistent
They say consistency is key and this rings true when talking about social media. To achieve success and growth on social media, you need to be posting consistently.
You want your brand to be on the minds of your audience because building a loyal following is essential to a good social media strategy.
By planning out your content for the month using a content schedule, batch-making your monthly content, and using a scheduling tool (like Sked) you can keep on track with creating and posting content so your audience is constantly hearing from you.
3. Execute large social media campaigns with ease
If you have an exciting product launch on the way or you’re teasing an upcoming event, a social media content calendar is a great tool to help you visualize the big-picture plan.
You and your team will be able to clearly plan and visualize your content strategy with ease and plan posts across multiple different platforms to start building awareness and hype for your campaign.
Plus, you can easily see how your social media campaign fits in with the rest of your social media content (such as your brand awareness activity).
What should be included in a social media calendar?
The options are endless when it comes to building your social media calendar.
Ultimately, you can customize your social media content calendar in whatever way you would like. But here are some important sections you might want to include to make your calendar organized.
Post Date and Day
Probably one of the most important parts of a content calendar is the posting date and day. You want to make sure you have a Monday to Sunday schedule (or Monday to Friday if you don’t post on weekends).
This makes it really clear what piece of content is supposed to be posted on what day. If you have stakeholders who use your social media content calendar or team members helping you out they’ll be able to understand your calendar with ease.
Plus, if you use a scheduling tool to post content you’ll want to include the date in your content calendar so you know exactly what days to schedule in your content.
Key Messages or Post Topic
Including a brief overview of what the piece of content will be about is a great way to quickly understand what the intention of the post is.
You can even include a caption section in your content calendar so you can pre-plan what you’re going to say alongside your post.
In this section, make sure to give a top-level summary of what your content will be about to ensure your calendar tool acts as a summary of your social posts for the month ahead.
If you’ve spent th time building out a social media strategy, chances are you’ve mapped out your content pillars. These broad topics explain the types of conversations you’re going to have with your audience through your social media content.
Remember: the best content pillars are linked to brand goals, KPIs, or objectives to ensure every post you share is strategic and purposeful.
You can customize these pillars to suit your brand, but some good places to start include these categories:
- Product launch
- Testimonial or client quotes
- User-generated content (UGC)
- Blog posts
- Educational content
- Social media holidays
- Behind-the-scenes content
Image or Asset
Since there’s a lot going on in a social media calendar you’ll want to add links to your images or insert the image to provide visual cues and easy access for when it’s time to post.
If you’re sharing video content (such as TikToks or Instagram Reels), make sure you clearly explain what asset you’ll be sharing with each post, too.
When you or your team jump into your calendar view, you should easily be able to find everything you need to get your content reviewed, approved and scheduled.
If you’re content planning for multiple different platforms like Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Facebook and you’re using one spreadsheet categorizing which post goes onto what platform will make your life easier. This ensures you’re not accidentally posting an Instagram post to your LinkedIn.
Remember: by designing evergreen content that works across multiple platforms, you can easily repurpose your posts and get extra mileage out of your posts.
How to create a social media content calendar template in Excel
Now onto the fun part. You may think Excel or Google Sheets are just boring spreadsheet apps but think again. There are so many ways to customize your Excel spreadsheet to match your brand colors, categorize content by color or you can choose from their free templates.
You can make this spreadsheet as easy or complex as you’d like – depending on what you’d like but there are a few key things you’ll need to include.
Step 1: Start your template
- First, head to Excel and start a blank template.
- In your first rows, you’ll want to input the month and year.
- Next, add in Week 1.
Step 2: Date and Day
Here, you’ll want to start inputting your date and day and of course, you can color code your days to make your template more visually appealing
You can use a Monday to Sunday schedule or Monday to Friday, depending on whether you plan to post on the weekends or give yourself a break.
Step 3: Post Topic
Next, add a row for your message to give yourself and your team an overview of what the content is about. This can be anything from getting to know me or brand updates. Alternatively, you can use this section to write out your caption.
Step 4: Image
In the image section, you’ll want to add an image of your social media post. You can either add the image straight into Excel or you can use this space to insert a link to wherever you store your images before you post them – for example, a google drive folder.
To add an image in Excel head to the Insert tab > Pictures > This Device > Select an image > Resize your image to fit with your cells.
Step 5: Content Pillar
In the pillar section, you’ll want to add what each content type represents. This can be educational content, for example, a get to know me post or a social media holiday like National Dog Day with an image of you and your pup. You can color code these as well to make it easier on the eyes.
Step 6: Platform
Lastly, you’ll want to categorize your social media posts by the platform if you’re across different social media apps. If you’re using only one platform for example Instagram you can use this section to categorize your content by format type (Reels, Post, Carousel, Story).
Under Platform, you could also add a section about how you will re-purpose your posts to other social media platforms, for example, re-purpose Instagram Reels video to TikTok.
Now that you have your first week in the template, simply copy and paste the sections and change the data for weeks 2, 3, and 4.
3 ways to level up your social media content calendar template in Excel
Now you’ve built your content calendar in Excel, it’s time to take your content planning to the next level! Here are three handy tips and tricks to try if you’re ready to elevate your content calendar and get the most out of Excel.
1. Drop Down Menu
Drop-down menus are handy tools to use in Excel – they make it really easy to select a bunch of choices without manually having to type them in.
They are perfect to use when you are inputting the type of content you’re using in the Pillar section of your social media content calendar template. Let’s run through how to add a drop-down menu in Excel.
- Write down the list you want to use in your drop-down menu.
- Select the area you want to include a drop-down menu.
- Head to the ‘Data’ tab and select ‘Data Validation’.
- In the ‘Allow’ drop-down menu select ‘List’.
- In the ‘Source’ section write down your list.
- Select ‘Apply’.
Now you have a drop-down menu in your Excel spreadsheet!
2. Easily share your social media Excel template with others
If you’re using Microsoft Excel online and you’re working with a team or a client, you should probably know how to share your spreadsheet with others.
You can choose to share your spreadsheet so people can edit the file or view it only.
To do this select the File tab, click on the Share button, and select Share with People. Next, you can either generate a link and send it to people or you can enter their email addresses to send it that way.
3. Publishing Schedule
If you’re feeling extra fancy and want to level up your content calendar you can add a section that lets you and your team know the progress of your content. This can include anything from brainstorming all the way through to scheduled and publishing.
You can include another drop-down menu that includes the following:
If you’re using a handy social media scheduling tool (like Sked) you and your team will be able to clearly see what stage of content creation you’re in and whether or not you have scheduled a post.
To do this follow the steps for the drop-down menu used to create different Pillars and you’ll be making and scheduling content in no time.
What other tools can you use to build your social media content calendar?
Obviously there is a bit of manual work involved in using Excel to create your content calendar. But this isn’t the only option you have.
If you’re looking for streamlined, user-friendly tools to help you plan your social media content, here are a few options you can consider:
- Project management software: tools like Asana, Trello and Clickup have calendar view functionality that make it easy to plan and map out your content in advance.
- Note-taking software: Notion is only of the best online note-taking tools that also offers powerful content calendar features. You can set up as many calendars as you need and customise these columns and rows to suit the channels you’re planning for.
- Social media management tools: Sked Social’s workflow and approval tools give you everything you need to plan your content in advance and get it approved by your team or clients prior to going live.
Ready to simplify your content creation workflow?
Sked Social is your go-to social media management system, with a one-stop shop for scheduling, social media analytics, and monitoring! Try our 7-day free trial and take your social media management game to the next level.