How to create a social media calendar for 2023 and beyond
Tell us if this social media strategy sounds familiar — you occasionally make a social media post when your busy work schedule allows. Once a post is made, it gets a handful of likes from the same dozen people — most of whom are company employees. Running a B2B social media account is difficult. You know that social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to any company, but you might not know how to start building your social media presence since your audience does not engage with your product the same way they might engage with a B2C product. What you need is a stronger strategy with consistent execution. And that starts with a social media marketing calendar.
We’ll go over these key topics about social media calendars:
- What one is
- Benefits of having one
- How to create one
- Top tools for your calendar
- How to measure success
- Getting started
What is a social media calendar?
A social media marketing (SMM), content, or editorial calendar is a document used to plan, organize, and schedule the publishing of social media posts. It’s organized by date and allows a marketing team to easily manage their social media posts across various channels.
An SMM calendar is the foundation of any effective strategy or campaign. It's a required first step in creating a consistent social media posting schedule, and it’s essential in mapping out your strategy.
The benefits of a social media calendar
Planning and executing a social media strategy is nearly impossible without the clarity afforded by a social media calendar. Here are just a few of the benefits that come from a well-managed calendar.
One of the most important things to remember when building a social media following is consistency. When someone looks at your social media page and sees that you’re only posting once a week or less, they’ll likely think that you have very little to offer their feed and won’t follow your company. At its most basic level, using a social media calendar helps you make time for posting and encourages you to post at regular intervals.
Fewer missed opportunities
It’s such a disappointment to realize it’s April Fools’ Day, Earth Day, or Pride Month and not have anything planned to post. You will frequently miss some big opportunities if your social media isn’t managed with a calendar.
Planning ahead ensures you have a chance to send out a message for any holiday — both big and small. There are almost certainly a few small holidays out there that you could use for a fun social post. For example, during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2–6, 2022), Verizon shared teacher highlights from schools participating in their Verizon Innovative Learning program, which gives underprivileged students access to high-speed internet and other devices.
This was a creative way to follow daily internet trends while still sharing the company’s message.
You can find a full list of popular 2023 holidays here.
By making posts and planning ahead, you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to respond to day-to-day things that you can’t plan for — things like breaking news, trending memes, or comments on your other posts.
Everyone knows practice makes perfect. With a more consistent online presence, you’ll get more practice creating social media. The social calendar also acts as a record of what you posted in the past, with basic analytics for each post. You’ll have the power to review previous posts and see what worked and what didn’t. Then adjust your strategy accordingly.
Better social media content
Keeping a social media posting schedule opens a lot of surprising opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise. Let’s look at just a few of the ways better planning leads to better content.
- Collaborate with other internal teams and un-silo social media management. When you have a solid social calendar, you can sync with other teams and collaborate in new ways. Social media messaging can support new product launches, email campaigns, or new customer service initiatives.
- Identify opportunities to partner with other brands or influencers. You can build your brand awareness by partnering with another social media account with a strong reputation. As your own account reputation grows, other accounts will start to follow and interact with you more often, giving you opportunities to build from their momentum. In this example, German sports club FC Bayern München partnered with Adobe Experience Cloud to gain tighter customer insights. We created a case study with this partnership, which drove engagement on LinkedIn and introduced our audience to new ways our software can be used.
- Create bigger, more cohesive campaigns. Bigger campaigns require some more preparation and planning. Whether you’d like to take a month to highlight customer stories or create a branded hashtag, you’ll need a social calendar to plan the flow of the campaign. For example, Zoom shares easy-to-follow tutorial videos for features their customers might not be familiar with under the hashtag #ZoomProTip. Clicking the hashtag gives you a curated collection of all the tips Zoom has released so far.
No one writes perfectly the first time. Yet we often post our first drafts on social media without taking a moment to even give it a second — or third or fourth — read. Scheduling social media posts in advance gives you time to proofread, catch misspellings, improve syntax, or eliminate poorly conceived ideas.
How to create a social media calendar
Social media content strategy is more than just purchasing a calendar tool. Transitioning to a social media calendar requires some planning, auditing, and execution.
1. Audit the existing social media content and channels
Before doing anything, you’ll need clear eyes on what your current social media landscape looks like. Ask what works and what doesn’t work with your company’s social media. Think about how things are posted in addition to what is posted.
Take a representative sample of the social media posts you have already made and look for some patterns. Some questions you might ask during this process include:
- What is the average engagement (likes, shares, comments) on your posts?
- How does the length of the content affect post engagement?
- Are there specific channels performing better than others?
- Does the time you post affect the post’s performance?
- Are images or videos performing better than text posts?
- What channels are you using, and how well are they performing?
By the end of this process, you should have useful insights into your current social media landscape along with several ideas and experiments to test out.
2. Audit personas’ social media engagement
You know your target audience. Now you need to understand how they use social media.
The demographics of your target audience will tell you a lot about where to find them. A B2B audience might primarily be on LinkedIn during business hours. A middle-aged to older audience might be on Facebook or Instagram, while a younger audience will be using TikTok.
But knowing where or when to find your audience is only part of the battle. Take some time to consider the mix of content they want to see from you — whether that’s memes, how-to videos, or long-form informational posts.
If done correctly, your content audit should have pointed you in the right direction by showing what types of content your audience responds to.
3. Set goals
As with every marketing strategy and campaign, setting goals and measuring performance against them is essential to your success. And now that you have a clear understanding of both your content and your audience, you can start setting realistic goals.
Every goal needs three things to be actionable and effective:
- The outcome. What do you want to happen? This is the foundation of the goal—the end result you’re driving toward.
- The metric. How will you know you are successful? Be sure to set metrics that can track your progress for the duration of the goal.
- The timeline. How long should it take to accomplish? Set both short- and long-term goals, and have the short-term goals help build up to the bigger long-term ones.
Many people confuse outcomes and metrics when setting social media goals. Your outcome should not simply be “get more likes.” Likes, follows, shares, and comments are all examples of metrics, while actual outcomes are brand awareness, community engagement, revenue growth, or new leads. Make sure you’re using the right metrics to measure the desired outcomes.
Examples of more fully formed goals could be:
- Improve customer service by responding to comments within two hours.
- Set up future successes this week by filling out your social media calendar with one post a day for the next month.
- Generate 20 new leads by encouraging downloads of our new white paper for the next 14 days.
- Support our new marketing campaign by driving 1,000 visitors to a landing page over the next month.
- Improve brand engagement by increasing the number of likes on our social posts by 15% over the next quarter.
Build our online community by increasing the average number of comments, replies, or shares by 30% this year.
There are so many different uses for social media, and the opportunities only increase as your community grows.
1. Align with other campaigns
When a social media posting schedule is planned out in advance, you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with other departments in your company and expand what social media can do. Ask yourself how social media can support all other parts of your marketing efforts.
There might be obvious initiatives social media can help with — like driving traffic to new website content or using advertising spend to push the latest video on a platform. But don’t discount the help social media can provide to other departments in your company.
- Can HR advertise the latest job openings?
- Would a how-to video help reduce customer support calls?
- Could the sales team help share your content with their contacts?
There are so many different uses for social media, and the opportunities only increase as your community grows.
2. Establish posting schedule and content details
This is where you take everything you’ve learned in the last four steps and put it in writing. This step is particularly important if more than one person is responsible for posting content online, as it ensures that everyone is on the same page with your social media strategy.
This is a good opportunity to write out some posting guidelines. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the things that should be included:
Timing. Establish how often you plan on posting while being mindful that you will need to be consistent but not overbearing for your target audience.
Voice. Is your online presence professional or casual? Informative or jokey? This voice can change somewhat based on your platform or even between types of content. But be warned that your followers want consistency.
Restrictions. Every company should establish standards on what is and isn’t allowed from their social media channel. There are obvious limits to good taste and various platforms’ community guidelines, but there are also many less obvious things to consider as well. Does a post or picture violate an employee’s privacy or disclose proprietary information? What kinds of content would be considered inappropriate for your brand in particular? Do you mention your competition or pretend they don’t exist? It’s always better to establish these rules upfront than it is to discover that you need them down the road.
Curation. Curation is sharing or amplifying existing content from other brands or accounts. Effective curation can create valuable community discussions on your social pages and establish your brand as a thought leader in the industry. Poor curation will distract from your company’s mission and does not build relationships with your target audience. You will need to decide whether this should be a part of your social media strategy — and if so, how often you will do it. Make sure to consider the trustworthiness and reputation of any account you decide to curate content from.
Content. What types of content will you produce? How often will that content be informative versus sales? Consider aiming for the 4-1-1 rule — four educational or entertaining posts for every one soft promotion and one hard promotion. Your audit of your target audience should heavily guide your decisions here.
Top tools for your social media content calendar
Of course, you’ll need to use an actual calendar for your social media calendar. Here are a couple of potential tool options you could effectively use.
Adobe Marketo Engage
Adobe Marketo Engage is an all-in-one marketing automation tool that allows you to easily build marketing campaigns and use artificial intelligence to build predictive audiences and segments.
When connected with Marketo Engage, you can boost your audience engagement with personalized social ads based on interests, intent, engagement, and more. You can then connect your customer behavioral data in the Audience Hub to ad platforms to create personalized messages.
Marketo Engage is designed to do a lot more than just social media. This tool is ideal for marketing teams that would like to take advantage of its full suite of features that will help not only social media efforts but also email, sales, and advertising campaigns.
You’re probably familiar with Google Sheets, the free-to-use, web-based spreadsheet software used for everything from accounting to data storage. For many companies, spreadsheets are substitutes for when there isn’t a budget available for a more sophisticated option. But that comes with a loss of functionality that will eventually need to be addressed as your brand grows.
Google Sheets is ideal for those who want to organize their social media strategy but are unable to commit to a dedicated SMM software. Initial calendar setup can be time consuming, and you may need the help of an internal expert to “program” a level of functionality, but usage should be pretty easy after that.
How to measure the success of your social media calendar
You’ve audited your content, you’ve set goals, and you have a calendar ready to go. Now you need to make sure your social strategy is actually working. We talked about how including metrics with your goals is essential in a previous section. Now, let’s talk a little bit about what kinds of metrics you can use and what they’ll be measuring.
Engagement (likes, shares, comments)
Your fundamental engagement metrics are some of the easiest to track. These metrics show how often someone interacts with your post. At the most basic level, the more engagement a post has, the more it resonates with its audience. And for most social media platforms, more engagement means that the algorithm will organically share your post with more accounts, including accounts that don’t follow you. Some of the ways you can boost engagement include asking your audience a thought-provoking question, being clever, or posting about trending topics.
You can usually find the number of likes, comments, and shares a social post has publicly displayed on every post on every social network. This means you can track not only your own engagement but your competitors’ as well.
Reach and impressions
Reach is the total number of social media accounts that see your post. This metric is useful because it is a measure of brand awareness. Generally, the average social media post will have a reach lower than your total follower count because many of your followers will not always be active on social media. A strong social post with higher engagement will have a reach that is higher than your social media following because it is being shared outside your network.
Impressions is a similar metric that measures how often a post appears in someone’s social feed. Impressions should be higher than reach because a post can appear on the same person’s feed more than once. This metric is more useful when measuring social media advertising.
Where to find this metric varies by social network. Twitter and LinkedIn allow you to view the impressions of each of your posts. Other networks display reach on their marketing dashboards. Your social media tech stack should be able to track reach and impressions.
This metric is a measurement of how many visitors to your site are referred there by a social media network. The number of referrals can be used as a top-of-funnel sales metric that shows how much your social media effort is feeding into your website. You should track other metrics to get a full view of your social media’s effects on your revenue.
You’ll need a bit of legwork to track this metric — either by adding UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters to links or adding a snippet of tracking code to your website. Once incorporated, you’ll be able to track social media referrals in your website’s analytics, as well as which social network the referral came from.
Getting started with a social media content calendar
Social media content calendars give your posting schedule structure and help create measurable results that you can use to develop a strong strategy moving forward. Now that you know how to create a calendar and what to do with it, you need the tools necessary to get started.
That’s where Adobe Marketo Engage comes in. Marketo Engage allows you to easily integrate social metrics into your marketing reports so that you can make sure your social strategy is paying off. Other tools like social sign-on and personalized social ads make Marketo Engage an ideal choice to integrate social media into your broader marketing strategy.
If you’d like to learn more, take a self-guided product tour that can be done at your own pace. Nine breakout videos highlight different Marketo Engage features so that you can see its full value — no virtual sales demo necessary.
You can start creating a social media strategy today by auditing your existing social channels. For more details, check out The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.