The beginner’s guide to social media content planning.

Planning your content in advance is essential for maximizing the payoff from your social media marketing efforts. A social media content plan will help you keep consistent with your posting strategy, stay up-to-date with the trending topics, and simply keep things organized from a managerial perspective. In this post, you will learn how to put together your first social media content plan in 5 easy steps.

Review your social media goals.

 The first step to effective social media content planning is to get clear on your goals. What are you trying to accomplish by promoting your business on social media? Increase your brand awareness? Boost engagement? Generate new leads? Convert your social media traffic?

Having a clear objective in mind will help to guide your content planning efforts in the goal-oriented direction. The more fleshed-out and specific your objective, the better you will be able to optimize your content strategy to achieve it. 

For example, if your objective is to convert your social media traffic, then it would make sense to direct your efforts towards creating content that moves people from your social media posts to your sales pages. 



Conduct a social media audit.


Once you are clear on what you want to achieve (your SMM objective), the next step is to gauge how your social media marketing efforts have fared so far in relation to that objective. This will help you identify effective practices and weed out the ineffective ones. That is where a social media audit comes in.

There are three things you need to consider when it comes to analyzing the performance of your social media channels:

Where is your target audience most active? It is a no-brainer that the platform where your target audience is most active on is where you should focus your marketing efforts. Check your reach and engagement analytics of all your social media channels to find out

Consider your reach and engagement in the context of audience segments. You may, for example,  find that some of your target audience segments are more active on Facebook, while others tend to flock to Instagram. This will help you to decide what kind of content to create for each channel to make the most impact.

Content types. Which content types have performed best in relation to your objective?

Native videos? Infographics? Blog posts? For example, if your goal is to boost your brand engagement, then look for engagement spikes in your social media analytics and then see which content types have caused them. 

Define your content ratio.

One of the foundations of a social media content plan is defining your content ratio. As the name suggests, your content ratio refers to the relationship between different types of content that you publish on your social accounts.

For example, say you publish 10-12 Facebook posts per week. What is the ratio of content shared from your website to that shared from other sources? How many of your posts are purely promotional? How many updates constitute user-generated content? You get the idea.

To get you started, here are some content ratios that are commonly used by businesses for choosing what to share on their social channel

Establish a process to streamline your content calendar efforts.

 Once you’ve conducted the audit of your social channels, you should have a good idea where to focus your marketing efforts as well as which content ratio to use. The next step is to put together your content calendar. A content calendar will help you visualize your content strategy and organize it in a way that makes it easier to execute upon. It will also make it easier to collaborate on your content creation efforts with different experts across your company.

Before you start filling in your calendar with all the content you’ve planned ahead, we recommend you establish a process to streamline your strategy in an efficient and orderly manner. Here are some of the key things you should ask yourself before putting it all together:

  • How far in advance will you be planning your content? (a week, fortnight, a month ahead?)
  • Who will be responsible for various tasks involved in content planning? (scheduling posts, updating the calendar, sourcing images, etc.)
  • What will be the stages of your content creation workflow? (e.g. from brainstorming to topic research to write-up to edit to publishing). Do your posts have to be approved by someone before getting published? 

Choose your tools.

  Now that you understand what is involved in social media content planning, check out our list of top tools to build your calendar and start implementing your content strategy.

Buffer – great for organizing and scheduling your content updates in advance

Google calendar – free and simple to use, great for visualizing your content plan with color-coding

Trello –  intuitive drag-and-drop UI, great to track content creation efforts through different stages.

Hootsuite –  awesome for managing multiple social media channels and monitoring brand mentions

CoSchedule – offers a centralized bird’s eye view of all of your projects and deadlines, powerful collaboration capabilities

In this article, we’ve outlined the most basic, foundational steps you need to take to start planning your social media content strategy. There is obviously a lot more depth and dimension to each when it comes to the nitty-gritty of executing upon them in practice. You need to check your analytics, choose the most optimal content ratio, decide which tools to use to streamline it all… But rest assured that the time and effort spent to plan it all ahead will be worth it in the long run!

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