Perhaps you’re a kickass communicator, but organization isn’t your forte.
Don’t worry. There are thousands of free social media editorial calendar templates you can download to help you plan, execute, and track your social program.
Which template should you choose, though?
Follow along as we look at five practical things you need to look for in an effective calendar for your business.
1. A Great Layout
If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably come across some downloadable templates that look like the inside of a compulsive hoarder’s house. If you can’t make heads or tails of the layout for all the chaos you see, then the calendar is probably not for you. Be sure to pick one with a framework that’s structured and uncluttered.
As your social media strategy changes, your need to add or eliminate certain calendar elements will change too. You may even want to integrate other marketing activities into the calendar in order to plan and schedule all promotional initiatives in one place.
Make sure the template you choose is easily adaptable to your business needs. If reconfiguring the layout so that it aligns with your strategy poses too many problems, you might prefer to build your own calendar from scratch. Thankfully, many downloadable templates are created using an Excel spreadsheet, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble making someone else’s calendar your own.
3. Elements That Cover Your Social Properties
Many basic—and older—calendar templates will only provide for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn scheduling. While that’s not a bad start, the chances are you operate on a variety of social platforms including Google+, Pinterest, industry-related forums, and more. You may even run a business blog that requires new content on a regular basis. The calendar you use should not only cover the social properties you own, but it should also allow you to schedule updates to your profile information.
4. The Right Date or Time Components
Believe it or not, this one can be a biggie for businesses with a preference for scheduling content by the hour. If you plan to publish several pieces of social media content on your platforms throughout the day, and you want to include the relevant message or link, you’ll need to find a calendar that maps out the date and time for each day. If you’re following a simplified social program, then you’ll only require the right date components.
There may come a time when you’ll need to hand over the schedule to someone else in your business—someone who may not be social media savvy. To ensure effective planning and execution, you’ll need to look for a social media calendar with a structure and components that are universally understood.
There’s nothing worse than looking at a template and not being able to decipher what the acronyms or abbreviations used actually mean. If the calendar is complex in nature, make certain there’s a legend to explain various elements. If you think the calendar is too complicated for a newbie to figure out, keep looking for a simpler one.
If All Else Fails…
Create your own.
While a downloadable social media editorial calendar template can certainly save you time and effort, sometimes it’s worth building one from the ground up using the free tools you have at your disposal. You can use our post on how to create the ultimate social media editorial calendar as a guide for developing your own. Whatever you do, keep your marketing goals and social media strategy in mind so that you create a calendar that makes the most sense for your business needs.
Do you use a social media editorial calendar for your business? Did you create it or download it? Which elements do you think are the most important? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.