A social media content calendar is an indispensable tool for most social media marketers. It reflects all the critical dates that matter to your business, helps you stay organized and consistent, streamlines team effort, and much more. These are just a few reasons why planning a social content calendar is such an essential step for most social media professionals.
At the same time, it is so easy to get lost in all the routine that planning a content calendar inevitably involves, and forget about your strategic goals.
This article will highlight some of the most common mistakes social media managers make when planning a social media content calendar, and show you how SEMrush’s social media tools can help you avoid them.
Mistake #1: Forgetting to Work Efficiently
Small routine tasks are often what pulls people away from focusing on strategy. When they get to work, they start juggling hundreds of tasks like responding to your social comments, updating a posting calendar, checking news feeds, tweeting, and so on. And then, by the end of the working day, they are wiped out and have no mental energy left for focusing on strategy.
If you don’t make an effort to streamline your routine, you will never have the time to focus on the essential things that can truly help your business.
SEMrush has created a number of solutions that will help you automate your routine, saving you time for strategic planning.
Automate Your Scheduling & Posting
SEMrush’s posting tool helps you simplify your scheduling and posting in many ways.
It allows you to schedule content for your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles from one tab, create a personalized posting schedule and set your personal posting goals.
Posting to Multiple Accounts at Once
The tool allows you to draft, schedule, and publish content to Facebook (business pages), LinkedIn, Instagram (scheduling only, no posting), Twitter, and Pinterest without leaving the SEMrush interface. Connect all the social media accounts you would like to post to and have them all displayed right above your posting wizard:
Automatic Image Finder
If you enter the post’s URL, the tool will automatically pull pictures from it. Select the images you want to go with your post by clicking on them. You can then check out the post preview window to see what your post will look like on each social network you are posting to:
The link you insert in your posting wizard will automatically be shortened with a built-in Bitly URL shortener. You can always un-shorten it by clicking the 'Unshorten' button.
You can add UTM parameters to your links, such as campaign name, campaign medium, and campaign source. The latter gets pulled automatically, depending on the social network you are posting to. Alternatively, you can set the source value manually.
Multiple Scheduling Options
The tool provides you with five different options for scheduling your content.
- You can add your post to the queue, in which case it will be scheduled for the next available time slot per your schedule settings.
- The same post can be scheduled for multiple dates/times (especially if it performs well).
- You can schedule your post to be published regularly (evergreen content, for example).
- Сhoose ‘Post now’ for your article to go live within the next few seconds.
- And finally, if you don’t have the time or inspiration to finish your post right now, you can save it as a draft to edit and publish later. You can set a reminder for when you want to come back to it, and the tool will notify you when the time comes.
Custom Posting Schedule
Having a personalized schedule in your social media content calendar is very convenient as you won’t have to think about how much you have already posted on a particular day or when to schedule your next social media post. Your weekend posting schedule may be different:
By default, the tool will set a goal of 4 posts per day for each of the social networks, but you can alter this in your settings. You can always check to see to what extent you are aligned with your goals by looking at the colored bar above the calendar. If you have fewer posts scheduled than you had planned, the bar won’t reach the dotted line:
By switching to the monthly calendar view, you will be able to see your scheduled posts for the next month. Remember, the further ahead you plan, the better strategic vision you will gain regarding your social media activities.
Mistake #2: Sharing Your Content Only
There should always be a healthy ratio between your own product content and external content that you post. Whether you want it to be 70:30 or 50:50, it should depend on the community you are targeting: the more diverse the community, the more external content you should be posting.
So a good idea is to start by analyzing your followers’ preferences and interests.
Analyze Your Followers’ Interests
Having competitors who target the same people is great because you can always check what worked for them and what didn’t, and use this knowledge for your own strategy.
Social Media Tracker will help you identify your own and your competitors’ top-performing content so you can stay aware of your target audience’s preferences:
When you get an idea of what kind of content your audience is looking for, you can use the Content Ideas feature of the Social Media Poster. It allows you to find interesting articles from your favorite RSS feeds and share them with your audience:
Mistake #3: Forgetting to Leave Room For Occasion-Based Campaigns
Occasion-based marketing is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to entertain your users and get them to know your product better, so you shouldn’t underestimate its importance.
However, holidays tend to suddenly creep up on us, leaving no time to prepare for large-scale marketing campaigns. All of a sudden, you realize there is only one week left before Halloween, and you have missed the opportunity to promote your product.
Create Drafts and Revisit Them Later
This type of situation is precisely where the ability to create draft posts comes in useful. SEMrush’s Poster allows you to create drafts of the articles and promotions you have in mind and set a reminder to get a notification for the time you should come back to it.
You will then be able to see all your drafts (including the expired ones) arranged in a list:
However, there is much more to occasion-based marketing than just doing promotions around holidays. Think about all the events and occasions you can use to make your customers more receptive to your marketing campaigns; this can be anything from a public holiday to a game release.
For example, in the run-up to the new season of Game of Thrones, SEMrush added a Dothraki language to the database of our main keyword research tool. The ability to search for Dothraki words caused massive engagement on social, and we had to rearrange our schedule quite a bit to fit in all the PR activities for this event.
Another example of a promo we had not planned for was a solar eclipse in August 2017. For the “O’ letter in the tool’s name, we drew a little sun image being blocked by the moon.
To promote this ad hoc campaign, we had to free up some space in our social media marketing calendar; this is why having a spare slot for each day of your content calendar where you can fit in ‘sudden’ promotions is definitely a good idea. You can manage this by always keeping one of the slots in your personal posting schedule empty.
And even if your schedule is fully packed, you can easily rearrange your posts using the drag-and-drop feature in the posting calendar:
So hopefully, when the next special occasion arrives, you will have it all planned in your drafts! And if not, you can still easily rearrange your posts with no damage caused to your schedule.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to Track Your Performance
Posting for the sake of posting is no good. You should always track what is performing and what isn’t and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
A good idea is to start with the Published tab of the Social Media Poster: you will be able to see a list of your posts, identify the ones that got the highest engagement and reschedule them.
To analyze your social media strategy and publishing trends, use the Social Media Tracker. This tool is designed to help you benchmark your social performance against your competition, but it can also be used to analyze your social media profiles in more detail.
Once you enter your company name, the tool will automatically suggest all your social profiles to track — make sure they are correct.
The ‘Overview’ report will give you a general idea of your audience size, activity, and engagement in each social network for the selected period of time:
Under each social network tab you will be able to switch between the Posts, Audience, Activity, Engagement and Hashtags sections to analyze your posts’ trends:
Pay special attention to your engagement spikes and click on them to see what caused them.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to Analyze Your Competitors’ Content
When planning a social media calendar, many forget to look at what their competitors are posting, and they are missing out on a lot of cues which only competitor analysis can provide. Analyzing your competitors’ social content will help you identify trends, strategies, and topics that your audience is responsive to, giving you new content to adapt to your strategy.
The Social Media Tracker tool was specially designed to help you track your competitors’ social pages and their content. You can add up to 20 competitors to track their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ accounts. You may want to analyze all content across all the profiles you’ve entered, or narrow your focus to each particular competitor to take a closer look at their strategy:
Social Media Tracker also has a report which provides you with an overview of the content formats your competitors used and tells you which of them got the highest engagement:
And finally, revisit the Top Content report mentioned earlier to discover your competitors’ best-performing posts in each social network.
Once you have all the information about your competitors’ posting habits and best-performing posts, you should adapt it to suit your brand voice, strategy, and audience. Here are a few examples of how you can do that:
Write your own, improved version of the content. Did your competitor post an article that left readers with a lot of questions? Make sure you address them in your post and put a unique spin on the content with your style and voice.
Note their technical decisions and adapt them. Pay attention to things like the best-performing post formats. Are your competitors’ infographics rocking the stage? Or are their text-only posts getting super engagement rates? If you notice that certain content formats receive more engagement, it is probably time to alter your strategy by adding similar formats that work for your competitors.
Look for strategies and topics. Look at the types of content your competitors are covering. Are they big on competitions and special offers? Or do they post product-related how-it’s-made videos? You may find new content ideas to add to your social strategy.
We hope this article will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes in social media content planning and keep your content aligned with the strategic goals of your business.
Once you have planned your content calendar, use the Social Media Poster to schedule and draft all of your social media posts, and track the success of your efforts.