“We have a 9am meeting? Hold on a second – just let me click around the internet like a madman to find something for that morning tweet.”
Sound familiar? Scrambling for social content is nothing new. We have meetings. We’re too late. Things come up. And it’s really hard to do a meaningful amount of work when you have the next social media update over your head every 30, 60, or 90 minutes. It all goes so fast that you periodically feel the fall of fumes, which is why pre-planned social media content should be your new best friend.
To make it easier for businesses to plan and schedule social media content for the accounts they manage, we’ve created one Calendar template for social media content. And recently we updated to be better, faster, stronger, and generally prettier.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar organizes your release schedule by date so you can keep track of deadlines, better manage your content creation team, and create transparency with all parties.
What’s in this content calendar template?
Every content calendar is different and should be adapted to your individual process. In this case, however, you will find a General Schedule tab, your monthly planning calendar, a repository of website content and updates for each of the top social media platforms:
This blog post will tell you exactly how to use the template to keep up to date with your social media content planning for each template.
Note: HubSpot customers can also schedule content from their social inbox or use this table to organize their content and then upload it to their social inbox. Refer to the template’s cover sheet for detailed instructions.
Here’s how to use the social media calendar template to plan your content plan
When you open the social media content calendar template, you will notice that there are several different tabs at the bottom of the Excel spreadsheet, most of which are associated with a specific social network.
The reason you want a different worksheet for each social network is simply that each social network is a bit different. You can’t just create a single social media update and use it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
You can certainly promote the same content on these networks, but that doesn’t mean that you create your update the same way for each one. (You may even want to add additional tabs if you’re on other networks like Quora or YouTube.)
The following subsections will tell you how to fill out each tab in this template – the updates for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. But before we get to that, let’s just go over the “monthly planning calendar” so you know what this is for.
Monthly social media schedule
The Monthly Planning Calendar tab provides a general snapshot of your monthly social media campaigns. It will help you align better with other stakeholders, not to mention keeping all the moving parts on your own head. This is how it looks:
There are three sections to keep in mind as you edit this template for your own purposes. First, the color coding key: these are the types of content or campaigns that you can coordinate around, such as: E.g. e-books, webinars, blog posts, product launches, etc. Although only a few of these may be relevant to you, they indicate what you want to include there. Make sure to edit these categories to align them with your own campaigns.
The other two sections that you need to edit are the month and year at the top of the calendar (duh) and the cells under each day of the week. In these cells, you should enter the type of content you are promoting that day and color-code it to align with the campaign it is supporting.
Instead of deleting the entire contents of this table every month, I recommend copying this worksheet twelve times and creating a separate sheet for each month. (If that gets too overwhelming, you can always save these tabs as a separate file.)
Plan your Twitter content calendar
Okay, now we come to the social media content. This section will be the longest as all subsequent sections are based on the instructions we go through here. So if you read any section in this entire post, make it this one.
Let’s say you want to add some tweets to your planning template. Go to the Twitter Updates tab and you’ll see:
The first four columns “Day”, “Date”, “Time” and “Date and Time” are for your convenience and if you want to use a third-party app to pre-schedule your tweets (e.g. HubSpot’s Social Inbox) then are these columns helpful. First of all, just enter the date you want your updates to be posted on Twitter and the time you want them to be posted. The “Date & Time” column changes automatically based on the entries in the previous two columns.
Now let’s move on to the “Message” column. Here, enter the copy that you want to appear in your tweet, keeping in mind that you should Limit it to 116 characters to make room for a link and 115 characters to make room for an image. (See this blog post for full instructions on the number of characters.) This table automatically calculates the number of characters entered to keep you updated. At 95 characters it turns yellow, and at 95 characters it turns red, and 116 characters.
After you’ve written your tweet, paste the URL you want to include in your tweet in the “Link” column. Make sure to include UTM parameters so you know if all of these tweets are actually driving traffic, leads, and customers. This is an important step to remember if you want to demonstrate the ROI of social media. You can also use the Campaign column to add a related campaign for more reliable tracking and reporting.
Finally, in the “Image” column, add the image of the tweet (if you have one). For Twitter, we recommend images with a size of 1024 x 512 pixels. (Click here for a full social media image sizes cheat sheet.) If you’re having trouble attaching your image to the spreadsheet, follow these steps:
Step 1: Right click on the cell that you want your picture in.
Step 2: Click the Hyperlink button, then the Document button, then click the Select button to choose your image.
Step 3: In the “Choose file” window, select the image from your computer and click “Open”.
Step 4: You will now see the image attached to the Insert Hyperlink screen. You can edit the text “Show” to change the file name, then click “OK”.
Note: This process is for organizational purposes only. When you upload the spreadsheet to your social media publishing software, it won’t be appended – you need to do this with your marketing software. If you’re a HubSpot customer, see the template you downloaded for details on how to bulk upload your Twitter content to your social inbox.
Plan your Facebook content calendar
Now let’s talk about how to use the template to plan your Facebook marketing in advance. Navigate to the tab in your template labeled “Facebook Updates”.
Facebook updates work similarly to Twitter updates, except that it doesn’t allow you to upload your content in bulk to the social inbox.
The first three columns “Day”, “Date” and “Time” are for your convenience. Go to the column labeled “Message” and enter the copy that you want to appear in your status update. This corresponds to the days and times that these updates should occur. Then go to the “Link” column and enter the link that you are linking to in the update. (Don’t forget this tracking token.) If you want the update to be assigned to a specific campaign, add this to the “Campaigns” column. Finally, add an image like you did with your Twitter updates. If you are using one, we recommend editing it to 1200 x 900 pixels. (Click here for a full social media image size cheat sheet.)
Schedule your LinkedIn content calendar
LinkedIn updates are the most unique as you need to consider both company pages and groups. To demonstrate the difference between company page updates and group updates, let’s navigate to the “Title (only for group discussions)” column.
LinkedIn Groups allow you to post a few types of updates, one of which is called a “discussion”. You only fill in the “Title (Group Discussions Only)” column if you want to post a discussion to your LinkedIn group, as Discussions are the only update you post that requires a title. If you’re not posting a discussion in a LinkedIn group, you don’t need to fill in this field as your update doesn’t have a title.
You fill out the next “Message” column for every type of update you post, whether it’s a company page or a group. Just put your copy in this column and then navigate to the next two columns “Link” and “Campaign” to enter the url you will redirect readers to with the tracking token that you use to track activity, and the associated campaign, if any. To use an image for an update, attach it as instructed in the Twitter section. We recommend editing the image to 700 x 520 pixels.
Plan your Instagram posting calendar
Now let’s move on to how to set up your Instagram photos and videos with the template in advance. Navigate to the tab in your template labeled “Instagram Updates”.
Instagram updates work similarly to Facebook updates in that content cannot be uploaded to social inbox in bulk like Twitter does.
The first three columns “Day”, “Date” and “Time” are for your convenience. Go to the column labeled “Message” and enter the copy that you want to appear in the caption of your post according to the days and times you want these updates to occur. Note that while Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters long, they will be cut off after three lines of text in users’ feeds. The exact length of these three lines will depend on the length of your Instagram handle. (See this blog post for complete instructions on the number of characters.)
Next, go to the “Link for Bio” column and enter the link you want to include in the bio when you publish the related Instagram post. (The reason you would put a link in your bio rather than the caption itself is because clickable URLs are only allowed in the single “Website” field in your bio.) Oh, and forget about that tracking token Not.
If you want the update to be assigned to a specific campaign, add this to the “Campaigns” column. Finally, add an image like you did with your other social media updates. We recommend editing it to 1080 x 1080 pixels. (Click here for a full social media image size cheat sheet.)
Plan your Pinterest content calendar
Okay, now let’s think about how to set up your Pinterest Pins in advance using the template. Navigate to the tab in your template labeled “Pinterest Updates”.
Pinterest updates work similarly to Facebook and Instagram updates in that content cannot be uploaded to the social inbox in bulk like Twitter does.
The first three columns “Day”, “Date” and “Time” are for your convenience. Go to the “Message” column and enter the copy that you want to appear in the description of your PIN. This corresponds to the days and times that these updates should run. Then go to the “Link” column and enter the link that you are linking to in the update. (Don’t forget this tracking token.)
If you want the update to be assigned to a specific campaign, add this to the “Campaigns” column. Finally, add an image like you did with your other social media updates. We recommend editing it so that it is 735 x 1102 pixels.
Content repository (or sources of social media content)
This template also gives you a tab called the “Content Repository” that allows you to keep track of all of your content and maintain a healthy stock of feed for easy social media content sourcing.
As you create more assets, you will likely want to come back and re-promote those items later. To make sure you don’t lose track of all this content, record it on this tab so that you never lose what you want to post on social networks. If the content you’re promoting isn’t evergreen, add an expiration date in the “Expiration” column so you don’t advertise it when the shark has jumped.
This tab also helps you maintain a balance between content: a mix of your own content and that of others, a mix of content formats and types, and a mix of lead generation versus MMS versus MMS content traffic-friendly content.
Don’t forget to interact with your followers
Regardless of whether you use this table to plan your content in advance or upload it to a third-party app, you still need to supplement these updates with one of the Fly content. Latest news? Create a quick update to share on your network. Somebody on your network is tweeting something interesting? Give him a retweet with some comments. Do you have a fascinating comment on any of your updates? Reply with a “thank you” for the interaction or an additional comment.
Creating and planning your social media content in advance is a tremendous time saver, but it goes without saying that you will need to monitor and expand your social presence throughout the day.
Finally, we encourage you to experiment with your social media publishing. This template contains publication dates and times for each social network. However, these may be way too many updates to fill in, or possibly too infrequent for your booming social presence. You should adjust the frequency of your social media postings as needed.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for completeness.