You may already know that keeping an updated content calendar is a good way to manage content for your agency’s social media profiles, but what are some of the best methods for actually doing it?
While the technology platform you select for your content calendar is important, having a solid strategy behind it and making a commitment to regularly update it are equally critical.
One approach is to create a general theme calendar that identifies the months, days and weeks of important content. Some agencies include upcoming events, holidays (don’t forget hashtag holidays), preparedness dates, major agency meetings (please try to find a unique angle), etc.
The general theme calendar guides content so you don’t have to think about what is important to focus on every day. It provides a general reminder about what content is relevant for the coming month or week.
Many social media managers have more involved calendars that include a bank of actual posts to pull from. This content calendar includes posts, identifies the social network and includes dates and times. It may focus on the type of content needed as well (photo, video, etc.) to help prepare for specific styles of content.
With either content calendar method, it is important to meet with your team and review it regularly. Don’t have a social media team? Consider including department leads who can provide insight on what upcoming events or activities are valuable to the public.
Some government social media managers meet once a month for brainstorming sessions with the larger team in order to identify upcoming initiatives for the calendar. Then, review the calendar weekly to develop post language and gather graphics. Monitor the calendar and scheduled posts daily in case something changes.
Sometimes breaking news needs to take precedence over preplanned content. Remember to pause scheduled posts immediately during a crisis or emergency. Cheerful messaging that is off-topic during those situations sends the wrong vibe.
The best of both methods would be a system that combines general themes along with specific posts. You can get old school on your platform — even if your content calendar is a shared spreadsheet with a tab for themes and another one for specific posts.
Many content calendars stop at just the content and don’t integrate with big-picture goals. This is a missed opportunity to have your social media program come full circle to encompass big-picture short- and long-term goals.
With that in mind, you get bonus points if you develop a method for formally integrating the content calendar with your agency’s social media goals and overall business goals. At the basic level, this might simply be color-coding or adding a symbol next to each theme or post that ties it in with these bigger-picture goals. On a more robust platform, this might involve adding tags that relate the content to goals.
Matching content calendars to goals becomes most valuable when you regularly quantify and evaluate the application of the content to the goals. While you’re at it, send a quick report to leadership to remind them that what you’re doing matters and directly supports the overall mission of the agency.