By Tereza Litsa, Social Media Manager at Lightful, a simple social media management platform for nonprofits.

A new year brings new goals and now is the perfect time to plan your social media content calendar for 2019.

A content calendar is the link between posting daily on social media and a social media strategy. It will help you stay organized by planning your content in advance, without being overwhelmed by last-minute deadlines.

A great social media content calendar can help you:

  • Save time: we’re all busy, which means that sometimes we can forget to update our social channels – especially if you don’t have a dedicated social media manager. A social media content calendar will help you to stay on track by planning ahead what you need to post and when.
  • Monitor important dates: there are numerous awareness days that are relevant to your organization. By creating content for those days, it will help to increase your reach and engagement. You can use your content calendar to schedule your content in advance, without missing any important dates.
  • Get organized: a content calendar can help you create a more consistent social presence. Having a calendar lets you see an overview of your social media posts, helping you to create more effective campaigns.
  • Improve collaboration: social media should be a team effort. Having a content calendar that everyone can access, will not only show the rest of your team what you’re working on but also give them the opportunity to contribute. By improving the visibility of your posts you are able to involve more people and thus, you’ll also have more creative ideas.
  • Be more strategic: one major benefit of a social media calendar is that it allows you to think more strategically about your posts. It’s an easy way to set measurable goals and to align your objectives with your daily posting.

Whether you’ve created a social media content calendar before, or you’re creating one for the first time in 2019, these tips will help you improve your social presence this year.

10 Steps to Create a Content Calendar

1) Organise your existing content

The first step is to organise your existing content from previous campaigns and events. It’s useful to have your photos and links (to your website, a blog post, a news article etc) ready in a folder or folders so that when you want to schedule new posts, it’s easy to access the content. Even if you want to simply post a #tbt (Throwback Thursday), it’s good to have old material handy!

2) Get inspired by new ideas

A good way to start building your new content calendar is to find inspiration from other social media accounts. You can also use Lightful’s Inspiration feature to discover new accounts to follow for more creative ideas.

3) Decide on your channels

The next step is to focus on your best-performing channels. There’s no need to be active on all social channels if you don’t get ROI from them. Start spending more time on your most successful channels to improve your social media strategy. Remember it’s quality over quantity!

4) Set up your posting frequency

Once you decide on the channels that you’ll focus on, it’s time to review your posting frequency. Your updated social media content calendar should consist of suggested times and days for your scheduled posts. You can set up the posting times by looking at your analytics to see which are the best times to reach your audience.

5) Pick the right tools

Now that you’ve decided on the channels and how often you will post, you now need to choose the scheduling tools that will help you save time when creating your content calendar. We’ve built the Lightful Platform, our social media management tool, exclusively for nonprofits to help you make the most of social media, from scheduling content to planning campaigns. You can try our tool for free, but there are also many other options beyond the nonprofit sector that you can try out. Ideally, it’s good to test tools around scheduling, campaign management, image and video editing to find what works best for your organization.

6) Plan your campaigns

We all know how busy it can get when planning a campaign. That’s why you need to organize your content as much as possible to help you save time in the long run. A custom social media content calendar for each campaign will help you keep track of what’s coming up, as well as also saving time once the campaign is launched. For example, you can schedule a set number of posts to promote your campaign and then also post real-time content to engage with your supporters to keep the momentum going. It’s a great balance between being proactive and reactive.

7) Tell your story

Nonprofits have the best stories to tell. Take some time to craft your messaging, in your unique voice. Your next campaign will be more effective with storytelling, so it’s time to get everyone’s feedback when building your story.

8) Bring the team together

The planning of your content calendar can help you improve collaboration within your team. Even if you are the only one who’s responsible for your nonprofit’s social presence, there are others in your organization who could help with new content ideas. How about getting their feedback for your next campaign?

9) Start scheduling your content

Now you’re ready to start scheduling your content! It might take some time to plan and schedule your content for the next week or month, but it’s definitely worth it. The more time you dedicate to scheduling your content in advance, the easier it gets to be more strategic with your social presence later on.

10) Measure success

Once you start using your content calendar, you will need to measure the effectiveness of your posts. The best way to maintain a successful content calendar is to analyse the best-performing posts every week or every month. Your success metrics can focus on likes, comments, shares, clicks, and even conversion. You don’t need to be an analyst to understand which types of posts work better for you – all you need is the time to review your published posts, even if it’s just once a month.

Top tips to remember when planning your content calendar:

Be proactive and reactive: A content plan can help you become more proactive with your social presence. This is only half your job as a social media manager. You also need to be reactive so change your schedule if needed.

Scheduling doesn’t replace your job: It’s useful to schedule some posts to be more strategic and save time, but you still need to monitor your posts for real-time content as part of a campaign or a last-minute crisis. Social media requires us to be alert for any changes we need to do to our schedule, that’s why social media managers involve monitoring in their job duties. Don’t be afraid to schedule posts for the next month, but make sure you’re keeping an eye on them when they go live.

— Stay social: Social media is all about being social. Don’t let scheduling turn your social presence into an automated series of posts. Your followers want to feel valued so always dedicate some time from your weekly schedule to engage with your audience.

Be open to new ideas: Social media can be at the forefront of innovation for your organization. Creative ideas don’t need a big budget to be engaging. Whether it’s a good Facebook Live or an interactive Instagram Story, there’s always a new way to stay creative. Be open to feedback and new ideas from your colleagues, even if they are not involved in social media marketing, they might have an interesting perspective to share with you.

Analyse results and change what doesn’t work: Once you start analysing the success of your posts you’ll realise that we tend to assume what works but we don’t always validate the assumption. Be ready to change what doesn’t work. There’s no need to spend too much time on a channel or a content type that doesn’t seem to work for your social presence. Blend your creative and analytical skills to improve your social presence in 2019!

If you’re ready to schedule your content, you can try out Lightful, a simple social media management tool for nonprofits.