Written by Katelynn Wiley and Benjamin Bowles
Trying to write social media content without planning ahead is like trying to bake without a recipe. You’ll miss steps, get frustrated, and probably won’t have everything you need to make it work. So, what’s the best way to plan? There’s one tool that everyone in the social media management business swears by: the social media editorial calendar.
Why Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar?
A Social Media Editorial Calendar—lovingly called an EdCal by those in the know—helps make content writing easier in so many ways. With a well-made EdCal, you can…
- Break down the content creation process into more manageable steps: planning, gathering media/links/information, and finally writing.
- Check important dates at a glance.
- See how posts relate to each other. Ex: Have you been posting about the same topic a lot lately? Has it been a few weeks since you’ve posted on a Wednesday? How long has it been since you’ve posted about a certain topic?
- Easily plan out social media campaigns.
For all these reasons, the Social Media Editorial Calendar is the MVP of efficient social media management.
What to Include on Your Social Media Editorial Calendar
There are many variations on the Social Media Editorial Calendar format. But after spending years creating thousands of social media posts for clients, we’ve developed a format we think really hits the spot. Of course, every business will have their own unique needs, so you should feel free to add or remove pieces until the format is feels right.
First, here’s what our EdCal looks like…
These are the columns we suggest including:
- Date: We think it’s easier to scan if you leave off the year.
- Day of the Week: We opt for just letter representations to eliminate visual clutter.
- Holidays/Events: Big holidays but also dates that are important to your business. This could include special events, sale dates, staff birthdays, lesser known “national days” that fit with your business’ theme, etc.
- Status: A drop down menu that lets you know the status of a post. Scheduled? Posted? Rejected?
- Content Theme: Any categories that make sense for your business. You can use this for content type (ex: photo, link, video, text only). Or it could be more theme based (ex: products, staff, events, helpful information).
- Copy/Gist: Jot down a quick note about the post topic and any information you need to write it.
- CTA (Call to Action): What action do you want people reading your post to take? This could be read an article, sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product, etc. But not all social media posts need a call to action. It’s ok to just share information every once in a while.
- URL: Any web pages you’re linking to in your post.
- Media: A link to an image/video you’ll be using in the post. OR a description of the media and where to find it.
- Boost Budget: How much you plan to spend boosting the post.
- Bio Link Change: This is for Instagram only. Include a link here when you need to change the link in your Instagram bio for a post.
- Meta-Columns for Each Social Platform: Include the above columns under larger categories for different social media platforms. TIP: If you share the same content to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you don’t need separate columns for each. It’s good to include a separate column for Instagram though, since any link-based content and some videos can’t be shared there.
How to Make Your Social Media Editorial Calendar
- Build the First Week: Start by titling the columns and formatting just enough rows for one 7-day week and one spacer row beneath it. Spend time correctly formatting this first week–it will be the template that you’ll copy from.
- Format the Dates: Manually write the date for the first day of this week. Then in the cell below that one, add a formula that adds one day, such as =A4+1 where “A4” is the date you manually added. Drag this formula down to the rest of the week to fill it out.
- Create Drop Down Menus: Drop down menus can be very helpful to quickly fill in recurring themes or post statuses. These menus can be created by adding data validation values from a set list of choices. For example, you could add ✔️,✖️,🕑,♺ as possible choices for post status cells. These options will let your team quickly mark if a post was published, rejected, rescheduled, or recycled. Customize these any way you like, create variations for different columns such as content themes, and then copy the finished data validation cells to wherever else they need to be.
- Keep Those Lines Clean! Most spreadsheets will automatically adjust a row’s height to accommodate the content going into it. This means that once you add a sentence to a cell, the row will expand in height to accommodate. If not that nightmare, the text will extend into empty neighboring cells. Prevent your editorial calendar from looking like a magnetic kitchen fridge word cloud by setting the height of all rows to 20 pixels and formatting the text wrapping to clip.
- Copy the Template: Once you’re happy with the formatting on this first week, copy the entire range and paste it below to create another week. Once copied, re-write the new Monday’s date to be a +1 formula from the previous Friday. Repeat this process to fill out as many weeks as you need!
- Use the Spacer Rows: Oh, did you think the spacer rows were pointless? Recolor those spacer rows to delineate months, write in your monthly boost budgets, or indicate weekly focuses.
- Make Copies: Make copies of this empty calendar for other social media platforms or projects before you start adding content.
- Share Links & Add Content: Share the calendar link with your team and start planning content!
Using Your EdCal…
Develop a schedule for filling out your Social Media Editorial Calendar. We recommend either monthly or weekly. If you fill out an Editorial Calendar too far in advance, you’re more likely to have to redo your work when unforeseen circumstances come up (like a *cough-cough* pandemic, for example).
Ready to make managing your social media even easier? Read our blog on how to manage your social media in an hour a day.
Or check out at these other helpful social media blogs:
Social Media for Non-Profits: The Do’s & Don’ts
The Set-Up To Do List For Social Media Management
5 Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement