Creating and keeping track of social media posts can be a daunting exercise for any business owner. It’s easy to let the needed tasks of running a business push this necessary task to the back of the line, leaving you (or your staff) to post content without a lot of thought behind it.

It’s not too difficult, however, to create a content calendar and organize your posts for an entire year, allowing yourself plenty of time to plan your approach—and see how well it works.

There are many reasons to create a content calendar. A content calendar helps you deliver the right message to your audience at the right time. They can help you get organized, so you’re not scrambling to come up with content. A calendar will help you plan for different social networks and they can help you track performance and plan for future posts.

Here’s a simple way to create and organize a calendar:

  1. Create a spreadsheet. There are several online tools available for this, but you may already have one of the best ones: Microsoft Excel. You can easily create a spreadsheet with this program—it’s not just for numbers and formulas. You can also create one with Google Sheets.
  2. Decide how you want to break it up. If you only plan on a few posts daily, you can make up a spreadsheet for every month. If you plan more posts, you might want to create one for each week.
  3. Label each spread sheet according to month or week, then break it up into days. Use a different color text to indicate posts on different social media channels. When you schedule a post, indicate the time you post it.
  4. Add events, holidays and observances. A quick Google or Bing search will turn up many special observances in your field. If you run an auto repair shop, for example, you can search for important dates in automotive history, or the launch of a particularly historic line of cars. These factoids make for engaging social media posts.
  5. Identify themes. If you created a calendar for each month, consider a theme for that month. If you created weekly calendars, you may want to still consider a monthly theme, with weekly subthemes. The more general your theme is, the more likely you’ll be able to reuse or repurpose some of your content, which will make your task easier. Your customers may appreciate a longer, more in-depth approach, too. If you throw too many different ideas at them, you run the risk of appearing scattershot.
  6. Remember to tie your theme into your business goals for the month, as well. You don’t want to concentrate overly on the marketing side of things—we still recommend at least a 70/30 ratio of informative and entertaining content to marketing content.
  7. Once you have your theme of the month, you can brainstorm content ideas to match that theme and meet your business objectives. As you fill in your calendar, you can include as much or as little of your post as you wish: you can paste the whole thing in, or a synopsis (for example: importance of regular oil changes, link to maintenance blog).

Remember, a content calendar is just designed to help keep you organized. It should never be a static document. Leave some room to be flexible, to add or share posts that reflect current business trends or cultural phenomenon. Consider it the business end of your social media feed, but leave room for some fun, too.

How do you keep your social media content organized? Let us know in the comments!