How to create a social media calendar for your schoolJuly 24, 2021
If you’ve been using social media to market your school in the past few years, you may have realised it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see results. While it’s true that social media can be tricky to master, never fear, it can still be a fantastic inbound marketing tool for schools. You just have to have a clear and defined strategy to see success.
One of the best tools that can help you stay on task and play the social media long game is a social scheduling calendar. In this post, we’re going to look at why a social calendar can be your magic bullet to improving your social performance, while also helping you to juggle multiple platforms effectively. You can navigate through the post by clicking on these links:
Let’s get started!
What is a social media calendar?
A social media calendar is a tracking document that you and your staff can use to plan everything you post to your various platforms. You’ll start by logging your ideas as they come to you, and then modify each entry once you’ve fleshed out the post and eventually published it.
While the beauty of a social media calendar is that it lets you schedule posts weeks or even months in advance, it’s also a living, dynamic document. This means it can be quickly modified if timely content pops up that takes precedence over the planned posts.
Why should your school be using one?
A social media calendar is the best way to ensure your content stays on track and keeps you accountable for posting consistently. We get it — managing multiple platforms can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you’re running your school’s social accounts totally solo. That’s where the big benefits of a social media calendar come into play.
1. It gives you visibility over your content
The first thing that makes a social media calendar great is the fact that you can see all of your upcoming posts at a glance. This is helpful not just for those who work in teams, but also school marketers who are expected to manage an entire social media strategy themselves.
Visibility ensures that you:
- can catch poorly-timed or inappropriate posts ahead of time
- have sufficient time to research and write your posts
- can plan your content around school dates, special events and holidays.
2. It keeps your content consistent across each channel
Many marketers simply post things whenever they feel like it, which kills any semblance of consistency. Being able to see days, weeks and even months ahead lets you check that each post is written using your school’s brand voice and adapted for the intended audience of each platform.
This also stops you from spamming one channel while neglecting others. A good tip to help you ensure you’re distributing content across all of your channels is to add the icon of the channel into each planned post. This helps you to quickly see if certain platforms haven’t been used in a while so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
3. It maximises your efficiency
With all of your posts pre-planned, a content calendar gives you the ability to pop into each platform and schedule your posts in bulk, which can cut out potential time-wasting. Even if you do decide to post one-by-one, having a clear view of what you need to do and when it needs to be done will save you a lot of time.
4. It allows you to easily monitor performance
Finally, content calendars are exceptionally useful for monitoring the return on investment (ROI) of your social media efforts. Not only do you have a documented log of every single post that you can easily reference during reporting time, but you can use post metrics to make adjustments to your publishing schedule on the fly. Win-win!
What to look for in a social media calendar
There are a few different ways to create a social media calendar. Deciding which is the best one for your school depends on a few factors, including the size of your team and the frequency of your publishing schedule. You’ll also need to consider if you have an adequate budget to invest in scheduling software, or if you will need to manually track and publish your posts.
No matter what program you decide to use, every good social media calendar should include the following characteristics:
- The ability to differentiate between the various social media platforms, either by colour coding them or using an icon.
- Clear post date labelling, both for planning and referencing later.
- A status field that clearly shows a post has been created, scheduled or published, and whether it is in draft mode or not.
- A post time that specifies exactly when each post will go live on your platforms.
- A notes field so you can jot down thoughts about a post as you go.
Depending on what your team looks like, you may want to incorporate a few other fields. If there are a few of you who collaborate on social media, you could opt for an assignee field that you can use to allocate work within your team. If you have a structured social media strategy, you could also include any elements that reflect this, such as a post type field to specify whether you publish a video, text or image post.
Social media calendar options for schools
As mentioned, there are a host of social media management tools available for your marketing team to use. Here are some of the top options, and some considerations for you to weigh up and decide whether the tool is right for your school.
Google Sheets may seem like a basic choice, but it actually has functionalities that make for a great social media calendar. It lets you lay out all your information for easy visualisation, and its sorting and filtering capabilities mean you can organise your data by publish date or status.
You should use Google Sheets if:
- Your team needs visual cues — you can tee up conditional formatting that highlights data in various colours (e.g. shading a cell red when something is incomplete or overdue).
- You are collaborating with a team — Google Sheets are easy for multiple people to access at once.
- Your school doesn’t post more than once per day.
- You need good sorting and filtering functionality.
- You’re looking for a free and easy-to-use tool.
You should steer away from Google Sheets if:
- You prefer a calendar format to view upcoming posts at a glance.
- You need a responsive tool and don’t have time for constant manual updating.
- You need to see a top-down view of all of your platforms — you may have to separate them into tabs if you’re using Google Sheets.
Another method often used to create a social media calendar is... well, a plain old calendar. Whether you opt for an app or digital calendar like iCal or prefer something simple and printed, calendars are also a viable way to plan out your social media content.
You should use a calendar if:
- You like to see your week at a glance, so you can determine how many posts will go live and what formats they take.
- You like to use colour codes for each platform, rather than having to flick between tabs.
- You post very frequently but have little to no budget.
You should steer away from using a calendar if:
- You need the ability to easily filter and sort your posts — this is especially tricky if you’re using a printed calendar.
There is very little free software that offers the same functionality as Trello. It’s ideal for social media calendars and content calendars alike, as it clearly displays your content across cards that are organised into different boards. It allows you to assign various tasks to each card, making it a popular choice for big teams with complicated workflows.
You should use Trello if:
- Each post has various tasks associated with it that have set due dates — Trello allows you to add dates and checkboxes to each task to help you keep track of each post’s status.
- You like to see your posts in a calendar view — you can see a monthly overview that lets you know what’s going live at which time.
- You like to use colour coding to differentiate between social media sites.
- You’re collaborating with a team.
- You’re looking for excellent functionality in a free system.
You should steer clear of Trello if:
- You need multiple boards — you’ll only be able to create 10 boards using their free tier.
- You need access to the customisation features that the paid versions provide.
Social scheduling software
Finally, you’ve got the option of using dedicated software to plan and schedule your social media content. Keep in mind that software will certainly have the best functionality, but may also carry a hefty price tag. Depending on your marketing budget and how dedicated your social media strategy is, this may or may not be possible for your school.
Some examples of social media calendar software include Hootsuite, Buffer and Zoho Social. All of these do have free plans, but they lack the ability to schedule more than a few posts at a time. This at least means you can give them a try before you commit to buying.
You should use social media software if:
- You need the ability to automate your posts — most paid systems publish to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for you, taking all of the legwork out of executing your social media calendar.
- You’re looking for a responsive calendar view of all of your content.
- You need to post from the platform and ensure it automatically updates to accommodate any changes you may make.
- You have a large team and need to avoid doubling up and miscommunication.
- You have a large marketing budget.
You should steer clear of social media software if:
- Budget is an issue, or the free versions don’t give you the functionality you need.
Get your social media calendar up and running
It’s a great idea to invest time and resources into social media for your school. It helps you reach new audiences while engaging your current community. Unfortunately, taking an ad-hoc approach to posting just doesn’t work anymore. Schools need to get strategic, and a calendar is one of the best ways to do just that.
Whatever program or tool you select, there are plenty of adaptable options out there for creating a killer social media calendar. Armed with your pick, you’ll be able to see your upcoming posts in a logical, organised format that maximises efficiency within your team.
Once you’re ready to start scheduling, check out these Digistorm social media resources to help get you on your way!