How To Quadruple Your Traffic With A Social Media Calendar

A couple weeks ago, one of our blog posts got 31.5 times more click-throughs—a whopping 3,150% in one week—because of our social media calendar.

That’s way more than quadrupling your traffic. I just have no idea what the word is for getting 31.5 times more traffic from social media.

A Real-Life Example of How a Social Media Calendar Helps Content Be Successful

And that was just on Twitter. We share our content on multiple social media accounts, so you can imagine the advantage a comprehensive social media calendar provides our content.

The good news is that it doesn’t take that long to set up your calendar, and you’ll boost your shares and traffic with near-immediate results.

Of course, there are a few things to know that’ll really help you out when you create your own social media calendar. So let’s get started.

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Create A Social Media Calendar With These Free Templates

Make your own social media calendar right now with your kit that complements this blog post. You’ll get:

  1. An editorial calendar template PDF to help you organize the broad strokes of your strategy. This calendar works great with Post-It notes to help you easily brainstorm your to-do list.
  2. A social media calendar template Excel spreadsheet to help you plan the three tiers of your editorial calendar. This includes complete worksheets for each month to help you plan the best content for each network.
  3. A data-driven guide and Excel spreadsheet to help you create even better, more sharable content. The content calendar Excel spreadsheet walks you through an advanced way to use your own Google Analytics and insights from your audience to grow your traffic.

3 Must-Haves Of A Successful Editorial Calendar

Here’s the easiest way to think about your editorial calendar.

Graphic outlining three tiers of an editorial calendar

There are three phases for solid editorial planning—and you’ve probably already mastered the first two. Now it’s time to perfect your social media calendar, which falls in the third phase:

1. The Broad And General Calendar

You’ll need an overarching calendar to help you focus on topics that matter to your audience.

For bloggers and content marketers, it would be perfect to schedule your broad topic calendar four to six months out. That gives you the opportunity to plan new content based your audience’s reactions.

You can base your general calendar on the model from traditional magazines. They typically offer these sorts of editorial calendars for an entire year to attract advertisers for specific magazine issues.

For example, check out this 2016 editorial calendar example from Forbes.

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2. The Content Calendar

The content calendar provides a lot more detail.

This is when you look at your topics and plan the actual content types best suited to tell your specific stories—blog posts, e-books, videos, webinars, events, and whathaveyou.

At this point, you assign the specific dates on which each piece will publish. Typically, you can work two to three months out with this calendar.

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3. The Promotion Calendar

The promotion calendar is your plan to share all of the content you create.

This is when you’ll schedule your social media messages and plan your emails, newsletters, and other ways you’ll share your content.

You can then assign the specific dates when you’ll share each of these messages, which usually takes place immediately after you’re done creating the content you’ll share (but you can plan this ahead of schedule with the right tools).

It’s this third layer where your social media calendar comes into play—it’s really just a component of your promotion calendar.

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What Makes Up A Good Social Media Calendar?

It seems like a lot of content marketers create great content, share it when it goes live, and then they call it good. They’re all missing out on their own 3,150% more click-throughs.

Instead of taking this minimalist approach, a great social media calendar maximizes exposure of your content on the social networks your audience uses—without being spammy.

As you plan your content, these eight things can make or break your social media calendar.

1. Understand Why Your Audience Shares Your Content

Once you understand the psychology of why your audience shares, you can create content in ways that are most likely to connect with them. This will help you plan awesome content from the get-go, and help you interact—socialize—with your audience using social media.

A report from The New York Times Customer Insight Group found five major reasons why people share content with their networks:

  1. 84% share to support a cause.
  2. 78% share to stay connected with those they know.
  3. 69% share to feel involved in the world.
  4. 68% share to define themselves.
  5. 49% share for entertainment or to provide valuable content to others.

Five Lessons on the Psychology of Social Sharing

The study also found that 73% of the survey takers shared content to understand the information more thoughtfully.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of lessons to learn from this knowledge. As you plan your social media calendar, keep this in mind:

Make Sure Your Content Is Extremely Entertaining Or Useful (You Get Bonus Points If It’s Both)

We took this lesson to heart when we launched our headline analyzer as a free tool to help our audience write better headlines.

Now a year and some odd months later, the average on page time is 5 minutes and 58 seconds, and our audience has improved millions of headlines.

Help Them Define Themselves

Create content about your different customer types and help them self-identify. That will help you, and help them connect with your content.

Help Them Connect With Others

Imagine the possibilities a forum—or even a larger brand ambassador program—could present for your customers to ask each other questions and learn from one another. You could even start as simple as a Twitter chat.

Value Them—And Let Them Know It

If someone sends you a message, leaves you a comment, responds to a tweet—whatever it is—let them know that you valued their contribution. Listen and respond.

Help Them Believe In Something

Again, let your advocates know you appreciate their respect. They’re your rock stars, and almost nothing is better than social proof.

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While some of this is more about creating awesome content in the first place, this is the backbone on which you’ll build your social media calendar. But without sharing good content in the first place, why would anyone want to interact with you?

2. Figure Out What Content Works For Specific Social Networks

Some content lends itself better for certain social networks. And—assuming you know your audience—you’re using specific social media to target your customers.

Can you share your same piece of content on multiple networks? Yes. Just make sure your social media messages follow these best practices to get the most traffic.

What Kind Of Content Works On Different Social Networks?

Use Twitter To Share Business Tips And Show A Little Personality

Twitter has become content marketers’ best friend recently. That’s because one of the best ways to use Twitter is to share helpful business tips.

And after all, that’s exactly what you’re creating in your content, right?

Other content types that work well for sharing are news and things going on behind the scenes to share your business’ passion.

Twitter Tip: Share useful business tips that draw your readers in.

Buffer found that sharing images on Twitter increases retweets by 150%. And when we tested GIFs in tweets recently, we increased clickthroughs by another 166.6% more than static image tweets. So definitely try visuals in your tweets to see if that will make a difference.

Track Social also found data to support that 70–100 characters is the ideal length for tweets to get retweets. Imagine that: Just enough context to know what you’re sharing with enough room for them to add their own individual thoughts.

Twitter Tip: Share visual content on Twitter with a 70–100-character message.

Facebook Is For Entertainment

Facebook wants your useful and entertaining content—the kind that people can share with their friends and family no matter their background.

Industry blah content just doesn’t work on Facebook.

Facebook Tip: Share entertaining content. Think of quizzes that are fun to take or comment on—and then you also get some cool data. Or think of storytelling and how inspirational or emotional stories seem to light up your newsfeed.

Facebook posts with less than 100 characters typically perform the best. Combine this with images and videos, and your posts will be even more likely to increase your engagement.

Facebook Tip: Share visual content on Facebook with a message less than 100 characters long.

Use LinkedIn To Share Your Business And Industry News

I’m not talking cheesy press releases here that are all about you. I’m talking about valuable information like business case studies, how-to posts—examples of how to grow professionally as a person and business in your niche.

Remember that people use social media to define themselves and build relationships? LinkedIn is exactly that for professionals.

LinkedIn Tip: Share content that helps your audience grow professionally.

Images on LinkedIn get 98% more comments than posts without images. And apparently, video links to YouTube result in a 75% higher share rate.

Combine those visuals with shorter messages—questions, demands, or helpful takeaways you personally learned—and you’ll get some interaction with your content.

LinkedIn Tip: Share posts with images and short messages about why your audience should engage with your content.

Google+ Combines Personal And Professional Content

Google+ is kind of a grab bag between personal and professional. In your private circle, you can share pics of your kids, and in your public circle, you can share your professional content.

But there are exciting opportunities with Google+ from a business perspective.

Share your helpful content here like you might on LinkedIn. Imagine how-to videos, helpful GIFs to use your product, and other support content.

Early research found that Google+ content is slightly tech-driven, so your straightforward content on doing something better may be your best bet.

Google+ Tip: Share technical how-to content like videos, GIFs, and blog posts.

For Google+ posts, differentiate your content with longer rich text snippets.

Long-form posts for Google+ help you stand out for your audience—and you’ll capitalize on the network’s natural SEO juice. Pare down your introduction and pick two or three of your big ideas to share.

Google+ Tip: Use rich text to create paragraphs and mark up your text (bold, etc.). Try longer content to see what your audience will appreciate.

The Only Way To Use Pinterest Is With Awesome Visuals

The only way to use Pinterest really well is to share extremely awesome visual content. Think of small info-images, infographics, comics, custom photography, and memes.

Pinterest Tip: Brainstorm the best ways to connect with your audience visually and explore those media types. Don’t get stuck on one if it’s not working.

Pinterest has an audience that’s looking for fun, how-to content that looks… well… awesome.

It’s no secret that Pinterest is dominated by women users—80% of their entire user base—so if that’s your target audience, this may be a great platform for you. Some of the best content on Pinterest involves fashion, recipes, and DIY.

Pinterest Tip: Don’t even try Pinterest unless you have awesome visual content. Plan how you’ll do that before you just jump in.

3. Don’t Share The Same Message Too Often.

While you should share your content more than once on your social networks, it’s kind of lame to use the same wording over and over.

social media calendar tool example

This is an example of what a social media calendar looks like in CoSchedule filtered to show only tweets, blog posts, events, and notes. You can see that we don’t share the same messages too often.

You have to mix up your wording and visuals to keep your audience interested. Changing out your messages with quotes, key ideas, helpful takeaways, and more may draw in someone who ignored an earlier message.

Remember, while you can share your same content on multiple different social networks, your audience uses those for different purposes. Try to connect your social messages in the best way that is right for each network.

Don't Share The Same Message Too Often

So where can you find inspiration to switch up your social messages?

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Use A Few Headline Variations To Diversify Your News Feed

If you’re like us, you go through a ton of headlines before you find the one that’s just right.

best headlines for your social media editorial calendar

We frequently write 25–30 headlines to choose the best ones. Some will be crap, but others might be good enough to serve as social media messages.

We write at least 25 headlines for every single one of our posts, and we use some the best ones for our social messages. This is an easy practice to help you get more social shares from the get-go, so why not maximize the work you’ve already done?

Get started now with a free headline analyzer.

Use A Variety Of Visuals To Stand Out In Your Followers’ Busy News Feeds

If your posts are packed with visuals, share those with tidbits of what they’re about.

This not only helps your messages stand out from each other, but your audience can learn from each of the multiple lessons in your post.

Ask Questions To Encourage Engagement

Ask your audience questions to see how they’ll respond. Think of straightforward and rhetorical.

Some people may even answer your questions. But this will at least catch their eye since people inherently feel the need to know the answers.

Share Quotes To Inspire Your Audience

You can easily find your best quotes from your content and use them directly. Unique perspectives, analogies, and metaphors could help your message stand out.

Share Takeaways To Instantly Help Your Followers

Sharing helpful takeaways from your content is a great way to share enough information to pique your audience’s curiosity to click through.

4. Plan An Appropriate Sharing Frequency

Know how many times you should share your content on specific social media.

How To Set Up Your Social Media Posting Schedule

  1. Same time as publish — Schedule your first social messages for a few of your networks. Optimize your messages for the appropriate channels.
  2. Same day as publish — Plan a few more messages throughout the day for the right networks (Twitter is a good one).
  3. Day after publish — Schedule a couple messages.
  4. Week after publish — Give your content another subtle run with a few messages scattered throughout the next week across your different social media.
  5. 30 days after publish — Schedule a reminder for yourself to check if the post was successful. If it was, set up another share queue.
  6. Next            — The opportunity is endless. Just don’t spam your fans, followers, and subscribers.

From the example earlier, we would have lost tons of click-throughs if we only shared the post once. In fact, we had the highest amount of click-throughs with our second tweet of that post!

Blog_Nathan_SocialMediaCalendar-reallife

Buffer found that they get 75% as many retweets for every subsequent tweet after their initial. Imagine what that could do for your social shares and traffic if you also implemented this strategy.

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5. Stop Sharing Your Content When The Time Is Right

If you’re no longer getting click-throughs on your social media messages, it’s time to reassess.

This is as simple as spot-checking the stats for a couple of your messages. For example, check Twitter Analytics to assess your click-throughs.

Twitter Analytics for social media editorial calendar frequency of shares

This is an older post for us, but our audience finds it really valuable just by spot checking the favorites, link clicks, and shares. It’s worth it for us to keep sharing this post because it’s still performing well even though it’s been live for a couple months.

Afterward, you can redefine your sharing frequency so you don’t come off like you’re spamming your social media accounts.

You don’t have to go into great detail to make these tweaks. Just find a few of the posts you’ve shared for a single piece of content, and determine when the breaking point is to stop sharing it.

That breaking point is the law of diminishing returns for your blog content:

How the Law of Diminishing Returns works on social media

Really, you’re just sharing multiple messages for the same piece of content while the size of your audience remains relatively stable. When that happens, your audience will likely stop caring after a while, and you should provide new content.

Don’t let the law of diminishing returns stop you from sharing your content multiple times initially. One-and-done social media shares are how you’ll miss out on your own 31.5 times more click-throughs.

6. Combine Curated And Earned Content With Your Own

Spread The Word With Earned Content

If you’re guest blogging, help spread the word to get some traction for the company you blogged for.

If you received positive reviews, thank people and spread the news. If you were mentioned positively somehow, thank that person and share their content.

Look out for mentions of your name and contribute to the conversation.

Share How Smart Your Friends Are With Curated Content

Curated content helps you spread the word of other smart people you know—who your audience will really enjoy—and helps you so you don’t come off as a pompous, self-indulged, narcissistic self-promoter.

Share awesome content from other people with your audience.

The world is social. It’s personal. Share other people’s content like you’d want them to share yours, and you’ll open the doors to build your relationships.

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7. Share Your Best Content Again

Take a look at your best content. It’s the best for a reason—share it again because others probably want to read it, too.

Look at your best content—if a lot of people shared it, you could probably schedule a few more messages in your social media editorial calendar. You can use CoSchedule to see how many posts you've sent and how many are upcoming to know if you're maximizing your best content.

Look at your best content—if a lot of people shared it, you could probably schedule a few more messages in your social media editorial calendar. You can use CoSchedule to see how many social messages you’ve sent and how many are upcoming to know if you’re maximizing your best content.

8. Plan Your Social Media Messages Ahead Of Time

Now, all of this seems like you’d only do it after you write your content, right?

Nope.

You can—and should—plan your social media calendar ahead of time. Think of all these tips from the get-go and figure out the solution that’s best for you:

  1. Understand what your audience truly wants from you to know from the get-go that the content you’re creating has a high likelihood of getting shared.
  2. Get to know which social media your audience uses, why they use those networks, and how they use them to share content. Get your game plan together on how you’ll create the messages that will draw them in.
  3. Mix up your wording and visuals across all of your social networks.
  4. Understand the appropriate frequency for each social network and maximize it.
  5. Know when you’ll check the frequency to see when you should stop sharing your content.
  6. Figure out how you’ll combine earned and curated content with your own.
  7. Know how you’ll measure each post’s success, and share the best ones again if they’re evergreen.

You can do all of these things before you’re even done creating a piece of content.

Plan your social media calendar to save a lot of time sharing your posts—you won’t have to reinvent the wheel because you’ll have a template to follow.

How To Actually Plan Your Own Social Media Calendar

You put a lot of time into creating awesome content. And time’s not something you have a lot of to begin with.

So it makes sense that you’d want to get the most out of every single piece of content you write. That’s exactly what you can do with a little help from your social media calendar.

You’ve probably guessed it—CoSchedule is the social media calendar where you can plan your content and social media messages all in one place.

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This post has been updated from its original version.