If you want to get your social media streamlined this year, there are several areas that you can organize to make the process a whole less stressful. From creating a calendar to deciding on content types and publishing times, an effective social media schedule can be your best bet  for publishing content that grows your audience and engagement metrics.
The following are the steps needed to make the social media editorial process as easy as possible.
Create The Best Calendar For Your Organization
If you don’t know where to start, check out many of the available free social media editorial calendar templates out there. Most are built on Google Sheets or in Excel and make it easy to customize a basic calendar for your organization’s needs. A social media editorial calendar will give you a visual starting point  for all your scheduled posts, making it easy to spot discrepancies or view the upcoming posts at a glance.
Here are some free social media editorial calendar resources to get you started:
- MarketingNutz : templates to get you started
- Brand Driven Digital : how to create a calendar from scratch
- The Fundraising Coach : a list of templates and external sources
Of course, these are just a handful of resources. You can also use a content marketing editorial calendar that integrates social media promotion if that is easier. Writtent has a good list  of content editorial calendar tools and plugins.
Choose a Selection of Content Types
As a few of the above resources mention, an important part for the social media publishing schedule process is determining the types of content you’ll regularly be promoting, as well as when they will be published. These could include not only topics or themes (e.g. Throwback Thursday or Trivia Tuesday), but also allows you to reserve space for specific posts, such as evergreen posts from your blog or event promotion reminders. Start by outlining how many posts are published on each network per week, and what each post’s topic or content type is.
A sample calendar for an organization that publishes on Facebook once per day might look something like this (albeit in spreadsheet form instead of a bulleted list):
- Monday: A self-promotional post about services
- Tuesday: Reminder about event (perhaps the next workshop and where to get tickets)
- Wednesday: External article that is of interest to target audience
- Thursday: Throwback Thursday theme
- Friday: Funny or interesting graphic or comic
- Saturday: Evergreen blog post
- Sunday: Trivia about industry or discussion question
Figuring out what themes work out best for your specific social media takes a bit of experimentation to see what gets the most engagement: likes, comments, and shares.
Create a Process for Content Creation and Research
Once you have a plan for the types of content you need and the days you need them, there should be a timeline for the creation process. Make sure creation is assigned to specific people at regular intervals through a project management tool like Trello or Asana and try to automate as much of the creation process as possible.
For instance, Edgar  is a new social media scheduling tool that automatically reschedules a queue of posts you’ve added. This works great if you want to have a set evergreen content sharing strategy in place. In addition, if you have to fill spots on your calendar with external articles or resources, create a timeline and resource document of when to find links, good places to start (such as industry blogs and news websites), and how to schedule and display the links on your accounts. Creating images for social media posts should also be part of the process, if you want to use unique socially optimized images in order to take advantage of image requirements on each platform.
Create a document that outlines the process of a social media post from start to finish. A mind map or graphic might be best for this, if most of your employees are more visually inclined. A text-based version would look something like this:
Follow social media editorial calendar to see what content is needed -> Research and find links to post -> Create social media images for each post -> Schedule posts in Buffer and Edgar -> Review engagement metrics and conversation to see what can be done differently -> Reschedule post if needed as part of evergreen content initiative
Overall, outlining detailed responsibilities ahead of time is going to make your process and posts a lot more successful. In addition, creating a “response” flow chart  can help those responsible for social media decide when to involve outside departments such as IT, sales, or customer service for answering feedback. These charts basically help the user understand the proper company policy for responding to specific social media conversations, whether it is a sales inquiry or a product complaint. Responding to social media conversations is just as important as publishing content in the first place.
Experiment with Times, Content, and Paid Social
As your social media publishing schedule continues to get more elaborate and personalized to your organization, consider experimenting with content to see what works best. Ask yourself these types of questions when looking over how each post did on your active social media networks:
- Does time of day affect engagement?
- Does frequency of posts increase or decrease visibility and engagement?
- What type of content is the most popular? Should there be more of this type of content in the editorial calendar?
- Do posts with custom graphics get better engagement and a higher CTR?
And so on. These types of questions will get the ball rolling on how to best optimize your social media content in order to increase engagement, visibility, and audience numbers.
Once you have a set plan in place with a calendar template, set themes and topics, and a good flow for how posts are put together, social media becomes a lot more manageable. Get a head start on the New Year by streamlining your processes now, before the workload catches back up with your business.
Use our social media calendar template  to get started!
Calendar  Photo via Shutterstock