Sep 28, 2016 / by Cision Contributor

When developing a public relations or marketing strategy, many companies decide to start by jumping on the social media train. It’s a free, relatively easy and user friendly way to get their feet wet in the world of promotional marketing, and it is accessible to companies of any size.

While getting started with a social media strategy may be easy, it needs to be consistent and well thought out to make it truly successful.

The best way to organize yourself is by creating an editorial or content calendar. An editorial calendar for social media, like its name implies, is a calendar documenting the content an organization plans to share via social media. At its simplest, this can be a list of your planned social posts, along with any links, photos or videos that accompany them, the social media network that they’ll be posted on, and the dates and times.

A consistent social media strategy helps build brand recognition online, gain followers and keep those followers interested in what your brand is doing. And a content calendar is a great way to ensure your social presence is consistent and timely.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your social media calendar.

1. Not all social networks are the same

All social media networks are different, and just because a post is a great fit for Twitter doesn’t mean it will fit well on Facebook or Snapchat. Audiences, and what resonates with them, will be different from network to network.

Even when sharing the same announcement across multiple channels, your messaging should be adapted for each different social platform.

Instagram posts, for example, must include an attention-grabbing photo, while Twitter is an excellent medium for terse, impactful statements and links.

SE-CO-2.6.1 Engage in Social Conversations Around Your Brand

2. Plan ahead and follow through

Just “winging it” doesn’t work in the social media world anymore, especially when managing accounts across multiple social networks.

In order to keep track of what’s being posted, companies have to not only create and organize the posts ahead of time, but be sure to schedule them as well. An editorial calendar is no good if the creator forgets to actually post!

3. Keep in mind holidays, seasons and other special events

Putting in messaging related to holidays or other seasonal happenings is a great way to keep a content calendar full and interesting. People want to read about what’s timely and relevant, and this can help boost engagement on posts.

4. Don’t just “set it and forget it”

Although planning your content ahead of time is great, leave some room to add in any last minute announcements or posts. Also, don’t forget about any scheduled posts you have in the event that a tragedy should occur. Many brands have gotten into hot water for forgetting to turn off their scheduled posts in the aftermath of tragic news events.

5. Use tools that work for you

When it comes to creating the actual calendar, there are a few different strategies to try. Some social media managers may organize their social media efforts with a simple paper organizer. Other social media managers begin by using an Excel spreadsheet in order to keep organized while still others may find that a more sophisticated tool designed for this purpose will better fit their needs.

Any of these methods can be effective when used appropriately. Whether using an advanced online tool, or keeping track of the posts with pen and paper in an organizer, it’s important to remember the steps above when planning out your posts.

The use of social media for promotional marketing can be simple and effective. Appropriate organization is key for true efficiency and effectiveness; however, planning ahead, staying on top of posts and realizing the differences between networks are all key to a successful social media communications strategy.

Get more tips that will help you build a strong, relatable presence on social media by downloading Engage in Social Conversations Around Your Brand. This free guide outlines how to participate on key networks without wasting resources or missing opportunities.

Author Hailey Lanier is a Business Development Specialist at Cision, where she helps businesses build integrated public relations strategies. She has a background in financial and non-profit public relations, and stays involved with non-profits through volunteering. 

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This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.