June 22, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
You probably already use spreadsheet tools for a variety of planning and tracking purposes for your marketing strategy. But have you ever used them to create calendars? Creating a social media content calendar in Google Sheets makes it easy to share, update, and use the tool for remote teams and those who work across different platforms. In this article, we’re covering topics like:
Image via Unsplash by @esteejanssens
A social media content calendar is a digital document that organizes your publishing schedule for social media content. Each one may look different, based on your team’s expectations. Some look like traditional calendars you’d hang on a wall. Others look more like list planners. You can customize social media content calendars to find your own marketing strategy. Tailor them to the platforms you use, the types of content you share, and how often you post.
Building a social media content calendar helps you stay organized to execute your strategy. There are other benefits to developing a calendar, especially one you build on your own. These perks include:
It’s important to publish social media content consistently. This helps you stay present on your target audience’s timelines and feeds. “Consistent posting” may mean something different to every company, or even by channel. Some may post every day, while others post weekly. No matter how you do it, having a content calendar lets you see your upcoming posting plan. This visual representation lets you see where you may have content gaps.
If you find these gaps, you give yourself the opportunity and time to fill them. And CopyPress can help. Request your free content analysis report to see how your content compares to your top three competitors. Access a list of “low-hanging fruit” topics to become the focus of your pieces. These fill not just the gaps in your social media content calendar, but the ones in your overall content strategy.
“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”
Director of SEO at Auto Revo
Let’s say you’ve been planning a webinar series for months, teasing it on all your channels. You have everything ready to launch. When the day comes, you expect sign-ups to roll in because people have been excited and are interacting with your hype campaign. But a few hours after registration goes live, you realize you never scheduled your promotional posts. You definitely don’t want to be that person.
With a content calendar, you don’t have to be. Having a calendar lets you see a coherent plan for everything you do, including long-term campaigns and event planning. The distinct elements in the calendar allow you to see what you’ve created and published, where it’s all shared, and what time it goes live. With a tool like this, you never have to worry if you’ve checked all your boxes. You can glance at the page and see for yourself.
You already know there are tons of different types of content to create and share to promote your brand. It’s best to have a balance of these things to capture different segments of your audience that prefer choices to experience your content. For example, you may write blog posts but also host a podcast.
While social media posts are their own type of content, they’re not the only things you can share on your platforms. Link out to existing content elsewhere around the internet, or encourage people to convert and sign up for direct marketing tools like email newsletters. Your content calendar lets you see this balance and when you’re posing on which channels. This helps you make sure you’re reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
Related: The Importance of a Content Calendar
Knowing what you’ve already posted and when helps you review data and analytics about your content performance. It gives you an easy way to go back and track the days and times different content published on your social media channels. This helps you track trends to let you know when you’re most likely to reach your audience with your content. This helps with other areas of your content marketing strategy, like learning when to send email correspondence, or when to publish new content on your website.
You have plenty of options for creating and using a content calendar. It may seem easiest to pay for a program or use a canned one from another service to take the guesswork out of the process. But there are drawbacks to using a program out of your control or comfort zone. Here are a few reasons to create your content calendar with Google Sheets:
Whether you have a personal Google account or work on a business plan, you can use Google Sheets for free, or it comes standard with an enterprise plan. Either way, you don’t have to pay for another service or work with another customer support team in the event of an issue. Having a free service also lets you share, connect, and collaborate with new team members or people outside your business, like freelancers or vendors. All they need is a Google account.
In addition to the web service, there’s also a Google Sheets app for all your devices. That means you can check, fix, and update the calendar from anywhere at any time. This is especially useful for remote team members or those who work out of the office regularly. Say, for example, some of your team members go to a conference or trade show and plan to create social media content while they’re there. Even if they can’t be in front of their laptops, they still have options to update and adjust the content calendar on their phones or tablets.
Whether you have minimal or expert proficiency with Google Sheets, anybody can make a template here. Some may be fancier and use formatting and formulas to look super professional. Others may be basic. The most important thing is that you get to decide which kind you want and how to lay it out. No matter how fancy it looks, the calendar still works the same.
Google Sheets, like other Google programs, allows add-ons that make your experience using the program easier. Choose from free or paid add-ons that serve a lot of different functions. Some check your spelling and grammar, which can help you edit your post content before you share it with the world. Others help with organization or provide additional template choices right within the service.
When you create your content calendar in a program like Google Sheets, it makes it easy for all team members who need access to get it. You can watch updates and track changes in real-time, so you know what’s happening with every segment of the team. Using a program that lets you collaborate also makes it easier to assign tasks and catch any last-minute changes, mistakes, or gaps before your content goes live.
There are pieces to consider when putting together your content calendar. Decide where you want to put them and how you want to structure them throughout your spreadsheet. They include:
Use these steps to create your own social media content calendar using the Google Sheets platform:
Log into your Google account and navigate to Sheets within the My Account menu. From the “Start a new spreadsheet” panel, select the “Blank” option. Click in the box that says “Untitled spreadsheet” to give your document a name. Make sure it’s something easily recognizable so your team members know what the document is when you share it with them or when they’re browsing for it in the shared folder. We recommend something like “Company Name Social Media Content Calendar Date“.
You can choose to create your content calendar by week, month, or year. The timeline you choose directly affects the layout and structure of the entire spreadsheet. For this tutorial, we’re creating our calendar by month. That reflects in the following steps. If you choose to do your calendar by week or year, you can adapt these steps to fit your timeline.
It’s helpful to have an overview page at the beginning of your spreadsheet calendar document to share your color-coding key and any additional information a team member might need to work with or post content. Google Sheets calendars are customizable to your needs, so you can share as much or as little information on the overview page as necessary. Here, assign a color to each of your content types. You can also include resource links to places like your content repository, any image sources, and login information or social media handles for each platform.
To add a new sheet to your document, click the plus sign in the bottom left corner of the Sheets window. Name the sheet for each content channel, like Facebook or LinkedIn. This makes it easy to see exactly which channel page you’re in. After you set up the first one, you can duplicate it by right-clicking on the sheet name and selecting “Duplicate” from the menu.
Use these steps to fill out the channel sheets:
You now have all your column headings and template fields for one week in your calendar. To add additional weeks to fill out the entire month, do the following:
You can repeat the copy and paste steps until you have enough rows for each day of the month. You may choose to add additional columns for more data, such as character count or story shares, depending on the channel sheet.
While the template you created works as it is, you may want to make it look more appealing for your team. Consider some of the following ways to format your template to make it more aesthetically pleasing:
These aren’t the only options you have for formatting, but they are some easy ones that may make your spreadsheet look more professional and inviting.
Once you finish the template, you can start filling in your social media calendar. You can also share the document with other people on your team by clicking the green “Share” button in the top right corner of the desktop window. Add people and groups by typing their email addresses or group names in the bar. You can change each group to have different access, such as:
When sending the collaboration invite, you can add a message with more information, if necessary.
If you’re not up to making your own Google Sheets social media content calendar template, there are other options. Some premade templates have different fields or layouts than the one we described. You can download and use them, then customize the premade templates to fit your own needs. Try one of these selections:
A social media content calendar is only as good as the content you create to put inside. CopyPress helps you develop the best content marketing resources to attract your audience and make them excited about your brand. Ready to get started? Schedule your free introductory call today.
More from the author: