Are you using a social media calendar to keep you organized? Many experts suggest utilizing a social media calendar to make your time more efficient and to keep things consistent. Similar to an editorial calendar, a social media calendar lays out a rough sketch of what your week, month and sometimes year will look like as far as messaging and interaction through social channels goes. Lisa Buyer gives a great overview of what a social media calendar is on if you’re interested in learning more.

In addition to Lisa’s great suggestions I wanted to share a few tips of my own to help you improve efficiency and consistency. Here are four of them:

Be Consistent and Use Data

When many people are responsible for monitoring and responding via social channels for a brand, consistency can sometimes fall to the way side. Look back at your own brand’s messages from the last month. Is there consistency, relevancy and organization? Even the most well thought out social media plans can get misaligned.

Examine the messages you and your team sent out in the past month and look for consistency. Make changes to your processes and add information to your social media calendar to help with consistency as needed. Pre-populated messages or a bank of messages can at times aid in keeping things consistent. Tweets and posts about holidays, days of remembrance, for special promotions you know about in advance, to re-promote website content or even in response to commonly asked questions are great ideas for a bank of messages. These evergreen social messages can be used and improved to fit the need at the time.

I often look at the past month’s messages at a whole when I’m preparing a month end report  and analyzing any of the data available to me: website analytics, Facebook Insights, click through rates via, social search numbers from sites like Topsy, etc… Looking at both of these areas will help you to identify gaps in consistency as well as gaps in strategy or messaging style. Overtime you’ll be able to compare this information month over month and year over year to see trends. What messaging style is working and which isn’t? What time of day and time is best? This information can be added to your social media calendar.

Avoid the Social Media Time Suck & Use Tools To Help You

Inevitably social media can be a huge time suck. When you’re looking at data, examining messaging, engaging with customers or prospects…the hours just fly by. That’s why it’s important to keep yourself on track and avoid interruptions when working on specific tasks. Close your e-mail, avoid distractions at the office and stay aware of the time.

Just being aware can help you to be more efficient. Add estimated time for tasks into your social media calendar. Gauge consistency of time with your teams work. When it comes down to asking if there is return on this social media investment, you’ll at the very least have some raw data to work with that shows the effort put forth. Additionally, if you’re managing a team you can instruct changes to processes.

Last but certainly not least, my suggestion to you is: use tools! If you aren’t already using a few tools in your social media arsenal then you should start. I’m a huge fan of Hootsuite and enjoy their pro account platform – to me it’s worth the spend. Monitoring keywords, mentions and scheduling tweets on occasion (yes I admit I do this) are just a few ways the platform can help. Additionally Tweetdeck and Seesmic are platforms commonly suggested.

A tool that can be used to help with your social media calendar is suggested for users who are on social media to promote their blogs. If you have a WordPress website you can add the Editorial Calendar for WordPress plugin. Here a writer discusses how using this type of plugin can help improve efficiencies.

Do you have additional tips to help improve a social media calendar?