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how to create a social media content plan + content plan template

Everything that can go unread (as well as unseen and unheard) will go unread. This is the main obstacle of the modern overloaded information environment. Any text and any material for publication must be carefully thought out, planned, work in conjunction with other publications and lead to a common goal.

Systematicness is the word that should be the main characteristic of working with content. In the case of social media, the content plan plays such a system-forming role.

Together with ICU's Head of SMM, Anastasia, we'll figure out how to create a content plan and make sure it works. And at the end of the article, you'll be able to download a free content plan template.

What is a content plan?

A content plan is a convenient tool for planning publications on social networks, on a website, or on external resources, which is prepared in advance for a certain period of time. In other words, it's a regularly updated document containing a list of publications for a month/week.

Some SMM specialists create separate content plans for each social network, but at ICU, we prefer a consolidated document for all content and create it for a month.

Why create a content plan?

There is an opinion that a content plan makes an account template-like and lifeless, destroying creativity. It's like considering a schedule of a restaurant's operation hours on its door to be the killer of good service or the chef's creative spirit. What if the restaurant isn't planning to stay open until the evening or the chef only cooks when the muse visits?

So, a content plan solves several tasks at once:

Proper distribution:

  • — of content categories: the ratio of educational, promotional, entertaining, and engaging content
  • — of publication formats: posts with pictures, videos, articles, live streams.

Insurance against "content gaps" and time-saving: you always know what to publish, in what format, and can prepare everything in advance.

Alignment with business goals: all publications are distributed in a way that logically leads to achieving business objectives.

Consistency: develops a habit of publishing content constantly. This is important to remind your audience of your brand and maintain interest in your product/service.

Maximizing audience reach: it's often difficult to reach the entire audience with one piece of content. Therefore, topics should be thought out for each segment separately and logically arranged into one line.

In addition to systematization, a content plan gives you an understanding of:

  • - how to communicate with the audience to involve all its segments
  • - how to distribute content types - text, video, podcasts, infographics - to use all opportunities to attract and retain the audience
  • - how often to publish content so as not to get lost among competitors, but not to annoy the reader

Spending a few hours creating a content plan will significantly save you time for a leisurely cup of coffee and organized thoughts in your head in the future.

How to create a content plan?

When creating a content plan, follow these criteria:

  • - distribution of content by topics
  • - alignment with the audience avatar - focus on what is interesting to your target audience, not just what interests you
  • - pursuit of business goals - each post and series of publications should serve a single purpose - be it sales, warming up the audience, launching a new product, or building trust.

There is no single standard for formatting a content plan - it can be a text document, a presentation, a table, or even a MindMap. It's important to experiment and find out which one is most comfortable for you.

At ICU we use a table that marks:

  • - content release date
  • - platform
  • - content format
  • - post category and topic
  • - expected visuals (photo/video or cards)
  • - content type
  • - space for comments
  • - a line where the designer inserts links to ready-made visuals

We use different colors to indicate the type of content (post, story, article, or case study preview) to make it visually easier to read the table.

It's up to you to decide which type of content plan to choose. The main thing is to make it convenient to create, easy to navigate, and tailored to your goals.

You can download the content plan template used at ICU here.

5 very important tips

Before creating a content plan, keep in mind:

A content plan ≠ written law. It is a "flexible" document. If you have an urgent news update or an idea for a post that you really want to share, go ahead. It's okay to shift things around, and your content plan remains your working framework. This won't make your content worse, won't ruin your whole strategy, but will reflect the real situation in your company, which is very valuable to users.

You can also adjust the publishing time. If the plan requires you to post something on Monday at 2 p.m., but for some reason, you can't get it perfect by that time, it's better to refine it and post it on Tuesday morning. One or two days won't change anything, but well-developed content is always better than raw content.

Use ideas that come to you in the process. A subscriber asked a question, and you decided it would be great to cover it in a post? Great, jot down the idea in your content plan for the next period. By the time you compile a new content plan, you'll already have a list of ready-made topics, which will make your work easier and faster.

If you see that a particular type of content is more effective, use it more often, but don't overdo it. Subscribers will quickly get tired of reading similar posts.

Use cross-content. Expand on a topic in a post, provide a reference to a quiz on the topic running on Stories, and send readers from Stories to watch a video on your YouTube channel or read a full article on Zen.

And most importantly, remember that a content plan is a tool designed to make your life easier, not more complicated.

Monitor the audience's response to each publication: likes, reactions, comments and their sentiment, engagement rate. Test new things and improve what works well - as a result, you will be able to create your ideal content plan.

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