The Value of a Data-Driven Content Calendar

Christopher Spong
June 5, 2016
Regardless of an organization’s size, products, or goals, a content calendar remains an essential deliverable for success in social media marketing. Find out the essential data elements at the agency blog.

Regardless of an organization’s size, products, or goals, a content calendar remains an essential deliverable for success in social media marketing.


For marketing managers, an effective social media content calendar keeps social efforts organized and is essential to success. Knowing what opportunities are on the horizon ensures thoughtful execution of marketing campaigns across channels.

For most marketers, it is easy to regularly post to social channels during lulls in seasonal periods. It is when business ramps up that drafting original content can take a backseat. The implementation of a  social content calendar will ensure a regular posting cadence throughout the year and keep the marketing team accountable.

An effective content calendar is drafted, edited, and approved well ahead of the first postdate within the calendar. Whether the delivered calendar spans two weeks, one month, or even one quarter at a time, pre-planning will save time and improve the quality of content for publishing. Organizations with strict legal and compliance departments often require a week or more to provide feedback and approval. Forward-thinking marketers should be able to draft most content a month or more in advance, leaving room for real-time social opportunities.


Simply creating a content calendar is only half of what drives success in social marketing. Measurement is key to understanding impact, identifying opportunities for growth, and learning how messaging resonates with fans and followers. A successful content calendar should not only include dates and post copy, but also identify goals, content groups, and other measurable factors that can be reported on, after posting. This data should then be considered when drafting future content calendars to continue improving performance.


  • Post Date – Used to determine posting cadence throughout the month
  • Day of Week – Select priority days of the week for publishing
  • Pillar and Theme – Post categories and content groups that allow for deeper measurement
  • Post Topic – A quick summary of the post, campaign, or event being covered
  • Copy – Actual post text, appropriate to each channel (consider copy length and best practices)
  • Link – Include the destination URL when applicable (add UTM parameters)
  • Creative Asset – Suggestions for images or video assets to pair with posts
  • Post Format – How a post will be formatted (text only, photo, video, link, photo w/ link)
  • Promotion – Note if a post will receive paid amplification
  • Goal – Identify the specific goal of the post (impressions, engagements, clicks, video views)
  • Notes – Add any notes about the post strategy, formatting, testing, or promotion targeting


Content Calendar-itis – Often characterized by the overuse of off-brand social topics, content calendar-itis usually results from the lack of a clear social strategy or content framework. Symptoms include frequently posting about daily holidays, overuse of internet memes, or trying too hard to co-opt cultural events.

Posting Without Measuring – Creating content and posting without measuring performance could be considered a cardinal sin for social media marketers. A content strategy cannot improve without examining whether or not it is successful.

Ignoring Performance Data – Second only to posting without measuring, ignoring performance data is another major pitfall for social marketers. Learning what topics, post formats, or channels most impact social goals is often the key to success. Ignoring these measures can be catastrophic to proving ROI.


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