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10 Nov 2016

Step by Step Strategy to Creating a Powerful Social Media Calendar

Create a Social Listening Dashboard

One of the most difficult jobs of a social media manager is curating excellent content, from industry news to funny images to inspirational photos. The best content will drive engagement, spurring fans on to comment, like, and share posts. However, finding such content isn’t always easy and it does take time and work. A social listening dashboard takes this job and simplifies it.

Not only is a social listening dashboard beneficial for curating content, it also gives you a way to monitor what is being said about your brand online. When you know what is being said about your brand, you can prevent and manage crises, keep tabs on product feedback, and watch for brand mentions.

The social listening dashboard below will fulfill many objectives:

  1. Monitor brand mentions
  2. Find amazing content
  3. Track, and engage with, influencers
  4. Keep up with your social media notifications
  5. Stay up to date with industry news, that you can then share

By setting up your dashboard correctly, you’ll be able to log into a few sites to take care of most of your social media related tasks.  You go to Gmail to read and answer notifications, Hootsuite to read your stream and schedule content, as well as to engage with your social circles, and to Feedly to find great news to share.  Now let’s go through a step by step strategy to set up a social dashboard and create a powerful social media editorial calendar.

Step 1: Set up a Gmail Account with Filters

The first step is to have a dedicated email account used for social curation.  Given the potential integrations and tools available, this should be a gmail account.  This account will be used to create your social profiles and where you receive notifications from the various social profiles.  

Once your Gmail account is set up, you can now create your social profiles.  If you already have them, you may want to consider changing the email address associated with each account so you can monitor just one email for social notifications.  

As you sign up for each profile, you should receive notifications when people follow you or comment on your page. Gmail filters allow you to organize and track these notifications, making the engagement process easier.

To create your filters, go to “settings” in Gmail and then to “filters.”


From there, create folders like the ones suggested below and then make filters so that everything delivered to your inbox goes directly to your folders. When you create a filter, enter the “from” of the sender and click “skip inbox”.


3Then click “apply label” and use the relevant labels as listed here:

4Here’s an example of how you can structure your labels:

  • Main Social:

    • Facebook
    • Google Plus
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • YouTube
    • Pinterest
  • Buzzsumo

    • Keywords
    • Competitors
    • Brand

Now that all of the notifications are going straight into the relevant folders, you can keep up with mentions, comments, and new followers.   New followers you can consider following back.  If someone comments on your content, consider replying to their comments.  If they @ mention you,  you can view the comment and decide if you want to like, share, or comment.  This makes sure you are not missing any opportunities for social engagement.

Step 2: Research & Identify Industry Influencers

Next, you’ll want to identify your influencers. These are the large, established brands or industry leaders that have large social audiences.

As part of this stage, you’ll want to create a spreadsheet where you identify your influencers.  You can have different tabs for the various social channels used for research.  You’ll want to save the individual blog URL’s, Twitter profiles, Google Plus profiles, etc.  

By following these influencers in social media, you can track the content they are sharing and they will become a great source of information to share.

Here’s a few methods to identify industry influencers:

Social Media

LinkedIn: find popular linkedin groups for your industry and join, then research some of the most active members.  Click on “popular” for each group to identify some of the most popular linkedin members.  Even though you may not be able to connect with them on linkedin, you should add them to your list of influencers and you can then follow them on other popular social channels.

5Twitter: one of the best places to look for influencers is on twitter.  If you type your main keywords into google, you’ll come up with some of the major brands in your niche. Search for them on Twitter and evaluate their number of followers and engagement.  Then see who THEY follow to identify other influencers.  Well curated Twitter lists is another way to find popular people in the twitterverse.

6Once you have your list, you’ll go to Hootsuite and create a list with your influencers.  We will explore this in-depth later in this tutorial.

Top Industry Blogs

These can be found by simply typing top keywords into Google.  Google’s current algorithm highly rewards authoritative brands, so you’ll be guaranteed to uncover some of the most influential sites by simply searching on Google.  

Groups & Communities:

  • LinkedIn groups
  • Google Plus communities
  • Facebook pages
  • Facebook groups

By the end of this process, you should have a list of the top influencers, top industry blogs, and most relevant groups and communities.  You will learn how to use Hootsuite to follow all of these as sources for great content.

Step 3: Set up your Feedly Account

Feedly is an RSS reader with social integration.   With its speed, intuitive interface, and smartphone apps, it is absolutely vital for your social listening dashboard.

7Anyone with a Google account can instantly create a Feedly account.  Simply go to and click “login.” Then click “login with Google.” From there, you’ll be taken to your own personal Feedly profile, ready for customization.

Now go back to your Influencers spreadsheet and add the RSS feed of all of the blogs you identified into Feedly.

8Once you’ve added the blog to the search bar, make sure you have it in the appropriate category, and click on “add”.

9Feedly also has a search bar, allowing you to search within the platform. From past experience, the search capacity is subpar and doesn’t pull up everything that you might find doing a web search on your own. For very popular content though, it’s worth using.

When setting up your Feedly, categorize your blogs very carefully, this way you can easily track the different types of content.  You may have a category called “Most popular” and if you only have a few minutes for social listening, this may be the only category you read.  

A great way to identify the best content on Feedly is to look for the number of shares.  The articles with more than 100 shares tend to be the most popular for a reason.  

10Scan through the share numbers on Feedly to quickly identify the most attractive content to read and share.

Step 4: Track Relevant Keywords on Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a strong asset to a social listening dashboard.   With Buzzsumo, you can find trending articles about the keywords you are tracking, and sort by popularity.  

11To create a keyword alert on buzzsumo, simply go to “Monitoring” and “Create New Alert”:

12Beyond monitoring for relevant keywords, you can also get alerts when your Top Competitors are mentioned, or when your own brand is mentioned in the media.

You can set up the alerts to send a daily digest of all the keyword mentions for the day.  Make sure you set up a folder in gmail for these alerts, so you can catch them as you go through your daily curation strategy.  

You’ll be able to check what’s happening in the news with your target keywords, and identify the most popular sources to share from.

Step 5: Set up your Dashboard on Hootsuite

It’s now time for the big dog – HootSuite.  The bulk of your social listening and curation will happen on Hootsuite.

HootSuite set-up requires more than just creating an account. You will also need to link your social profiles – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. Here, you’ll learn how to do this step-by-step, starting with Twitter. From there, the process is the same for linking all other profiles.

Linking Twitter accounts to HootSuite:

  • Click on the button that says “Add Social Network”
  • Click “Connect with Twitter”
  • A window will then appear asking if you want to authorize HootSuite to use your Twitter account.  Insert your appropriate username and password and click “Authorize app”
  • You have now successfully linked your Twitter account to HootSuite – you can link as many accounts as you like

After you’ve followed this process for Twitter, repeat the same steps for your other social profiles.

For each social profile, there are different streams that can be added for social listening:.

Monitoring Twitter on Hootsuite

  • Home feed
  • @mentions
  • Twitter Lists
  • Keyword Searches

Here’s how to add them:

  • Click the button that says “Add stream”
  • Click on the Twitter button
  • Type in whatever keyword you want Twitter to pull up – these keywords can be similar to, or even the exact same, as the keywords you used for your mentions
  • Click “Add” and then “Add Stream”
  • The keyword you just added will now show up on your dashboard – you can add multiple keywords at a time

Now you’ll add your your home/mentions/lists. This is another helpful part of HootSuite:

  • 15Create a new tab and call it “Twitter”
  • From the drop-down menu that shows up in the stream, select Twitter
  • From the box that appears, select “Home”
  • Add stream and select “Mentions”
  • Add stream and select the “lists” that you created during your Twitter setup

At this point, the majority of your Twitter set up is complete.  You can refine over time, adding more keywords, competitors, and sources.

Monitoring Facebook on Hootsuite

Here’s what you can monitor on Facebook:

  • News Feed
  • Wall posts
  • Events
  • Scheduled & Private messages
  • Facebook pages

Although the process of linking a Facebook page is the same, here is what you’ll need to do to monitor relevant Facebook pages:

  • Once your HootSuite Syndicator shows up in your dashboard, click the RSS button
  • Then add your RSS subscription in the appropriate box18
  • Click “Add Subscription”
  • Click “Done!”

Your Facebook RSS feed should now appear in your dashboard. From there, you can add more Facebook pages that you want to monitor – you can add every page to a new stream, keep them all in one, or create several streams by page type.

Monitoring Linkedin on Hootsuite

Here’s what you can track on Linkedin:

  • Your updates
  • All updates
  • All discussions
  • Most popular discussions
  • Company updates
  • Scheduled updates

LinkedIn groups can be added to your HootSuite dashboard, as well. In order to do this, you will:

  • Add a new tab for LinkedIn
  • Add a new stream
  • Click on “All Updates”
  • Add your most popular LinkedIn groups, selecting either “Most Popular Updates” or “All Updates”

Monitoring Google Plus on Hootsuite

Here’s what you can track on Google Plus:

  • Home Stream
  • Sent Messages
  • Circle Streams
  • Scheduled Messages
  • Keyword Search

Here’s how:

  • Add a new tab for Google Plus
  • Add a new stream for “Circles”
  • Create a stream for each relevant circle
  • Create a stream for top keywords

Monitoring Popular News Sources

Using Hootsuite’s RSS syndicator, you can monitor general news so you can keep a pulse of what’s happening in the media.  You can go outside of your industry and add generic sources such as NY Times and popular publications like Huffington Post.

Create a new stream for the top news/media sources.  For reference, here is a listing of some of the top RSS feeds.  Then use the Hootsuite RSS integration to monitor these sources on Hootsuite.  Unfortunately this can be very slow, so you may consider adding these sources to Feedly instead.

Scheduling and Sharing Content on Hootsuite

  • Go to
  • Login with your appropriate information.
  • Click on Send To:

22Click on the profile that you want your content to be scheduled for:

23Then, click Compose Message:
Type your message:
Click the calendar button:
You will now be able to schedule your update. Just choose the date and time:
After choosing the date and time, you can click View date in Publisher:

This will take you here:

29It’s nice to go here after scheduling some content, because you can get an overview of what you have scheduled, when, and for which sites:

30You can view your scheduled content by day, week, or month:

31When you have content scheduled, you can also move your updates around just by clicking on the update itself:

Although each profile will have their own Hootsuite account, if you DO happen to have more than one profile on a Hootsuite account, you can click here:

33Which will let you control which scheduled content you want to see.

When all of your chosen profiles are connected, the process of actually scheduling updates is fairly simple. You can decide what time everything gets shared, as well as share the same update across multiple platforms or stagger the scheduled updates for different platforms so they don’t appear simultaneously.  

Creating your Social Media Editorial Calendar

Now you know all of the mechanics of creating your dashboard and sharing/scheduling content.  Now it’s time to step back and think strategically.

Between Hootsuite, Gmail and Feedly, you will be receiving daily updates relevant to your industry.  You have also created a systematic way to identify and track content to curate.  

Next, you need to create a strategic method of sharing this content on your social profiles.  Many beginners make the mistake of sharing content that is too specific to their industry.  Instead, it’s ideal to share a mixture of different types of updates:

  • Quotes/Memes
  • Industry News
  • Owned Content
  • Brand Mentions

If you combine industry-specific articles with more human-interest types of posts, then you’ll  see better responses and growth.

Create a Themed Calendar

Creating a calendar for the social media accounts you’re managing is another way to simplify your job. When you know the general theme of what you’ll be posting each day, it makes finding content a breeze.

For example, if one of your clients is in the beauty industry, you already know your overarching theme – beauty. This will dictate the more granular daily themes. Monday could be a natural beauty tip, Tuesday could highlight a famous woman of fashion, Wednesday could be a beauty tip, and so on.

When you nail down a theme for each day of the week, stick to those themes every week. If you know that every Wednesday you are going to post a beauty quote, it is easy to schedule out ten beauty quotes for the next ten Wednesdays.

Along with those themes, pick a few hashtags that you will always use on certain days. For example, when you share a famous woman of fashion on Tuesday, your hashtag could be #WomenOfFashion. On Wednesday, the quote day, your hashtag could be #WordlessWednesday. The more consistently you share the same hashtags, the more people enjoy getting engaged and following up with what you post.

Here’s an example of a social media calendar:

  • Daily:
    • Today’s Funny Gif (Plus)
    • Blog Post
    • Industry News / Articles (Thought Leadership)
    • Custom Image (Brand-specific)
  • Mondays
    • Monday Humor / Coffee / Funny Gif
  • Tuesdays
    • I did not wake up in…
  • Wednesdays
    • Wordless Wednesday
  • Thursdays
    • Throwback Thursday
  • Fridays
    • Friday Funny Vine
  • Saturdays
    • Caturday
  • Sundays
    • Social Sunday

Using a social media calendar based on themes, like the one above, will help to ensure you have both relevant and entertaining content going through your feeds on a daily basis.  

Your social media calendar would then look something like this:

34Strategically assigning themes to days of the week and planning in advance the content you’ll be sharing will help to ensure your audience is receiving the content they crave.

Putting it all Together

Now you have all the tools necessary to launch your social strategy.  To finalize, let’s go over what your social activities might look like:


  • Go to Gmail to check notifications for each social profile:
    • If somebody liked or favorited your content, go to their profile and like or favorite something back
    • If somebody followed you, follow them back
    • Respond to comments
    • Respond to direct messages
  • Check your Buzzsumo Folder
    • Identify top trending stories by keyword and, if they are relevant, schedule them on Hootsuite
  • Go to Feedly
    • Scan through the the content shared and identify the most popular content and schedule if it’s relevant
  • Check your Hootsuite Streams
    • Go to your lists and scan content shared by your top blogs and influencers
    • Go through your regular streams and retweet/share some of top the best articles
    • Like/Favorite and/or comment on some of the top content shared


  • Review your social media calendar to find and fill gaps
    • Do you have content ready for the following week? If so, what theme are you missing? Use your curation sources to find and share content for your missing gaps
  • Find inspirational images
    • Go to What’s Hot on Google Plus to find great images to share
    • Go to reddit to find funny gifs


  • Seasonal / Topical content
    • At the beginning of the month, check the calendar to find out relevant dates.  Are there any major holidays, and do you have content relevant to those holidays already scheduled?
    • Is it National _____ Month or National _____ Week?   Check the TrackMaven calendar to find holidays that you can curate content around!

Don’t Forget your Analytics

No social media calendar is complete until you plug in the analytics loop to track the effectiveness of the content you are sharing.

The most powerful tool for social media analytics is TrueSocialMetrics.  This tool will allow you to see your conversation, amplification, and engagement ratios to help determine how effective your content is.  By checking your analytics every few weeks, you can determine what resonates with your audience, and what doesn’t.  

Now that you have a full A-Z strategy for getting off the ground with a social media listening dashboard, it’s time to start sharing!

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Search engine marketing expert with 15 years of experience in the industry, working with small mom and pop shops as well as large corporate websites. I have experience with all aspects of inbound marketing, including SEO, Link Building, Social Shares, Usability, Conversions, PPC, Email Marketing, and more.