Planning The Year Ahead: event ideas for your social media posts (plus a free content calendar template)
One of the challenges for your social media is: what do I post?! The simple answer is: content your target audience finds interesting and that helps build your brand values.
One unique way to do that is to leverage special dates during the year. This in-depth post will give you event ideas for your content marketing. Magazine editors do this too – run timely articles that use ‘borrowed interest’.
What events are we talking about?
There are all the usual obvious dates in the year. You know, like Christmas Day, Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day, that sort of thing.
But there are plenty of other dates too, many intriguing and interesting ones you could play with – to do something different and give your content marketing some character. (Did you know there was World Emoji Day for example?)
Yearly events and what to do with them
In this post I’ve put together the best of what happens in a year – to help give you ideas for posts to coincide with events. Have a look, there’s likely to be an event or a special day that’s both relevant to your work or to the interests of your target group. (Let’s face it, there’s pretty much a day for everything these days.)
Pick some relevant dates and create content around them. Then schedule that content to appear on the day. And then if it works well, do it again next year. Even five of these per year would add an interesting dimension to your overall content marketing. But you could do more.
At the end of this post, there are some tips to help you pull it together – including a link to a free content calendar template.
Go one step further (plan your life)
The other important thing you could (and should) be doing while you’re in planning mode is working out what’s happening in your life and in your business in the coming months. There are markers in the following list to help you do that too – plan for things like public holidays, school holidays, tax time etc.
Here’s all the stuff that happens in a year. The events marked with an asterix (*) change date each year. All others are usually on the same date.
1st – New Year’s Day
26th – Australia Day
28th – Australia Day Holiday*
29th – School Term 1 begins (NSW)
All month: Febfast (Pause for a Cause)
2nd – Groundhog Day
5th – Chinese New Year*
5th – Safer Internet Day
13th – World Radio Day
14th – Valentine’s Day
29th – Last day of Summer*
1st – Autumn begins
3rd – Clean Up Australia Day*
5th – Sydney Mardi Gras*
8th – Womadelaide
17th – St Patrick’s Day*
21st – World Poetry Day
21st – Harmony Day
21st – Holi (Hindu festival of colours)
30th – Earth Hour*
1st – April Fools Day
7th – Daylight Savings ends at 2am on first Sunday of month* (wind clocks back)
12th – NSW School Term 1 ends
12th – Royal Easter Show (Sydney) starts
19th – Good Friday*
21st – Easter Sunday*
22nd – Earth Day
23rd – World Book Day
25th – ANZAC Day
29th – School Term 2 begins (NSW)
29th – Screen Free Week
29th – Sydney Writers Festival starts
30th – International Jazz Day
4th – Star Wars Day (may the 4th be with you)
12th – Mother’s Day*
26th – National Sorry Day
27th – Reconciliation Week*
TBC – Vivid Sydney*
31st – Last day of Autumn
1st – Winter begins / ski season opens
1st – Global Day of Parents
4th – Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)*
5th – Sydney Film Festival starts
5th – World Environment Day
8th – World Oceans Day
10th – Queen’s Birthday Holiday* (NSW)
20th – World Refugee Day
21st – International Surfing Day*
21st – International Day of Yoga
21st – World Music Day
22nd – Winter Solstice*
30th – Social Media Day
30th – End of Financial Year
All month – Dry July
1st – New Financial Year
5th – School term 2 ends (NSW)
7th – World Chocolate Day
14th – Bastille Day
17th – World Emoji Day
22nd – School Term 3 begins (NSW)
28th – National Tree Day*
2nd – CafeSmart*
2nd – International Beer Day*
8th – International Cat Day
9th – Elvis Week*
11th – City to Surf Fun Run*
12th – International Youth Day
13th – Left-Handers’ Day
17th – Children’s Book Week*
18th – Sydney Tea Festival*
19th – World Humanitarian Day
19th – World Photography Day
19th – Cupcake Day*
31st – Last day of Winter
1st – Spring Starts
1st – Father’s Day* (first Sunday of the month)
12th – RUOK? Day*
17th – Australian Citizenship Day
21st – International Day of Peace
27th – World Tourism Day
27th – School Term 3 ends (NSW)
29th – AFL Grand Final*
30th – NRL Grand Final*
All month: National Cybersecurity Month
1st – International Coffee Day
4th – National Walk to Work Day*
6th – Daylight Savings starts* (at 2am on first Sunday of month – wind clocks forward)
7th – Labour Day* (first Monday of the month NSW and ACT)
8th – Yom Kippur*
10th – World Mental Health Day
11th – World Obesity Day
14th – School Term 4 begins (NSW)
14th – Anti-Poverty Week
16th – National Ride to Work Day*
17th – Sculpture By The Sea* (Sydney)
19th – Garage Sale Trail*
27th – World Audio Visual Day
27th – Diwali* (Hindu festival of lights)
31st – Halloween
All Month: Movember
5th – Guy Fawkes Night
5th – Melbourne Cup Day* (first Tuesday of the month)
11th – Remembrance Day
13th – World Kindness Day
16th – World Philosophy Day
20th – Universal Children’s Day
21st – World Television Day
22nd – White Ribbon Day*
28th – Thanksgiving* (fourth Thursday in November)
29th – Black Friday Sales* (Friday after Thanksgiving)
30th – Small Business Saturday* (Saturday after Thanksgiving)
30th – Last day of Spring
1st – Summer Starts
1st – Cyber Monday Sales* (Monday after Thanksgiving)
10th – Human Rights Day
20th – School Term 4 ends (NSW)
22nd – Summer Solstice*
22nd – Hanukkah*
24th – Christmas Eve
25th – Christmas Day
26th – Boxing Day
31st – New Year’s Eve
Will these dates be the same in future years?
Surprisingly, a lot of the events listed will be on the same date each year. The events marked with an * (asterix) are ones likely to be held on a different date in coming years (although probably around the same period.) If you’re going to use any of these events in your content, you should double check the dates and the links.
Holiday dates do change of course, especially school holidays. In New South Wales, to check the dates of holidays, go to NSW Public Holidays. And to find school holiday dates, go to NSW Government School Terms. If you’re elsewhere in Australia, to check dates of holidays, go to Australian Public Holidays. And to check dates of school holidays, go to Australian School Terms.
But wait, there’s more …
Got a sneaking suspicion there’s something you haven’t seen in our list? You can dig even further through these ‘Special Dates and Events’ via the Australian Government and these ‘Festivals and Events’ courtesy of Tourism Australia, if you’re keen.
If you’re really into whacky dates, this is the definitive source: ‘Chase’s Calendar of Events’. Or search online ‘offbeat holiday’ with the month you’re in. Or google ‘world’s weirdest holidays’ or ‘national today’. You’ll unearth even more.
What else is happening in your business?
Back to reality. It’s a good idea to factor into your planning important events and deadlines specifically related to your business. Check out the list below and see which of these event types are relevant and important.
Apart from the need to get ready for these things, you may also be able to build content around them and make a few of them part of your content plan.
Some of those business type dates include:
– birthdays (personal and staff)
– peak seasons
– major promotional campaigns
– email campaigns
– blog posts
– tax return lodgement
– BAS (gst) lodgement dates (end of October, February, April, July, October)
– trade fairs
What to do with all these dates?
That’s a heap of dates Phil you’re probably thinking. So now what? First, pick up a pen and go through a hard copy of the list above. Circle the events that are relevant. You might then write some rough ideas for content to go with them.
Next, you’ll need to find a strong visual to go with each key date you’re thinking to include in your content / social media marketing plan.
Where do you get good visuals?
There are a few places to find the right pic. You may have a strong relevant photo already in your own photo library. Or you could create a pic for it. If you’re just posting in Instagram, you might ask if you can regram someone else’s relevant pic. (If you ask and they are ok about it, make sure you give them a mention and credit when you post.) Or you could search a decent stock library like Unsplash (for a high-quality photo you can use for free.)
Plan it out in a content calendar
Once you’ve got a better idea of which dates you can post against, add in the other content that’s going into your content plan. The idea is to map out what you’re doing over time. This ‘content calendar’ will help you see everything in one place and think strategically about your content marketing. Publishers use editorial calendars in this way – to plan what they’re doing for the year. You can see the overall calendar for magazines in their media kits.
The next stage is to put the dates and details into a spreadsheet.
Tools for content planning
Are there tools to help you do this plan? Yes! Google Sheets is the one I use. It’s free and in the cloud, so if you’re working in a team it means you can collaborate on the one document. Alternatively, you could use an Excel or Numbers spreadsheet. If you’ve got a lot of content you may want to use a dedicated planning and workflow platform like Airtable or Trello.
Better still, I have a free, pre-prepared Google Sheet template for you …
Grab your free content calendar template!
(Note that if you’re doing this in a team, you could expand the sheet and add additional columns for things like who’s working on each item and status of the work in progress.)
Planning for Instagram
If Instagram is your main social media platform, there are apps that enable you to visually map out photos – so you can see what they’ll look like on your Instagram profile once they’re all posted. They include Planoly and Plann. The scheduling tool Later does it too. When you use Instagram, don’t forget to add hashtags. If you want to learn more about them, this Guide to Instagram Hashtags will help.
How often should you do your content planning?
I normally plan content quarterly. So I’m working in reasonable detail for 3 months ahead. Though I also have a rough plan (with key dates) for the year.
A helpful tool to plan the big picture
Whilst I use Google Sheets for setting up my content marketing plan, I also use Google Calendar for planning my businesses and life more broadly. It includes when I’ll sit down to write the content, when I’ll work on the different businesses I run, family commitments and appointments. Life’s a juggling act and Google Calendar will help you balance it.
Final tip (one for the road)
Grab a good coffee, block a few hours, and find somewhere quiet to think. It’s strangely enjoyable this planning thing. It’ll give you structure and a road map. That’s the obvious immediate benefit. But it’ll also help you get more done, achieve your goals and feel more under control. Happy planning!
Have I missed an important date? Got tips on posting content around dates or on how to plan your work? Let us know in the comments.
There’s more to content marketing of course than just leveraging events and dates. To get a fuller picture, check out our series of posts on Content Marketing For Beginners.