How to plan your social content calendar right: Lessons from Curology
Many social media managers make the mistake of assuming a content calendar is simply a container to fill with content ideas. While it’s always good to have a swipe file or back-pocket folder for potential posts, these schedules serve a much greater purpose:
They’re the storyboard for your brand’s visual content.
See, the more strategic social media managers realize that their social content calendars should be rooted in an overarching strategy tying their brand and product to their target audience. With visual media being the preferred method of storytelling, there’s nothing more important you need at the core of your content calendar.
One brand that understands this perfectly is Curology.
The wellness brand’s social media team has established and continuously executes a content strategy that works ridiculously well. A strategy that centers around four simple content categories known as the ”4 E’s”:
With 450K engaging followers, it’s clear (pun intended) that Curology has the keys to Instagram success. It’s an example social media managers dream about and should set as their goals.
This blog post will share how the popular skincare brand uses these four content categories to engage with its audience and build a deep connection with its community. We’ll also cover how digital asset management is the unsung hero of any social media strategy.
Too busy building a kickass content calendar? Here’s a TL;DR:
Social content calendars are more than containers for ideas — they’re the storyboard for your brand’s visual content
The best marketers also recognize that successful content calendars rely on social media asset management
Curology is the perfect example of a DTC brand whose social content calendar is built around the 4 E’s of storytelling:
Curology applies each of these narrative tactics to the 1,760+ photos, graphics, and videos they schedule for Instagram with their strategic social content calendars
The secret ingredient to Curology’s visual storytelling success is the effective use of a digital asset management (DAM) platform
Learn more about how our DAM alternative is the perfect pairing for your ever-growing portfolio of visual assets
How Curology embraces the 4 E’s with their social content calendar
You know visual assets are key to success in our media-driven era, but how do you tie those images and videos to a compelling story? And how do you do it efficiently without getting lost in your mountain of content?
We’ll get into the second question later, but to answer the first: it's through the 4 E’s of content.
Here’s how Curology populates its Instagram calendar with appealing visual content that educates, empowers, engages, and entertains its audience.
Every day we’re bombarded by more information than anyone in the generations before us, so it’s natural to assume that people aren’t looking for more “education” in their spare time. It’s about escapism and distractions, right?
Today’s conscious consumers are interested in staying informed. Since they spend the most time on social media, it’s only logical to look to Instagram and TikTok for educational content.
People appreciate when brands create content that educates them on relevant topics for the same reason they might watch a documentary — to build their knowledge base. And looking at posts like this from Curology, it’s not hard to see why:
Their CTA at the end of their caption allows readers to learn even more. This is a great strategic move because it shows Curology that readers trust the facts they provide. Furthermore, readers clicking on the link in their Insta profile takes them further down the funnel and increases the chance of becoming a new skincare customer.
In another instance, Curology shares an infographic-style Insta post about the different types of facial acne:
Curology leans more heavily on visual design for educational purposes with this post. The caption reveals that educational content does not always need to be dry. Their comical copy (the analogy of being the Sherlock of mysterious breakouts) is unique, allowing readers to laugh while taking essential skincare notes.
If you consistently provide knowledge, your credibility and reputation will be higher than ever.
Brands that empower their audience by celebrating customers on social media have a distinct advantage (in addition to generating some great UGC). They’re able to create lasting relationships by championing people within their brand community.
The definition of empower — “to promote the self-actualization or influence of” — is one that Curology often embraces with its visual assets. Empowering content helps them create a community promoting a novel, inclusive definition of beautiful skin.
Curology’s Instagram account plays a central role in this dialogue. They routinely schedule posts encouraging individuals to achieve their beauty goals and celebrating customers who experience positive results using their products.
One post, say, like the one below:
But empowering social posts aren’t only about motivating casual customers to become enthusiastic community-builders. These posts can also empower action on a societal level, as Curology shows with one of their recent Black History Month posts:
Flying in the face of traditional marketing, Curology scheduled a post celebrating 3 Black-owned competitor brands.
What can you learn from this? That empowering content is not limited to offering insightful content to your core audience. As a marketing leader, it’s also about creating content that recognizes others in your industry – an act of solidarity.
While there are people who go to social media specifically to “doom scroll” and “troll,” the majority gravitate towards content surrounding the 4 E’s. Here, we have “Entertain” – by far the most effective at inspiring positive feelings amongst your audience.
People (and therefore social media algorithms) gravitate towards accounts that post entertaining content that encourages interactions — views, likes, comments, and shares. Curology has discovered this first hand with meme- and nostalgia-inspired posts. Memes are undeniably great for grabbing attention, but images that conjure up nostalgia can be just as effective from an engagement perspective.
Here’s a Curology post that’s dripping in nostalgia for those who were “true baddies in the early 2000s” (AKA their ICP):
Or this meme cleverly outlining the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of adopting Curology products over the traditional 12-step skincare routine:
In DTC, few things are as engaging as a high-quality photo of a product that people love and care about.
Curology recognizes the importance of great product shots. Their visual assets are engaging and cost-effective content that showcases their product lineup to customers.
The post below is a simple yet powerful example of creating an engaging image out of something as simple as 4 bottles of a skincare product. Their strategic placement of the three dark blue bottles and one white bottle is purposeful to catch the attention of folks scrolling through their feed.
In the same breath, they know that visual tricks alone don’t last long in our age of over-stimulation. To add a cherry on top, they hit scrollers with the intriguing hook (“All the rumors are true 😱”) to reel them in.
Next to image and video, the introduction of a post on Instagram (the hook) is the most important part. Even if it only lasts a moment, the influence of a well-crafted hook snags attention and can help unlock interactions with your followers.
In storytelling, sometimes a rapid transition away from the “norm” is a perfect way to engage the audience. On Instagram, you have the opportunity to do this both visually and conceptually, as Curology demonstrates in their post revealing their collaboration with Bretman Rock:
Let's break down the engagement:
Brand colors: The purple of Curology clashing brilliantly with the green screen
Popular format: The TikTok style format of the professionally-designed Reel
On-brand influencer: Of course, the presence of a charismatic influencer with 18M+ followers
The en masse pivot towards short-form video within the DTC space shows that many forward-thinking brands have recognized the unrivaled power of this storytelling format. Unfortunately, many marketing teams don't realize how to support this level of visual asset production. At this scale, it's necessary to put in place a comprehensive management system.
Curology’s successful rollout of its jam-packed social content calendar is a hallmark sign of a brand that invests in a digital asset management platform. Other DTC brands take note.
Digital asset management: The unsung hero of Curology’s social content strategy
As important as the 4 E’s are to the effectiveness of Curology’s social content calendar, there’s another secret ingredient to their prolific social output: Digital asset management.
With 1,760 total posts — not to mention any additional content for Reels, Stories, Highlights, and other social channels — Curology’s social media team faces the constant challenge of maintaining a balanced creative workflow. Marketers generate ideas, creatives produce visual assets, and other stakeholders weigh in for feedback throughout the collaborative process. Throw thousands of visual assets (and their iterations) into the mix, and you have a recipe for chaos.
Digital asset management systems, or DAMs, are like your brand’s personal digital library. They store mountains of rich content — photos, audio files, and videos — in a searchable, secure system. They can integrate with other SaaS tools and CMS systems. They drastically reduce the time spent giving feedback or searching for different asset versions.
The only problem? They’re exorbitantly expensive.
Paying upwards of $50K for online storage is a big ask for enterprise companies, let alone a successful skincare brand. That’s why Creative Ops systems are so important for DTC brands; they provide the same benefits as a DAM without breaking the bank.