Using Editorial Calendars for Social Media

It’s old news that editorial calendars are important tools when it comes to content production and development. They predate the Internet and have been used in print media for decades, but they also play a crucial role in today’s web-based marketing world.

In addition to helping drive traditional content-based marketing tactics like blogs and newsletters, editorial calendars can come in quite handy for coordinating your social media efforts. Here are just a few of the benefits they provide:.

  • They keep things scheduled. Half the battle in social media is showing up, and scheduling things out in advance can help you make sure you’re active on your social networks of choice. Figure out how many times a day you want to post and which networks you want to use, then write them down, and you’ll find yourself participating in the social conversation on a regular basis.
  • They make social media a priority. Nothing looks worse than a social media account that hasn’t been updated in months. Having a social media calendar makes you accountable for keeping up with your social media networks. Putting a date and time on posts gives them deadlines, and deadlines make things happen.
  • They help focus your messaging. Planning your social media content out ahead of time requires thought and preparation. This allows you to craft content that drives your social media strategy and goals, instead of just posting things that may or may not benefit your brand. Don’t get me wrong, there is room for spontaneity and going off topic in social media, but if that’s all you’re doing, it’s kind of like throwing something at a wall and hoping it sticks when it probably won’t.
  • They drive your overall content strategy. This goes hand-in-hand with focusing your messaging. Using an editorial calendar can also help ensure that your social media messaging ties into your overall content strategy and business goals. Build your calendar so it promotes your other marketing channels. If you’ve got a great blog post coming out, promote it. Is your company sponsoring a local event? Get the word out on Facebook and Twitter.
  • They ensure that you post different types of content. Variety is the spice of life, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to social media. You should ideally post several different types of content, including status updates, photos, and videos. Use your social analytics to determine which content types get the best engagement from your audience and include those in your calendar. If you’re only posting one or two types of content and they don’t resonate with your community, you could be missing out on powerful marketing opportunities.

Make it Work for You

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when creating a social media editorial calendar is that it has to work for you. If it’s not something you can easily access and update, you’re never going to use it. You can get as big-picture or as granular as you need to. Personally, when I make social media calendars, I only focus on the day of the week, the channel, the type of post, and the post content. Some other companies may find it useful to coordinate things right down to the time of day. If that works best for you, go for it.

You should also choose a format that you’re comfortable with. Editorial calendars can be created in almost any format imaginable. There are countless templates available online, and you can use a platform like Hootsuite or even rely on old standbys like Google Docs and Excel.

Keep it Flexible

As you’re planning out your calendar, remember not to overschedule things. It’s important to leave yourself room for extra posts. Part of the fun of social media is the “real-time” factor. Be aware, also, that if you schedule the publishing of your posts, you’ll need to pay close attention to current events and happenings. It’s pretty embarrassing if you publish a post that has become irrelevant or something insensitive during a time of national crisis. After all, nobody wants to be the next social media fail!