The Secrets to a Usable Editorial Calendar

editorial calendar social media maven stephanie nelson seopost by Stephanie Nelson

If you’re anything like me, you like having a plan, and you like sticking to it. When it comes to social media marketing and content marketing, that plan oftentimes comes in the shape of an editorial calendar. Sticking to said calendar can be a bit of a beast, though. So here are a few secrets to a usable editorial calendar.

  1. Find a tool that works for you (and your team).
    Is it you alone, and you like a hard copy calendar? Are you part of a team that needs to share the calendar and/or the work? This may take some trial-and-error, but with the vast number of tools – from desktop calendars, to write on/wipe off wall calendars, to shareable Google calendars, to Google Docs, to Trello, to all the others out there – you’re sure to find SOMETHING that works for you.
  2. Use one calendar for all of your marketing.
    Your marketing messages should coordinate across the board anyway, so why not manage it from one tool? Make sure to mark events – public or company – on the calendar, too, so they get appropriate coverage in your content.
  3. Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish.
    Is all the work on your shoulders or are you splitting it with a team of 15 people? A lot more can be accomplished by 15 people than by one. Fifteen people can crank out blog posts, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, Snapchats, pins and repins, etc at a much different level than a team of one…especially if social and content is only PART of that one’s job.
  4. Know your data.
    When does Google Analytics say the most traffic is on your site? What days and times show the most Facebook engagement per Insights? All of the outlets have their own analytics tools, and there are a lot of data aggregators, if you like getting your info in one spot. Use this info to plot when your posts should go up.
  5. Know your time management skills.
    Are Mondays really busy for you? Do Wednesdays seem to drag because you have fewer deadlines? Use that information to your advantage! Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and others allow you to schedule your posts. (The downside is that you miss out on engagement methods like tagging in Facebook and LinkedIn because the APIs don’t allow those features.) Just because most traffic comes to your website on Fridays at 10am, that doesn’t mean you have to be logged in to your website, posting to your blog then. Use your “downtime” to “work ahead” and schedule that mess! (I put downtime and work ahead in quotes because that’s not REALLY what you’re doing. It’s more like you’re making these tools work with your workflow.)
  6. Have a plan for your plan.
    It’s a great start to mark “post blog article” or “Facebook post goes up” or “post to Instagram” on your editorial calendar at the appropriate date and time per your analytics data. That’s a plan. But you need to plan for your plan. What are you going to post, though???? Keep a running list of blog topics and social media post ideas. Can’t think of anything? Ask your clients or friends what they want to see you write about. And keep in mind that sometimes things may need to be rearranged because a more newsworthy topic comes up. Sometimes stuff will get shifted because, let’s face it, no one’s perfect and things may fall through the cracks or get missed. (Don’t let that become the rule, not the exception!!!) But as long as you’ve got this list, you’ve at least got something to pull from, even when motivation and inspiration just aren’t striking. PS – make sure this list is accessible to anyone you’re working with and that you keep it updated to avoid duplication.
  7. Don’t forget to repurpose your content.
    Hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday exist for a reason. As long as the content is still relevant, use it again! Even if it’s not still relevant (i.e. no longer true), you can repurpose it with the right context. For instance, old blog posts here may talk about the best practice around posting to Facebook or optimizing your website via SEO. I wouldn’t just reshare those posts, but I could add a comment with the link saying something along the lines of “Remember when this was the best way to do things?”

So those are my top tips for a usable editorial calendar. What are your tips? How do you stay on top of managing your content and social media strategies?

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