All social media elements thrive on providing relevant and thought-provoking content. Without valuable content your social media platforms will never accomplish its goals. One way to make sure that you’re creating high value content and remaining compliant is by developing and following an editorial calendar.
From a traditional sense, an editorial calendar is a planning tool that newspapers and magazines use to organize major editorial features planned for forthcoming issues.
The idea behind incorporating the editorial calendar is that the calendar for social media is three-fold: 1) create an organized, systematic approach to managing (creating, reviewing and approving) all the social media elements, 2) look at both the big picture and individual elements in each social media vehicle and 3) see how other non-social media elements (traditional and earned media) fit into the integrated marketing mix.
An editorial calendar achieves it purpose for planning, as well as keeping your content on topic. It also gives you an overview of the direction you want to take your blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc., over a week, month and year. An editorial calendar is your guide to publishing online content.
Different companies handle the social media editorial calendar differently. For insurance companies and highly regulated organizations, many will add a variety of approval columns, a column for an advertising number and/or columns for their own specific internal checklist (i.e. state regulation).
Here’s how to start developing your online editorial calendar:
Determine the platform. It’s tempting to want a presence in every social media channel, but it’s often better to manage a few really well than to do many poorly. Think about your organization, your goals and the kinds of communication you’ll be creating, then choose the social media vehicles that make sense for you. A well-executed online strategy that aligns with your marketing plan will serve as a valuable extension of your brand.
Decide posting frequency. Many organizations try to post daily. When you’re first starting off once a day post can be a very ambitious goal. If you’re new to posting, sometimes it is easier to start slower and work your way to increased frequency. Once your online platform is public, you should post no less than 2-3 times a week and make sure that your content is quality.
Brainstorm content. Thinking about developing content for online platforms can be overwhelming. It’s best to consider broad categories and target audiences. For example, if you know you want to highlight the category of customer service, then you can approach customer service for their feedback and write a post accordingly. As you accumulate additional topics, categories and audiences keep a file for future posts for days when you’re not feeling particularly creative.
Mapping content. Once you have a clear idea of content start inserting your posts into the calendar. If you need additional information for your posts (i.e., podcast, video, photos, links, etc.) be sure to account for time needed to gather resources and approvals in legal and compliance.
Route calendar. Typically, marketing will draft the editorial calendar to account for brand standards and align with the organization’s marketing objectives, but it is critical to keep compliance and legal in the loop. Once a month, route the editorial calendar to the appropriate parties to ensure that all regulations are being upheld.