I could not survive without my planner. Everything is in there: work things, social things, important dates, reminders, appointments, trips, grocery lists, tornado swirls on the days my pen runs out. Everything on the page affects something else: If I have a big client meeting at work, I should get up early and try to make my hair look normal. So if I go to the gym before work instead of after, I’ll get more mileage out of nice hair, which works out, because it’s Julia’s birthday and there’s a thing tonight. Errands this weekend, then. Add new pen to list.
I also love a good editorial calendar. It works the same way: There are a lot of moving parts, but keeping everything up to date and all in one place can help your business keep track of both the details and big-picture goals for your content in an efficient, strategic way.
After seeing and trying a lot of different approaches to editorial calendars, I find that there are six key things to focus on to build a great one:
1. Consolidate All Your Calendars Into One.
You’ve got a blog, a Twitter handle, a LinkedIn profile, a website, a series of white papers, a schedule of speaker engagements, and a calendar of corporate events. How can you make sure that everything works together?
An editorial calendar can help by integrating all your outreach activities in a single space so everyone involved can see at a glance what others are doing. Because people can input changes in real time, a centralized calendar ensures that everyone on your team can make edits.
Most importantly, your content will benefit from a shared editorial calendar. According to a 2014 report from LinkedIn, producing enough content variety and volume, creating truly engaging content, and developing a consistent content strategy were among the top five content marketing challenges. What’s more, a recent Kapost study found that 92% of companies that ranked as top performers when it comes to content marketing have “a shared editorial calendar for planning marketing initiatives.” You see the connection.
2. Integrate Social Media.
Your editorial calendar will help you focus on trends and ideas that are important to your company over the coming months, which makes it easier to plan social media to support communications initiatives.
Is your CEO speaking at an industry conference next month? Schedule a blog on the topic and promote it with Twitter and LinkedIn; maybe tag the conference’s social media accounts. Is there an important product or service launch approaching? Make it a part of your social media campaign.
3. Manage Workload for You and Your Contributors.
An updated editorial calendar should show you, on a week-by-week basis, what’s due for each of your team members, including both in-house staff and outside agencies. It’s a great way to spot potential bottlenecks if one person has multiple assignments due at the same time and adjust to spread the workload around.
4. Remind Yourself of Important Dates.
You may think you’ll just remember the date that quarterly earnings are released for your company or when a holiday season will affect your customer purchase cycle, but it’s a good idea to make sure. Your editorial calendar should include important dates that affect both your communications strategy and your company as a whole. You can set alarms to remind you a day, a week, or a month ahead of time to make sure you’re on top of everything.
5. Build Performance Measurement Into the Process.
According to a 2014 report by The Fournaise Marketing Group, “90% of marketers are not trained in marketing performance and marketing ROI, and 80% struggle with being able to properly demonstrate to their top management the business effectiveness of their marketing spending, campaigns, and activities.”
Incorporating performance measurement into your editorial calendar can help your company make ROI analysis a regular part of your schedule. Set up a weekly time to review the performance of social media initiatives. This includes:
- Checking cost per click.
- Identifying the audiences who are most engaged with your content.
- Determining which pieces are performing best on which channels.
- Making sure the campaign was approved by the platform on which it’s running.
- Responding and reacting to comments.
- Pausing underperforming ad sets (in A/B testing).
Incorporate these checks into your calendar so that you can obtain real-time feedback on what’s working and what’s not.
6. Ensure All Content is Aligned with Brand Strategy.
You already know the importance of creating a set of standardized brand guidelines for all your content. These brand guidelines and strategies have to thread through every single piece of content you produce, be it a 12-page report or a Facebook status.
For every piece of content in your editorial calendar, ask yourself:
- Does it help position your brand as a thought-leader by offering a unique and expert perspective?
- Does it consider the client’s journey and strategically fit into their purchase cycle?
- Is it shareable?
- Does it elevate your brand as a whole?
The right kind of editorial calendar — one that’s comprehensive, collaborative, and integrated into your workflow — can enable you to stay on top of strategy and the execution of your marketing program. Once it’s in good shape, you won’t be able to live without it.
If you need help with your content, contact us.