22nd November 2017 Claire Hawes

Editorial calendars: The simple scheduling tool you’ll kick yourself for not using

Want to know the secret of effective content marketing and social media planning? Work to an editorial calendar

It’s mid-November. Grandma has been in touch. She’s asked me to provide her with a definitive Christmas present list.

Really? I thought.

We’ve just got over Halloween and Bonfire Night. I cannot begin to start feeling Christmassy.

But Grandma is a busy lady. At 76, she still juggles a job and a demanding volunteer role with The Cat’s Protection League. If that’s not enough, she also rides the emotional rollercoaster that comes with being a lifelong season ticket holder at Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club.

You see, to make sure Grandma gets to do everything she wants to do, Grandma plans… stringently.

And here lies a valuable lesson for anyone who uses social media or content marketing to promote their businesses.

Planning.

So what about you? Do you plan your content and updates?

Let me guess.

  • You don’t have time
  • It seems like too much hard work

There’s always an excuse. But by not planning your content, you are making life difficult for yourself. What’s more, your efforts are likely to be less effective.

So allow me to explain the benefits of setting up an editorial calendar.

What is an editorial calendar?

Print publications rely on editorial calendars to plan content.

Editorial calendars can take the form of:

  • A simple Excel spreadsheet
  • A Google calendar
  • A visual project planning tool such as Trello.

You can use editorial calendars to record and plan for:

  • Significant dates
  • Content themes and topics

Moreover, you can use an editorial calendar to keep track of the status of each piece of content you produce.

  • Research
  • Writing
  • Scheduling and publishing
  • Promotion

What are the benefits of editorial calendars?

As well as keeping track of important business dates in your diary, setting up an editorial calendar:

Saves you time

You don’t have to think about what you are going to post and when. You can plan and schedule publishing of posts in advance.

Keeps content publishing consistent

Scattergun approaches are ineffective and are likely to be ignored.  Consistent publishing keeps you front of mind with your audience at all times. More importantly, with relevant and timely messages.

Ensures you never miss an important date or milestone

Dates don’t move. But time does. Quickly. It’s easy for even the most widely publicised dates such as Christmas to be suddenly upon you.

And when you’re busy and haven’t got content pre-prepared, it’s even more easy to miss important dates and deadlines.

Gives you time to plan images and visuals to accompany social media posts

Writing is just one part of content creation. The other time-consuming part is making your content visual. Editorial calendars help you factor in time to do this.

Helps you publish content across platforms

Each social media platform has its own personality. You need to be able to tweak your message to suit. For example on Twitter, your updates need to feature hashtags. On Facebook, hashtags are meaningless.

Helps eliminate writers’ block

Knowing what you need to write helps you get over the fear of the blank page. If it helps, you can set up a column in your editorial calendar to schedule the creation of content outlines and research. So when it comes to writing, you can be quick off the mark.

Helps you to get in front of your audience when it is active

When you get busy, it’s easy to neglect social media. Then suddenly think, ‘I haven’t posted anything in ages. I must post… right now.’

But each social media platform has its ideal publishing times. For example:

  • Facebook: 1-4pm and 6-10pm
  • Twitter: 8-10am, 11-1pm and 4-7pm
  • LinkedIn: 8-10am, and 4-6pm

Ideally, you want your posts to appear within these timeframes.

Where can you get an editorial calendar?

Not sure where to start? Use Google to search for editorial calendar templates. Then adapt to suit your own business requirements.

How do you set an editorial calendar up?

Start by researching a list of notable holidays:

  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • Bank Holidays

Then add other significant dates:

  • Valentines Day
  • Halloween
  • Bonfire Night
  • International Women’s Day

And so on.

Add important political events:

  • The Budget
  • Tax Year

Plus other dates relevant to your business and audience:

  • Conferences/events
  • Seasonal themes

Then decide how often you’re going to post and plan your posts around these dates.

Finally add a column to record the results of your efforts (number of retweets, shares etc.). It’ll help you plan for next year.

To sum up. To be successful in content marketing, you need to be consistent. And to be consistent, you need to plan.

So take a tip from Grandma. Plan your time. Block out a morning or an afternoon to put together your editorial calendar for 2018.

Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.

And finally

If you would like help writing persuasive communications, then do get in touch. You’ll be surprised at how straightforward writing can grab your audience’s attention.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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