Double your productivity by using an editorial calendar

Double your productivity by using an editorial calendar

What content are you publishing tomorrow? Next week? Next month? In 3 months? Don’t know?

A content marketing editorial calendar sounds like a great idea, but are they really worth the hype and five hours of investment every month?

Let me answer this through an example.

Imagine you’re about to give a speech in front of a large audience.

You feel like you know your material, you understand your message, you’re passionate about your topic.

But there’s just one problem: You didn’t actually prepare any specific messaging first.

Would anyone book a speaking engagement without prepping slides or notes? The simple answer is no.

The same principle applies to your messaging. Every day, your channels present numerous public speaking engagements. Your audience is waiting to hear what you have to say. ‘Just winging it’ isn’t going to work, and it’s not effective content marketing.

There are five good reasons why you should use an editorial calendar.

  1. Accountability – Calendars are great for setting deadlines. Laying out a clear plan eliminates excuses for not knowing what content to publish.
  1. Approval of all content in advance – this is especially important for government because of the long approval processes which could take months. Bob Pearson, the President of the W20 Group and previous Vice President of Communities and Conversation for Dell, calls this a ‘quick win’ for government communicators.
  1. Efficiency – No one ever has enough time. However, planning your channel outreach with a calendar lets you make the most of the time you do have. For example, bulk approval of content could save you 3 hours per month, then uploading it through a social media scheduling tool could save another 3 hours = almost a full working day per month which you could use to complete another task.
  1. Effectiveness – This is a benefit that supersedes all other benefits. After all, efficiency without effectiveness really just means doing things poorly, quickly. Using a calendar allows you to schedule your messages for optimal times, increasing the odds they’ll be seen.
  1. Organisation – Managing multiple social media accounts and websites can turn into a mess extremely fast. This kind of disorganisation will kill your efficiency. It can also diminish the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. Knowing what you’ll say and when you’ll say it saves time so you can get other important things done.

So how can you build an editorial calendar for your organisation or agency?

First, create a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

Add columns for day, date, channel, content type, details, theme, link, characters and time scheduled.

An example is below:

Double your productivity by using an editorial calendar

Once you’ve built your calendar, you’ll need content. This means creating fresh content, as well as mixing in curated content.

There are a few initial things to keep in mind:

  • Know your post frequency targets – how often does your audience like to receive information? You want to be informative, not annoying. Provide value, but don’t go overboard.
  • Know the best times to post on each network.
  • Keep a list of upcoming events – this is useful for forward planning so they can be promoted.
  • Be mindful of word lengths – especially if adding photos and video content on Twitter because this will reduce the amount of words.
  • Overarching content themes can consist of the different focus areas of the company or particular topics you would like your audience to learn about each month. For example, charitable work, community consultation or your different business service lines.
  • Linking to other Twitter accounts and using hashtags will increase your reach.
  • Bitly is a great tool for shortening long URLs.

Say we have a series of community consultation workshops run by a government department. An example calendar might be populated like this:

Double your productivity by using an editorial calendar

You may, after some time, discover that keeping your calendar full can be difficult. However, I suggest the following:

  1. Reuse messages (sparingly)
  2. Curate content
  3. Write multiple messages promoting the article or link
  4. Remember, not every post may need a link. Mix up the style of messages.
  5. Use visual content – Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets; and that people remember 80% of what they see or do, versus 20% of what they read.

Finally, ensure the editorial calendar is approved by all necessary parties and schedule – we use Hootsuite.

Scheduling all posts on the first day of every month is really time effective – not to mention satisfying after all of your hard work to create an editorial calendar!

It’s time to eliminate the inefficiencies and manual processes that come from managing a ton of different content plans.

Jenny Muir, President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, recently said, “Technology has given us extraordinary freedom and influence and power. It has connected to the volumes of audiences that we have always dreamed of connecting to, but in saying that, the measure and the level of discipline that we now need to have in the way that we plan and disseminate information and the speed in which we need to do that requires a whole different type of resourcing.”

This type of resourcing is achieved by planning.

Start your calendar now and share your success stories and/or questions below.

Each week a staff member puts pen to paper to write about an aspect of content communication that speaks to them, and hopefully, informs you. This is a space where our passion for writing, learning and sharing information comes to shine.

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