Working ahead is working smart and that’s why you need an editorial calendar.
Optimized for mobiles, long bulky information is increasingly being reformatted and resized into scrollable content for users to view anywhere and at any time. As social media platforms develop new ways to share content online, controlling the publication across platforms like websites, blogs, e-newsletters, and social networking sites is a key responsibility for the marketing and communications team, especially the appointed lead.
An editorial calendar is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy. It serves as a roadmap to optimize content to meet your business goals. A well-planned editorial calendar ensures all stakeholders and distribution networks work together to coordinate with relevant events, business milestones or promotions. It can streamline and improve workflow, especially when juggling between hectic timelines. Think of it as a tool to assign editorial responsibilities, brainstorm ideas and topics, decide on specific types of content to post, and target relevant audiences throughout the year.
If you’re not sure about how to build one, there’s no need to fret. We’ve got you covered!
Check out our 5 pointers to kickstart your editorial process.
Tailored for Best Fit
Define your content objectives, and more importantly, research. It’s not just about the headlines. Start off with some rough ideas for the type of content you’re looking to create. Work out what format works best for your audience. Write in various formats like listicles, how-to guides (like this one) or throw in case studies that will interest your readers. Define the preferred tone, voice, and stylistic standards your content should clearly follow. And you may want to try and survey the battlefield to figure out what thought leaders of your industry are saying. Not only will it help you better understand your content’s role in building trust, you will also be able to develop specific content for specific points throughout your audience relationship.
Tip: Engaging the audience on mutual topics of interest will inspire future content – find the intersection where your audience’s needs and your company’s expertise cross paths.
What’s next? If you’ve been publishing blogs and other editorial content for a long time, you’ll have enough inspiration. Review your catalogue of content – past topics can inspire new ideas. Should you stumble on an old piece, spruce it up, recreate and repurpose.
Keep tabs on evergreen content. This type of content is known for retaining its relevance long past its publishing date, and can lead to spin-off topics. These can range from broad topics like habits of consumers to common interests or festive occasions that can fill up the calendar at your convenience, and for a good while too.
Here’s an idea: To increase online traffic to your website or blog, link old content to new stories. Check out SmartLocal – they found a way to bring an old post back to life!
SmartLocal hyperlinking their old post(right) on gym classes in their recent story(left)
DIY a Template
Various templates for an editorial calendar can either be created or found online but it should have key elements such as the month or day, content theme, the type of platform and more. It can look as simple as any Excel spreadsheet or as sophisticated as paid tools such as Convince & Convert, HubSpot or CoSchedule. If you’re a beginner, try out Google templates.
Google Editorial Calendar (left) and HubSpot Calendar (right)
Content writers can keep up to date with their assigned tasks with color-coded themes, the type of posting platforms or crucial dates. Taking note of holidays will also provide a sneak peek of possible topics, determining which pieces can take a backseat (for now) and which should take priority. To top it off, label each stage of production (in progress, editing, approved) with corresponding timelines attached to them. Like Excel, members can work on the content simultaneously, while allowing built-in formulas, pivot tables and conditional formatting options. These elements should help manage content in a more efficient and streamlined order.
Note: At any point, if an element is found to be obstructing your content path – drop it.
Adapt and Optimize
No editorial calendar is ever set in stone.
Figure out a publishing rhythm by staying consistent and allocating deadlines, both internal and external. Published content should come out like clockwork at regular intervals, reminding the audience of your reliability. Don’t be a stickler for change and shake up tactics when the occasion calls for it. Since editorial calendars cover various periods of time, leave one or two spots vacant for you to respond to trends or seasons – it’ll add an element of flexibility which can be of great help when filling up a writing schedule.
Sharing on Socials
To maximize the efficiency of an editorial calendar, align your social media shares with your published content.
2019 led us into a multitude of story-sharing experiences on various social platforms, be it Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook. The Stories element on these apps have grown to be the most popular bridge for audiences. Tackle this by crafting a message schedule to be sent out once your published content goes live. The goal here is to provide a sprinkled series of your content in the form of mini summaries. News platforms like Al Jazeera utilize the Toggle/Swipe Up feature of Stories – linking posts to the actual content that tend to garner more interactions among users most active on the relevant platforms.
Al Jazeera, a news platform uses the Toggle feature on Facebook to connect users to their videos on YouTube
Ready to Go!
Planning ahead is a skill never too late to learn!
An editorial calendar is ultimately a blueprint for advance planning, outlining tasks and coordination among team members. Knowing how to organize content can bring everyone up to speed on their content responsibilities and provide transparency for clearer communication during the creative process.
Remember: An editorial calendar is not meant to be simply followed; it is a stepping-stone to building an editorial playground.
Written by Sarah Begum, Corporate Media