Journalists and news teams have been making use of editorial calendars for decades to help plan out and prepare hard hitting stories weeks in advance – way before they make the newsstands or television stations. They would not only write the story, but collect great images and graphics to support it, and plan its promotion.
Its a sad fact that although (or perhaps because) we can publish online in the blink of an eye, the planning and implementation of content strategies for a businesses’ online presence in many cases is a lot less formal. Most businesses tend to get around to blogging when they can, posting on social media when they can, and producing a video or two for YouTube – yes, when they can.
Online business owners know that they need to have a content marketing strategy – all the experts tell them so – in order to:
– deliver value to, and engage, their site visitors
– establish a position as thought leaders
– stand out as industry experts or niche authorities
– broaden their online footprint for key terms
– have a website that the search engines keep visiting
– establish a focus for social media posts
Setting up an editorial calendar can help you achieve your content marketing goals.
Set Your Goals
Most businesses and companies have some sort of business plan – one that’s based on a series of goals to be achieved over different times. The Five Year Plan is an old favorite, but in today’s dynamic online world – well, things can change a lot in five years! So most business, particularly those with an online presence, will look at goals to be achieved, by the business and the individuals within that business, over the next 12 months. Many large companies base annual salary reviews and bonuses on the achievement of agreed goals.
When it comes to the content marketing elements of a business plan, achieving those goals is easier when you take the time to set up an editorial calendar.
So whether your goal is to increase the number of Twitter followers, subscribers or blog readers you have, or conversions/sales from lead generation activities, start by matching these to a list of achievable content creation/publication goals.
An example might be: 1 authority blog post/week, 1 general article/week, 10 Tweets/week, 10 Facebook Shares or posts/week.
Your editorial calendar should be dynamic, allowing you to increase the amount of content that you publish over time. As your system falls into place and you begin to see the benefits, you will introduce strategies to ramp things up so that your content marketing becomes more efficient, and easier. If not already doing so, this will probably involve engaging a content writer to help you to meet those content objectives.
Look Beyond The Obvious With Your Content Calendar
It would be unusual for two content calendar months to look exactly the same if you look beyond your own business, and incorporate what’s happening in the world around you. Plan to include extra content that relate to, for instance:
- Events (local, national or global)
- Product Launches
If possible, check back on previous analytics and sales figures to see what topics or type of content was effective during each period, and invest more resources into ‘rinsing and repeating’ these.
TV current affairs shows do this all the time – they have a schedule for publishing ‘feel good mum’, ‘arguments with neighbor’, or ‘dangerous toys’ stories. I know when I’ve pitched a story in the past I’ve been told “no we won’t be running an xyz story for another 3 months…!”.
While including elements of your own market intelligence of ’what’s hot and when’, always be prepared to be flexible with your calendar should a breaking news story or a hot product launch needs to be covered.
Team-Share Your Calendar
Not only will sharing your content marketing calendar keep all stakeholders in touch with goals and milestones, but this will help all stakeholders to more connected to them, and accountable to achieving them.
There are a number of tools available to help you create an editorial calendar, and it could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet in Google Drive that you can share with others in your team. I choose to use my Basecamp project management system, which helps me to see at a glance we’re I’m at and where I’m going with not only my own content, but my team and clients as well. The ability to link projects and milestones to my Google Calendar means that I can monitor projects wherever I am, on my iPhone or iPad if necessary (there’s an App for that!).
I love liaising with my clients to create the ideal content package for their business and their budgets – often starting out small and growing as opportunities are presented. Email me directly if you’d like to learn more!