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How to Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar

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January is always a fresh time to fine tune online marketing habits. One good place to start is the social media editorial calendar.

You remember, that file you started last year and haven’t opened since? On the flipside it could be a daily master plan that you did follow that made your analytics go through the success roof. In the latter case, maybe it is a do-over or just a yearly update.

The Power of the Written Word and Social Media

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How can the power of the written word impact your social media editorial calendar? Research shows that people who write down goals, share that information with a friend, and send weekly updates to that friend are 33 percent more successful in accomplishing goals than those who merely formulated goals.

If you consider your colleagues, subscribers, prospects, and clients as “friends” – think about the power of a written and organized social media editorial calendar ...

Originally designed for books, magazines, and newspapers, editorial calendars have been around for centuries and are the lifeline to successful publishing. Today’s editorial calendar takes into account web content, company press releases, blogs, social media news network postings in the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube as well as email marketing plans and PPC, should also wrap into traditional marketing campaigns.

Editorial calendars bridge together content and themes for social media and beyond:

  • Blogs
  • Online newsrooms
  • Social media network messaging 
  • Events
  • Email campaigns
  • Video
  • Offers
  • Promotions and sweepstakes
  • Web pages
  • PPC

Social Media Editorial Calendar Benefits

Social media editorial calendars create a cohesive layer to a content strategy that bridges the benefits of:

  • Accountability: Put it in writing where everyone can see it, touch it and live it. 
  • Commitment: Stamp a date on it, chances are, you will get it done. 
  • Accomplishment: Checking it off the list feels sooooo good and also ties back to accountability. 
  • Planning: Big picture first, start at the year, month, week and day. 
  • Creativity: Mapping out the topics first will help free up space for creativity and inspiration. 
  • Trends: Tie in the topics with keyword research and boost the SEO strategy. 
  • Measurement: Watching the results in growth and also what is popular in content via tools such as Google Analytics will give you valuable information for future editorial ideas.

Tips For Creating a Social Media Editorial Calendar

  • Goals 
    • Start in baby steps and grow in phases each quarter.
    • For example, in the first three months you might map out to produce 40 pieces of content total that is divided into blog posts and social media messages and set a goal for the 2nd quarter to increase by 25 percent. Watch the analytics grow! 
  • Frequency and Timing 
    • Break it down month-by-month, then week-by-week to day-by-day and even hour by hour for the uber advanced. 
  • Themes 
    • Pick topics or themes for each month into broad categories that can be broken down into sub-categories.
    • Holidays, trade shows, seasons, fashion, sports, etc. 
    • Or dedicate each month to a different product focus or service of your company and design a collage of content ideas centered around that product or service in the form of videos, Tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates. 
  • Share and Play Nice
    • The social media editorial calendar isn’t designed to be a top secret document. The idea is to share and collaborate across the team of writers, editors, researchers and also the other departments such as SEO, advertising, public relations, product teams, and the sales team. 
  • Take Inventory
    • Social media networks continue to evolve and with many changes in the past 12 months. For example Google + and Pinterest have come into play, and adjustments need to be made to accommodate these new messaging strategies. 
  • Social Mobile Messaging
    • The explosion of tablet growth from front-runners such as the Apple iPad bring new items to the social media editorial calendar for mobile users. Think about bringing in creative QR messaging on certain months or create a campaign using augmented reality  to illustrate a monthly theme or topic. 
  • Connect with Print Campaign
    • Connect the dots between print and online and carry over print advertising themes and campaigns into the social media calendar and vice-versa

Tools for Editorial Calendars

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  • Microsoft Excel: This is the trusted standby and go-to solution that can be at least used as a step one in mapping out a strategy. 
  • Google: Google makes it easy to set up editorial calendars using Google Calendar, Docs, Notes, and more. 
  • WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin: This gives the publisher a “bird’s eye view” of your content that allows you to control your long-term strategy. Celebrity copy writing stars such as Chris Brogan and Copyblogger give this plugin a thumbs up.
  • HootSuite: In essence your social media editorial calendar is your dashboard of content broken down into timelines. HootSuite gives you that same dashboard feel when you break down the content into social networking massages. 
  • 21 Habit: So you want to get your social media editorial calendar up and running in 21 days or less? Put yourself to the test with this app designed to help you make or break habits, whether it be marketing or other business and personal goals

Reporting on the spot news via social media is one way to get the word out. But having an organized 12-month editorial calendar that slices up the year into monthly, weekly, and daily snapshots can take your content to new levels of success. Make 2012 the year of habits of highly successful social media editorial calendars that deliver quality content.

Editor's note: This column originally was published on January 12, 2012, and comes in at No. 4 on our countdown of the 10 most popular Search Engine Watch columns of 2012. As the clock ticks down to 2013, we're celebrating the Best of 2012 by revisiting our most popular columns, as determined by our readers. Enjoy and keep checking back!


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