Why use the editorial calendar as part of your social media marketing?

It’s simple, and Dwight D. Eisenhower said it quite succinctly, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

When you use an editorial calendar, you force yourself & your team to think ahead, to strategize about what you will talk about on your social media sites. An editorial calendar is a simple tool to keep everyone on track for future talking points, important dates, and advertising campaigns. Listed below are a few reasons we think they’re so important, along with the ways to use them, and finally a couple of nice templates we found online that you can download if you don’t want to take the time to create one from scratch.

Use an Editorial Calendar

Picture Failing to Plan

1. To Plan

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

Ok, I’ll stop quoting past great American leaders, but really isn’t all success today predicated by the fact that we stand on the shoulders of the great ones who came before?

Don’t ignore something simply because it’s obvious. Take the time to sit down and come up with ideas for the month ahead. Look at the calendar and see what important dates are coming up – holidays, company anniversaries, product launches, local festivals. Do any of these relate to your business? If so, you’ve got a natural opening to join an existing online conversation. Granted, your product launch may not be all the buzz around Facebook, but it’s a very good jumping off point to get a conversation started. People who follow your business online want to know about these things. Just use good judgement and don’t spam people with endless product posts.

2. To Build a Stronger Brand

By putting a little thought in ahead of time, you will come across with a cohesive message in your various posts. You can also weigh these messages against an offline advertising your doing. If you go to a tradeshow or have a radio advertisement, does the message ring clear and true across all marketing channels? The use of an editorial calendar will help keep you on track on the social media sites. It’s remarkably easy to get swept up in a tangential conversation online and lost the thread of your message. By checking the calendar once a day – which will take about 5 seconds – you keep yourself and your team on track.

3. To Save Time

There’s no denying that we are spread too thin and often wear too many hats for our own good at times. Who has time to manage, sell, maintain operations, market, keep up with financials, learn, teach, etc, etc. The list seems never ending at times and overwhelming at others. It’s much easier to manage yourself and your team with a little foresight. For those of you who have done social media marketing yourself, you know that it can be a black hole at times. There are certainly techniques and programs that help make posting and listening more manageable, but if you’re not sure what to write about, it’s all for not. Most business owners and managers simply don’t have time to sit around thinking of inspiring ideas on a daily basis. Yet most business owners and managers will be inspired and can quickly relate a story about their business if they have a catalyst. Use the editorial calendar for general topics, and the details will present themselves.

For example, let’s say you have run a retail establishment and there is a festival in your city this coming weekend. There’s no doubt that you could say some nice things about the city, the festival and the sponsors, but I’ll bet you would have even more to say than just that. If you sell clothes, this is a great opportunity to talk about the types of clothes festival goers will be wearing. What’s the weather going to be like? Do you sell clothes that would be particularly good on such a day? Have patrons come in the day of the festival and “Like” your business or give you a quick rating on Google+ or tweet their friends with your handle in the tweet for a chance to win a prize. Give them a discount for posting an image of the item they are about to buy with them wearing it. Have a prize for best hat or best dress. You will know your audience and customer base much better than I (or anyone else) can guess it, so use that to your advantage.

You might be thinking, do I really need to use the editorial calendar for all of this? For any of this? The answer of course is no, you don’t. An editorial calendar is not a necessity; neither is a business plan, or a marketing strategy. You can be successful without any of these tools, but you will have a harder row to hoe. And in business, as in life, we almost always reap what we sew. If you’d like help setting up an editorial calendar or managing your social media marketing in general, let us know. We’ll offer suggestions where we can and can manage your social media, blogging, and newsletters on your behalf if you’d like. Contact us here.

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Editorial Calendar Templates

Click here for a nice article by CMI on how to setup your own calendar. You can also download their template for free.

Here’s another free one, this time from HubSpot: click here.

Google also offers a free online calendar you can use for collaboration. At cSocially, we use a very simple calendar for topical ideas and keep it saved in Dropbox, so that we all have access to it.

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