4 keys to to building a social media editorial calendar

Social media editorial calendarTalk to any number of folks including Kristina Halvorson or Joe Pulizzi and they’ll likely tell you the key to any effective social media strategy is a solid and well-planned content strategy.

Content is the engine that drives your social media mother ship. There’s virtually no question about that. The real issue is how do you create, plan and manage your content on a month-to-month basis?

More to the point: How do you build an effective social media editorial calendar?

Here are four simple keys to remember:

* Make sure to include all platforms and channels. As I thought about this post, it seemed a little odd to call it a “social media” editorial calendar. Because really, isn’t it a PR/marketing editorial calendar? You want to make sure you’re pulling content from your existing, more traditional sources: e-newsletter, Web, brochures, and other media. They key is repurposing the content. Finding a new angle. And, making that angle compelling for the unique audience you’re targeting.

* Focus on quality over quantity. Yes, you want some degree of consistency and regularity in your social media content–but not at the expense of quality. Yes, you want to plan for multiple posts per week on platforms like blogs and Facebook–but not if it means throwing out staid or re-hashed thoughts or ideas. Make sure your posts and updates are unique. Compelling. Interesting. Insightful. Anything less will do more harm than good in the long run.

* Don’t forget about your audience. Not all platforms allow for this approach (Twitter, for one), but keep your audience in mind when considering content sources. Customers make great guest bloggers. Partners can add substantial credibility with a post on your Facebook wall. Whatever the case, don’t forget about the many audiences you target–and think about how they can help you tell and share your story online.

* Questions, polls and collaboration. Remember, social media is all about two-way conversations. No better way to do that than to start with a question. Poll your audience on Facebook or Twitter. End your blog posts with a question from time to time to get the discussion going. Ask your viewers for their thoughts in your next video on YouTube. Whatever the case, ask your key audiences what they think. And, make sure to use that information in upcoming posts and updates.

Note: Photo courtesy of Romulo Castillho via FlickR Creative Commons.

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19 comments on “4 keys to to building a social media editorial calendar

  1. Danfarkas says:

    I think you nailed this, but should you not also budget time to see what worked and what didn't? Analytics on when people clicked and what they clicked on seem like an important part of the calender, something we talk about doing but get pushed aside at times.

  2. mikeschaffer says:

    Great list, Arik!

    As someone managing multiple social media calendars, these are the major keys I see on a daily basis, as well.

    A few minor additions:
    – Besides repurposing content, as you described, don't be afraid to recycle content. If it's good content, existing fans won't mind seeing it again…and if your network has grown since the original posting, it's new to them!
    – Timing, timing, timing – Experiment with the timing of various posts. Each network has it's own rhythm…as a manager, you need to find that beat to maximize exposure and interaction.
    – Start with the “knowns” – When building a calendar, start by including known events that impact the client. Big promotions, a relevant national holiday or something the company is sponsoring can all make for great content.

  3. jeffespo says:

    This is really interesting, especially for organizations looking to grow their social footprints.

  4. kellylux says:

    This is a great start for me, as a new social media manager, trying to figure out how to manage my time and come up with a strategy across platforms. Thanks!

  5. Arik Hanson says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Kelly!

  6. Arik Hanson says:

    The timing add is a key one, Mike. Is it better to post at night or at noon over the lunch hour? Definitely agree that you need to be purposeful about your post timing.

  7. Arik Hanson says:

    Read my mind, Dan. In fact, I am penning a post around Facebook analytics soon. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Nice reminders, Arik. Very helpful!

  9. elizabethsosnow says:

    Good reminders, Arik. I think it's pretty critical to keep your SEO keywords in mind, as well. Even if it doesn't feel very exciting, there should be multiple blog posts that support each keyword and/or phrase. If you don't have the money to hire an SEO firm, then sign up for an inexpensive tool such as Wordtracker to give yourself a “leg up.”

  10. Great post, good reminder to get back to basics and not get overwhelmed with the planning process. 🙂

  11. kiesha_WeBlogBetter says:

    Hi Arik,
    These are great suggestions. I like the idea of scheduling time for social media activities. Focusing on quality is the best advice ever!
    BTW – thanks for sharing my Post “10 Ways to Thank Followers for RTs” – I know it says Brandon Cox wrote, but there's a mix up, he was the former owner of WeBlogBetter, but the post was written by yours truly!
    Have a great day!

  12. Arik Hanson says:

    Good tip, Elizabeth. And, I second the Wordtracker suggestion.

  13. Arik Hanson says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Kiesha. Liked the post. As I said, I've been trying to visit, comment on and share more blog posts lately. Literally just a time issue with me.

  14. stag party says:

    This is a great point. Its funny it reminds me of the recent episode of the show “THE OFFICE” where Ryan makes a site called woof. When he woofs his computer goes crazy because the woof is sent to every social networking site. He also gets a phone call from it.

  15. Mobloggy says:

    Can someone help me? I’m looking for a way to manage at least 30 different company’s editorial calendars. I’d like it to be cloud based and accessible by our small team. We research, write and post social media for small businesses. I just looked into keep and share .com, but want to be sure before I invest time and money. Anyone using a good system they’d like to share?

  16. Arik Hanson says:

    That sounds like a hell of an Excel spreadsheet you got there… 😉

  17. VenpopHQ says:

    Great ideas in your post! I recently offered up some tips for setting up a social media editorial calendar that may help your readers http://venpop.com/2011/5-tips-for-setting-up-a-social-media-editorial-calendar/