How to Develop a Social Media Editorial Calendar

12 Easy Steps to Get Your Social Media Efforts on Track

As social media matures with accompanying budget increases, every business must integrate their social media efforts with their marketing, PR and communications plans to ensure that they maximize effectiveness and results.

To do this, a social media editorial calendar is an critical tool. Traditionally used by print publishers to control content creation and publication, an editorial calendar helps to efficiently plan content development produced by a wide range of content creators and disseminated across diverse platforms.

12 Steps to create a social media editorial calendar

Increasing your social media effectiveness requires streamlining your approach. Setting up a social media editorial calendar helps your social media time management. Here are twelve steps to help you get your social media editorial calendar on track to succeed.

  1. Set social media engagement goals.

    • Start small with your level of social media interaction and grow as your employees become more comfortable with the platforms and engagement.
  2. Know your target audience(s).

  3. Build an overall calendar structure.

    • Assess your business calendar and related content development. Do you use January through December, school year or other starting and ending points?
    • Consider product and content seasonality. Is your business influenced by Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter changes?
  4. Determine appropriate content categories.

    • Pick the major topics / themes you’ll cover on various social media platforms each month. These can be further sub-divided into smaller categories. Will you use the same ones across venues? The goal is to decide on a manageable number of categories.
    • Include holidays, trade shows, and other major events related to your organization. Don’t overlook special business occasions, birthdays, anniversaries and local celebrations. Incorporate older evergreen content from prior years.
    • Focus on a different product area each month as an alternative. At a minimum, have a special topic each month.
  5. Integrate marketing promotion themes.

    • Incorporate relevant content marketing in your social media communications. Make it consistent with your marketing promotion themes but skip the offer.
    • Build consumer trust on social media by limiting your use of promotions. At most, include one promotion for every ten other communications.
  6. Include relevant search keywords.

    • Extend search marketing strategy to your social media editorial calendar to aid findability on social media platforms. (Here are  fifteen social media-related search tips.)
  7. Establish social media content offerings.

    • Select major social media offerings to create key content to drive your business on a regular basis. Plan larger projects to ensure they’re completed when you need them.
    • Create targeted recurring social media features. Think in terms of the information your prospects and/or readers need regularly. Assign sections emulating magazine departments like regular columns, news roundups or reviews to help plan and develop new social media content.
  8. Allocate appropriate resources.

    • Decide who will create the social media content and who will participate on the social media platforms.
    • Include additional resources for related creative needs: copyediting, graphics, technical support and analysis.
  9. Assign related information for each piece of social media content.

    • Determine the following specifics for each piece of social media engagement. This forms the basis of the social media editorial calendar. You can use a document created in word or excel. Alternatively, use an option like WordPress’ Editorial Calendar plugin.
    • Include the following information: title, author (who’ll write the content), category (what the content’s about), keyword phrase(s), article type (Is the article a recurring feature?), promotion (Is the content associated with a special promotion and/or products? If so, what links are needed?), content format (text, image, video, audio, presentation, or other), related marketing  (Is additional marketing needed?) tracking dates (Due date, publication date and other signoffs.)
    • Use additional sub-calendars when each social media platform requires lots of information.
  10. Integrate with other non-social media content, both online and offline.

    • Determine where additional advertising or promotional support such as social media advertising is needed.
    • Support social media efforts through internal or owned content such as emailings, RSS and social media sharing.
    • Provide for visitor social sharing.
    • Allow for different device consumption including mobile and tablets where appropriate.
  11. Distribute social media editorial plan across organization.

    • Get everyone onboard including executives, marketing, PR, communications, customer service, product development, and sales as well as relevant outside agencies and consultants.
    • Gather input to improve and extend your social media reach.
  12. Measure social media content results.

    • Track results through the use of calls-to-action and relevant tracking codes. You don’t want your social media ROI to be zero.
    • Adjust plan for changes in social media platforms, late breaking events and new messaging strategies.

Social media engagement, like any other business process, requires planning to ensure that your interactions build towards your business goals efficiently. Coordinating your social media plans with your other marketing plans ensures that your progress is trackable.

What challenges and successes have you faced in using a social media editorial calendar?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some related articles you may find of interest.

Photo credit: Icons from: http://www.socialmediadelivered.com/2012/05/10/social-media-icon-set-for-the-summer/summer-icon-set/

Tags . Bookmark the permalink.
  • questions to friends

    Good post! when you hace a doub  you can question to friends…

  • http://www.shaneatkins.co.uk/ Shane Atkins

    Thanks  Heidi, I’ve never thought of giving specific people roles in social media.

  • http://twitter.com/yazmaziar Yaz Maziar

    We’ve been experimenting between MS Outlook and Google calendar for our organization’s facebook content calendar. We need something that is easily shareable with internal/external stakeholders — does anyone have a suggested tool they’d recommend?

  • http://twitter.com/travid Jerry T

    A good editorial calendar should be able to publish to social media sites. It should work with Twitter and Facebook because that’s where your customers hang out. Even better, it should combine content curation with content creation. Namely, it should be very easy to curate content, but also very easy to integrate with existing blogging platform like WordPress.

    ContentDJ has a good social media editorial calendar feature (http://bit.ly/VoEXHj). It integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and WordPress. You can drag and drop to schedule posts.

    The tool also helps you find the most shareable content to publish.

  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    Great advice Heidi! Every business should have a tool that helps with social media time management especially since the investment is time, sweat, and effort.

  • http://todaymade.com/blog Garrett Moon

    Great advice as always Heidi. I love bringing social media into the editorial calendar. One tool that your readers may find helpful for this is CoSchedule http://coschedule.com – It is a built-in content marketing editorial calendar for WordPress that also lets you schedule social media. Thanks for the advice :)

  • http://clippod.com/ Gaurav Gupta

    Here’s another tip Heidi – Try Google Calendar + ClipPod. We’re using it for planning and discussing our editorial and social media calendars and it’s worked out quite well so far.