Social Media Editorial Calendars

aka How to Stay Consistent with Social Media

The big trick with social media is staying consistent. It makes sense — your strongest relationships in life are generally with those you make time for, right? Social media is no different. Having these virtual conversations and building these relationships takes time and effort — consistent time and effort.

One of the ways to do this is by paring down the number of social media activities you engage in. Unless you have an editorial staff of 50, you cannot possibly regularly participate in all of the social media vehicles available. Can not. Please don’t try.

What you can do is choose the ones you know (or are pretty sure) will work for your business, your personality, and your time limits and participate in them regularly. Have I mentioned that consistency is important yet? Actually, not important. Key.

One way to ease the burden of regular participation — especially when you have a zillion things going on — is to write an Editorial Calendar. That sounds like a barrel of laughs, doesn’t it? Don’t worry! It’s not difficult and it can be fun!

  1. Write a list: Simply divide your paper (or spreadsheet) into three columns: week, activity, and topic.
  2. Now fill in the blanks: For instance, week one (March 1-7), might involve a newsletter, a few Tweets, and a blog entry.
  3. Write in the topics: Beside each activity (newsletter, Twitter, blog) write the topic you want to cover: the newest fashions, a book review, or anything else that pertains to your industry.
  4. Follow the calendar: No excuses. If it’s scheduled, do it. I know I sound like a tyrant, but — did I mention? — consistency is key. Add the dates and topics into your marketing calendar for quick reference, if you haven’t already.

You may be thinking, “But doesn’t this kill the spontaneity of social media?” I get your point. I thought that too and then I realized that I hadn’t added anything to my blog in three months. There’s a fine line between a commitment to spontaneity and abandonment. Don’t abandon your social media activities. The Editorial Calendar will get you through your busy times and — when you have time for spontaneity — feel free to add a not-planned blog post or LinkedIn update! After all, that’s what it’s there for.

Marketing Calendars: the Friendlier, More Gentle Cousin of the Marketing Plan

Have you ever been told, “Your business needs a marketing plan?” Did you politely smile and slowly back out of the room? I’ve done the same thing (and I’m a marketer).

They’re right, of course, in that everyone needs a plan, a goal, a well-thought out way of getting to their destination. I do, however, cringe slightly at the thought of all business people slogging over a 20 plus page document, only to complete it and file it away for review in 12 months. How helpful is that?

It’s not.

A marketing calendar, however, is a working document — something that lives on your Google Calendar or on your cork board. It lives. It works. It does the heavy lifting. The marketing calendar is where you plan what activities you’re taking on, when they need to go out, how they’re getting done, who’s doing them, and where they’re being sent. See? They’re the action genre of the marketing world.

Anything this helpful must take forever to plan and write, right? Nope. That’s the beauty.

This is my recommendation for pulling together a basic, easy-to-follow, effective marketing calendar:

  1. Brainstorm: Take an hour to think about what marketing activities have worked in the past, what you love to do, what activities you really dislike (e.g. maybe you’re not a good writer and so drafting that newsletter each month feels like climbing Mt. Everest), how much of a time and money budget you can dedicate to marketing, who your competitors are and who your target audience is. Freaked out? Only give yourself 5-10 minutes for each topic and go at it full speed ahead…there are no right or wrong answers
  2. Organize the pieces: Take a look at the “what works” and the “what you love” lists and see if there are any cross-overs. Start there. Choose two or three activities that you can do consistently. If you commit to a monthly newsletter, make sure you can actually deliver a monthly newsletter. Be sure to take into account how much time each activity will take to prepare
  3. Get out your calendars: Actually, physically schedule the activities you have chosen. Writing a monthly newsletter? Set a date to start writing, a date to lay it out in an e-newsletter program, and a delivery date. Do this for each activity for the next three months. Take a look at your commitments and make sure they are realistic. Frustration does not encourage consistency
  4. Review your marketing calendar: Remember how I said this was a living, working, moving document? This is where that comes in. After you’ve lived your activity schedule for a month, take a look at how that went. Do you wish you left more time for preparation? Do you think you can add another activity? Adjust your next few months accordingly

As you go through this cycle of doing your activities and reviewing your schedule, you will begin to see trends. Maybe some of your activities work better than others. Tweak the calendar as you go, remembering that activities take a bit of time to get results. Don’t revamp your activities every month, but it is okay to make improvements as you go along and learn more about your market, your targets, and what they’re looking for from your business.