Web content, blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, video clips, and more--we know we have to "feed the content beast," but how?
Beasts need consistent care over time, rather than a ton of food (or enthusiasm) on Day #1 that diminishes over time.
Zookeepers use feeding schedules. We use editorial calendars.
An editorial calender is a tool to plan for periodic, relevant, and channel-appropriate communications with your target audiences. You can use a calendar template, but you can also create a simple spreadsheet. The key is not what it looks like, but how you use it over time.
Recently, I talked with Dori Kelner, managing partner of Sleight-of-Hand Studios, about how she works with organizations to set up and adhere to an editorial calendar.
Audiences and Goals
According to Kelner, basic questions come first:
- Your target audience(s)
- Your business objectives
- Issues that are of interest to them (and not just what you want them to know about you!)
- Channel(s) to best reach them (blog, Twitter, newsletter, etc.), ideally based on research.
She develops a spreadsheet to inventory content. For each piece of content, she'll list its title, type, URL, any images/videos connected with it, owner, and how often it needs to change.
Content is classified as static (for example, About Us or Contact Us on your site) or dynamic (blogs with new postings, tweets, Facebook posts, and the like).
Most content these days should be dynamic. That's where the calendar comes in.
Creating the Calendar
Using the format that works best for you, develop a calendar of how you will review and update/change the static content (maybe quarterly) and create dynamic content (way more often).
- Which channels to regularly use, based on your audiences
- How often to create (or curate) content
- Who will do it
Kelner recommends a 4-month planning horizon. Be specific in your dates and assignments. Don't propose, for example, twice-weekly blog postings. Instead, write out which dates each week, the general topics, and who will write them.
Be realistic, based on available resources. For instance, if you can't keep up a weekly newsletter, make it biweekly or monthly. Use tools such as Twuffer to schedule tweets that you write in the morning over the course of the day.
Keeping the Calendar
This is tricky, but it's why the specificity of a calendar is your friend.
Honor the dates on your calendar as you do other project deadlines. Depending on the size of your organization, you may be doing all the content yourself or coordinating the work of others. Either way requires time and attention.
And here's another important part, Kelner said. Don't run through the 4 months, then come to a full stop. At the end of the first month, plan for month 5, and so on, so you always have a flow ahead of you.
Use analytics to see any changes in traffic to your website. Chances are, if you are true to your calendar, you'll see spikes in traffic when you post new content and dips when you are AWOL.