February 3, 2013

Rachel Strella

How to Develop an Editorial Calendar

Editorial CalendarI often advise clients to create an editorial calendar to help in writing content. In order to start developing the calendar, a business must first decide on two or three short-term goals such as increasing traffic to the website or building brand awareness.

Brainstorm Themes

Once the goals are established, it’s time to focus on specific themes that will engage the audience. These themes will be building blocks for specific messages that will be shared with your social media audience.

To start building these themes, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What value can I provide to my audience, not only in terms of special discounts, but by sharing knowledge I have?
  • What is interesting about my business? What do people always ask me about when they find out what I do for a living?
  • What’s hot in my business RIGHT NOW? What about my business is generating buzz?
  • Where are my biggest growth opportunities, in terms of products, services or markets?
  • How can I educate my audience so that they better understand the value that I offer?
  • Are there key topics of my business that should be addressed at specific times throughout the year?

Use these questions as a launching pad to get your "juices" flowing. Then, brainstorm as many themes as you can think of. We’ll eventually select a few of the best ones to focus on over the next three months.

Here are a few "themes" that may be effective for various businesses: an accountant providing tax tips during the month of March; retailers using a Christmas theme in December; a salon giving prom preparation tips in the spring; a business coach giving job interview tips around college graduation season; a personal trainer focusing on ways to stay active over the winter.

See how these themes provide readers with valuable information during the time of year they need it? This builds your reputation and credibility, which is oftentimes a precursor to increased sales or additional clients.

Develop Your Theme Calendar

Now that you’ve determined your goals and identified themes, compare the two lists and identify a few high-value themes for your first 90 days. For example, let’s say it’s May and you’re a salon owner looking to drive foot traffic during prom season. Maybe you could focus on providing prom preparation tips that month, and also sprinkle in a few social media specific offers for discounted services if they mention your social media post when booking their appointment. By simply matching up your goals with the themes you’ve created, you can create a calendar for your first 90 days that will keep you on track.

I like to develop a “theme of the month” for all of my clients to be used across all social media platforms. It helps to create a consistent, prolonged message that resonates with audiences while, at the same time, making it easier to plan ahead for a constant social media presence, which is also important for achieving social media success. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with having a theme for only a one- or two-week period. It just may take a little more effort to execute that strategy.

Here’s an example of a 90-day “monthly theme” calendar for a physical therapist:

Short-Term Goals:
  1. Build brand awareness
  2. Educate community on proactively seeking physical therapy, rather than post injury
Themes/Editorial Calendar:
Month #1 Debunking physical therapy myths
Month #2 How physical therapy is a better than working out at the gym
Month #3 Common injuries that can be prevented through physical therapy

Keep in mind, not every post has to be related to these themes. But having these themes in place will help you to create an effective, executable plan.

Do you develop an editorial calendar? How has it helped your content planning efforts?

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2 comments on “How to Develop an Editorial Calendar”

  1. This is a brilliant and easy to implement way of developing an editorial calendar. Working in themes and planning it accordingly makes it so much easier and a lot more manageable!
    I'm off to draft my first 90 days worth of content.
    A very useful article. Thanks.

    1. Hi Judith,

      Thank you so much for commenting. I really appreciate your feedback. I would be happy to take a look at your calendar once it's complete and offer any suggestions for feedback! In your industry, I'm sure there tons of topics to choose from!

      I should also mention that this blog is just a section of my 84-page guide, "A Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media." Here's the link if you want to check it out: http://strellasocialmedia.com/smb-guide/

      Thanks again for reading!

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