If you are in the business of developing content marketing programs, creating fresh marketing assets, or delivering social media services/counsel, you have likely heard, talked, or preached about the absolute necessity to create an editorial calendar. Within most content marketing organizations and teams, an editorial calendar is no trivial tool; it is an occupational requirement.
After all, we are publishers. For lack of a more sophisticated narrative, we make stuff – hopefully, really compelling stuff. Editorial calendars keep us on task with a grounded vision for stimulating awareness and passion for the brands we are paid to elevate.
I’ve written previously about the nuts and bolts of a content marketing editorial calendar. But beyond the column widths, row heights, and cell shading of your typical spreadsheet, there are three distinct characteristics of every successful editorial calendar: publicity, discovery, and flexibility. Each piece is equally important in delivering a balanced communications program.
Maybe the brand you support has a seasonal campaign, an upcoming special event, or a soon-to-be-launched asset that will generate interest and attention among its desired audience. Your social media and content marketing program must do its part to support this kind of effort.
The editorial calendar must carefully detail how specifically it will back your brand’s position and foster its big initiatives one post at a time. Often this equates to breaking one larger message apart into smaller pieces that are spread across channels in the form of social media posts, tweets, videos, images, etc.
Read more about how smart brands transform meaty productions into bite-sized chunks.
In addition to strengthening big initiatives with carefully planned promotional tidbits, the process of introducing new content and messages to our various audience segments allows us to find out what resonates.
Every touchpoint with a potential customer or group of customers presents a chance to learn something new. Each content marketing production, from a three-word tweet to a three-day international conference, is a learning opportunity. Editorial calendars should be utilized to plan out well-considered tests.
Will they respond better to a photo or video?
Do they care more about comparative cost or perceived value?
Does content with high production costs/value resonate better than less expensive alternatives?
Do they react more to provocative statistics or emotional stories?
These are just a tiny sampling of the kinds of questions we can ask – and answer – by delivering content to known audiences and monitoring that content’s reception. Soft metrics like comments, likes, or shares of one social media post versus another with key differences can enlighten the marketing organization about what messages truly matter to the audience. Whether content is tested in a true A/B split format or in a less formal manner over time, use the editorial calendar as a means to discover customer content preferences.
The best plans are built to adapt to unforeseen scenarios. Every day, environmental factors could impact your social media and content marketing program.
Relevant news could break. Amazing and pertinent customer-generated content could surface. Overwhelmingly positive (or negative) customer interactions could spawn from uncharted sources. Your brand and its editorial calendar must have the elasticity to react accordingly.
We may not be able to predict precise opportunities to feature unplanned subject matter, but our editorial calendars must not be so rigid to ignore their pending arrival. Leave little holes in your content rollout schedule, or at least make it flexible enough to amend when quality material matriculates.