Editor’s Note: This post is one of Convince & Convert’s Top 10 Posts of 2015.
How satisfied are you with the way you manage your content right now? Do you use a content marketing editorial calendar but it still kind of… well… sucks?
Chances are, you know there are things you can improve with your editorial calendar. But you just don’t want to change what you’re doing.
Now, that comes off a bit negative, I know, but hear me out: Humans are inherently adverse to change.
Simply put: We don’t like change. The unknown is a big scary monster.
And I can prove I’m not just blowing smoke here.
Why Are Your Satisfied With a Calendar That Doesn’t Work?
There is a lot of research that goes into change, and there are several different theories.
David Stonehouse, Senior Lecturer at Edge Hill University, helped me find a few interesting facts about this phenomenon.
So change is met with resistance because it disrupts the comfortable status quo.
According to Stonehouse, you can either approach change with an emergent or planned mindset:
- Emergent: Change is a continuous process.
- Planned: Change is an intentional attempt to improve.
Let’s get to the point: Your current editorial calendar could use a few… improvements. You might have to actually plan to change to get past some uneasiness to make an editorial calendar that really rocks.
So what are you actually missing in your editorial calendar to make it the best?
Use an Editorial Calendar to Plan Your Content
You can’t afford to waste any more time on a bunch of one-off editorial calendars.
It’s time to eliminate the inefficiencies and manual processes that come from managing a ton of different content plans.
1. Consolidate Your Editorial Calendars
The thing that sucks right now: You’re using a bunch of different tools to do one job.
This is probably the biggest challenge we all face as content marketers—and I’m using that term holistically.
The social media folks have their editorial calendar, your blog editor has something completely different, your community manager is planning events and Twitter Chats with something else, and your manager has a separate project calendar for all of these folks.
Sound eerily familiar?
I’ve experienced this first hand:
- We had an editorial calendar for product promotions in an Excel sheet.
- We had an advertisement editorial calendar for print ads in an Excel sheet.
- We had a blogging editorial calendar in an online tool.
- We managed a different blogging editorial calendar in an Excel sheet for last-minute changes anyone on the team could see.
- We had an editorial calendar for printed documents we managed in an Excel sheet.
- We had editorial calendars for every region of the company for the different events we managed as Outlook calendars. That was 5 different calendars right there.
- We managed our projects and tasks in a different online tool.
The point is: This was extremely messy. No one could find the information they needed because everything was in different places.
It was bad. Really.
So the first thing we did was consolidate all of these calendars and plans into one editorial calendar.
Not gonna lie, it does take some dedication to:
- Help everyone use and access the calendar at any given time (no more being locked out of an Excel spreadsheet!).
- Give them the right permissions to view or add things.
- Set up filters to see what you need to see.
And culture change can be tough. But Arienne Holland has some awesome tips on how she got her team on the same page.
And here is something else to keep in mind as you change your culture: The 3 R’s of effective habit formation.
5 Tips for a Successful Editorial Calendar
So, you need to make a couple changes first before helping yourself—and your entire team—create new habits to use your consolidated editorial calendar.
- Consolidate every calendar you have into one tool. CoSchedule can do all of this for you: tasks, workflow, blogging, social media, events, and comments.
- Delete every other calendar you have so you and your team literally cannot keep on with the status quo.
- Remind yourself and your team to use your CoSchedule editorial calendar.
- Make it a daily routine to use your editorial calendar to build a new habit.
- Give yourself—and your team—a reward for building the new habit. Remember, change is hard, so celebrate even your smallest victories!
Get the Traffic Your Content Deserves
First of all, I’ve heard the folks say that traffic and social media shares don’t matter.
Traffic helps you get your product or service in front of more eyeballs, which, if you do it well, gives you the opportunity to convert those folks into subscribers and future potential customers.
And when your audience shares your content, your work is validated by social proof that your content is awesome. That gives you more traffic, shares, and subscribers.
2. Create a Social Media Plan for Sharing Content
The thing that sucks right now: You don’t have a social media plan in your editorial calendar to share your content with your fans, followers, and friends.
And maybe you’re sharing your content on social media, but you really don’t have a plan to use social media super efficiently.
Combining social media with your editorial calendar makes it super easy to connect with your audience where they already spend a lot of their time.
If that seems a little overwhelming to you, we created a social media plan template of the model we follow at CoSchedule.
When you integrate the points from this template into your editorial calendar, you’ll learn exactly how you can share your content, connect with your audience, and reach your marketing goals.
The social media plan template will help you:
- Find the social networks your audience is already using.
- Devote enough time to rock at social media.
- Connect your content with your audience.
- Optimize your messages for each network.
- Give you the foundation to plan your social media on your CoSchedule editorial calendar.
3. Schedule the Magic Number of Shares
The thing that sucks right now: Your editorial calendar doesn’t help you share your content on social media the perfect amount of times.
A social media plan helps us at CoSchedule get 31.5 times more traffic than if we would just share our content once and forget about it.
If your editorial calendar only helps you share your content once on social media, you’re missing out on a huge amount of traffic. But if you share your content too much, you might come off spammy.
You need to share your content the perfect amount of times and plan exactly how you’ll do that in your editorial calendar.
Here’s how we do it at CoSchedule in our editorial calendar:
First, come up with your game plan for a publishing frequency that’s appropriate for each social network. You can see that certain networks give you the ability to appropriately publish a few more times than others (Twitter vs. LinkedIn for example).
From there, you can implement a month’s worth of social messages for your content right when you’re creating them in CoSchedule.
You can follow this social media scheduling model right in CoSchedule, which sets up this template for you right from the get-go:
Showcase Your Best Content
Are you publishing content consistently, but not looking back at your content’s performance?
It’s one thing to look at your overall traffic measurements for your entire content marketing. But you can learn a lot by knowing exactly what your audience is sharing with their networks.
4. Identify Your Best-Performing Content
The thing that sucks right now: You need social media analytics to know what content is performing really well—and you’re not getting it from your makeshift editorial calendar.
Some people call social sharing analytics vanity metrics. I’m calling shenanigans.
If you had the ability to choose what to read based on what you know is popular, wouldn’t that make it worth your time? It’s not like you have all day to read every one of the 2 million blog posts published today.
3 Reasons You Should Leverage Social Analytics
Kristi Hines pulled together some solid information on why you should monitor your social media analytics:
- People read what they know is popular. Products like Feedly have features built into them to help people find popular content to help them sift through the “clutter.”
- People share what they know is popular. Other products like Post Planner help people find and share popular content with their networks. It’s a cycle: People share what’s been shared.
- People subscribe to what they know is popular. If someone finds a site that has a ton of social shares for their content, that’s social proof that the content is awesome. People subscribe to get even more awesome stuff.
So, now that you know so-called vanity metrics like social media shares matter, where are you going to find them?
Right in your editorial calendar, that’s where.
In your CoSchedule editorial calendar, you can see how many social shares every one of your posts receives. And you can also see your top performing posts in an easy-to-read dashboard.
5. Revisit Old Content
The thing that sucks right now: You put a ton of time into creating awesome content that your audience forgets about a month after it launches.
Remember how to form new habits? Remind yourself to check your posts after your initial social media schedule runs out.
That way, you can maximize your work by reviewing your social media analytics and set up another social media sharing schedule in your CoSchedule editorial calendar.
So, when should you stop sharing so you don’t annoy your audience?
There is actually a great economics principle that applies to this practice: the law of diminishing returns.
Share your content enough times to get the most click-throughs from it. Once your click-throughs diminish (aka no one wants to read a certain piece of content anymore) simply stop sharing that content.
The science behind this is that your audience size remains relatively stable while you share the same content a few times.
Those who missed it initially will eventually get to see your content from subsequent social messages. But eventually, everyone who thought the idea was interesting to begin with will have read your content.
At CoSchedule, we simply assign ourselves a task to double check how successful our posts are a month after they publish. From there, we decide to either schedule more social media messages or let it be.
6. Allow Past Success to Guide Future Content
The thing that sucks right now: You’re creating more and more content without relying on your current content’s success.
Now that you actually know what’s successful, you can create even more content that will be awesome, too. Right?
All you have to do is check out your CoSchedule editorial calendar’s analytics to find topics, value propositions, and types of posts your audience really enjoyed. From there, you can create more content based on what you know your audience should really enjoy.
Success-Driving Trends to Identify
Begin your review on your top posts page. That will really help you see what’s been super successful for you already so you can plan even more awesome content.
- Topics. This one is the easiest trend to notice. When I wrote a post last month for this blog called 33 Ways Your Social Media Plan Will Make You More Successful, I knew social media was already a successful topic for the Convince & Convert blog. It helped me connect with you guys right from the get-go.
- Value propositions. Look for trends in the angles you take in your content. For example, we wrote a successful post, How To Write Headlines That Drive Traffic, Shares, and Search Results. The topic was headlines, and the value proposition was getting more traffic, social media shares, and search results. There are three more posts to write just on those value propositions alone.
- Headline types. How-to, numbered list posts, and questions typically get the most traction for us at CoSchedule. Is there a trend for you?
- Authors. Some authors are just rock stars. If that’s the case, have them write more posts. If they were a guest author, ask them to write for you again.
- Date published. If you optimized your content for search engines, it’s possible that your audience is finding your old posts and sharing them again. So… that’s also something you should do. But it could be that in specific months, certain content will perform better (think seasonality).
- Visuals. Content that is highly visual is typically shared way more than content without visuals. Just look at your Pinterest shares—it looks like we’re just visual people. Did your best-performing content have a lot of visuals? That could be something to consider in your upcoming content.
- Post length. Long-form content on a highly-targeted topic and angle generally performs the best. Did the length of your post affect how your audience engaged with it?
Use the Right Resources
There are a few things that could take your editorial calendar to the next level. We’re talking beyond simply working to the let’s rock this thing level.
7. Choose the Right Editorial Calendar
The thing that sucks right now: You’re using free tools and programs you already have to manage your editorial calendar… but they’re not designed to be your content marketing editorial calendar.
Let’s be honest: Excel spreadsheets are only going to get you so far for a functioning editorial calendar.
Think about the first reason why your editorial calendar sucks: You’re using too many tools to do everything that one editorial calendar could do.
When you do consolidate all of your content marketing plans, you need to use a tool designed to be a content marketing editorial calendar instead of just trying to use a tool you already have to make it work.
So what’s the tool designed for the job? Your editorial calendar should give you the ability to:
- Plan blog posts and other content way ahead of time.
- Treat content as projects with tasks, comments, and workflow for your entire team to see.
- Schedule social media messages before your content publishes.
- Share content on social media when it publishes.
- Review your social media analytics to maximize your success and prove your ROI.
8. Ask for Help
The thing that sucks right now: No one on your team knows how to use your makeshift editorial calendar. It’s full of manual processes. And it doesn’t have any support.
You need to get team buy-in when you start your editorial calendar. It needs to be something everyone can use, but it needs to have the right permissions so no one screws something up.
But if you do rig up a makeshift editorial calendar, you need to be able to support those glitches yourself. And if your rigged editorial calendar is more robust than an Excel spreadsheet, custom integrations require a lot of time on your part and can be for confusing for the team who uses the tool.
So what should you do?
4 Ways to Ensure Your Calendar Will Work
Implement an editorial calendar by getting your team on the same page and understanding how you’ll support your tool after it launches.
Essentially, just involve the right people at the right times to run an editorial calendar that actually works right from the get-go.
- Get your team involved. It’s easier to implement a new tool by helping everyone understand how it’ll help you plan more content, eliminate manual processes, and meet your marketing goals. Help your team understand how much easier your new, consolidated editorial calendar will make their lives easier.
- Help your team define their roles. From here, your team will understand what their commitment should be to the new editorial calendar. That will be the first step toward defining a new habit after planning for change.
- Know how you will support your calendar. CoSchedule offers awesome support for any question you have about the editorial calendar itself, its features, or how to do anything in the editorial calendar even better. We do this stuff for a living, so we’re here to help you make your editorial calendar the best it can be for your content marketing.
- Know how you will keep your calendar secure. It might sound strange, but you need to make sure your content is secure. That may include knowing who scheduled certain social media messages for accountability. Or it could be protecting it from outside sources. CoSchedule does all of this backed with the security technology most banks use.
9. Invest in Your Editorial Calendar
The thing that sucks right now: You only get so far with a semi-committed team that uses free tools to execute your content marketing strategy.
Your team needs to be a part of your content marketing strategy. You can’t do this all on your own.
And you may need more resources to execute your strategy. That means you’ll need to plan how you’ll get those.
What I’m saying here is that executing a state-of-the-art content marketing strategy needs resources in the form of people (talent to create awesome content) and tools (which require money).
If you actually want to succeed in content marketing today, you need a commitment from the right people and invest some money into the right tools.
It really is that simple.
So, here are some things you should consider into your investment in your editorial calendar:
5 Key Investments That Ensure Calendar Success
- Know who will help you out. You need the right people involved in the right roles.
- Commit to publishing consistently. These folks need to commit to their roles to help you seriously publish awesome content consistently. That probably means rocking a workflow that is perfect for you and your team—and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Put in the effort to plan awesome content. An editorial calendar is only as good as you make it. Just like committing to your roles, you need to commit to using the tool (and not retrogressing back to status quo) and continuously creating awesome content.
- Plan time to share your content. Spend at least 15 minutes sharing your content for every hour you spend creating it in the first place. Your content is only awesome if it reaches your audience.
- Invest in your content marketing strategy and editorial calendar. Take your content marketing seriously. Put money into using the right tools that will help you plan better content and save a ton of time.
10. Use CoSchedule As Your Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
The thing that sucks right now: You don’t have a content marketing editorial calendar that can help you do everything you just learned about in this post.
To do all of this, you should use CoSchedule as your editorial calendar.
It’s what Convince and Convert uses to manage their blog. And so do more than 3,000 other awesome blogs.
Combine Workflow, Blogging, and Social Media
Schedule your social media messages as you write your content. No more waiting for your content to publish, then using another tool to share your posts.
Recommended Reading: How To Quadruple Your Traffic With A Social Media Editorial Calendar
Use Your Time Where It Counts
Imagine what you could do with the time you save by combining your project management, blogging, and social media tools into one editorial calendar.
Recommended Reading: Create Consistent Content With A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
Learn from Your Best Content to Get Even Better
You already have some awesome content. Learn from it to get even better. And share it again to get even more traffic from your best stuff.
Recommended Reading: 23 Ways To Get Even More Traffic From Your Most Popular Content
Did any of these points of editorial calendar “suckiness” hit a little close to home?
Now that you know the challenge isn’t using a new tool, but simply overcoming change, it’s a good time to plan how you’ll plan an even better editorial calendar than you’ve ever done before.
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