The Elements of the Editorial Calendar: Complete the Puzzle
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Imagine yourself putting together a puzzle. One of those with many pieces, different shapes and a design full of details. Now imagine that all those pieces are the elements of the editorial calendar, and the result is your content strategy. For it to work, you must put each piece in the right place.
Assemble the puzzle well so that everything fits together. Without it, what you’ve done so far will lose effectiveness. Let’s look at it this way:
The most important part is that you follow a technique to put it together. I start a puzzle by finding and grouping the end pieces. They are easier because their shape tells you which area they belong to top, bottom or sides. To make a content calendar you also need to follow some rules, but first I’m going to explain their usefulness.
What a content calendar is for
When you make a content plan you are left with a document full of data, guidelines and strategies. Just looking at it can be exhausting, especially if you check it frequently. To avoid being overwhelmed, plan your content by including all the elements of the editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar summarizes your content strategy at a glance. You may think of it as a tracking tool, but it’s more than that. It’s a planner, a visualizer, a reminder, a brainstorming tool, and a tool for polling, tracking, and monitoring.
If you have a team or if you create your own content, the calendar will be a fundamental tool in your daily work. It is perfect for:
You can make an annual, quarterly, monthly, or weekly calendar. You may think that a yearly planning is too much. That trends change a lot in a year. That’s true. However, this is a flexible document in which topics are adapted according to events. Others will be immovable, but the important thing is that you have a container full of ideas. Ideas that you can change depending on the circumstances.
Even if you have a yearly planning it is important that you make a quarterly or monthly calendar. A more detailed document that you update according to trends. While in the weekly planning you implement, change, adjust and follow-up the published content.
The elements of the editorial calendar: putting the pieces of the puzzle together
In a previous post I explained the steps to make a content plan. One of them is the editorial calendar, which is done almost at the end of the planning process. Why? Because most of the content strategy is gathered here.
Once you have established your objectives, analyzed your current situation, determined costs and strategies, you must place the elements of the editorial calendar.
First element: important events
As I told you before, I start a puzzle looking for the end pieces because they are easier to identify. It is the same with the calendar. You also start with the sure thing: the events that are permanent..
It is difficult to know every trend in the online world. However, you can anticipate what is certain to happen:
- Holidays (Christmas, summer, Easter).
- National holidays (Constitution Day, Independence Day, etc.).
- Important dates and events (conferences, concerts, environment day, internet…).
- Important celebrations (Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc.).
- Celebrities’ or influencers’ birthdays in your sector.
These events will depend on the nature of your business, your territories and brand personality. If you participate in these events, you will be part of the social conversation. This way you will cover part of the trends and have time to focus on the viral moments.
Second element: general objectives
You set several objectives in your content plan (traffic, branding, lead generation, etc.). Now it’s time to put these pieces into the puzzle.
Distribute content according to its function. For example, if one of your objectives is to make your brand known, publish positioning content in the first 5 months. In the next 4, content to generate leads and in the last 3 months, to promote products. You can also alternate them.
There is not an exact formula because everything will depend on the seasonality of your business and your strategy. What you should take care of is not to publish too much content aimed at selling. Provide value to your customer. Promotional content should have little weight in your calendar. Remember that we are not talking about advertising.
Third element: channels and topics
Now study the colors and the position of each piece of the puzzle. That is, the channels and the themes. First you will need to know on which channels to publish and their frequency. For example:
Considering the frequency and channels, place the pieces of the puzzle by topic. Choose which topic best suits each target, event, and seasonality. Combine it with the best days to publish. For example, on Mondays people are more receptive to new content and on Fridays to a more relaxed topic.
Fourth element: formats
You will already have an idea about the types and formats that work best according to the topic and target. Also, according to the social network. Now distribute them across your calendar. For example, for sales goals, checklists work well and adapt to different social networks. Videos and infographics can be used for branding.
You can say that your puzzle has progressed quite a bit. You have a calendar with the topics, channels, formats, and days on which to publish. You’ll say it’s ready, but it’s not. The details are missing.
Fifth element: details
You have assembled the structure, but you need to put in place what will make it work. This is the last phase. Everything you add here comes out of your content plan and is filled in while you plan. Hence, you should add the following to each post:
For the blog:
- Focus keyword.
- Content type (text, infographic, video, podcast).
- Supporting content (image, video, etc.).
- Goal of the publication (SEO, branding, linkbuilding…).
- Secondary keywords, meta description and alternative description of images.
- Call to action (CTA). For example, subscribe to the newsletter, download the e-book, register for the event, etc.
- New content or update. If it is an existing content, put the title and url for the call to action.
- Author, participants, and tasks.
- Category and tags.
- Audience (Buyer persona)
- KPIs (increase in subscribers, downloads attributed to Facebook, use of promotional codes, etc.).
- Specifications or explanations.
For social networks:
- Social network.
- Type of content (link, text, image, video, audio, etc.).
- Text or description of the content.
- Hashtags and tags.
- Audience (Buyer persona) and group (if any).
- Call to action (CTA).
- Author, participants, and tasks.
- KPIs (shares, likes, retweets, engagement, etc.).
- Specifications or explanations.
A video of a content calendar example
There are many ways to make a calendar. You can do it in Excel, power point or use an online tool. It all depends on whether it is annual, monthly or for weekly tracking. In the video I show you an example of a quarterly calendar with Trello.
It includes all elements of the content calendar so that you can visualize everything I have explained. I also include a section for ideas of topics to publish.
I have explained a very complete calendar. However, you don’t have to do it this way. You can make it simpler with the post title, author, requirements, and the date of publication.
Planning with flexibility
An editorial calendar helps you to be consistent and constant. To follow your strategy, speed up the creation process and meet deadlines.
Whether you are alone or have a team, check every week or fortnight the ideas and topics to be published. Analyze the performance of the content and make changes if necessary. If something is not working well, do not keep publishing it. Remember that the calendar can be modified.
Plan with a willingness to change.
Do you need help with your content?
If you would like us to design your content strategy, tell us what you need. We’ll be delighted to talk to you.
References and links:
- Practical Content Strategy & Marketing: The Content Strategy & Marketing Course Guidebook. Julia McCoy. November the 27th, 2017.
- Social Media Calendar Template. Airtable.
- Course of Content Marketing Fundamentals: Content Calendar. Ashley Segura. SEMrush. February 2019.