Editorial Calendar Continued: Twitter Editorial Calendars

In previous posts I’ve covered blog editorial calendars and programming blog content.  Let’s move on to Twitter for a bit and look at how to structure an editorial calendar for Twitter.

In reality, a Twitter editorial calendar is less “editorial” and more “planning.”  Given that you’ve only got 140 characters to play with (only 120 if you want to leave room for ReTweets), it’s not like you’re going to create groundbreaking editorial content for your Twitter stream.  Therefore, what I use Twitter for, and what many of the people I follow seem to do, is to curate links to content I feel that my Twitter audience will be interested in receiving.  This can include my own content, of course, but will also include links to others’ content.  I also make use of Twitter to get questions answered, take the pulse of my followers, and to do some (very limited) self-promotion.

Here are the steps for developing a consistent, easy-to-manage Twitter stream:

1. Determine who your audience is and what you want to tweet about

As with your blog, you should first listen to what your audience (followers) or potential audience (people you’d like to have following you) are saying and responding to on Twitter.  A great tool to listen in on conversations quickly is Twitter For Busy People (t4bp) – from here you can read the last tweet of each of the people you’re following – or type in anyone else’s Twitter name to see who they’re following and what they’re talking about.  So if you want to capture the same audience as, say, Chris Brogan, why not look to see what the people he’s following are saying (though with 120k+ friends there’s a lot to process!).

2. Choose a Twitter platform that allows you to schedule

twitter editorial calendar

Twitter tools like HootSuiteTweetDeck and Co-Tweet will all allow you to schedule Tweets for sometime in the future and to manage your schedule efficiently.  I prefer HootSuite for the online interface; they provide useful stats when you shorten links using their Ow.ly link shortener (built into their interface), and they also have fantastic customer service.

3. Determine a rough schedule for tweeting

Perhaps based on the tweet volume of people you’ve investigated in step one, figure out how often you want to send a message to your audience.  For my own @socialologist tweets, I aim to tweet 3-5 times per day on weekdays, mainly between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm ET.  I’ve done similar schedules for clients, sometimes including weekends (if it’s a highly consumer-oriented brand) and sometimes considering other time zones (scheduling later in the day ET to capture West Coast, or overnight ET to get mornings in Europe).

4. Start populating your Pending Tweets with content

Using your Twitter platform, start to program out your tweets in the system.  The example above is my own Pending Tweets list from a couple of days ago.  I try to queue up roughly a week’s worth of posts at a time, though not necessarily all of the posts I’ll send throughout the week.  I leave some room for adding in breaking news, topical posts, or the best of the day.  I will also reschedule a post for a later time if I find something more relevant/timely to post close to a prescheduled post.

5. Continually add, revise, refresh

I revisit my Pending Tweets most days to make sure that the links I’m sending are still relevant (what if new news superseded the info you’ve queued up?), and to adjust out if I’ve tweeted anything that wasn’t on the schedule.

In Thursday’s post I’ll cover sources for content to curate for your Twitter stream.  In the meantime, please let me know in the comments if this is similar to how you manage your Twitter efforts, or if you do something different.

social media editorial calendar

Basics of the Social Media Editorial Calendar

social media editorial calendar

As you may know, we’re huge fans of editorial calendars around here. We use them for all of our client work, plus our own internal content creation efforts and social media scheduling. Here’s a look at how we approach using a social media editorial calendar.

Audience

Before beginning to plan an editorial calendar, you need to determine who you are expecting to attract to your content so that you can tailor your content and voice to that audience. In our case, we are publishing content for both people that we hope will become clients (small- to medium-sized businesses) as well as those in the social media blog community that we consider ourselves to be a part of.

Platforms

We’ve determined which platforms we’re planning to publish in – at least for now. We currently publish content on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, and on our LinkedIn company page. You or your company may also publish in other places – YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.  For the purposes of this post we’re going to focus on the blog calendar; we’ve written about an editorial calendar for Twitter in another post. It’s different, but the principles of planning in advance are exactly the same.

Calendar

For our blog, we schedule out a calendar in a Google Doc that outlines our posting schedule.  We don’t plan to post on weekends or national holidays, and we are currently posting on 1 to 2 weekdays per week. Our assumption is that most of our intended audience will do the majority of their reading during the business week. If your audience is mainly a consumer audience, you may want to schedule posts on the weekends, too. The best way to determine the posting schedule that works for you is to test, test, and test some more: start by posting on a particular day of the week, then look at Google Analytics 48 hours later to see how many views that post has. Then post on a different day and compare.

We typically have our calendar setup for a rolling six-week period, and we add to it frequently to be sure we never get too far behind.  We also set aside time every week to update the calendar and to make sure that it stays on track. And if cool ideas come to us that aren’t part of the calendar, we can always move a post out further and insert the hot topic or new idea anytime.

It’s also important to note that we do most of our writing pretty far in advance of the days designated on the calendar. For our own blog, but especially for our clients’ blogs, we typically have at least two to three posts queued up in advance. For clients’ blogs, we’re sometimes six to ten posts ahead! This is especially important when we need to get client approval or feedback on blog posts; we batch them and send them to the client all at once, thereby minimizing their time needed to review them, and keeping our process on track.

Content

Use our social media editorial calendar to organize your blog and social media efforts

In our Google Doc, on the Blog Editorial Calendar tab, you’ll see the following columns:

  • Day/Date
  • Holidays/events
  • Post status (written, approved, scheduled, published)
  • Content type (we may include video, audio, infographics or other content in our blog)
  • Theme/category (for a handy dandy way to develop themes and topics for your blog, check out our Content Creation Worksheet)
  • Topic/title
  • Blog notes and inspiration
  • Keywords
  • Writer
  • Author/byline (because the author may not always be the writer…such as when you have a ghostwriter writing for someone in your organization)

These are all the fields that we fill out for each post in our calendar. For each post, we often make a few notes on the content and choose the keywords we’re using for the post (for SEO purposes) pretty far in advance, then we refine the calendar as we write the content. For some tips on how to choose SEO keywords for your content, our friend Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media has a great guide.

Getting this all set up in advance is really the secret to our success, and comprises editorial calendar basics; it’s how we organize for maximum, power-fueled content creation. It’s not all that complicated; it’s merely a question of setting a schedule and sticking to it. But oof, isn’t that the hardest part? (Is this the right time to ask when was the last time you went to the gym?!)

We’d love to hear from you if you’re using our editorial calendar or any others…and how it works for you. Please tweet at us @crackerjackmktg or leave a comment.