Editorial Calendar Continued: Curating Content for Twitter

In Tuesday’s post I described how to go about setting up a steady stream of tweets to populate your Twitter account.  The post covered the mechanics of the process, so now you might be wondering where to get all that content from.  Here are a few ideas for how to curate outside sources to provide relevant, timely content to your followers.

Develop some “go-to” sources for content

I gather most of my outside content from two places:

  1. My RSS reader.  When I’m doing my daily reading I take the most interesting articles that I think will be pertinent to my audience and I plug them into HootSuite (my Twitter platform of choice) for future posting.
  2. Daily email newsletters.  I subscribe to about ten, most of which I read regularly.  Some, like SmartBrief on Social Media, aggregate key content from around the web, making it one of my daily must-reads.  If you do tweet out content that you get from other aggregators, it’s nice to indicate your source with a “HT”(hat tip) or “via” acknowledging that source as well as the original author.

For some people the emails are “old school” and redundant with the RSS reader, but I still like ’em.

When I select articles I almost always write an intro for them myself; it’s extremely rare that I only include the article title in my tweet (it would likely indicate I was tweeting on the run from my iPhone and felt something was so great I just had to get it out there).  So my tweet of an article from Christopher Penn looks like this:

curating twitter content

Actively promote others and ReTweet often

Whether you’re actually RTing or saying an article is “from” or “via” someone (see below), sending out their content is promoting them.  I primarily tweet out info from people I know, I want to know, and those I admire and believe in.  I closely watch their blogs and Twitter streams and draw on my “favorites” often for my curated Twitter content.  I’ll send RTs on the fly throughout the day from my iPhone or from TweetDeck, and setup more “formal” scheduled tweets via HootSuite.

Include your own content, too

That’s at least partly why you’re here, right?  To have a dialogue about what you’re doing with your friends and followers.  So include your own content – your blog post, a note on your Facebook page, a link to your video on YouTube.  And don’t forget to tweet out links to your own media placements or speaking engagements.

Engage with and use your followers for good

Twitter is a fantastic medium for getting get quick answers or developing deeper polling data (likely unscientific, but good enough for most purposes).  You can schedule questions or polls right into your Twitter calendar.  Twtpoll is one app that makes polling easy.

Be sure to attribute your sources

For all of the sources from which you curate content, it’s always nice to acknowledge the author.  I typically use “from @source” or mention inline the actual author or website, and “via @source” for the place where I found the article.  So my tweet of an article by Dennis Yu that I found on SmartBrief for Social Media will look like this:

acknowledge sources when curating twitter content

I’ve followed lots of people who tweet out articles without attribution, and I often assume that it’s their own content and am then surprised when I’m taken to another blog or article that has nothing to do with them.  It’s not entirely dishonest – there are no laws on tweeting – but I feel it’s just not right.  Give credit where credit is due, and make it easy for your readers to know that you’re curating content vs. including only your own content.

Save all your content!

Now that you’ve curated this amazing set of content for your followers, be sure that you’ve saved it for your archives too.  You want to be able to reference back to these articles in the future.

First of all, make sure that you’re bookmarking all of your tweets in your Delicious.com account.  I use Packrati.us, they have amazing customer service (I had a problem with an old account) and it’s really simple to use – you just connect it to your Twitter and Delicious accounts and it automatically feeds your tweets into Delicious.

Next, be sure to regularly backup your Twitter stream.  I use Backupify for this and archive an Excel file of my tweets every so often; I have my entire @stephanies Twitter history going back to 2007 on my external harddrive and in my cloud server for safekeeping.  It’s pretty cool to look back to see what I was tweeting in those very early days, and also to see how my personal twitterstream topics changed as I got pregnant and had my son.  There are a number of other services too; look at OneForty.com for more.

Hopefully this has sparked some ideas for you; I’d love to hear how you’re curating Twitter content too, so I can add it to my own content planning.

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.