Many colleges have adopted a good content creation schedule for their blog and social media by posting at least once a week on their blog, using various tools to monitor trends relevant to their industry, and feeding their social media with news and pieces gathered around campus.
However, many feel that their efforts are scattered, thereby dissolving their message as tactics to create and share content are overturned by the daily race to get content out there. An editorial calendar is an essential tool to align your strategy with your tactics to meet your college’s goals on your blog and in social media.
The benefits of an editorial calendar
By forcing you to map out a timeline of the content you plan on sharing, an editorial calendar will enable you to keep track of all your content creation efforts. It will also help your college attain:
- Stronger online and offlinebranding: An editorial calendar will enable you to streamline all of your communication efforts. This will help solidify the voice and position you want your college or university to establish.
- Higher productivity:A content calendar will force the team responsible to meet or at least have a clear workflow to know what is being done and what still needs to be done. This will translate into smoother workflow and higher productivity.
- More accountability: An editorial calendar will force your team to assign each member a clear part of the content creation and content sharing process, making each team member a reliable force within particular parts of the entire process..
- More consistency:Blogging and social media are only efficient if they are done on a regular basis. Having set a calendar in advance will allow your team to blog and share content more consistently.
1. Set precise goals
Go over your blog and social media strategy. Why has your college decided to keep a blog and be present in social media? What are your precise goals for the blog and social media? Increase traffic to your college’s site program pages by 30%? Increase the number of leads from social sources by 10%?
The more precise your goals, the better you can track your overall progress and be able to decide if your communications strategy is as effective as you want it to be.
2. Gather your team
Your team probably includes the Communications specialist in charge of writing blog post and the persons in charge of social media content. Depending on the structure of your college, it can also include video producers, a photographer, Student Ambassadors and those responsible for social media.
Once you have your team, you can begin assigning specific tasks by asking what needs to be done, and who will do it. For example, a few prompts can be:
- What content do you wish to create this year or in the months to come? Be specific: 12 blog posts, 4 videos, daily pictures.
- Who will be in charge of creating this content? What departments need to be involved? Assign types of content to each.
- How will communications flow between the different members? If applicable, how often will you meet? Who will keep track of the overall process?
- Who will need to edit or proofread new content before it is published?
- Best practices: not every person who will contribute are trained in blog writing or social media. That is why it is important to provide them with efficient tools to write, quote, and link properly in a blog post or in social media. Any social media policy should be brought up and discussed.
3. Identify a publishing path
The sharing path is about finding opportunities to capitalize on the content you will be creating. Here again, you will need to identify who will be responsible for sharing that content:
- Once a blog post, a video, a social media piece (photo or quote) is published on the blog, what happens? Where else can they be published?
- How will you curate your content?
- Identify opportunities to publicize initiatives across offline and online platforms.
- Is it possible to repurpose some of the content that already exists? Ex: sharing a video on YouTube and a shorter version of the video on Tumblr, etc.
- How will you choose which pieces will be integrated into your college’s newsletter?
4. Identify metrics and monitoring tools
Decide how you will measure your blog and social media success. This requires that you break down the goals of step 1 into specific numbers for each of the platforms you will be using. Again, be quantitative.
You can also use Analytics to create content that engages your students.
5. Brainstorm and create your editorial plan
- A yearly plan: Based on the yearly events at your school, or what you know is in store for your college, write down some large themes that will be large guidelines. January could be the month for helping students getting ready for internships. February could focus on preparing for exams and summer sessions. Themes could also be day-specific: Thursday Tips, Monday Best Practices, etc. You can also be guided by events on campus: Open House month: discovering the school, Trade Shows months, applying for a job. See the example of Carleton’s yearly editorial calendar.
- A monthly plan:Now is time to breakdown each month theme into different content items. Decide for topics for your blog and the type of content creation that can happen. Some content creation may take several months, so this is really about breaking down the details. Vary the content: video, photo, timely topics, etc. You can choose how precise it should be, but your template should at least include the following sections:
- Media type
- Titles ortaglines to consider
- Due date
- Date of publication
- Results: comments, Likes, shares, etc.
Organize key ideas that have not been included or ideas that will certainly come: where should they be shared? With whom? What leeway is offered in the calendar?
There are many tools available to help you create those templates. Use those that are sharable by all to make sure everyone us working with the same tools. Examples of types of tools you can use to stay organized are Excel sheets, Hootsuite, Basecamp Write Boards, WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin, and Dropbox.
What has been your main challenge with creating or maintaining an editorial calendar?