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Editorial calendars for managing social media marketing updates

What should go into your editorial calendar for blogging + Twitter + Facebook + Google+ + LinkedIn?

Content Calendar

In today's digital marketing environment, where demands on businesses to publish engaging content have never been higher, managing the process can be challenging, to say the least.

In our 7 Steps Guide to content marketing, we've advised on how to plan to create a content marketing strategy that drives reach and engagement. But there is still the practical issue of what to publish, when and where? We cover this in our new guide to guide to managing content marketing where James Carson explains approaches for workflow for editorial planning.

Thinking through how to organise multiple pieces of content, on your site, on partner sites and on social outposts is what many marketers have been grappling with for some time. The varying input and co-ordination of involvement from different staff members, freelancers or contract publishers can make it quite a challenge!

To help manage this process, many content marketers are now learning from traditional PR and publishing houses by using an editorial calendar.

In this post, I'll run through what Dan Bosomworth, Dave Chaffey and I use in our editorial calendar and then we'll show our template.

Smart Insights Expert members can download a blank / example Excel editorial calendar. This is the approach we use for scheduling our content and we have recently refined it.

Let's start in the logical place, with the why and then go into the important bit of what, when, how and where.

Goals for an Editorial Calendar

At its simplest, the editorial plan is a way to plan and manage the production of content - it's a checklist. But it has some wider goals too:

  • Provide consistency and quality in your content - content quality is key to making your brand engaging
  • Align the team - Anyone involved in the research / creation / publishing / responding area of content marketing
  • Give a framework and process to plan and manage the creation of content - structure means control and less of a last-minute approach
  • Enforces accountability - specifies who does what and when

What's in and what's out?

We've also found it's helpful to think through how best to use your calendar, by thinking what it should and shouldn't include. For example, it should include:

  • A schedule for the flow of proactively publishing content
  • A method to align content with upcoming marketing campaigns and product releases
  • A way to group various types of content by themes which meet your communications goals
  • Understanding of key dates throughout the year  - Seasonal, influential (Fathers day etc), product launches, campaigns

But careful you don't try to achieve too much, it's often best not to use the calendar as a way to:

  • Manage reactions to interactions on your content or to listening processes
  • Schedule every last tweet or status update - it's higher level than that. Don't lose spontaneity
  • Report performance for your content - That should be analysed as part of your performance reporting and KPIS. At this point you are doing the work you agreed to hit objectives

Requirements of an Editorial Calendar

We think that the bare minimum an editorial calendar needs to cover includes:

  • Name of content
  • Type of content
  • Source of content
  • Where it will be published
  • Deadline for creation
  • Publish date

Smart Insights Expert members can download a editorial calendar spreadsheet to adapt for their own campaigns. In the updated version we have a tab for longer-term planning where you can easily add foundational content for a 12 month period to integrate with your marketing campaigns through the year.

Share your thoughts

  • y8y8 commented on August 19, 2016

    Very interesting website. A lot of your website I see these days don’t really provide anything that I’m interested in, but I’m most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.

  • I think it’s amazing how many people talk about a great content marketing calendar but aren’t willing to show a screenshot or download or tool that works and is actionable. Probably because the end result is always ugly, but boy I’d love to see some awesome examples in articles that nail the requirements. #gripe

  • Shelby commented on October 29, 2013

    This article was very insightful. It seems that if a company or person wants to be successful in social media, an editorial calendar must be used. I cannot wait to plan one for my company!

  • travid commented on July 31, 2013

    Great post Chris!

    A good editorial calendar should be able to publish to social media sites. It should work with Twitter and Facebook because that’s where your customers hang out. Even better, it should combine content curation with content creation. Namely, it should be very easy to curate content, but also very easy to integrate with existing blogging platform like WordPress.

    ContentDJ ( has a good social media editorial calendar feature. It integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and WordPress. You can drag and drop to schedule posts.

    The tool also helps you find the most shareable content to publish.

  • Amen! Breaking this down is a huge help to marketers. Ed calendars can be intimidating, but what I always advise is for people to start at the highest, most abstract level then get more detailed, filling in the blanks.


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