Ever feel like you have a million ideas for social media content that are all just sort of floating around out there waiting to be forgotten? A great way to get all that clutter out of your head is to use an editorial calendar to plan the content that you will share on your social media profiles and your blog. Not only will it help improve the quality of your content strategy, you’ll feel better too.

What is an editorial calendar?
Wikipedia defines it this way: “An editorial calendar is used by bloggers, publishers, businesses, and groups to control publication of content across different media.” Basically, it’s a repository in which to keep every content idea that you have, all the links and notes associated with it, and a schedule of what to post and when that will make your life easier and your content strategy more…strategic.

What should it look like?
There are no hard and fast rules here. The best content calendar format is the one you will actually use. If it’s not helpful and intuitive for you, the chances of you using it to it’s fullest are pretty slim. That said, there are a few general guidelines to follow. First, your editorial calendar should be set up as a spreadsheet with dates as the first column running down the left side. After that, you’ll want to have columns that contain the necessary information pertaining to each day. Columns to consider include:

Holiday | Topic | Assignee | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Links | Status | Metrics

Here is a snippet from the Pagemodo editorial calendar from which I knew to write this particular blog post today:

As you can see, we have the date the content will be published, whether or not that day is a holiday (as April 1st was), the corresponding content that our social media manager will post on Facebook, today’s blog topic, the status of each blog topic, and any relevant links. We find it helpful to decide on a broad topic for the month that all of our content will fall into. Which brings us to our next item…

Where should it live?
As you can see, our social media manager and I share the same calendar so that everyone knows what’s going on with our content strategy. One effective way to manage this is to use Google Drive to house your editorial calendar. When you create a Google Spreadsheet and then host it in Google Drive, you can easily give access to the stakeholders who need it (and nobody else). Another benefit of this method is that it allows you and your team to access your editorial calendar anywhere, anytime. Since most small business social media managers are rarely fully on vacation, they’ll appreciate being able to see what blog posts they could be getting ahead on in an airport, ski lodge, or swimming pool.

If you’re a Pagemodo Posts user, you can integrate the two tools by planning out all of your editorial content ideas in your editorial calendar, and then log into Pagemodo and use the Suggested Posts feature to find relevant content and schedule your entire month’s worth of Facebook and Twitter posts.

Have you tried using an editorial calendar to organize your social media content? What tips do you have for people who are just getting started?

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