Despite the appearance of spontaneity, social media activity often involves rigorous planning ahead of time. Daily status posts can be vetted and scheduled in advance, and large crews frequently collaborate to put the pieces in place for large-scale contests. To stay on top of all the behind-the-scenes work, a social media team needs to have the right tools at its disposal.

One tool that can be essential for busy social media employees is an editorial calendar. This central database serves many purposes for a company’s social media department, as well as its departments for marketing, sales, human resources, and finance. Here are some key reasons to incorporate an editorial calendar into your social team’s processes.

Collaboration and Communication

Most social teams work in tandem with other departments. Communication between divisions, as well as between individuals, is crucial. Your brand may already have tools for messaging across your social media and editorial teams, but a calendar offers a snapshot of activity to everyone in a simple, familiar format.

Think back to the old adage: Knowledge is power. Make sure that everyone involved in your social networks knows what’s going on, from the upcoming marketing pushes to the big sales launch. If they know what’s going on in the near, and long-term future, the social crew will be better prepared to support those events. Facilitating better collaboration with a calendar with keep your employees in the loop with each other and help them do their jobs better.

Keep Up With the Upkeep

cleaning supplies

Interactions with customers, potential clients, and other brands likely account for the majority of your company’s time on social channels, but there is more that goes into a successful social strategy. Your company should regularly put in some time on administrative tasks associated with a social profile. Whether it’s seeking out new accounts to follow, double-checking that links go to the right pages, or revamping a bio blurb, social pages require some upkeep.

A calendar can help you monitor when and how often this upkeep is done. Create entries for any routine tasks that are necessary to keeping your social presence up to date so that those responsibilities don’t slip through the cracks. Your brand will be better off for it in the long run.

Oversee Your Cross-Posting

Not every piece of content belongs on a particular social network. Often, your brand will want to pick and choose which items appear on which social channels. Unless you have a clear chain of command for who makes those decisions, it’s possible for somebody to accidentally post to the wrong network, or not to post someplace important.

An editorial calendar lays out the where and when for your content strategy. And keep in mind, a strong editorial campaign probably goes beyond just social. The editorial calendar can also include notices about guest posts by your brand’s executives or upcoming feature articles about your company. Anything involving your brand can be included on the editorial calendar and thus appear in the right channels at the right times.

Budgeting and Staffing

abacus

Marketers justify their efforts in social media by promising a return on investment for the company. By offering a visual look at the social content your brand is sharing, a calendar can help your company glean important information about budget and staff.

How many blog posts published in a given month? How much did they cost? Do you have the budget to produce more content? By looking at the answers to these types of questions, correlated to the content published in your editorial calendar, you’ll begin to see patterns emerge over time. Use these observations to make more informed decisions about the content management side of your business.

Take the Long View

Online content tends to favor quantity over quality, but your brand doesn’t have to fall into that trap. When you have a calendar, you have deadlines. Build in enough time for your team members to create material that’s worth sharing with your fans and followers.

A detailed calendar can show your editorial and social teams a broad snapshot of what you’re working on, so you can plan ahead and stock up on great blog photos, photos, jokes, quotes, or whatever it is your company wants on your social channels. Take a long view of your strategy to improve how your company uses social, editorial, and content to get your name and your message out in the most effective way possible.

Does your social team use an editorial calendar? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Joe Lanman, Andrea_44, Anssi Koskinen]