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Summary:

When I hear about the processes companies are using to engage in social media-based conversations and communities, I’m a bit surprised that many lack any kind of strategy or written plan. While I’m a firm believer in the need for both spontaneity and frequency in social […]

When I hear about the processes companies are using to engage in social media-based conversations and communities, I’m a bit surprised that many lack any kind of strategy or written plan. While I’m a firm believer in the need for both spontaneity and frequency in social media-enabled communications, I also believe that whenever a company decides to adopt new communications tools, they need to start with the basics of Marketing and Communications 101:

  • What are your business objectives?
  • Who is your audience (target market)?
  • What do you hope this communication will help your company achieve?
  • How will you measure your efforts?

Once you think through the business basics, the next steps are identifying the right tools to reach the right audience(s) in the right ways, and then determining what your company is going to do once you stick start participating in social networks, on blogs, and in other online communities.

Editorial Calendars for Blogs

My company uses what we refer to as “editorial calendars” for social media engagement, but that term is a bit of a misnomer. The term “editorial calendar” implies that social media communications is then based solely around “editorial” content like magazine articles. Social media editorial calendars are not about planning all of your tweets, status updates on Facebook, etc., but you do need to create some kind of framework that fits into an overall plan for engagement.

For blogs, we always develop an actual editorial calendar that is similar to a magazine editorial calendar. That calendar, however, should never lock the blogger or bloggers into publishing specific posts on specific dates without any flexibility. Blog editorial calendars should be considered strategic planning tools as well as resources for content ideas when there isn’t something topical or time-sensitive that needs to be posted.

Social Media Calendars

You shouldn’t be tweeting and updating entirely in a vacuum. For my company, our social media calendars start with a blog editorial calendar as a starting point. From those specific topics and post references, we then branch out, looking for other people’s tweets or posts that we can reference that are relevant to our client’s focus, objectives, and brand.

To utilize social media tools effectively and properly, you must absolutely generate spontaneous communications in direct response to what others are saying or to what is happening in that moment. Be yourself. Be conversational. Be engaged.

Then, at regular intervals, circle back to your objectives; the audience you want to attract and connect with; and the actions you’d like to drive through your outreach. Are you on track? If you are using social media to encourage others to give you feedback, to take a poll, to refer a friend to your site, to hire you, to purchase a product, whatever your goal or goals may be — is it working? If not, what are you doing wrong?

Social Media Planning

Maybe this sounds a little too formulaic to you. Maybe you see social media as being all about organic conversation. Well, yes, that is exactly what it is, but organic conversation doesn’t work for companies that are trying to achieve specific business objectives. That doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t be in social networks and online communities if they do things in appropriate, valuable and thoughtful ways.

So be smart about it. Don’t deny that you are a business with business objectives. Be transparent about it. There’s a place for everyone in the playground as long as everyone places nicely. And if you stick to a plan — with a lot of common sense, generosity and kindness thrown in — your company can foster new levels of consumer loyalty from genuine engagement, while still achieving measurable business goals.

How do you plan out your company communications through social media?

  1. I have a simple excel template that I created last year to help us keep track of social posts. You can download it at http://onehalfamazing.com/blogging/social-media-calendar-template/ Feel free to edit to your tastes.

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    1. Very cool! Downloading now. Maybe will do a post comparing different types of calendars with commentary.

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    2. Thanks for sharing that. Simple, as you say, but very useful because it gives people something to start thinking about if they have not already got a calendar.

      http://twitter.com/franswaa

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    3. Thanks for this Bob. I am going to try this out and see how it works for me. I never really thought of organizing social posts in this manner. Thanks again!

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    4. Thanks so much for sharing this. I also try to integrate my various calendars via iCal which has been working thus far.

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  2. [...] the original post here: Why You Should Have a Social Media Calendar Share and [...]

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  3. I manage my blogging editorial calendar through the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/editorial-calendar

    I’ll admit I’m biased since I also wrote the plugin, but it is very good.

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    1. Very cool! Will see how we might incorporate this on some of our projects.

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  4. This is a helpful post as I organize my plans for 2010. I appreciate the suggestions and am looking to build an overall editorial calendar that will include Social along with other elements for 2010.

    Thanks to Bob for sharing his calendar. I love how it is so clean/organized/great colors! Also, a very nice way to add value in a comment on another blog post.

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  5. We use a special Outlook calendar to organize our various online/social media activities so that the two of us responsible can coordinate, and so we achieve maximum coverage without over-posting to any one format. It’s been very successful for us–I can’t imagine handling social media without it!

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  6. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. My company has dabbled in social media for the better part of the year, but we really committed ourselves to it about 5 months ago. We’re in the process of developing a working matrix for several different business lines, and will likely dump everything into a production calendar in SharePoint so it’s viewable/editable across multiple offices. Thanks again for the post!

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  7. [...] 24th, 2009 (11:00am) Aliza Sherman No CommentsTweet This In a previous post where I discussed the concept of a social media calendar to manage your social media outreach and messaging, Bob Hazlett commented and offered up his [...]

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  8. Good advice for both beginners and companies looking to leverage social media for business. Also thanks for the links in the comments, I’m going to give them a try.

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  9. I like how Aliza tied the “basics of Marketing and Communications 101″ to the calendar usage. What a great idea to help me organize. I just began pre-posting blog posts, & this calendar idea will help me keep track of ideas still needing a draft.

    To Bob, nice spreadsheet & thanks for sharing it.

    THANKS, all!
    Angeline
    Angeline-Marie Fine Art
    http://www.angelinemarie.net
    http://angeline-marie.blogspot.com/

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