Calendars Make Order Out Of Content Chaos
Calendars have been around for thousands of years. We’ve used them since before kindergarten to track holidays and count birthdays then graduated to day planners and mobile phones with pop-up reminders. We have no excuse for not knowing the day of the week and month and what’s scheduled for that day.
This is what a social media editorial calendar can do for your book marketing. It doesn’t have to be fancy or use special software – it just needs to be visual.
The visual nature of a calendar will help you see the bigger story build on each channel, post after post. It also takes the pressure off figuring out what to do next.
I’ve taken my editorial calendar a little further and added a few reference pages.
- The first page provides a quick reminder of what type of content works best on each channel, and image sizes and formats. This is especially helpful if you have an assistant helping create assets for your social media.
- The next page adds audience research so I’m always reminded of who I’m writing for and keep their interests in mind when planning topics. I’ve created Personas to help put a face and personality to each audience segment. It’s easier to write to someone you know rather than a list of data.
Step One: Content Planning with Purpose
Use your audience research to brainstorm topics and start a list. Freestyle it – no censoring – and let the craziest ideas have a place because you never know which one will turn out to be brilliant. Get excited and add everything that comes to mind, even if it’s random such as “blue vs. yellow buttons” – I strongly recommend writing a few words so you know what it means six weeks later.
Once you have an idea of what you want to share, begin ranking them in a logical order. What would your reader need to know first in order for the next three topics to make sense? You see, as much as a single post is a story, the collection of posts become a larger story. Think episode, with each post building upon the next.
Step Two: How Often Should You Post?
Now you’re ready to add your topics to the calendar. Decide how frequently you want to post and on what channels, filling in a few weeks worth of content. Begin with the bigger items – the articles and blog posts, putting them on the day you plan the content to publish.
Being able to see where you’re putting your content will help you spread out what you want to say and put it in the form that best fits a specific channel.
Should There Be a Post Every Day?
When you have a wonderful list of ideas, it’s easy to want to post a new topic every day. Slow down. You don’t need to talk to everyone on every channel every day. As long as you post on a somewhat regular basis, readers will come, and you’ll have current blog followers stopping back in to see what’s new. Twitter is the only social channel that needs an everyday feed, everything else gets its own schedule.
- Avoid using the same content across all of your social media channels. Make variations that fit the audience and personality of each network. The content should complement across channels, not be a copy. (1 topic = many short tweets or several Google+/Facebook updates)
- Keep a consistent naming convention as you add content to your calendar so at a glance you know what’s coming up. For example “Blog-How to outline a short story.” (Color coding works well too.)
- Consider where you can use curated content so you’re not spending all of your writing time making social media posts. Even Twitter, an admittedly a time-consuming channel, can be manageable by using curated content tweets and a few pre-scheduled posts to give you a 24-hour presence. Then when you are perusing your Twitter stream you can actually engage with friends and fans and not worry that the tweets promoting your blog posts and books are neglected.
- Use themes to tie content together and help you generate ideas.
How Social Media Works: No Spam Allowed
Have you ever been to the mall where you were constantly approached by someone with a sales pitch? How about that Sunday afternoon movie that was great until the ten-minute block of commercials? Not a good feeling. The experience feels annoying because you don’t have a relationship with the person pitching their products. Does this mean you build a social media relationship and then ask your new friends to buy your book?
Building your audience on social media is about talking to people about common interests. Bring them something of value in exchange for their time. If they like your social posts, then they may click your profile and discover that you’re also a writer. If they like the type of books you write, then they may buy it.
Social media doesn’t sell books directly. It’s getting to know people and creating opportunities for discoverability and conversation.
Another Use for Editorial Calendars
Editorial calendars can also be used to track your traditional book marketing.
- Set a schedule of the queries you’ll send to agents and publishers, and how often.
- Schedule time for book signings and author events.
- The best part — reward yourself with a day off just to write or attend a conference.
Your calendar is a visualization of your writing life. Writing it down makes it easier to make it happen.