Editor’s Note: With our upcoming joint webinar, “Building an Editorial Calendar with Social Media” just around the corner, we are pleased to share a blog post recently written by Amy McIlwain of Financial Social Media. Today Financial Social Media is thriving as a compliant provider for Social Media Education to Financial Advisors, Insurance Agents & Financial Service Agents.
So you’ve finally set up your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Now what? We’ve emphasized over and over again the importance of consistency on your social platforms—but how can you do this without sacrificing a large portion of your already limited time? Well, you can improvise and try to come up with ideas day by day—but that would require too much brainpower and spontaneous creativity. And while I’m sure you’re overflowing with creative energy, it’s not worth the headache. Editorial calendars are one of the easiest ways to plan and produce consistent social media and blog content. Below are a three steps to get you started:
Select a master calendar: Before building an editorial calendar, you’ll need to acquire a master calendar. This calendar must be convenient, accessible for you and your associates, simple, and navigable. It is the map you’ll repeatedly refer to for an extended period of time. If you were visiting a foreign country, you wouldn’t want to decode a sloppy or complicated map—you won’t want that here either. Here are a few calendar platforms for you to consider—but by all means, do what works best for you and your business.
- Google Calendar: Google calendar is a free online tool that you can use to create your editorial calendar. Not only is it simple, accessible, and navigable—it also prompts you to set up reminders that you can synch with your Smart Phone.
- Microsoft Word: There are many calendar templates on Word that are perfect for creating editorial calendars. Depending on your organizational infrastructure, you may also consider using Outlook.
- Editorial Calendar on WordPress: This editorial calendar gives you an overview of your blog and when each post will be published. You can drag and drop to move posts, edit posts right in the calendar, and manage your entire blog.
Articulate strategies and parameters: By developing and solidifying a social media and blog strategy, you and everyone associated with your content will share the luxury of being on the same page. Here’s how you can achieve this:
- Keywords and Length Requirements: This takes us back to our old friend, SEO. Create a master list of SEO friendly keywords that you frequently implement into blog and social media posts. Also create length standards for your blog. This makes it easy for all writers, both internal and external, to create the best content possible.
- Target Audience: It is very important to have a keen understanding of your target audience. Note their interests, education level, family dynamics, income level, gender, ect. Speak their language, understand their needs, and be aware of the hot, trending topics in their world.
- Master list of Topics: Blog in such a way that covertly communicates your business’ expertise. I suggest brainstorming at least of 5-10 of your firm’s key areas of expertise and services, such as retirement planning, estate planning, investing, or insurance. Use these topics as springboards for social media and blog posts. And as a friendly reminder, don’t ever seek to self-promote or explicitly advertise your business via blogs and social media. As a content producer, you’re here to create content that benefits, educates, and provokes thought for your audience.
Establish patterns and themes: You don’t want to get caught sitting in the office at 6pm on a Friday evening scraping for your next blog post. Here are some ways to plan ahead:
- Deadlines and Publishing Days: Choose specific days when blog posts are due for edits, and days when they go live each week. Here at FSM, we post blogs on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s because that’s what works best for our team. Select deadlines that are convenient for you, your writers, and your readers. When inviting guest authors, make sure you give them at least 2-3 weeks to write the post—assuming they are very busy and that there will be edits. For social media, here is an awesome daily social workout regimen your business can follow.
- Themes: There are several ways to approach themes. Some people like to create recurring weekly themes like “Retirement Tuesday” or “Money Saver Monday”; others like to establish monthly themes like “April: Taxes” and “August: Planning for Education”. When it comes to developing themes, do what works best for you and your staff. The important key is keeping content fresh and relevant. The College Funding Connection has a “Financial Aid Question of the Month”.
- Holidays/Current Events: Take into consideration holidays, cultural traditions, current events, and milestones. Perhaps you might cater your content to the Super Bowl, The Olympic Games, or the Fourth of July. Regardless of which ones you chose, remember to creatively tie it back into your field.
- Mediums: Many financial professionals still think that all blog content has to be produced by them or their team. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a plethora of styles and strategies for producing content. It doesn’t always have to be a cut-and-dry informative piece. Schedule variety in your social media and blog calendar—such as how-to’s, case studies, opinion pieces, interviews, guest blog contributions, insightful pieces, testimonials, podcasts, videos, commentaries, and more.
Blogs and social media platforms are meant to be fun! Remember to enjoy the process and always ensure that your editorial calendar complies with your social media policy. If you have any questions about creating an editorial calendar, please leave a comment!
[box type=”bio”] Entrepreneur, author, speaker, and worldwide connector, Amy McIlwain is recognized internationally for radical new ways of thinking about Social Media. Amy launched Financial Social Media in 2010 which specifically addresses the compliance issues surrounding social media and the financial industry. With her unique background in both online marketing and financial services Amy knows which media vehicles work and the marketing language needed to deliver results. Amy continues to teach others about the power of Social Media marketing and has conducted several live trainings and webinars for thousands of people worldwide. Additionally, her content has been featured in several top financial industry publications, blogs, websites, and books. Outside of work Amy’s passion lies in travel. She has visited over 22 countries and spent time living in both Spain and Australia. One of her lifetime goals is to explore all seven continents.[/box]