Discussions

Content Calendars

Posted by Kathy Winter @kathywinter, Dec 28, 2015

Hi, all:
One of the goals set for me this year is to create a content calendar for the entire year. Generally, I create a calendar weekly using an excel spreadsheet (which then gets changed a dozen times during the week). I’ve never planned one out for an entire year, and I’m not sure how to get started. Any advice or examples out there? Thanks!

Kathy – I used to do what you did and the busier we got the more juggling it required and soon it was such a labor intensive process it defeated the purpose.

Last year I created a content messenging calendar as a secondary calendar in my outlook (right click on your current calendar and choose new calendar) and added as many events and topics to the calendar in the form of events and meetings that I could. Then I invited other team members who added their content. The nice thing about it being in outlook is that it can be viewed at the same time as your current calendar (side-by-side or overlay) and it is also available via mobile.

From there we add drafts to our @Buffer feed based on the content from the whole team and posts are reviewed and edited to add images or final content from press releases or links to external content.

When I was a the Walt Disney Company we created these elaborate three month excel spread sheets that were called Content Continuity Calendars that represented how every Disney release was represented in every channel (theme parks, digital, theater, etc). They were the framework by which all of us operated. My original excel sheets were spinoffs of those Disney versions. My team found them to be very overwhelming and as one of my millennial team members said, “the excel sheets were migraine inducing energy sucks” for him.

I am curious to see what others use as well. I have found it pays to be flexible when trying to collaborate with other teams and team members. The review process is important but so is the collaboration to create fresh content.

Susan

REPLY

Hi @kathywinter! Your weekly Excel spreadsheet reminds me of my solo social media days. I used my Outlook calendar like @susanwoolner suggests. I planned what I could, adjusted those plans more often than not, and mixed in content curation when the creation well ran dry. It worked pretty well, generally speaking.

Now that I’m on a social media team, we plan our content out on a monthly basis. That’s one step you may want to consider before trying to tackle a whole year. Jumping from week-by-week planning to annual planning seems like a lot to take on (at least to me).

Here’s how our process works:

We start with a shared “Ideas and Requests” document. Whenever an idea comes up, from an internal or external client, a member of the team, etc., we throw it into the document under the appropriate month/date. We also have a section of the document for topics that need ongoing support, generally on a monthly basis.

Around the middle of the month, we start cobbling together the calendar for the following month. Our team is broken out into channel leads, so each person plans the content for his or her channel(s). We’re all working from the same list of ideas and requests, so we cover the same topics, but since all of the leads write most (if not all) of the content for their assigned channels, I’ve found we tend to approach those topics in ways that make the most sense for our audiences.

Once we’ve filled out the calendar, our manager takes a look and makes sure we didn’t miss anything, the overall themes come through clearly, etc. As the Twitter lead I find I can get stuck down in the weeds a bit, so I really appreciate the more macro perspective.

From there, we load our calendars into Spredfast as drafts (our tool of choice — it sounds like @susanwoolner uses a similar process with Buffer). We write the content and run it through our approval processes two weeks ahead of time.

Of course there are variations to the process. Sometimes we know a press release is supposed to go out and don’t get the details until the day before (or day of, if we’re getting really adventurous). Scheduled events move, unscheduled things happen. We work in social media, so nothing is set in stone. As a former journalist, I love that.

I hope this is helpful to you as you plan for 2016. One thing I love most about this community is sharing how we work, and then picking and choosing methods to work into our own systems. Happy planning!

REPLY
@susanwoolner

Kathy – I used to do what you did and the busier we got the more juggling it required and soon it was such a labor intensive process it defeated the purpose.

Last year I created a content messenging calendar as a secondary calendar in my outlook (right click on your current calendar and choose new calendar) and added as many events and topics to the calendar in the form of events and meetings that I could. Then I invited other team members who added their content. The nice thing about it being in outlook is that it can be viewed at the same time as your current calendar (side-by-side or overlay) and it is also available via mobile.

From there we add drafts to our @Buffer feed based on the content from the whole team and posts are reviewed and edited to add images or final content from press releases or links to external content.

When I was a the Walt Disney Company we created these elaborate three month excel spread sheets that were called Content Continuity Calendars that represented how every Disney release was represented in every channel (theme parks, digital, theater, etc). They were the framework by which all of us operated. My original excel sheets were spinoffs of those Disney versions. My team found them to be very overwhelming and as one of my millennial team members said, “the excel sheets were migraine inducing energy sucks” for him.

I am curious to see what others use as well. I have found it pays to be flexible when trying to collaborate with other teams and team members. The review process is important but so is the collaboration to create fresh content.

Susan

Jump to this post

Thank you! I’m going to try out the Outlook calendar approach. While we don’t have a social media content team, I’ll open it up to all of our PR directors and hopefully they will add their thoughts and send content. I will try to convince my manger to allow me to try planning on a monthly/quarterly basis instead of for the entire year. Thanks, again! Kathy

REPLY

Thank you! I agree that trying to schedule an entire year is daunting. I’ve been quietly panicking about it since my return from vacation. I’m going to try monthly or quarterly and see how that goes. Thanks, again! Kathy

REPLY

Sorry for the late reply, but I thought this resource might be able to help others starting on the task for the year.

As 1 of the qualities of social content is to be ‘timely’, planning it in advance as we know takes away much of the purpose, but its hard to explain that to the budget approvers! I treat it more like a traditional marketing calendar and list all content for all general platforms, then get more specific a month ahead for each platform (print, social etc).

I balance it this way…

Step 1 – each year I replicate my general ‘theme’ calendar which has all the relevant themed months and days on it (eg world no smoking day and national breast cancer month etc). I use the previous year and update the dates. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have an intern to help.

I make it a google doc from a calendar template so I can email it around to others to help add to it.

Here’s mine so far for 2016 – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uayZrpOF_xAA_DdDWlmi1UWzUAWdgrdEKazsDwNaiig/edit?usp=sharing

If you’d like to copy this calendar to your own google account, go to file menu and ‘make a copy’. It will then save it to your drive and you can customize your own. There’s a resources tab you can use to follow links to find other national events to add to your own calendar.

Step 2 – Add sections on the side for the definite, agreed events which your organisation supports & add some rough notes. For us it is science and medical research and fundraising in australia and globally, so I know for sure I’m going to post *something* on Daffodil Day in October about cancer and I know I’m going to post *something* about Diabetes in August.
If you need to be more specific with exact content elements, add a line in the spreadsheet under each row like on my example, with small text listing all the collateral you need to create & more specific notes. I add notes at this stage of the year, and flesh out the collateral part in the months prior.

From there you can create more detailed marketing plans for each event.

Good luck!

REPLY

Wow! I just want to take a moment and thank everyone on this thread for their input! As an oncology nurse who does a lot of guest blogging, I think this is also very helpful. These tips might be helpful to share with any healthcare providers who blog for the health system…or in their own ‘world’. 🙂

REPLY

Here are some sources for “Health Holidays” (verify on your own)

http://www.holidays-and-observances.com/health-holidays.html

https://healthfinder.gov/nho/

https://www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/default.aspx (Really! I could find some fun stuff to write about here)

US Holidays: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/
World Holidays (Pick your country) http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/

REPLY

SHSMD also does an annual health calendar. Could someone add it here?

Liked by Susan Woolner

REPLY

Hi Kathy – I’m a little late to the game here, but I use a Google calendar. It’s so easy to share with a team and readily integrated with Google Doc files. You can also color code each ‘event’ (post) for each page or platform and you can make month-long events around the NHOs. It’s also searchable so it doubles as a planning tool and archive.

I try to have an eye out for 3 months ahead and revisit it monthly for planning. But I use it daily for moving planned posts around when I post something else that’s current/in real time.

REPLY

Thanks, all, for the great input! I’m sharing this with our individual hospital page managers as well. Kw

REPLY

One more calendar from the NationalWellness.org Some really interesting content ideas here. It’s free, you just have to register to get it. http://www.nationalwellness.org/?page=healthobservancescal

Liked by Kathy Winter, CJ TRI

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.