10 March 2011 ~ 4 Comments

The benefits of an Editorial Calendar to keep your community on track

In the intense whirl of managing an online community, it’s easy to make grandiose plans but far harder to stick to them. Exciting events and milestones come and go, but it’s the steady forward thrust that really matters to ensure the continued growth of your community.

But of course we all have that day when we sit at our workstation and realise we don’t have anything planned for the next few days or weeks. A bit like writer’s block, anxiety sweeps over you and you can’t sweat out an initiative or content for your membership to engage with.

This is where the Editorial Calendar comes in

Forward planning, as always, is the key to solving this organisational problem. By using a publishing calendar you can minimise a lot of the stress of figuring out what you should do next.

An editorial calendar also helps you stay focused on your mid to long term goals, and provide your membership with regular initiatives.

Who Benefits From An Editorial Calendar?

You will benefit, as this calendar will give your community initiatives some consistency and help you break down larger concepts into more manageable tasks. Of course, don’t feel you have to stick to the calendar – unexpected events can easily be added at the last minute.

Your community members will also find such regularity helpful, as it will give them a schedule to work by. They will know to expect a webchat or competition at regular intervals for example, which allows you to increase the likelihood of return visits.

Some of the many ways you can benefit from using an Editorial Calendar

Beyond just giving you a clear plan over a set period of time, there are many other benefits that an editorial calendar can bring you as a Community Manager. Here are a few of them:

  • If you are one community manager out of several who are taking care of your online community, then an editorial calendar will allow for delegation of tasks and oversight for all to see what is upcoming and needs working on.
  • You don’t have to use a set amount of time for your calendar, but by planning far enough ahead, you can add in important cultural events you want to address, or community milestones that need promoting. This then allows you to work up a plan of action around them.
  • Setting up initiatives for your community usually require gathering up various types of assets, such as images, text and other forms of media. You can add dependencies for entries in your calendar to ensure you have everything ready for the day it needs to be published to your community.
  • If your community is supported by some form of advertising, you will be able to attract potential advertisers on the strength of a clear and structured editorial calendar that they can work their upcoming marketing campaigns around.
  • You could use the calendar to plan weekly or monthly themes for your community. If you manage a horse riding community for example, you could dedicate each month to a different aspect of horse-riding, so that your membership feel they have progressed in their hobby thanks to their participation in your community.

Creating an editorial calendar isn’t hard, just sit down and have a think about where you want to take your community and what they might be interested in. Come back next week for a new article on how to go about creating your own calendar, what you can put in it, and a bonus download that you might find helpful.

UPDATE: Read How to create a social media editorial calendar to propel your online community to new heights.

Do you already have an editorial calendar? How useful do you find it, and what do you use it for?

[photo by Joe Lanman]

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