Template: 7 good reasons in support of a social media editorial plan

Editorial plan – the term sounds a bit dusty, almost anachronistic when it comes to social media marketing. So why is a social media editorial plan nevertheless indispensable for implementing a content marketing strategy?

A woman is sitting in front of a laptop, operating a smartphone at the same time. Both digital devices display social media platforms that she is filling with content in a structured way, thanks to her social media editorial plan. A variety of interaction icons symbolize the brisk appeal of her posts.
Image: © Boggy / AdobeStock

The road to structured social media editorial planning

Tools for cross-posting and social media monitoring, such as Hootsuite or BufferApp, are undoubtedly powerful tools that provide valuable assistance for any social media manager. Content marketing tools such as Scompler also help with editorial organization in-house. Numerous WordPress plugins are available for blog posts, such as Blog2Social.

The functions, emphases and strengths of these individual tools are as diverse as the range of products on offer. Still, these handy assistants facilitate truly comprehensive planning of strategic content and resources – planning adapted to different needs – in just a handful of cases. The recommendation here is to put an overall editorial plan in place by creating a social media editorial plan.

There is still a great deal to say for planning in good old Excel. Whether just one person or an entire team is entrusted with management of a company’s social media accounts, a well-structured editorial plan shows at a glance who has been tasked with what; when and where what content is published; and what budgets of financing, time and staffing must be planned. Through cloud and document-sharing services, all stakeholders work in a file in parallel, and all team members are kept up to date. The seven key requirements shown below for successful social media activities can be met more easily with the aid of an editorial plan.

#1: Plan financial and human resources!

Creating content and taking it live, maintaining accounts and articles, interacting with users, not to mention monitoring, evaluating KPIs and planning strategy to optimize reach: All this takes time and incurs costs in the process. In addition to content, an editorial plan also helps to keep an anticipating eye on the resources, capacities and deadlines for each channel and each individual post. Download a template for your editorial plan 2020 here:

#2: Be not just a mouthpiece but an interaction partner, too!

Be it an extended arm of customer support, shitstorm, brand hype, virals or hate speech in the comments: Every social media channel requires constant support, control and, if necessary, sturdy crisis management. Without an editorial plan, you quickly lose sight of these tasks, or else you get bogged down in reactions and wind up neglecting fresh content and topics.

#3: Stay tuned!

Not all companies have a social media manager who has been hired expressly for the purpose (yet). As a result, the task of support for social media channels often falls to the marketing manager, who is supposed to do this task more or less alongside his or her normal daily business. Without a guideline in the form of a plan, it is hardly conceivable to maintain and adequately manage all of the relevant channels in the long term and on a regular basis. Sooner or later, and despite the best intentions, a task will be neglected in the course of daily business.

#4: Make your communications systematic!

The systematic structure of an editorial plan colors the structure of brand communication in social media – inevitably. People who work with a plan tend to post under recurring topical categories (e.g. theme days such as a Blue Monday), with consistent tonality and uniform iconography. Such a one-voice, single-stop effect creates recognition value – and can become a flagship for the brand on the social web.

#5: Define your routine!

To keep followers from losing sight of your company or the account from sinking into the social media underworld due to inactivity, it makes sense to institute a posting routine for each individual channel. An editorial plan reflects this routine perfectly and facilitates seeding. This way, you can schedule and prepare postings for each channel weeks in advance, always for publication on the same dates. Color highlighting in a template for your social media editorial plan, for instance, makes it easy to visualize stages of the workflow such as creation, approval and release, or any important deadlines.

#6: Document and optimize!

Case in point: Facebook Organic reach is dead,” as SEA and CRO agency Netzproduzenten® observed a few years ago. The statement is sobering but accurate, too. Today, there are some brand pages on Facebook that achieve an organic reach of less than three percent with their postings.

Anyone who still wants to appear in users’ news feed either has to dig deep into their pocket for paid traffic via ads, post at a higher frequency or stimulate discussions and shares with their high-quality and strategically well-thought-out postings. All this means additional effort and expense that must be planned in advance, documented and analytically evaluated for profitability after the fact. A detailed social media editorial plan gives you the space it takes to record and detail the time and investment required for each post and channel.

#7: Be anticipating and creative; don’t procrastinate in the face of pressure!

Anyone who has ever created content for social media or any other media form knows this phenomenon: There are moments when the ideas simply don’t come and the necessary creativity is lacking. If a dry spell like this directly coincides with a day on which a posting campaign for various channels has to be created and published on the same day, the result is a worst-case scenario.

But if you happen to be in the creative flow right now and riding a writer’s high, you can just keep your ideas bubbling forth in the editorial plan until the well runs dry. In this way, future posting dates can be filled with worthwhile ideas, spot-on wording or original topics as you prepare the posts of tomorrow. It makes business sense, economic sense and is satisfying.

An editorial plan for social media brings structure to content marketing

A solid, well-thought-out strategy for populating various social media channels is an indispensable part of content marketing. Without a structured editorial plan in place, anyone who wants to continuously place target-group-oriented content on a variety of social media platforms runs the risk of losing sight of the big picture or sacrificing accuracy in targeting.

And yet a social media editorial plan is no substitute for a well-thought-out social media strategy that is tailored to the needs of the respective sector and target group. Rather, it is a tool that serves as a road map, guideline and checklist when implementing this strategy in day-to-day business. Download a template for your editorial plan 2020 here:

Download Editorial Plan 2020 here free of charge

The right editorial plan: Which plan fits my social media strategy?

Naturally, there’s no such thing as the one, ultimate social media editorial plan template that fits every brand, every in-house workflow, every social media strategy, every target-group breakdown and every campaign. A template for a social media editorial plan should never be viewed as the last word carved in stone. Rather, it is a basic framework for orientation, a framework you can and must adapt to your needs. You should ask yourself the following questions, among others:

Mono- or multichannel?

How detailed and comprehensive your editorial plan is depends on the number of channels you serve. Every platform you populate with content should have at least a column of its own in which to formulate the posting. Sometimes one or more columns are recommended for comments on strategy, the assignment of hosts and support staff, and time and budget recording.

Calendar or list?

Most of the free templates for editorial plans on social media come in calendar form. But if you post at a higher frequency of several messages per day, the list format may be better suited, as it ensures a corresponding clarity along with tighter timing.

Lean and clear or sophisticated and detailed?

Depending on whether you want to manage individual postings or entire social media campaigns, the plan should provide more or less room for the organization of subtasks. For campaigns, a plan offers enough space to prepare and elaborate on a topic that is tailored to specific target groups for different channels.

By definition, a tweet will sound different and present different formal requirements for content compared to a LinkedIn contribution or an Instagram post. If you want to communicate the same topic and your brand message credibly to Gen Z and thus reach the youngest generation of consumers, you need completely different social media, different linguistic and creative resources. Your plan should reflect this spectrum and offer space for each channel to articulate your posting and your strategy.

Practice counts

Most of the requirements specific to your particular plan will only become apparent with daily use. This is where the decisive advantage of an Excel template can be seen: With a single click, a new column or line is inserted and the editorial plan is tailored to suit your everyday needs a little bit more effectively.

Tools for cross- and multi-posting more or less bind you to the structure specified in the respective app or program and generally do not offer the flexibility you need. Adapt your social media editorial plan to your social media strategy – not the other way around!