When I find the time, I love planning ahead. I write out my to-do lists at the end of the day in preparation for the next. I’ll schedule real-time media updates, queue up emails and share project tasks with my team. Not only does it decrease procrastination, but it also increases productivity. When it comes to your real-time media schedule or social media editorial calendar, why not do the same?

Why use a real-time media schedule?

Planning ahead in social media marketing means building a solid real-time media schedule. We like to use a real-time media schedules, much like publications use editorial calendars. A strong real-time media schedule helps define and control the process of creating content. Instead of spending time thinking about what content you’ll be sharing each week, you can refer to your calendar. It leaves room for real-time updates.

Marketo makes the case for why you should use an editorial calendar for social media with five reasons.

  1. It helps you maintain a consistent cadence.
  2. You can map time-sensitive content ahead of time.
  3. You’ll take your social marketing out of a silo.
  4. It serves as a system of record.
  5. It enforces the “411 Rule.”

Plan ahead for the year

What events do you have planned? Any conferences or tradeshows? Product launches? Holidays? Major cultural events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics? Thinking through these events and the type of content you want to share, allows you to get ahead and develop a strategy.

globalHMA works with our clients and their business units to create a yearly editorial calendar. The calendar includes industry trends, important dates, tradeshows, community events, product launches and more. Not only do we design and create content for our client’s channels, we also write, schedule and publish the posts.

Content focus

Be careful not sell yourself or your brand. Sure, you want to promote your business and products. Think about why people are coming to social media. They are gathering research on your company and looking to build relationships. Sharing sales-y content isn’t the best way to capture a prospective customer’s trust. Instead, share informative content that offers a solution to common customer problems.

Real-time media tools

We’ve found the combination of Trello, Excel spreadsheets or Google Docs, Buffer and Google Calendar work great together for us. Trello is where all our story ideas live. This is also where our team adds relevant links to stories we might want to share in real-time. We use Google Docs spreadsheets to detail all the content topics. Columns can include each month, content due dates and publish dates, topics, assigned authors, statuses, where the content is published and other useful information. We schedule almost all our content out using Buffer. I think I use Buffer’s Google Chrome extension just about every day. Google Calendar comes in handy, because we see it every day and can view at a glance the planned content on any given day.

Want to learn more about creating a real-time media schedule? Read more about our real-time media best practices.