Why Editorial Calendars Make Your Content Suck (At SXSW Interactive)

Editorial Calendars

[UPDATE 11/20/14: I will be hosting a SXSW Interactive workshop on this topic in March 2015. For more information, visit SXSW’s website.]

As brands have continued to become publishers, they have increasingly adopted a journalistic gold standard: the editorial calendar. But today, what was once a great organizer for community managers everywhere (and a great comfort to legal departments) has allowed brands to get lazy when it comes to driving results for their businesses.

When you think about the pressures put on brands today to produce content, it can seem extreme. With social media and publishing platforms proliferating, sprawling branded presences, a huge variety of creative specifications and endless best practices for individual channels, brands have had to rely on some form on infrastructure to keep up. Yet for many brands, the tail ends up wagging the dog. Brands feel forced to post across platforms innumerable times per day and are often using the editorial calendar as a crutch to do it.

Across brands, we see editorial calendars driving similar issues:

  1. Clichéd Content: Daunted by the sheer mass of content that needs to be created – and the frequent absence of something meaningful to say – brands fall back in editorial planning cycles to posting about clichéd topics, like obscure holidays, that have tenuous connections to the brand or its business objectives.
  2. Strategic Misalignment: As brands accumulate large followings on social media sites, they begin to run into challenges pertaining to segmenting and targeting those populations so they receive the right engagements at the right time. Often times, content is pushed out because it’s a convenient time for the company to talk about it, not the consumer. These presences begin to lack ‘social purpose’, making it unclear why consumers should subscribe to their content or updates.
  3. Pre-Planned Paralysis: While content calendars can help community managers and legal teams sleep better at night knowing they’ve reviewed content well in advance of its posting, sometimes pre-planning gives staff permission to take their eye off the ball. Ensuring that content is appropriate and relevant for real-time posting means continuing to listen actively to the world at large and what consumers are saying. Pre-planning can take the pressure off of marketers to be responsive to consumer feedback or broader events.
  4. Missed Opportunities: Aside from missteps, editorial calendars can also lead brands to think smaller. Posts can begin to be seen as fields on a worksheet that are produced en masse instead of with careful thought. More importantly, they can miss the mark in terms of what consumers really care about. I often encourage brands to spend less time thinking about what they’re going to post next, and more time thinking about what they’re going to do next that’s worth posting about.

For these reasons, it may be time to consider killing (or at least innovating) the editorial calendar within marketing organizations. I’ve proposed a session at SXSW 2015 to explore opportunities to shift content development, planning and publishing from being based on the editorial whims of organizations to being consumer-driven, data-driven and conversation-led in order to better align with audience’s interests, yielding substantially better results.

If you’re interested in seeing the session come into being, vote at the SXSW Panel Picker. In the meantime, think carefully about what the editorial calendar has done to your organization and what, if anything, could be done better.

[UPDATE 11/20/14: I will be hosting a SXSW Interactive workshop on this topic in March 2015. For more information, visit SXSW’s website.]

0 Pings & Trackbacks

Leave a Reply