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How to avoid a social media mess

How to avoid a social media mess Jordan Berg

Ever wonder why so many brands have a totally dysfunctional Facebook posting strategy that screams schizophrenia? How about posts that seem so out of character that you wonder if the Facebook account was hacked? Us, too. That's why we have developed a set of tools that will help anyone who wants to build a rock solid social editorial process. You will see our spreadsheet overview at the end of the article.

For many brands, the process of continuously developing content and posting into social channels is becoming a free-for-all. To combat an inconsistent and fractured social presence you will need a well-defined process, otherwise social media managers will relentlessly "feed the beast" with content and posts. As a brand's social channels mature, it must now master a social editorial process.

A well-defined social presence should have editorial programs that sync to the overall marketing program throughout the year. That means grabbing lots of time with your media director or director of marketing to understand the year's marketing goals and campaign calendar. Each editorial program will have a defined run time, devices to test and launch (think photo contests, polls, etc.), and core messaging that syncs up with other marketing channels. This allows social editors to create from a holistic viewpoint, which will result in an orchestrated communications strategy. While this process will develop posts methodically, it should be noted that social programs also need to move in real-time and have the ability to develop new posts that are "of the moment" on newsworthy topics.

Below is a four step process, which should be conducted iteratively over time to produce ongoing posts. Posts are typically developed in several batches over the course of the year.

Step 1: Define annual editorial view

This step establishes the overarching topics and content focus for the course of the year. This top-level view utilizes thematic stages such as seasonality, focus, and business and product emphasis. This view also establishes the posting frequency and social content rotations for the different parts of the social program, to ensure a continually fresh and engaging experience.

Step 2: Define themes and topics by week and day

Now that we have the overarching annual topics focus, it's time to go deeper with the editorial strategy and sketch out specific topics that should be explored on a weekly and daily basis. This will help you visualize the posting plan without getting caught up in the writing of the actual posts. This weekly view helps the editor to see how topic themes, calendar events, and seasonal ties produce an effective conversational rhythm. The editor can leverage topic categories and post themes from an "editorial guidelines document."

Step 3: Brainstorm and develop posts

Now that we have the topics to guide us by week and day, it's time to brainstorm specific post ideas and write them. The writer can consult the editorial guidelines for guidance on the tone of voice, conversational style, and social policies. Some posts may require the development of assets such as graphics or videos.

Step 4: Approvals and scheduling

Once posts are written, they can be routed for approval. Marketing, brand, and legal are typically involved in some capacity as reviewers and final approvers. The approval process should be iterative, allowing for feedback and revision cycles. After approval, posts can be placed into automated scheduler queues (e.g., Buddy Media, TweetDeck, or WordPress).

Next steps: Download, customize, and institute

When you're ready to set the wheel in motion with your own editorial program, you can use the spreadsheet below. Customize according to your needs, and begin managing your posting process.

Spreadsheet overview

  • Annual editorial calendar
    Establishes overarching topics to be covered over the course of the year. Utilizes planning stages such as seasonality and product messaging emphasis. Establishes frequency of posting and content rotations.

  • Weekly editorial topics
    Establishes the themes and topics that should be touched on when writing actual posts. Establishes a conversational rhythm and posting cadence.

  • Weekly social posts
    This tab captures the actual posts that are written. Posts can be captured as ideas first and then become fully written out. The spreadsheet tab can be used to indicate the status of approval as well as capture any team feedback.

  • Engagement tactics
    Captures social engagement tactics. Engagement tactics are more than just posts, and can include contests, user-generated content programs, or promotions. They are like mini team projects, but ultimately get scheduled into the posting process as they are announced.

Jordan Berg is co-founder and partner at Questus.

On Twitter? Follow Berg at @jordanberg. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Flow chart concept with a descision" image via Shutterstock.

Jordan Berg brings over eight years of visual communications and design experience to Questus. He has experience in both interactive advertising and traditional design. Jordan has recently completed projects for world-class brands such as Suzuki,...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Carolee Sherwood

2012, February 17

From your lips to the ears of companies and brands everywhere! Yes, social is "fun," but it can't be treated like an extracurricular activity. As you insist, it requires integration with the marketing program and a methodology to support it.

We use an in-house platform (Zeitgeist & Coffee) for ourselves and our clients that manages content development and approval workflow. We can work against an editorial calendar and respond to opportunities in the moment. Since we publish directly from the platform, the review/approval process is captured and a content archive maintained.

We're at ease. Clients are at ease. And we're all confident that content is fresh and relevant -- without losing sight of the bigger marketing objectives.

Commenter: Nick Stamoulis

2012, February 16

Just like any other strategy, a social media strategy needs to be kept organized. Posting something on a whim can come back and haunt you. Always think a post through and decide whether or not it makes sense for the brand.