Do you have a content calendar?

I hope the answer is yes!

I'll admit I didn't really have an official content calendar for social media for a while.  Through a bit of research, I've found a system that works pretty well for me. It keeps me on track and offers a few ideas of things to focus on each day. Now, there can always be more time to plan; there can always be more time to be creative. But, I feel pretty confident in my system in that I have a fair amount of good content, so I'm ready to shake things up.

I read this article from Hootsuite - challenging marketers to think about shaping out their content like magazine's editorial calendar. How clever!

If you've ever pitched to a magazine or even bought an ad placement, I'm sure you are familiar with their editorial calendars. You want to match the theme, and craft your story to fit the idea, or have you advertising design or copy - at the very least - to have similarities to the theme. Or you might just buy when your brand fits best in this calendar.  

I wanted to research this a bit on my own, focusing on calendars I felt would fit both work and my personal content. I researched a few magazines that I love, plus ones that are focused on families, which are a bit more fitting for my job. 

My big takeaways from the research include:

  • Overall themes - plus plans for recurring features in issues -  really help PR specialists know what to pitch for their brand. Content writers can use these same ideas to craft monthly topics and features.
  • "Best Of" months are prevalent. Now I'm sure most of the popularity is that this big name brands are recommending their favorites to their readers,  and who doesn't want that? But, content writers could create a "best of" list to spin their brand and products too. 
  • Make sure the content you produce is always complimenting your brand. Each of these calendars shape the overall purpose of the magazine, from fonts to colors in photographs to content. The brand is amplified with each.

Here's are a few examples:

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Couple of takeaways from this Southern Living:

  • Notice the focus on Southern Living's brand image throughout the calendar. Even through the images on the side bar, a reader knows this magazine is all about lifestyle, food, and decor. 
  • The content plan seems fitting for calendar months in the South. Readers are much more likely to think about outdoors when the South is seeing have warmer temps outside.
  • Many magazines have an entire month dedicated to "Best Of."

 

 

Takeaways from Real Simple:

  • Images are real and simple....get it?
  • Their brand is consistent, even on the content calendar and color - notice the green hues across each month, aligning with the green in the logo.
  • Monthly themes are very broad in this example.  The direction is given through the photos. I think it's a bit easier for brands to pitch to these ideas.

Takeaways from Family Fun:

  • Themes for this magazine are certainly playful, appropriate for families.
  • I love that they went in-depth with each feature, so not only do they provide you with their overarching theme, but they also have shaped the remaining stories inside the magazine as well. 
  • They also break down sections of the magazine that are present every month, like "explore" and "last bite."

 

Takeaways from Parents

  • This is very similar to Family Fun's calendar, so I feel positive something working right for them.
  • One difference between this magazine and Family Fun is that all issues do not have an overarching theme -- compare March vs April.
  • I see several ideas that could work for our Baytowne account - maybe I need to focus more on how moms enjoy The Village, for instance.

Next, I deleted a few pages from the media kit, but the below is Martha Stewart Living.

Takeaways from Martha Stewart:

  • Themes are short, and simple. And, I love the alleteration with Savor Summer - perfect!
  • I also love the idea of provide opportunities for marketing partnerships and events. If someones looking at your editorial calendar, it's important to also provide demographics, reach, and other ways to be involved with the brand.
  • I liked they were a little more focused with February. They didn't just have a "love" section which would seem fitting for a month that hosts Valentine's Day, but focused on what to love - yourself!
  • As expected, the brand is consistent even with the media kit. 
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Takeaways from Travel + Leisure:

  • I was really hoping this would offer some creative ideas for my work content calendar, since we are a resort destination.
  • You still see that "best of" theme here for August.
  • Interesting how they've grouped activities for travel - shopping, adventure, culinary, and photography. They've also grouped popular spots to travel, and I would assume the release date would align when most travelers plan trips to those destinations. I would think February - when most of America is over the cold weather - would be a great time to promote the Caribbean.

Takeaways from The Magnolia Journal:

  • I can't do research without including my favorite personality - Joanna Gaines! This magazine is pretty new to the scene, with an overall them of inspiration for life and home.
  • Again brand image is consistent. From the fonts, to the pictures, you know exactly how to craft a story to fit this brand.
  • This magazine is only published quarterly, so the themes are certainly broad, but still focused on the lifestyle/home ideas of Joanna's brand.
  • They've also highlighted features that are in every issue, which gives a little more direction for your pitch.