Editor’s Note: The biggest hurdle we hear from our readers when it comes to social media is, “how do I keep it coming with fresh content?”. That is explored here from the perspective of having an editorial calendar. This is not just a tool and process for the media or professional authors. A clear editorial process will make all the difference when it comes to being organized, capturing ideas and outlining your content creation. The apps suggested here are not the only ones available, however, they do shine when it comes to helping content creators stay organized and focused.
It is no easy assignment to manage the editorial process for any content efforts you undertake. When it comes to social media, the challenge can be even tougher as timelines are frequent and deadlines are short. That is not to suggest you must be publishing content in a non-stop fashion, there are simply more channels to use and more mediums to tackle with each piece of content you produce. Using an editorial calendar is a big part of removing much of the complexity of this process, leaving you time to focus on the important task at hand – creating quality, relevant content.
I’ve discussed the editorial calendar before, so today we will focus on several tools which help you manage the content process, from ideas and research to assembly and publishing. Tools, or apps, helpful to the content creation process fall into three categories.
Discovery and Collection for the Social Media Editorial Calendar
Perhaps the hardest part to pin down, but in my view, one of the most critical elements of your editorial calendar process. Be it ideas that jump out at you as you’re driving or in a meeting or just on the go away from your central workstation – it is easy to lose that idea when you delay capturing it. In addition, as you flesh out ideas for original content, they are often inspired by existing information or material online, or in something passed to you via email or a social media channel. Making it easy to stow these morsels away for later use (and perhaps citation) can be important to the impact of your effort. There are several apps that are very versatile in this category, depending upon how you need to use them.
An important reminder (I apologize to those who hear this from me like a skipped record)- your content does not just have to be text, i.e. articles. Use the medium you feel most versatile in to create content – be it podcasting, screen-casting, video or other non-text format. Regardless of the medium(s) you choose to work in – you will need these apps to at minimum collect and outline your thoughts as well as the aforementioned storing of research material.
(in alpha order)
I would consider this app the leader of this pack. It spans across Mac and PC as well as Android, Apple and Microsoft smart phones and tablets. If you create it on one device it will sync to the others. You can use plugins and extensions to stow and snip items online into Evernote, as well as typing your own notes and even recording audio and video recordings from your microphones and cameras present on your computers and devices. My favorite feature is the ability to tag and manage multiple notebooks – thus I can have editorial calendars for publications I write for as well as my own blog and podcast. You may find you’ll use Evernote for far more than just an editorial calendar once you dig in. There is a free edition as well as a premium edition available.
It may be known as an RSS reader and excellent alternative for Google Reader – however – it also allows you to search and monitor content via keywords you search for. Thus if you follow a topical area where you are an authority and publish content for – Feedly enables you to aggregate many sites that also speak to that topic. It has tools for tagging and saving stories you may later cite or reference in your own content. Equally useful, it has a save to Evernote feature – so if you are a voluminous researcher and content creator (as this author is) you may end up using both. You will find apps for smart phones and tablets as well as very useful Chrome and Safari browser extensions. Again, free and premium editions exist.
Instapaper may be targeted more toward the heavy reader of online content – but some features are very useful for capturing sources for later use as inspiration, reference or direct citation. With browser and app tools – this also spans Mac/PC, smart phones and tablets. A unique feature would be its highlighting tool (think yellow highlighting pen) so you can focus in on a particular section of an article you may discuss later, versus having to reread an entire piece to find your points. Like the previous apps, Instapaper includes Chrome and Safari extensions for easy bookmarking when on your computer and content syncs across devices. Free and premium editions are available.
I would consider OneNote a solid competitor to Evernote, albeit with a more Microsoft-centric set of features*. Like its peer Evernote, it can capture content in many mediums from the web as well as clipped from just about any application on a Windows 8 computer (as well as on a Windows Phone 8). It also has robust sorting, editing, organizing and sharing options like Evernote. OneNote is free as a mobile app and also included in Microsoft Office, in use on the vast majority of Windows and Mac PCs.
*This is changing slowly, as Microsoft has been porting their apps beyond its Windows Mobile platform to now include very attractive apps for both iOS and Android devices. However, most devoted users of OneNote love the tight Internet Explorer and Outlook integration – only available on a Windows PC.
Pocket is a close peer to Instapaper. An excellent solution for those who find themselves primarily capturing articles and other online content for later use or just simply to share on social media at a later time. It has a browser support for Mac and PC users and a similar inventory of apps for Android and iOS devices. Unlike its peers, it is always free.
Assembly and Initial Editing (Outlining) of Your Content
It is not suggested that these would be your final editing tools. However, I frequently find (at least in my use of Evernote) that I can further flesh out my ideas into individual pieces of content right within the app. For example, if I have captured a few articles I want to reference in an upcoming podcast, I will pull those into a single note I am using to define that upcoming podcast episode. I will then write out a rough outline of the script I intend to follow, often also finding and adding any images I will include in the final episode. This way as I head into production for this podcast episode, I have a single note with references and my outline to leverage as I record.
Evernote, as mentioned above, has a full editing toolset and can nearly serve as your editor if you write text-based articles. However, those editorial tools are also strong if you are outlining or scripting for audio and video. This can save you from having to piece together a myriad of tools. Using Evernote – or OneNote below, one can collect, outline, edit and prep and then go straight to their content production apps.
IAWriter runs on Mac’s and iOS devices and can serve as an excellent distraction free writing tool if you are focused on creating text-based content. There are alsoPC-friendly writing apps like this one. I have covered it on The DigitalFA before and you can get more details there.
OneNote, like its peer Evernote, handles later editing, outlining and organizing in strong fashion across the devices it supports.
Of course, you can use your favorite writing (insert medium here – imagery, podcasting, presentation, screen-casting, video) app to create your content. That may be the optimal approach once you have captured all you need for your new content.
An Efficient Editorial Calendar Process
Picking a few versatile apps can upgrade your editorial process dramatically. The strong support for working from anywhere means you can be responsive and nimble in how you create and publish content, even from a coffee shop or hotel room. Taking some time to evaluate these apps and match them to your preferences for how you collect, outline and manage the steps you take to content creation will be rewarding.