If you work in social media marketing, you’ll probably have a content calendar. Whether produced with Excel or with professional planning tools like Hubspot or Scribble, content plans have formed the backbone of social communications for a long while.
But the world has moved on. And for me, content calendars are now largely redundant.
It doesn’t matter whether you use a content plan to look months or just weeks ahead, there’s a strong argument to say that it is no longer possible to plan much beyond a few days into the future.
The Price of Progress
We live in a world where everything changes so, so fast. Social platforms develop on an almost daily basis, and the way people use them evolves nearly as fast. Progression Paralysis is commonplace.
More importantly, businesses and the news agenda are in constant flux. The superspeed nature of modern life means they have to be. So how can you plan content when you don’t even really know what’s coming tomorrow in the news or in your industry, let alone in a week or a month’s time? You can’t. And does this not make the content calendar largely redundant?
I was interested to read a post on Spin Sucks just a couple of days ago where Gini Dietrich states openly that she writes without an editorial calendar, and yet goes on to make a strong case for using one. But why?
I too don’t work to a content calendar, and I hate using them for my clients (although there are times when it is necessary). I’d argue that such plans lock your mindset into a rigid structure that leaves little room for adjustment (and I really don’t buy the ‘but we’ll stay flexible’ line).
Working Smarter & Harder
The main problem I have with content plans is the psychology of using them. Once they’re in place, the tendency is to sit back and think ‘job done until the next one’s due’.
Far from it being lazy NOT to have a content calendar, as Gini states, I believe working without one means you have to be more on-the-ball, more creative, more diligent and more industrious on a daily basis. You’re forced to pay attention to the very latest news and cultural developments; to spot and to create opportunities.
I believe you work smarter by reacting to what’s happening in the here and now.
I know the idea of working without a content calendar might sound odd coming from a social media strategist. But my preferred working model is borne from just that; strategy.
I recommend investing time into gaining a full understanding of your marketing and communications strategy; what you want to achieve and what your key messages are. With that, you can pivot and react in real-time to generate content that may be off-the-cuff but is also highly topical and relevant. And it works.