Are you using an editorial calendar for content management yet?
As a blog owner or content marketer, you might have a love-hate relationship with the process of running your blog and juggling multiple content providers and social media platforms.
It isn’t easy and it usually involves several tools. That’s why I was so excited to hear about CoSchedule, a new tool created by TodayMade that combines blog post and social media scheduling in a neat editorial calendar. After testing it for several weeks, I’m in love with it and figure that this tool offers everything most content marketers and bloggers would want. Here’s a walkthrough.
Getting Started with the CoSchedule Editorial Calendar
Once you sign up for a CoSchedule account, you can download and install the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory.
The next step is to connect your blog to CoSchedule by plugging in your login details. Once that’s done, you can access your CoSchedule calendar either via the web interface or in the WordPress dashboard of any of your connected blogs.
Since both are identical, it doesn’t matter which you use, though marketers may find it more convenient to manage CoSchedule within the administrative dashboard. The second part is to connect your Gravatar account and add your social profiles so you can share posts easily.
CoSchedule supports the addition of multiple Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles and pages, LinkedIn profiles and groups and Tumblr accounts. It has recently added the ability to post to Google+ pages via a Buffer integration, which is a huge advantage for marketers already using that tool.
You can also connect CoSchedule to your Bitly account for tracking links, integrate Google Analytics tracking tags, and add all your blog and social media posts to Google Calendar which is useful if this is how you collaborate on content with your team.
These can be added individually or as a bundle and will appear in your calendars list in Google Calendar. I found that after authorizing social accounts for my initial blog, it took less than two minutes to get a second blog set up on CoSchedule.
Using CoSchedule for Collaboration
Many marketers and blog owners work with multiple content providers. Like WordPress, CoSchedule allows you to manage these easily.
When you set up a blog, CoSchedule automatically pulls in the names of all the existing contributors to your blog as a starting point, but you will have to invite them to CoSchedule for them to be able to access your dashboard. I would have liked to see existing authors granted automatic access.
The app defines two roles, Editor and Contributor, with the Editor role broken down into two further roles, Owner and Administrator. Each blog can have only one owner but multiple administrators. All editors can manage team members, while contributors can publish content but not change calendar settings.
Publishing with CoSchedule
After the setup phase, you have multiple publishing options. Let’s start with regular posts. You can publish content the regular way in WordPress and it will appear in your CoSchedule calendar, where the current date is highlighted with a blue background. CoSchedule works with WordPress post statuses: draft, under review, scheduled or published.
Only draft posts (color coded pale yellow) and posts under review can be moved around on the calendar (be careful with this; I accidentally deleted a post I meant to keep, though it was easy to recover).
Scheduled posts have a white background. Published posts are faded out. This enables an at-a-glance view of which posts you and the team are still working on and which are ready to go.
Hover over a date to see a pen icon and then click on it to bring up the blog post edit window. You can choose a title, date, time and category and set the status of the post to draft, scheduled or pending review. That then appears in the calendar—clicking on it brings up a bigger window where you can add comments, assign tasks to team members and more.
CoSchedule includes a dashboard-within-a-dashboard where you can keep track of tasks, notifications and scheduled posts. On either side of the calendar are two flyout boxes. On the left you can filter posts by status, authors, category and social account. On the right you can delve into your drafts and posts under review, using the search box to filter them by title.
Creating and Scheduling Social Media Posts
The killer feature that makes CoSchedule better than any other editorial calendar is the ability to schedule social media posts at the same time as the original blog posts from within the same interface.
Whether you use the WordPress or the CoSchedule post creation interface, you get the option to add social messages for your posts. To do this you select your social account from a dropdown list, insert the code for title and permalink (this is supplied), add any text you want, and set the timing.
Repeat this as many times as you want for as many sites as you want. I’ve found that this has worked pretty well, though occasionally (as has also happened with other scheduling tools) a social message doesn’t publish. I solved this by moving the update to a new date and rescheduling. In this example, when I wrote a post, I knew a tweet and Facebook status would go right away via another provider, so I set a later tweet for the same day to catch the audience in other parts of the world. And because I was pleased with the post I scheduled follow up posts for the following week and a further post for a month later.
I customized each status so it was slightly different. It’s worth reading CoSchedule’s advice on customizing social media messages.
One excellent feature of CoSchedule is that there are two ways to schedule social messages. “Hard scheduling” sets messages for particular dates and times. “Soft scheduling” sets messages in relation to the publish date of the post.
If you use soft scheduling then if you need to move a post to a different time, all the associated social media messages will automatically move accordingly.
The Price and the Verdict
After some tweaking, CoSchedule now has a simple pricing system. After a 14-day free trial, you pay $10 per month per blog with no limits on the number of users and editors each blog can have. I got a free trial for the purpose of writing this review.
While every blogger can benefit from CoSchedule, it really comes into its own for those managing busy blogging and social media schedules.
The team functions allow editors and contributors (and other team members) to discuss and edit posts as they move through the work flow and to know exactly what the status of all messages is at a glance.
For individual bloggers, the social media scheduling works far better than almost any tool I’ve tried before. I’d love to see this released as a standalone (and maybe free) product.
I still love Buffer and will continue to use it for scheduling content that’s not on my own blog. However, I believe CoSchedule does a great job of replacing editorial tools, social media scheduling tools, content management tools and team collaboration tools in a lightweight, functional and attractive interface.
Let us know… have you tried CoSchedule yet? Or do you favor another content/social media planner?