If you’re into New Year’s Resolutions, you’ve probably added this great idea to your list: new year, new content planning solution. It’s already mid-January. Still using spreadsheets?
First of all, can we all agree that content is essential to any business nowadays? A survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that 92% of marketers say that their company views content as a business asset. This means there’s no room for mistakes and missed opportunities. Content marketers have to get it right and they have to do it fast. There’s no time for messy spreadsheets and endless email chains.
If you’re like most marketers, spreadsheets have been a big part of your day-to-day work. Don’t get us wrong: spreadsheets are great for managing financial data, but they’re a terrible choice for content marketing workflows. It’s time for an upgrade. Marketers should make sure that they have a modern content approval process in place.
Not sure why or how it affects your team? We’ve prepared a list with cons of using spreadsheets. Once you understand the problem, it’s easier to find a solution that works best for you and your team.
Here are the 3 main aspects about spreadsheets that prevent you from reaching your content goals:
The main issue when it comes to spreadsheets is that you can’t visualize how your posts are going to look. There are only rows of text which offer you zero context. It’s easier to see what stands out and is not on brand when you can showcase your work in a visual way. This is why teams that still use spreadsheets often give irrelevant feedback and make uninformed decisions. Content can’t be created at the highest quality when you’re missing context.
A rich content strategy includes all kinds of formats, from images and carousels to gifs and videos. A variety of content types does wonders when it comes to reaching and engaging with users. How will your team integrate those formats into spreadsheets? Please, for the love of social media, don’t say Google Drive links. You can’t focus on creating the best content if you’re too busy wrestling with workarounds.
Now, be honest: does the following sound familiar? “Final content strategy”, “Final final content strategy”, “Final final content strategy v2”. Of course it does. How about navigating through a lot of folders with even more files? And what’s inside those files? Multiple tabs. Argh! Spreadsheets can be very segmented. This is why it’s easy to get confused and lose time, while your productivity drops at an alarming pace. Don’t even think that Google Spreadsheets can save the day. Sure, you won’t have to go through the trouble of constantly saving multiple formats, but you still won’t be able to see what that wonderful carousel looks like. You need one place where the entire team can see all your work at a glance.
There’s no doubt that every team member should be on the same page. Previous research showed that 49% of employees said they have trouble locating documents. That means half of employees lose time finding information they need. Hard to believe this was still happening in 2019, isn’t it? Having clarity in access is hard to achieve with spreadsheets. Your team needs to find assets easily and assets themselves have to be well organized.
How can you ensure everyone is aligned when using spreadsheets for building an editorial calendar? You probably keep media assets in some Dropbox folder, create mock-ups on Facebook unpublished pages, and take screenshots to send them to the client. Next in line? Getting feedback through endless email threads that contain Google Drive links, images, and video attachments. The cherry on top? Phone calls where the client screams “the copy on row 10, column D has a typo!”. A delight for the ears.
You can’t expect everyone to be aligned when conversations always happen in so many different environments. Spreadsheets don’t allow you to communicate properly, so conversations always happen through other means as well: emails, chats, etc. Because of that, information gets scattered and lost.
Giving and receiving feedback is complicated when using spreadsheets. This causes 2 problems: on the one hand, stakeholders avoid giving feedback and only say what is of absolute necessity. On the other hand, teams make an effort to include as few people in the feedback process as possible. Either way, the content workflow suffers.
What happens when your team lacks a smooth collaboration flow? Precious time is wasted due to faulty communication. Also, it’s easier to make mistakes. Unfortunately, even one simple mistake can be directly translated into money loss. We’re talking about serious problems that could be easily avoided with the right tools.
Let’s do a short recap: in addition to spreadsheets, teams also need to exchange emails, use chats, organize meetings, make phone calls, and maybe even send texts. What does your productivity look like after all this back and forth in so many environments? No wonder efficiency suffers when team members require multiple channels to work together.
Image: “Content Marketing. Behind the Scenes” report by Planable
In order to be productive, teams need one place for both communication and showcasing work. As explained earlier, spreadsheets only solves a tiny part of the complex workflow. Creative people like content marketers don’t enjoy wasting their time, creative spirit, and energy in logistic nightmares. Using the wrong tools can easily lead to overwhelmed marketers and underperforming content.
Image: “Definitive Guide to America’s Most Broken Processes” by Nintex
We, content aficionados, can’t afford to miss out on any opportunity. A strong social media presence and timing are now essential to brands. We need to make sure that every post for the Christmas campaign is approved by the client and scheduled way before it’s the season to be jolly.
We’re all aware of the fact that creativity and repetitive tasks are not good friends. When time is wasted in tedious tasks, such as copy-pasting the same content in various channels, team members feel like they’re not giving their best. Why waste precious talent and time when there are simpler solutions to improve content planning?
To conclude, when your team’s productivity is hitting a wall of clunky processes, it’s time for an upgrade. You need to design a workflow that allows for seamless, efficient, and visual collaboration. In order to achieve a smooth process, you need proper infrastructure. For your workflow to actually work, you’ll need the right tools to be the glue that keeps it all together. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. You can learn how to create your ideal content marketing workflow from experts. This is one of the reasons we started our free Academy.
Let’s see what your tool of choice should offer.
Your solution has to allow the team to see pixel perfect content previews. Leave the extra clicks in the past.
According to the Content Marketing Industry Report, it usually takes 5.4 days from the creation to the actual publishing of a piece of content, while a third of the time is spent on collaboration. We, at Planable, worked with thousands of marketing teams and know how important it is to have clarity over how content is going to look like.
Image: “Content Marketing. Behind the Scenes” report by Planable
This is why we built a product that eliminates the need to rely on your imagination. It’s easy to create and preview posts in any format, whether it’s text, video, gif, link, photo, album, or carousel. You can view posts as though they are live, exactly like on your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter feed. Your posts should be rich in details, such as emojis, active hashtags, page tags and your tool should also offer a Giphy integration.
Another important aspect to the way you organize your content is that it has to be easily viewable in multiple ways. If you want to look at the Facebook campaign for the next month, you should be able to view it in a calendar. Need to deep-dive into details? A feed view would come in handy. Want to visualize the final Instagram output? A grid view is essential. A kanban for visualising approval workflows. A funnel to understand the campaign’s focus in the customer journey. You get the idea. Make sure your tool has all the necessary features to ensure clarity.
Your tool needs to make collaboration easy for your team and clients
Content quality suffers because of inefficient communication. As mentioned earlier, it usually ends in compromise. This compromise takes the form of fewer people involved, superficial reviews, or edits aimed at simply making the stakeholder say yes. This is often reflected in each piece of content and visual, and therefore, in the brand’s image. The solution you choose for 2020 has to offer one shared space for your team and clients to collaborate with ease.
Your tool should ensure that transparency is in place, and every team member can know everything they need to succeed. In addition to clarity in information, giving each user the right permissions solves the access challenge. Ensure that clients have to make as little effort as possible to visualize and approve the content. When no sign up is needed for clients, they tend to be more open to using your tool. Make sure that the solution you choose allows for easy sharing with an email invite and approval is only a click away.
For marketers, content related information has to be at a click distance. One click, not 13 clicks through a maze of folders and a jungle of files. Eliminate miscommunications and mistakes with the help of a tool that makes it easy to give clear feedback, in context. If feedback can be given right next to the post, why waste your time with spreadsheets that offer zero context?
Whatever software you choose, make sure it improves your team’s efficiency.
As our report showed, documents, chats, and emails are the most popular tools of the trade. 75% of brands and 71% of agencies use documents to communicate and share work. Chats are used by 3 out of 4 in-house brand teams and 1 in 2 agencies. 90% of agencies and 69% of brands use emails to communicate.
At Planable, we know that content creation on steroids is every marketer’s dream. Our product was built to work as a centralised hub for ideas, content and feedback – no more spreadsheets, emails, phone calls, meetings, chats, and texts for approval. We hate them as much as you do. Keep your team happy by making it easier for them to do what you hired them to do: creative work.
Your tool should eliminate those tedious tasks and simplify the mandatory ones. Planable focuses on exactly that. Creating posts is easier than ever, especially when all you have to do is drag and drop your media files to see your ideas brought to life in real time. Giving feedback takes a couple of seconds. You can also save some extra time by adding your posts into a predefined time slot and power up your social media scheduling. Whatever task you think can be simplified, we’ve thought about it already.
So… still working with spreadsheets, huh? You and your team deserve better. Let us at least show you how Planable can make your life easier. Let’s jump on a call.
Raluca Cîrjan, Digital Marketing Specialist @Planable.io. Advertising enthusiast, fast learner & ailurophile. I believe that one joke a day keeps the doctor away. Feel free to share a funny story with me.