Content scheduling can be an important part of an effective content strategy, meaning you can control when a piece of content becomes publicly available via your digital channels. However, recently there has been some absolute PR nightmares caused by poorly planned out and managed content scheduling.

The beauty of content scheduling is that you don’t have to be present when the content goes live, but can instead create a calendar of content that will be automatically published according to predetermined settings. This can be extremely useful for organisations with limited resources or who outsource copywriting or social media management. Similarly, content can be removed according to a pre-set time and date. This means that content can be prepared in advance and communications remain consistent, regular and in line with the brand ‘voice’.

On the other hand, a poorly monitored content scheduling plan can result in a number of very serious issues.

For example, there have been a few momentous mistakes recently made by big name brands and companies, which were swiftly picked up by the media and publicised. Just this week the Premier League accidentally posted an unfinished article containing unconfirmed data about Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea. The incident was put down to a “publishing error” by a spokesperson, but having been published on Sunday with Monday’s date attached it can safely be assumed that this was due to poorly planned prescheduled content.

In fact the football world has recently experienced a few content scheduling headaches. Back in May Manchester United mistakenly published an announcement on its Facebook Page confirming the appointment of their new manager David Moyes, before Moyes had informed his prior club’s fans (Everton) of this decision.

And who can forget Tesco’s hugely awkward tweet following the horsemeat scandal – “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”. The superstore immediately apologised, recognising the poor taste associated with this and stating that the tweet was pre-written and scheduled before staff were made aware of the scandal.

As well as being a major embarrassment for the brands involved mistakes like these can be costly and jeopardise your brand image in the long-term. So here’s our top tips to help you create the best content strategy possible:

  • Ensure scheduled content is as un-controversial as possible. Refrain from publishing content that you are not 100% sure about or has information that is classified (even if you have been given a date for this information to become public, as these dates may change) and keep to standard updates (newly published articles, reports, offers, etc).
  • Regularly review your content schedule to ascertain that the content you have lined up for publishing is both the most relevant and timely, and to avoid making any faux pas.
  • Measure the performance of your content (views, visitor flow, conversions, etc) when published at different times/on different days to identify the times that your audiences are most susceptible to your communications and adapt to suit.
  • Remember that not all content should be scheduled. While consistency is good and sets user expectations, published content and social media updates at the same time day in day out are not natural, and don’t lend themselves to you managing to create and project a unique brand identity and character.

In conclusion, content scheduling can become an integral component of your content strategy, allowing you to easily manage a core calendar of pre-prepared content. However, as with any online activity this must be managed and monitored effectively, in line with a proactive and responsive online presence as a whole.