This is the first of what will be a regular feature here at Cake – a review! Today we’re going to talk about CoSchedule, an editorial calendar, social media manager, organizer and all-around optimizer for WordPress.
Want to be a better blogger? Of course you do!
We’re a new blog, and a new business. You could even say we’re newer than new—we’re blogging, sure, and we’ve opened social media accounts. We have ideas (too many) and plans to execute them (soon). But we’re not selling anything (yet!) or planning any events, though that’s on the horizon! So why, then, would we need a tool to help us manage our as yet very limited editorial schedule and social media approach?
Because we want to be badass and organized from the very beginning. Because we want to have a very good idea of what’s been done, what still needs to be done, and who’s going to do it. We want to see our social media history at a glance, and all in one place. We want an interactive editorial schedule, so that good ideas 1) don’t get lost in our busy brains, 2) get shared and improved upon, and 3) get made into actual blog posts. We want to be able to see where this blog is going to go, and make plans to support our vision. We want to do this right, right from the start.
CoSchedule is our tool of choice. We find that it does the things we need in a simple, powerful way, and that it isn’t burdened with a lot of features we don’t want or need. It does what it does really, really well.
Full disclosure: I’ve been playing around with CoSchedule for a few weeks now. (Their free trial is generous, and they’re happy to extend it if you want more time to decide.) I had already decided that I love this super handy tool before they offered me a discount in exchange for a review. So, jaded though we all may be, this is, in fact, my honest opinion of CoSchedule. Also, I really recommend you take advantage of their generous free trial. It’s the bomb.
Ok, ready? Let’s dive right in.
CoSchedule + WordPress = Love
CoSchedule isn’t exclusive to WordPress—you can use it as a stand alone social media tool, too—but its integration with WordPress is phenomenal. What’s all the fuss? Nothing but this: CoSchedule facilitates brainstorming, research, composition and sharing, all in one place, and with an easy to use, pleasant interface.
At first glance, it looks like a calendar. But it’s much more than that—it’s a calendar that allows you to schedule your posts, test the effectiveness of your posts’ headlines, create and schedule social media messages linked to your posts, and use analytics to help you determine how best to continue promoting your content online. (Think you should only promote a post once? Think again!)
Let’s look at an example. If you happen to know, for instance, that National Cake Day is November 26th, and you have a fabulous idea for a post that ties in with this event, you can create a draft, schedule the post and social media promotion for that post, and even create a task list for that post, all months in advance. There it will be, waiting for you to add data, links, research, photos and other media—whatever it needs to go from your terrific germ of an idea in January to a fully-developed and informative post in November. And all of the tasks you’ve assigned to yourself, or others, will appear in your calendar. Just think on that for a sec, and consider how much this will help you keep your ass in gear. Check it out in the screenshot below. Notice that everything associated with this draft post is scheduled for you. Ahhhh, yes; let’s all take a moment to enjoy the efficiency. And you can edit your draft at CoSchedule or in WordPress.
These features are super handy even for a small shop like Cake, but it’s not hard to imagine how much a large team, perhaps working in several locations, could benefit from having this collaborative space to work in.
Social media made easy
I know myself, so I know that if I have to remember to stay on top of promoting every post I write, it’s not going to get done. And repeatedly checking on how each post is doing so that I can make my best guess at how to continue to promote it? Not going to happen. Happily, CoSchedule will do this for me.
This tool is available as part of the WordPress plugin, as well as at the CoSchedule web page. They make it so easy and available that if you can’t get your social media promotion done, you’re really not trying. And by filling out the social queue—which you can do even when the post is a draft—you’re maximizing you post’s chances to attract readers. CoSchedule will pull images from your post, and format them for the social media platform specified. It also grabs your title and permalink, and allows you to customize your description. It’s all automated, so that you can get back to creating content, running your business, or, hell, reading a magazine in the tub. It’s taken care of.
Once we’re up and running, their “Top Posts” tab will allow me to review how often each post is shared, and will suggest how often, and when, to repost. Since we’re light on posts so far, here’s a glimpse into how this looks with some sample posts from the CoSchedule website:
By this point, I’m sure you won’t be one bit surprised to learn that you can schedule your social media posts months in advance as well. It’s easy, too—in fact, everything is as easy to find as it is intuitive and useful.
Drag & drop simplicity
Hate figuring out how to add, edit and move stuff? Want everything to be easy and straightforward? If so, you’re a woman (or man!) after my own heart, comrade. Happily, the drag and drop you know and love works seamlessly with CoSchedule.
Need to move a scheduled blog post to a new date? No worries! And, since tasks are scheduled relative to the post date, all the tasks associated with that post move accordingly. I know!
One tool, one location. So you can focus on content.
One last feature I’m loving so far: you can write posts within the CoSchedule ecosystem, as well as—of course!—inside the WordPress dashboard. So if you really want a one-stop experience, it’s yours. We’re going to go with their cheapskate (Team Standard) package for now, so we won’t have Google Docs and Evernote integration, but that’s a cool option we’ll be eyeballing for an upgrade later. Should you choose the slightly more deluxe package, you’ll be able to convert content from these other sources to native WordPress content, which is pretty badass.
I’ll post now and then as I discover more uses and features of this powerfully awesome blogging tool. In the meantime, I suppose the bottom line here is that Cake loves CoSchedule, & we think you will too. Give it a try!
P.S. Here’s a terrific rundown of how it all works, right from the horse’s mouth.