Just starting out with a Content Marketing strategy? Or maybe you've been producing content, but you've been working without a plan or schedule. The best place for you to focus is on creating a well-planned editorial Content Calendar. When you're facing a blank template, it's easy to stare into the void and wonder how in the world you're ever going to come up with enough content to keep your audience interested. But with Content Marketing being critical for business marketing today, you have to bite the bullet and start creating...the first step being the creation of your company's Content Calendar. We'll try to simplify this process for you.
Why Do You Need a Content Calendar?
Imagine trying to plan a wedding without any sort of real plan or direction, or think about trying to take a vacation without putting some time and thought into the trip. Or just picture you are a magazine editor and you are producing publications without researching, proofing or scheduling. None of these would work out in your favor, and the same applies to Content Marketing. Your business is hoping to be successful with Content Marketing, so you need to have a plan, a schedule, a calendar.
How Does a Content Calendar Help You?
Your content should be planned for the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals, and organizing it all into a thoughtful calendar can make it easier to:
- Fill your content plan with upcoming events, holidays or industry gatherings.
- Create a logical flow of content, allowing for themes and overall messaging and branding.
- Touch on all channels. A Content Calendar assures you don't forget to Tweet out that great company news or ignore comments sitting on your Facebook wall. This also lets you identify any holes in the plan - what is missing?
- Stay current and relevant with your audience. If it's down on paper and scheduled to happen, you're much less likely to slack off in your Content Marketing output.
How Do You Build a Content Calendar?
- Gather your information and invest some time in good research. There's no point in producing great content if no one is reading it, so identify your target audience, and gather facts about their interests.
- Think about your team. Do you have enough staff to produce a blog post everyday? Is there someone to man the social engagement, or do you need to bring in outside help? The amount of content you can share with your audience is entirely dependent upon the team you have assembled to help, and the more content, the better.
- Examine any existing content. What do you have already in your arsenal that could be re-purposed as a blog post or company video? Be mindful to avoid duplicate content, and think outside the box to gather content that's not already living online. Press releases, newspaper stories, internal podcasts and hangouts...the sky's the limit.
What Do You Include in a Content Calendar?
You should be producing a mixture of content through a variety of channels, and each should be organized in your calendar. Some examples of content you should include are:
- Blog Posts (strive for at least 2 per week)
- Social Media Posts (each post should have its own space on your calendar. Include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+, also adding on Instagram and others if these are working for your type of business.
- Hangouts and webinars
- White papers and free guides
How Do You Format a Content Calendar?
As with any other calendar, you want to start with days and weeks, allowing monthly views as well as yearly. Use a formatting that allows you to see the big picture as well as day-to-day. Include spaces for the following:
- Content Title/Details
- Author's Name
- Due Date
- Publishing Date (and time, if you want to be very thorough)
- Meta Data
- Any linked social channels (ex. a blog post could be shared on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn)
What Do You Do with Your Finished Content Calendar?
First, never think of it as finished; it's an ongoing work of creativity and flexibility. Positive company news should always have a place even at the last-minute, just as trending topics are only trending for so long, so take advantage of those as well when appropriate. Now that you have your calendar, here's what to do:
- Share with your team and divide the work. It's great if your group can be together during preliminary brainstorming sessions so they can share their own ideas for their writing.
- Track your content's performance and run a quarterly analysis of your calendar against the success (or non-success) of the content when it is published.
- Start planning for the next round. Your Content Calendar should always be growing, and don't be afraid to be creative and try new strategies. If Content is King, then Creativity is his Queen.
Remember that careful planning now can prove its weight in gold with your Content Marketing efforts, and we are here to help you with the research, strategy and/or creation of your calendar. Don't waste any more time trying to reach your audience without a plan!