Whenever marketers talk about marketing, there’s a phrase they like to throw out. And that phrase is “content is king.”
It’s believed that Bill Gates coined the phrase back in 1996. And, it turns out, he was right. When you consistently create valuable content, it builds meaningful relationships with your audience. It also improves brand recognition and establishes you as an industry thought leader. Content is also crucial for SEO and marketing your products and services.
Here’s the thing, though. For content to reign supreme, you need to take a strategic approach. In other words, you can’t just wake up and wing it. For instance, by sharing random social media posts or writing a blog post for the sake of having content on your site.
Instead, it needs to be relevant. And more importantly, it needs to sync with your long-term goals.
While it is essential, this can be time-consuming. Thankfully, you can use your calendar for better content management.
Content Calendars: What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?
In terms of content planning, a content calendar is simply a spreadsheet or calendar that details the content you will be publishing over the next few weeks, months, or even years. Besides giving you a quick overview of your content schedule, your content Calendar can also be shared with your team to keep them informed.
Your blog probably doesn’t need a content calendar if it’s just a hobby. However, staying organized is crucial if you’re using content marketing to grow your business.
Your content marketing strategy can benefit from content calendars in the following ways:
Keeps you organized and saves you time.
You can compile your ideas with a content calendar whenever you have the time. As a result, you won’t need to multitask. As a result, you can spend your time on other things instead of wasting time on ideation and creation.
Ensures you post regularly and on time.
In social media and SEO, consistency is the key and is rewarded with better metrics. As well as keeping your audience hooked, consistent content can help you recall your brand more effectively. For example, to make your audience feel more personalized, you can select specific events, holidays, or seasons that are important to them and post accordingly.
Collaboration is made easier with your content calendar.
With most calendars, you can collaborate with the calendar and have multiple editors and creators on the same calendar by using team collaboration tools. Team members can stay informed and work together more effectively this way.
Errors and mistakes are reduced for you and your whole team.
It is easier to proofread multiple times when everything is planned and organized well before time. Furthermore, since numerous eyes are on the content calendar, mistakes are spotted quickly and corrected immediately.
You can develop your strategies for distributing content and using social media.
By keeping everything in one place, you can keep track of all the activities on your social media. By thinking long-term, you can devise strategies for what to do next.
It keeps you up-to-date on the latest trends.
A comment on a trending topic will always get you more traction than a non-trending one. You can make content according to all the trends when you use a content calendar. Instagram hashtag contests could be a simple example.
Tracking and improving content performance is made easier with it.
You can identify gaps and improve upon them quickly when you keep track of your daily or weekly activities. A/B tests can help you determine the content mix that gets your audience the most attention using your calendar.
Content Calendar Best Practices
Content management strategies can be made more successful by developing a content calendar. These tips will help you create steady content that meets your marketing goals and elevate your organization’s content calendar.
Pick a format you like.
For hosting your content calendar, you can use a variety of platforms. For example, you can use a spreadsheet, content management software, or a calendar app. It really depends on what works best for you and your peeps.
If you want to track more than just deadlines, a traditional calendar may not be the right tool. If this is the case, a spreadsheet might be a better alternative. Why? Because you can neatly organize everything into columns and rows. And this lets you include more information about each piece of content, such as the author, keywords, current status, and links.
Calendar and project management functions are included in content management software such as Asana and Trello. To improve your team’s efficiency, you can also use spreadsheets alongside these tools.
Come up with content ideas.
After identifying the correct format and tools, the next step is brainstorming content ideas. In addition to being topics that fit your brand persona, they should address any concerns your audience may have and demonstrate your expertise in your field.
Looking for some inspiration? To get you started, here are some ideas:
- Regular blog posts.
- Videos, webinars, or how-to guides.
- A recurring post, series, or theme, such as Motivation Monday.
- Case studies.
- Customer success stories.
- Business-related infographics, statistics, press releases
- Make use of popular culture, news, holidays, or trends.
- Reading lists.
- Product or service launches.
- Interview with a leader in your industry or business.
- Business behind-the-scenes.
- Business-related infographics, statistics, press releases
- Upcoming industry events
Also, to save time, look for ways to repurpose existing content. A blog post on how to use your product could be turned into a video, for example.
To schedule content as far in advance as possible, you should come up with enough ideas. At least a six-month supply of ideas is ideal for me. But, there are some content ideas that I can plan further out. For instance, I can map out a content marketing strategy for the holidays a year or so in advance since key dates are pretty much set in stone.
Identify the channels and frequency of your publications.
Decide where and when to publish your content once you’ve brainstormed ideas. After all, there will be a different purpose for each channel. Using varying content means your content is written and relevant, uniquely suited differently to each channel.
- Blog. Your business and industry insights are published as “how-to” content. A blog post should be published every day, ideally. The best thing you can do is share 1 to 3 quality posts a week if this isn’t possible.
- Website. Using landing pages, videos, and gated content can improve your credibility. In addition, it improves your search engine optimization. If your business or industry changes, this type of content only needs to be updated once it is created.
- Social media networks. You can promote your new content on these channels, build brand awareness, and engage your audience through social media channels. Depending on the channel, the frequency changes; Facebook once or twice a day, Twitter three times daily, LinkedIn once per day, Instagram 1.5 times per day, and Pinterest five times per day.
- Video sharing sites. YouTube has become a great chance to mix your content up a little. YouTube is used to upload explainers, training, and interview videos (or even something funny about your company or brand). You can publish videos as often as you feel necessary. Don’t start thinking you can do a video every day if you haven’t made these vids before. Making YouTubes are hard to keep up with every day. Choose a weekly or every other week schedule to start out — depending on your audience. You will need to plan long video sessions where you get several done for your upcoming calendar obligations.
- Emails. Content such as newsletters, press releases, surveys, and seasonal content should be tailored to specific audience segments. Find the best time for your emails through A/B testing. Avoid annoying your audience by sending arbitrarily timed emails.
Develop a content marketing strategy.
A content marketing strategy will help you achieve the best results from your content calendar. The first step is to determine your goals each quarter or year. Then, if you’re stuck, ask the following questions:
- What is a content creator, and why do you create content?
- Do you want your blog to attract more traffic?
- Are you looking for more leads?
- Do you want to be a thought leader in your field?
It is crucial to identify your goals before creating any content, determining where and when it should be published and how often it should be published.
Next, determine who will be involved in the content. Setting up team roles will help you determine how much content you can put out based on your team’s capacity, whether you have a dedicated content marketing team or outsource. During this stage, a content planner can be helpful.
To determine your context mix: and the type of content you will create, you need to identify your goals and establish who will be involved in the process. In order to get the best results, you should set up a consistent posting schedule.
Map out your content calendar.
The next step is to create a content calendar based on your content creation process and content marketing strategy. Depending on your business, your calendar will differ. To keep everything cohesive, you should only plan 2-3 months ahead. It’s also possible for content ideas and goals to change.
Here are some things you might want to include in your content calendar:
- Title or Topic
- Due Date
- Publish Date & Time
- Target Keyword
- Content Description
- Promotional Channels
- Notes & Resources
An online calendar like Cron, Thyrv, or Calendar may also help map everything out. As Choncé Maddox explains, “I like to set up days dedicated to brainstorming, outlining, creating/scheduling, polishing, and promoting. Yes, the content production process is pretty tedious, but having a solid plan laid out in writing can make all the difference.”
Additionally, you can use your calendar to “set reminders to hold yourself accountable for meeting specific deadlines and allowing yourself enough time to prepare what you need to complete the content.”
“Once you’ve organized everything in your editorial calendar, you have another useful tool at your disposal,” suggests Max Palmer in a previous Calendar post. “Most blog platforms allow you to schedule posts to go live at a specified date.” Content for the upcoming weeks and months can be created by your team and scheduled to publish at the appropriate time. You can schedule posts for social media as well.
“Dashboard services like HootSuite allow you to enter posts and schedule them to go live on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or all three at the same time,” he adds. “By always working in advance, a team also has the opportunity to tweak posts as needed before they go public.”
Promote and measure.
The final stage of creating a content calendar is promoting the content. Again, the most effective way to achieve maximum results is to plan a consistent posting schedule. Also, figure out what promotional channels you’re using and when.
You can measure your content’s success in a variety of ways. For example, you might measure brand awareness, lead generation, or SEO depending on your content marketing goals. Then, to plan for the next quarter, track these metrics consistently every quarter.
Be sure to leverage both web and social analytics, as well as revenue data. With this information, you can optimize existing content, such as titles, introductions, outbound links, etc., to increase visits and engagement.
The Bottom Line
There is no one-step formula for creating a quality content calendar. However, to achieve the best results, you must plan, create, complete (along with the image and SEO), and post steady content regularly. With a content calendar, you will remain organized, facilitate team collaboration, keep on top of deadlines, and increase your content marketing success.
[Related: How a Clear Production Schedule Sets Up Content Creators for Success]
Image Credit: Judit Peter; Pexels; Thank you!
Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. Former Editor-in-Chief and writer at Startup Grind. Freelance editor at Entrepreneur.com. Deanna loves to help build startups, and guide them to discover the business value of their online content and social media marketing.