If you’re a content marketer, content manager, social media manager, blogger, or content creator of any kind; there is one thing you need to know. And it’s how to create a content calendar that works for you and your business.
Content calendars should be used by content marketers to help them figure out what content needs to be created and when it should be published, but content marketers shouldn’t use content calendars as a crutch. They also need to have a content strategy in order for content calendars to work as intended.
But what should go into the planning of a content calendar? More than you think, actually!
There are many different factors that go into creating a useful content calendar. There’s no one single right way to create a content calendar for your company. However, there are some things you’ll want to consider and maybe even avoid. It all depends on your marketing strategy, your budget, who is working on it, and your brand.
As content marketers, we first need to know our content strategy.
Every piece of content that should go into your content calendar needs to support your content strategy. This means it should align with the business’ goals and objectives as well as the larger company’s marketing efforts. It should also be customer-centric; think about what your audience wants to read, not just what you want to write about.
What social media platforms will you be posting to? Are you cross-posting any content? Will they be posted at the same time or on different days? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself while planning out your content calendar.
Your content calendar needs to correlate with your content strategy. Every piece of content that should go into your content calendar should support the content strategy and help you accomplish the larger company’s marketing goals. Your content calendar is a way for everyone within your company to have an idea about what content to focus on and when it will be released. It also helps content marketers and content creators to identify content gaps.
Keeping content relevant is crucial in content planning.
If your content calendar includes content that does not support your content strategy or misses the mark on being customer-focused it will fail. This means content needs to become more reactive when necessary; if a significant event happens that affects your company or industry, content needs to evolve to stay relevant.
This also means content marketers need to know their audience inside and out; this way you can be prepared for content opportunities that may arise based on the customer’s demographics or information that is available about them.
Content marketing requires content marketers to know what content exists already, so they don’t duplicate content and waste content creation efforts.
The content calendar should be a content strategist’s bible; it contains everything that can influence the content in some way, from key business events to the latest social media numbers. Content marketers need to know this information in order to plan their content ahead of time.
Some forms of repetition can be good for a marketing campaign. You might consider creating a series of videos that you’ll post over the course of a month. You might like to have a “product of the month” post or something similar that features something different but is presented in ways that are similar to other posts. But what you don’t want is to post the exact same graphic with the exact same copy multiple times. Your audience will get bored, your brand will suffer for looking lazy or disorganized.
You also want to make sure you’re using everything that has been created for your marketing campaign, or at the very least storing for later use, or else the time and money that went into its creation would be wasted.
It’s also not a great idea to recreate another company’s content exactly. This content might be great for them, but if you are trying to get your content shared it will likely not work. You can use similar content or content that’s inspired by other content that has been created in the past, but don’t recreate content so you can claim it as your own – this is copyright infringement and no one wants to get sued.
The content calendar is a way for you to keep track of what content you’re producing as well as the content your competitors are releasing. It gives you insight into how other companies in your industry or niche are creating content. You can then create content that is similar or content that is inspired by content already created.
Frequency and content type should also be considered when planning content.
Content calendars need to be thought out, content producers will need to know what kind of content they should create and how often they’ll need to create it by taking into account the content’s frequency and content type. For example, a blog post about a product might have a content frequency of one post a month, but a content type of every day. This means content producers need to come up with content ideas for each content type daily.
There are four content types:
Informative Content – Educational content that is primarily used as a resource for customers or employees. This content can appear in many forms from podcasts to podcasts.
Entertaining content – This content is primarily designed to entertain customers. This content can include memes, videos, infographics, etc…
Promotional content – This content can be used as a way of promoting products or services. It might include an ad on social media or it could even be something more creative like creating a content calendar that is designed to attract customers.
Transaction content – This content can be a case study or a comparison of products or services. It could also include a link for where customers can purchase the product or service you’re promoting in your content.
Knowing what type of content and how you want your audience to engage with it should always be considered in your content calendar so that you are getting a wider range of engagement throughout your calendar timeframe.
To keep content planning in line with your content calendar, content producers should create content ahead of time so that the content will be ready to go when it’s scheduled to post.
In order for content calendars to provide the most value, they need to be updated regularly.
A content calendar that is not kept up with will become outdated and content marketing efforts will suffer as a result. Content marketers need to make content calendars a priority, they cannot work in a silo. They need the content strategy, the content team’s input, and approval from multiple sources in order for them to be successful.
Content calendars should be made available to all content marketers in the same company so they have the information needed to create content at critical times.
Some content can’t wait until a content calendar is published or scheduled. For example, a new product launch requires content that may need to be created in a short amount of time and content marketers need access to this information during content planning.
Creating content on the fly requires content marketers plan content ahead of time and schedule it in advance on social media platforms. It also allows content marketers to be more prepared for what’s coming up so they can keep content planning and publishing consistent and timely.
Are you paying for a content calendar service or are you creating one yourself?
There are many websites out there that offer content calendar services. You may have already heard of them: Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Canva not only help you create a calendar, but they can also help you publish your content at the right times on the right days or even help you create the content on their site. You’ll also get analytics on how your posts did as far as engagements and views.
These sites can be an asset, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t know how to create a content calendar in a spreadsheet on your own.
Spreadsheets do offer a cheaper way to create a content calendar, but they don’t offer you the extra help of publishing your content or giving you analytics. You’ll have to spend more time compiling them yourself. But, if you have a really tech-savvy person on your team that’s willing to put in the work to create the right kind of spreadsheet that can include both posts and analytics, then it’s worth putting in that little bit of extra time to save some money. But it’s not always the right answer for every company.
Make sure everyone who needs to have access has it.
We understand needing to keep access to certain things on a short leash, but it’s important that you allow more than just the marketing manager to have access to the content calendar. This isn’t just so that others can create content that isn’t repetetive or doesn’t match the tone of your other posts, but also so that in an emergency someone else can go in and fix something or post for you. You should always have a backup in case of any emergency.
If the content is already in the content calendar, it’s easy to edit so nothing needs to be delayed.
It’s always important to keep all content marketers involved in content planning and publishing content on social media because they will have access to information no one else does. This way, content can’t overlap since all content marketers are aware of what other content marketers are doing.
It’s also good practice to make content calendars accessible to more than just content marketers, you can allow content bloggers who may be looking for new content ideas access as well. They can pull ideas from what you’re already planning to post and create a more seamless marketing strategy if they don’t already have access to your social media strategy.
Make sure to include EVERYTHING!
It’s important that the calendar includes more than just social media posts, it needs to include content that is being created for other types of content that are being published. This content should be pulled from content that was already created for social media since it’s content that your fans want to see. For example, if you’re publishing a content calendar full of content about your products and services, there may be other content out there that would compliment the content calendars social media posts.
If you include every piece of marketing content you plan on putting out, it shows the bigger picture. It shows you how every avenue of marketing content is performing for your business and allows you to make better decisions on how to change up your strategy when something doesn’t work or stales so long as it includes your analytics!
Remember content curation.
Content curation is important because it gives customers content they are already interested in and content that will keep them coming back to your social media pages again and again. So, in order to have a successful content calendar, you need content that includes content that goes viral or content that is super popular on social media. It can be important to follow trends and curate a fun and exciting experience for your followers.
Here at C&I Studios we hope this guide helps your to create the best possible content calendar for your business. We offer services that help with many aspects of marketing, including content calendar creation on top of our content creation services.
Ready to work with us? Contact us today to get the ball rolling!