In our last blog, we focused on helping you audit your current content, determining which types of content to use moving forward, and brainstorming exercises for new content. This was an important step in preparing for Day 6’s exercise: building your content calendar.
Today is all about making sense of the clutter and information that came from Day 4, in order to set your business up for consistency in posting content. We’ll start by understanding what a content calendar is and how it can help you, then outline simple steps for building your content calendar, followed by the keys to calendar success.
In short, a content calendar is a shareable resource that your team uses to plan all content activity. As opposed to creating a long list of content ideas, a calendar-based format allows you to:
Consistency is key in developing this content calendar. Sure, you can still come up with ideas or last-minute posts, but adhoc posting is not the way to manage content for marketing or business purposes. A calendar organizes work for your team and provides peace of mind for year-round planning efforts.
Day 4 was all about auditing old content and brainstorming the types of content to create. We asked you to remove content that didn’t relate to your SMART goals or weren’t relevant to your audience segments.
Now, take your tagged content (organized by date, topic, tone, length, and relevance) and place them on one half of a whiteboard and the publication channels you’ve chosen to use (blog, webinar, video, photography, whitepaper, case study, infographic, podcast, and social media) on the other side. You’ll need to understand what’s available to you before outlining how the content will go out.
Then, select your most appropriate topics and publication channels so you can start building them into your physical calendar.
Regular posts should function somewhat like TV programming. You want to create regular posts that viewers expect on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Programming should look and feel the same and be called the same thing.
For instance, if you are wanting to highlight one employee per month, you don’t want to highlight one through a blog post, another through video, and another through podcast. You’ll want to choose one method of programming that audiences can expect and look forward to when visiting your pages. Some programming will be “specials” or one-time events that might happen once or twice a year. Others will be quarterly, and others will act as the consistent information to keep interest up. When working through your programming model, be sure to keep in mind that certain channels can take more time and energy (i.e. videos take more time and resources than writing a blog post).
After determining your topics, publication channels, and programming model, outline a weekly, monthly and yearly publishing schedule that your team can handle. Whatever schedule you build, keep it consistent. If you’re not sure, start small with one to three posts a week.
For most content marketers, a basic spreadsheet will work well in organizing information. Make sure your team is able to view and contribute so you know what work has been completed and what still needs to be addressed. You can include columns with some of the following information:
Within the calendar itself, or as an additional tab, have your team write out and agree on posting and tracking best practices. This should include elements like SMART goals you want to stick to, tone of voice, suitable content formats, and preferred language.
It should also list out guidelines for using the calendar and deadlines that every team member needs to follow. Dates are one thing, process is another. Your content strategy will only function as well as the practices put in place to support it. Ensure the team understands what’s expected of them and why they need to use a calendar.
Depending on how quickly your organization moves, there are several keys to content calendar success:
Ultimately, an editorial calendar will help you consistently deliver relevant content to the right channels, so that you meet your SMART goals and drive interest to your audience segments. Start small and build the calendar out so you have a manageable table that keeps you on task. You’ll soon wonder how you ever lived without one.
Stay tuned as we work toward the final step, posting your first piece of content. In the meantime, feel free to download our editorial calendar template to get you well on your way to building a fantastic content strategy.