Do you handle community management for your client or company? Do you manage a blog or run a public relations program? If you’re in charge of any sort of content and/or social marketing strategy – and if your goal is success (duh) – it is absolutely crucial that you develop a content calendar. An effective content strategy requires… well… strategy, of course, and where best to outline said strategy than in a thoroughly developed document that highlights the elements of a carefully thought-out content plan.
Now with that said, let’s take a closer look at the process of developing a strategic content calendar.
Not So Fast! First Thing’s First
Creating a content calendar may sound rather easy, but this task is not one that should be rushed. Before you build a content calendar, you must truly understand what a content calendar is. It’s more than just a schedule with deadlines. A solid content calendar should map out who your target audience is for this content, and where they search or socialize online. Identify and answer: Who do I want to sell my product or service to? Your calendar should map out content that factors in the big picture and how your efforts can drive real results.
What Does Your Content Calendar Look Like?
Next, you will want to determine how far out you want to map content to your calendar. How far in advance are you planning? What makes the most sense for your business? Is it monthly? Quarterly? By planning content out in advance you will help to get the entire team on the same page, keep production consistent, and be able to clearly outline deadlines. Some elements to consider for your content calendar include:
- Type of content with possible title or post topic
- Description and overview of what the content is
- Internal deadlines and who is responsible
- Where to push the content out (Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Website, Print/Online Publication, etc.)
- When to push the content out
- The type of audience you want to target
- Keywords for SEO purposes
- Metrics – how you’re going to track shares and effectiveness
SO, How Do You Decide What Content To Develop?
Take the time to think about the type of content you want to develop. Organize a brainstorm with your team. What goals are you trying to achieve? Is your goal to gain more blog subscribers? Drive more sales for a new product? Increase your social fan base with industry thought leaders? Remember, your content should always tie back to a specific KPI – otherwise, how will you measure or track your efforts?
Develop this list out while you brainstorm topics. Some questions to ask to ensure your efforts relate to your overall marketing strategy include:
- Are there any relevant and recent news stories to tie into? Any holidays or notable days to keep in mind?
- Any upcoming events or speaking opportunities, new product launches, company initiatives or new projects being developed?
- Any existing content (contributed articles, case studies, news releases, etc.) that can be re-purposed?
Thinking about your content in terms of themes is another way to organize your content strategy. From there, find a way to make that theme social, engaging, and fun. Develop content surrounding that theme including articles, infographics, videos, PDFs, white papers, e-newsletters, and so on. Whatever makes the most sense for you and your business.
Tip: Be sure to remain flexible. You never know when breaking news will hit or a new tool will be introduced. If it makes sense for you to develop content based around anything timely, then adjust your calendar accordingly, and do so. You don’t want to miss out on a great and trending opportunity!
Using Keywords To Your Benefit
As mentioned before, one of essential elements to include in your content calendar are keywords associated with specific content. Listing high-priority KWs based on research you conduct will help with optimizing the content you push out, wherever that may be. Conducting this research and developing this list can also help ensure you are creating content that is relevant and interesting.
Use this process and extend your search – it could possibly lead you to new content topic ideas for your calendar. Build titles for your content based off of this KW research and add to your content calendar as well. Bottom line: Don’t create content with no reason behind it. The point of using keyword research to advise your content strategy is to help make sure you are (1) creating engagement opportunities from your target audience and (2) ensuring your company’s brand is seen and heard. Implementing this type of tactic can help drive people to your website, if the proper content strategy is in place.
Managing The Content Calendar
So, after all the legwork of developing the content calendar is done, what’s next? Implement and manage! How does one best manage this type of asset? Our recommendation is to have one person own the document. Make sure it is up to-date and that everyone on the team has the latest copy when additional updates or changes are made. Hold people accountable to their deadlines and continue to make sure the content developed is aligned with the goals and KPIs of the business. Make sure content is run through the appropriate legal processes, follows the brand standards, and that the voice of the content stays consistent from place to place.
Some Final Thoughts…
Brands develop content for a wide variety of business purposes – to attract potential customers to a new product or service, to position company’s experts as thought leaders in the industry, and countless more. Keep in mind that any form of content marketing should be looked at as a long-term strategy, not a short-term strategy! Not every content calendar will be the same. but if you do not develop one with a strong strategy behind it you will miss out on many opportunities and success.
Do you have any tips you take to the table with your own content calendar? Tell us about them!
photo credit: © Gino Santa Maria – Fotolia.com