A content calendar is the most important piece of your content strategy. It’s where you outline social media post and blog ideas. It’s also where you organize and monitor your entire workflow—from ideation to publication.
Forgoing a content calendar leads to missed posts, opportunities, and holes in your digital marketing strategy. That’s why content calendars, or editorial calendars, are so vital! Here are the top reasons why you should absolutely use a content calendar in 2019 and every year until the end of time.
Why You Need a Content Calendar For Your Social Media Marketing and Digital Content
Marketing can be broken into two parts: proactive and reactive communication. Content calendars enable you to look at the months or years ahead to proactively plan for holidays, company events and announcements, promotions, and more. Using a content calendar will also streamline your content creation process—freeing you up to respond and capitalize on those reactive events like breaking news, trending topics, etc.
Why is it important to plan ahead? Planning content around trending topics helps your brand chime in on the larger digital conversation and stay relevant. Plus, thinking ahead to ready your content for holidays and predetermined events may spur creative marketing ideas like sales, partnerships, or engagement campaigns.
We all know what happens when you put something off. It doesn’t happen. Don’t let that happen to your content marketing material! Instead, set up a content calendar so you post something valuable every day of the week and your publication cadence doesn’t dwindle. Social media algorithms and traditional SEO value regularly and consistently published content. Use a content calendar to help you improve your SEO, organic search, and relevance across channels.
Unique Messaging on Each Platform
You should never duplicate content on any social media platform or marketing channel. Why? It hurts your SEO, your audience becomes bored, and you miss out on the unique voice and demographics each social media channel offers. Because content calendars organize your content side-by-side, you can easily keep track of what you say where and cross-promote your content to cycle your target demographic toward the end of your sales funnel. That way, your content will be fresh and functional on every medium.
Diverse Content and SEO
The timeless adage, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” applies to content! That’s why we love content calendars; they allow you to curate “content buckets.” You can think of content buckets as well-rounded topics that are relevant to your target audience, business, and ideal customer. For instance, homeopathic supplement brands may have content buckets for medical research, exercise, nutrition, and family health. Likewise, a solar company may have environmental news, industry news, company news, and green energy tips as content buckets
When you set up a content calendar and create content buckets for your brand, you’ll cast a wider net with your content—giving a more diverse set of keywords and resources for search engines to find and put in front of qualified people. Plus, a content calendar visualizes your content publication, so it’ll help you keep your posts interesting for more than one audience.
Doing the bulk of your content production at once saves time. We’ve found the average client spends at least 10 hours per week on content and social media and a content calendar streamline this process!
Determine Shortcomings or Overspends
Content calendars should act as well oiled machines; from ideation to production to time management. Once you have a smooth process with your content calendar, it will expose inefficiencies in your company. Maybe you have too many people doing one job. Maybe you have too few. Whatever your issue, a content calendar will bring it to the surface.
Tracking your content in a spreadsheet will make it easier to draw conclusions. Say you see a spike in sales one day of the week. Maybe that’s attributable to the type of CTA or video content you publish on social media that day. It’s easy to reference a content calendar to see what you can keep doing for great results or what you can to better.
How To Create a Content Calendar for Your Digital Marketing Efforts
1. Do a Content Audit
First thing’s first; see where your content stands with a thorough content audit. Determine what kind of content you post on each platform and how often. Look at data to see which posts do the best, which channels get the most engagement, and where you can improve your efforts. Also look at competitors to see how your content marketing stacks up. From there, you can create content goals and move onto step two.
2. Create a Shared Spreadsheet
We personally love Google Docs for everything. That’s where our client and personal content calendars live. However you set up your content calendar, create unique tabs for your blog, email marketing, and each social media channel like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Then, create columns for ideas, publish date, hashtags, copy, visual and video asset links, resource links, and content bucket. Don’t forget to create a folder where your content deliverables live too—like blog drafts, social posts, etc!
3. Add Holidays and Company Events
We also like to include a tab of “monthly themes” in our content calendar. That includes annual holidays, company events, and fun trending days like National Cat Day and Business Women’s Week. Autofill those dates into your content calendar. Once your framework is set up and your sheet is shared with your marketing team, you can brainstorm.
4. Brainstorm Content Ideas
Sit down with your content team and brainstorm content ideas for the upcoming 12 months. Focus on one month at a time, give everyone 10 minutes to ideate independently, and then open the floor to share and discuss ideas. Riffing on each other often leads to even better content! Plus, this was you can weed out the so-so ideas and stuff your content calendar with only the best ideas.
5. Set Drafting, Design, and Development Deadlines
After you have all of your incredible ideas in your content calendar, add your production workflow. Pad your deadlines with enough time to accommodate copywriting, editing, design, and development to upload and publish your content or schedule for social. When in doubt, give your content production more time than you think it’ll take to get finished. It’s always better to beat deadlines than watch them pass you by. Let a project manager take the reins on this to keep it organized.
6. Use Content Planning Tools
If you prefer for your ideas to live in one spreadsheet and your production/workflow to exist in another, you’ll love content calendar planning tools. We’ve used Airtable, Asana, and Trello and recommend all three. If you have a small team, you can use these platforms for free. And if you have to upgrade, the premium add-ons like real-time project tracking are worth the money.
7. Stick to It!
Don’t let all your hard work of setting up a content calendar go to waste. Fastidiously follow your schedule so your content goes live, helps grow your social media followings, improves your SEO, and betters your bottom line across the board.
Houses aren’t built without foundations and your content strategy shouldn’t be built without a content calendar! We hope you’ll use these tips to get organized, optimize your results, and publish better content in 2019.