If Content Is King, Your Content Marketing Calendar Is Queen
Have you ever noticed that when you have an angry customer on the phone, the dog is barking, the tax bill just arrived, and your network just inexplicitly quit working, it’s hard to come up with a decent Twitter post? We’ve all been there.
It seems that real life doesn’t stop to make room for your content marketing efforts. That’s why we are firm believers in creating a content marketing calendar. You can plan your social media posts and content feeds in advance during your quiet times when you can give it your best.
A marketing calendar also allows you to plan across all the digital channels you want to communicate with your customers through and to take into account national holidays and events that correspond with your practice.
When you consider just the major social media channels — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn — and all the various forms of content you can generate, like videos, whitepapers, articles, blog posts, new product announcements, etc., you can see it can get complicated quickly. Keeping up with this data flow can be a chore, but it doesn’t have to be chaos thanks to your content marketing calendar.
Knowing Your Content
You can define content as any information you or your company creates for public release. Social media posts qualify under this definition, but usually, you use them to promote other content. For example, if you get an article published in a health magazine, you can use your various social media channels to announce the item to your followers and provide them with a link so they can read it for themselves.
So, the first thing you want to start planning is major pieces of internally generated content that you intend to produce throughout the year. The period of one year is arbitrary, but for projects that take a little time to prepare, it works in most situations.
Now, on a spreadsheet or other grid-type format, start deciding when you will do what. For instance, maybe you are planning to create a background video about how you got started in your field. Enter the estimated completion date for the video on the calendar. Strategically decide on types of media your followers would appreciate and what time of year you think would be the best release time.
Are your people big readers? Plan some whitepapers, books or long blog posts. Are they watchers? Start providing some informative videos. Do they like pictures? Give them photo albums and infographics. You get the idea; provide your clients with the type of information they want in a format they will enjoy.
Sketching Out the Big Picture
Now that you have scheduled your content plans, start looking at how you want to promote your creations. If you aren’t big on creating original content, no worries; you can curate content from informative and authoritative sources in your field and promote it through your social media channels. All you have to do is make sure you provide some brief thoughts on the topic and link to the sources you want to share.
On your calendar, start composing posts that correspond to each piece of promoted content. Set up a column for each social media channel you want to pursue and enter each post in advance. By completing this step in advance, when the desired day arrives, all you have to do is copy and paste the text in the proper social media account.
As you are creating your posts in advance, attach any photos or links you want to include in the post onto the calendar. When finished, you will have a rough draft for an entire year’s worth of social media content promotion. Hold on, though; your work’s not over yet.
Keeping It Real
What you have done so far is a good start. You should have a basic annual content marketing schedule in the works, and you should begin to start seeing some potential ideas springing forth. The next step is ongoing. You are going to select a day each month to work on the upcoming month’s marketing calendar.
Planning a month in advance, determine where you need to adjust your draft by allowing for any changed content activities, major news events or big surprise announcements. You also want to use this monthly planning day to fine-tune your social media posts. Have any of the details about what you are promoting changed since you created your draft? Now is also the time to scrutinize your spelling and grammar to the extreme.
You will get a feeling throughout the year about how well received your efforts are among your followers. Are you posting too frequently, or not enough? How about your subject matter; are you on target or missing it by a little? Making constant tweaks is part of the game. Your business changes, your customers change and the media channels themselves change. Be prepared to change your social media plans — a lot.
Picking Up the Pieces and Moving Forward
After the first year, you should see patterns of success and failure in your efforts. Adjust, re-adjust and keep moving forward. You will learn from your mistakes and, hopefully, capitalize on your achievements.
The one thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone. Check on your competitors and your friends to learn what is working and what is not. Keep trying different mixes of content types and promotion methods until you find your customers’ particular sweet spot. It will come; just give it time.