What if I told you there was a way to ensure all of your content is prepared, organized, and planned effectively? You’d probably say “Yeah, I know about that”, or you might say “Huh?”, but either way, we’re here to help. The secret? The content calendar.
So… What is a content calendar?
An unsurprising definition to a marketing must, a content calendar is simply an organized chart by date that plans out days, weeks, and months of content marketing for a brand. They’re typically created in an Excel Sheet or Google Sheet so that multiple people can easily access them, and since digital marketing is at the forefront of current marketing strategies, keeping the calendar online is a no-brainer. Content calendars can be giant master calendars that include all of social media, email, traditional, and any other marketing attempts made on behalf of the brand. On the other side of the coin, you can make content calendars specific to the channel, so one for social media, one for email, and one for traditional etc. So what your calendar(s) will look like completely depends on how you want to keep track of things.
Often times, content calendars end up becoming these rainbowfied mazes, making it difficult to decipher and decode what actually needs to get done, and when. They don’t need to be saturated in 15 different colors; they need to organize your content plan and chart out the timing of all of the marketing things. Feeling lost already? No worries- we’ll take you step by step through all the ins and outs of content calendars while sharing some templates along the way.
Why should you use a content calendar?
There are many benefits of utilizing a content calendar. Most notably are these three: strategy, planning, and accountability.
- Strategy. With everything in the grand scheme easily viewable thanks to the calendar, it’s a heck of a lot easier to ensure your strategy is in focus. Most content calendars should include a of column or feature that lets you know what topic is. The calendar will also include notes for your copy, so you can double-check to make sure the new promotional hashtag makes it in the post, or that your call-to-action button is the most appropriate for your post. A “notes” section on your calendar could be a great spot for this information.
- Planning. Perhaps the most obvious of the three, planning is what content calendars do best. Mapping out content plans for weeks, months, and even up to a year really helps you get a better sense of the bigger picture. It also allots plenty of time to gather components such as graphics for social media posts as well as proofreading and editing. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Accountability. It’s all fun and games talking about awesome ideas in a content meeting, but if those ideas never get written down or organized in proper fashion, your next big marketing move might end up being forgotten! When you add in new concepts to the content calendar, it helps you stay accountable for what you want to achieve for your brand or business. Plus, you could even take it a step further, and assign it to a team member right in the calendar, (we’ll get to that later.)
How to Make a Content Calendar (or just use these templates)
Making a great content calendar is a subjective art. You’re going to need to customize the calendar in order to fit the needs of your client and of your team. But, check out this sample blog content calendar and sample social media content calendar if your team is new to content calendars, or even just starting to get into the marketing gig.
These calendars should strive for simplicity and ease of organization above all else. Notably, these example calendars are intended for brands that don’t yet have large amounts of content marketing going on already. But that doesn’t mean you can’t customize and add more sections, specifications, and more for your growing platform! In fact, we hope you build, break, and build back up a content calendar that works for you.
If you decide against one of our templates, then my feelings will be deeply hurt- not. All joking aside, after skipping on the templates, you’re going to need to make sure that you have at least the following when going to build your content calendar:
- Basic Color Code. If you must. If there are more than four colors, we’re going to be a little disappointed. Coloring does not equate to comprehension, and remember, white space helps us process visual information better! Just some food for thought.
- Date and Timing. Some content calendars can be as specific as to include the time of posting into the calendar (we leave that in the actual scheduler), but you’re going to need a date as a bare minimum. Deadlines are important!
- Platform or Topic. Give some depth to your content calendar and include which social media platform the content is going to, and/or what topic the content piece speaks to. Knowing which platform the posts are sent to makes it a snap transposing the calendar into a scheduler, and organizing blogs by topic will help you strategize effectively and make certain your content mix is on point.
- Don’t leave the copy for later. Or at least have all the general concepts written out and organized. This is more intended for social media content calendars, but nonetheless still holds true for plenty of other calendars. Content calendars’ usefulness dwindles if you save writing out the content for the day you post. If you aren’t planning it out all the way through, are you even planning it? C’mon now. Take that extra hour and try planning out the whole week’s worth of copy. You will notice that the posts feel smoother, and less of a mishmash! You’re welcome. Plus, now it’s done for the whole week! You’re double welcome.
One of the most important things to know when making a content calendar is that content calendars are going to look different. When you compare your calendar to another marketing fellow’s, while you certainly can glean some tips perhaps, you should be mindful that your setup needs to work for you and your client. So, if that friend of yours shows you a sample calendar belonging to a fortune 500 corporation, don’t feel like the calendar you made for that local B2B client isn’t up to snuff by comparison. In fact, if you noticed your calendar was remarkably smaller and less complex, that probably means you’re on the right track.
Do you struggle with planning your content? We can help!
We work with many clients to plan their content for SEO, website articles, email marketing, social media and more. We’re happy to help you with your content strategy and planning to. Reach out today to see how we can help.