A content calendar can come in very handy. Especially when your business starts to get into the world of social media and blog posts it can become overwhelming fairly quickly. There’s a lot to keep track of and there’s a lot to post. It quickly becomes something that you can’t just keep in your head. You have to write it down.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar can also be called a content marketing calendar or a content social media calendar. It’s something that helps you plan and execute your content strategy.
A content calendar is calendar-based. It can be for one month, two months or longer. The calendar provides you with an overview of how your content will be presented to your audience over that specified time. Plus it includes all the channels that you plan to share that content on and the dates you plan to share it.
Why do I need a content calendar?
There are plenty of reasons why a content calendar is essential for any well-laid-out social media or content marketing plan.
For one thing, it will keep you organized. It’s tough to keep track of a schedule for Facebook posts, another schedule for Twitter tweets, another schedule for blog posts, another schedule for Pinterest pins, and another schedule for YouTube video posts. That is a whole lot to manage.
This is why putting it all in one place is extremely helpful. If you create a content calendar with when and what you plan to post on all of those platforms, you can keep you or your team on task. It can also make sure that the minute you post a new video or blog post it’s being communicated to your audience through a multitude of channels including all of your social media platforms.
You want to be reliable for your customers and that means consistency. To do that, you can offer consistency to your customers by providing content on a regular schedule.
For example, if you post new content on your Facebook page every other day, your content calendar can hold you to that schedule. By the same token, if you post a new blog post twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays, then a content calendar can hold you accountable and help you remember.
By creating a content calendar and sticking to it, you make sure that your audience gets what they expect when they expect it.
Your content calendar also makes sure that you’re posting things that are constantly fresh and timely for your audience. This means your audience will continue to check back with you regularly because they know that you reliably post new information that they are interested in.
Plus, a content calendar is something easy to refer back to if you can’t remember the previous topics or previous items that you pushed out over a specific social media platform.
The content calendar can keep you from telling your audience something they already know. If you consistently tell your audience something they’ve already heard from you, they’ll start to lose interest.
Social Media Planning
One of the biggest benefits of the content calendar is that it helps with your social media planning. Sometimes it is difficult to come up with what you’re going to push out over a social media platform and when. By looking at the content calendar, you can see when a new blog post is being posted (meaning you have automatic content you can push out on social media) and you can see when big events are happening.
A content calendar also allows you to plan ahead of time for those big events. For example, if I’m the Butterball Company and I’m planning a content calendar for November, I know that this is a big month for me. I also know that on Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving are big days for my company. Therefore, I want to schedule posts about the Butterball Hotline and its hours so that it’s there for my audience.
Content calendars help you fill what can seem like the daunting task of keeping track of and creating posts for social media.
Plus, being able to schedule posts ahead of time helps you save time in the long run.
Key attributes of a content calendar
There are a handful of things that all good content calendars have.
The title on your content calendar lets you know what the content is about and what you expect your viewers/readers to understand from that content.
In the instance of blog posts, the title must go a step further and it must be engaging. You want to draw your reader in with that title.
Type of Media
Every content item that you post on your content calendar should include the type of media that the post will be. Will it be a blog post? Or an infographic? A video? Maybe a photo? All of these are great ways to communicate with your audience, but knowing the type of media will help you plan ahead of time.
A video or infographic is going to take a lot longer to produce than a photo with a caption. Not only that, but you want to make sure that you’re being consistent. If you’re posting all videos, then your audience may expect you to only post videos. If you’re posting no videos, then your audience might lose interest.
As you’re creating your content calendar, make sure that you have a good balance of videos, written words, images, etc.
You also want to include what platform you’re pushing your content out on. By keeping track with a calendar, you can be sure that you hit your weekly quota of four posts on Facebook and your daily quota of 6 tweets on Twitter.
A content calendar will help track your engagement on all of the platforms making sure that you don’t accidentally neglect one of them.
A Call to Action
This is often called a CTA. A call to action tells the reader what you expect of them.
Not all of your posts need a call to action because some of your posts are simply fun things to keep your viewer or reader engaged.
However, when you do post something that’s supposed to lead to a sale, include a call to action. Tell your reader or viewer what you expect him or her to do next.
Creating a Content Calendar
Think of creating your calendar as a massive brainstorming session. This is where you sit down or you sit down with your team and you start to hash out ideas. Nothing is stupid and nothing is judged; it’s about you throwing out ideas and seeing what sticks.
What type of medium is best?
Once you have all those ideas, look at them and figure out what medium is best for the ones that you like. Is it better as a blog post or a video? Will it work well as an infographic? If it works in more than one medium, that’s even better. Make a note of all of that.
Fill in time-sensitive items first
Then start filling in the calendar. Put in the date reliant and time-sensitive ones first. For example, if you plan a post about Thanksgiving, then you better post it before Thanksgiving. If you’re planning a post for Veteran’s Day thanking the Veterans for their service, then it better be posted on Veteran’s Day. These must get placed in your calendar first so you can work around them.
Fill in the gaps
After you’ve put in the time-sensitive items, then you can start filling in the gaps. As you work, you’ll see your content calendar slowly start to fill. You can slot in the blog posts and then immediately slot in the social media posts that support those blog posts.
It’s also perfectly acceptable to create a social media post three to four weeks down the road that promotes a particularly important blog post. In fact, it’s encouraged to help build traffic for that post.
When you do this, you find your content calendar fills fairly quickly.
Your content calendar is not set in stone
Once you have everything filled in then your content calendar is complete, but remember that this does not mean that the content calendar cannot be changed.
In reality, it can shift and change with changes in content and the news. If a major event happens at your company or in your community and you feel the need to alter the content you plan to release, by all means, do. Just make sure that those changes are communicated to the rest of the people on your team.
Content calendars are a guideline, but they are never set in stone.
The rewards of a content calendar
Building one sounds simple, but I realize it’s a fairly large task. However, the rewards are well worth it.
If you’re doing all the content and social media posting by yourself, then a content calendar is there to help you stay sane.
If you’re part of a larger team that divvies up the work of posting content, then a content calendar is essential to making sure that everyone is on the same page. It helps you build and maintain your brand.
Written by Erika Towne