Once you have your content strategy and overall process roadmap well and truly ironed out, it’s time to move into the real world and come up with your first content calendar. Producing a great editorial calendar is like following a meal plan for a banquet. It’s the only way to make sure all of your content marketing and traditional marketing efforts are working as a cohesive unit, and that you’re not doubling up on any dishes as you move forward.
Planning your next tantalising course of branded content? Follow these three tips for an effective content calendar.
Despite being told by a certain singing nun that starting at the very beginning is a very good place to start, when it comes to creating a content calendar the trick is to actually start at the end, knowing what your finished meal will look like.
With the answers to your 20 content marketing questions in hand, start by working out when you want each piece to go live. Will you be posting something every day? Twice a week? Once a fortnight? Having these end dates clearly defined right off the bat will give you an indication of the timeframe you’re working with.
Have a look at a regular calendar (yes, they still exist!) and see if you can schedule content that will tie in with any upcoming holidays, season changes or major national events. Such pieces of content will appear timely and relevant to your audience and are clever ways of ensuring variety from simple evergreen articles.
While it’s a no-brainer that your content needs to be on-brand and accurately represent your organisation, it also important that the topics you choose to address resonate with your audience members.
When choosing your topics and how they fit into different sections of your content platform, it really comes down to two things: knowing who’s in your audience, and understanding what they are looking to gain from your content.
It’s also a good idea to track calls to action and amplification plans on your content calendar. Would each piece be better suited to SlideShare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Vine? Should you ask people to view related content, comment or download a related white paper?
A good content calendar mixes various topics and formats. You don’t want to simply publish the same thing over and over again, especially when you’ve just launched. After all, they say variety is the spice of life. Switch things up from a blog post to a feature article or interview. Or perhaps throw in a weekly video.
Just as important as variety is having a cohesive flow with different formats covering different aspects of a topic. A video might complement a blog, which highlights the key takeaways of an e-book. And on and on it goes.
Got your dates? Topics? Formats? Great. Now determine the processes for which you need to allot time and how long each will take. Make sure you include time for sub-editing or postproduction, approvals, legal and compliance reviews, and implementation of any final feedback, setting the deadlines for your contributors accordingly. Allowing yourself a bit of wiggle room for delays never hurts either.
The next step, of course, is actually sticking to your content calendar to execute the plan. Then you can figure out what content is working for your audience and what needs tweaking. Keep an open mind and let your calendar continue to evolve with your content strategy.
Lucy Sutton and Leigh Credlin