This post is a guide to creating a content calendar for all your social and digital marketing channels.
But, first things first: You might be wondering if you really need to create the sort of editorial calendar that used to be only created by newspapers and magazines. The answer is yes. And while it seems like a lot of work, it is definitely worth it.
A content calendar for your marketing needs demands your attention and commitment at the start but will prevent a lot of heartache later on. Because of the effort you’re willing to put in at the start, you ensure that your accounts grow with minimum need of time investment.
A content calendar can be something very simple—just a grid. Or it can be a dashboard that features feeds from dozens of different platforms. These are just two examples.
The truth is a content calendar is what you need it to be.
Here are the necessary steps that will help you curate your own social media calendar.
Let’s begin by answering this question:
What exactly is a content calendar?
In essence, a content calendar is your list of up and coming social media posts, blog content and more. You can organize it within a tool like Google calendar, Word, Excel, Google docs or even use a social media tool which has a calendar functionality to do the same.
What type of information does a typical content calendar include?
- Information on when the post would go live
- The people who you will email about it
- If it’s for social media, the calendar mentions all the social networks where you may post your content
- The visual content you will use
- Any extra information like links
You can choose to publish each post to one or to multiple places at once.
Why use a content calendar?
A content calendar makes it possible for you to plan fresh content, publish it on time and promote the content well. You can do it with or without marketing tools.
Bloggers and big and small businesses in general have an editorial calendar. This helps them streamline content creation and production, generate a steady stream of content on time and manage social media marketing for their businesses.
With a calendar you can view all the article titles that need attention from you. You can delegate tasks to your team. There’s no need for you to do everything manually. With an editorial calendar, you can see articles that need writing at a glance. From this point it becomes easy for you to send the right topics to writers and there’s no heartache reserved at the very end for you.
This level of organization and attention to detail saves time, keeps churning out new and fresh content and everyone knows what their role is going to be. The larger your team, the more valuable your calendar becomes.
The real benefit of a content calendar? Get organized and save time
Probably, the biggest benefit of having a content calendar is that it frees up your time.
Make it a habit to post regularly to build a following and gain traction. You can build that consistency with the help of a calendar. A calendar for your digital and social media needs lets you see all the different social media posts that you want to start posting right in front of you. It may not be possible for you to block a certain period of time every day from your schedule to post new content. Calendars help you automate the posting.
It’s tedious creating and posting new content every day of the week. Automation simplifies things. You don’t need to be in front of the computer manually posting content by the hour. Social media tools let you post content in advance and manage the audience engagement as well.
Just by being present on user feed every now and then is the single best thing you can do to grow your organic reach. As you do this, your social media account starts getting attention and you grow your follower counts. As you build these connections you can grow your audience and improve conversions.
Here’s how to create a calendar:
Start by asking yourselves these questions. Once you answer the questions below you will get a good idea of what your calendar should like, what it should contain and more things like that.
1. How many posts do you want to publish in a month
Start by determining the frequency of content you’re going to publish. This helps you visually see what the calendar would look like
2. How many types of content do you want to create?
Do you regularly create more than just textual posts? If there are podcasts, videos and whitepapers the calendar should have space for these content types
3. Who is going to use this content calendar?
Determine the people who will be accessing the content calendar. Ideally, you want to source and debate ideas from all divisions of your company.
Pick the tools you’re going to use
At the start, you need a few tools to start getting the best results. The tools you’re going to use lean heavily on how you visualized your content calendar to be like.
A free tool like the Google Calendar app gives you a very simple version of what the calendar can be. It’s a grid lined with content ideas and potential publication dates.
If you want more than listing titles and publication dates there are other tools you can use like Google spreadsheets.
All the necessary data points like the title of the post, potential publishing date, and the author of the post are neatly lined in rows and columns with the help of a spreadsheet file.
As an alternative, project management software like Asana or Trello can be of great help. They are Kanban styled tools meaning it’s a visual system for organizing your project. You can simply move cards from one place to another to showcase the progress of the project thus keeping every stakeholder on board in tandem. Trello, in fact, has a free version too for you to use.
With tools like Asana, you will get content calendar templates that you can start using to immediately have a content calendar.
Further Reading: 12 Free Tools For Creating an Effective Editorial Calendar
Identify your goals with the content
If you’re simply mass producing content with no idea of the direction you’re going in, you won’t get very far.
Once you know how much content you’re going to produce, think about the goals that you want to get to with this content.
You can have one or a combination of these goals:
- Inform new people about your brand
- Improving the number of leads generated through content
- Improving search rankings for keywords
Pick primary goals for the content that you create and focus on that. For instance if you want to generate more leads you might want to guest post on niche-relevant websites and do videos.
If you want to improve search engine rankings then add relevant keywords to your articles and create guest posts with targeted anchors on relevant websites.
The same goes for social media content. For social media content, my biggest advice is to only set goals that you think you can realistically achieve.
If you think you cannot post more than two tweets, one Facebook post, one Instagram post then better stick to that schedule.
Now that you have a better idea of where and how you’re going to post, you need to plan your posting schedule.
Think about the frequency of posting to each social media account.
You can go through your own analytics to understand the ideal time to post content to each social media channel.
Finally, once you schedule the posts, decide who will approve the posts for your social media, be it your social media manager or CEO.
Develop your content strategy
Make sure that your content strategy has all the bases covered.
Outline the amount of content you want to produce each month, the topics to cover and your ideal audience.
If you don’t want the hassle of creating content on your own, you can always outsource the task to get it done quickly.
Add steps like managing content and goal tracking. These include defining your goals like adding more email list subscribers.
- Understanding the different content types your audience prefers
- What are their pain points and which services can solve their problems well?
I recommend that you dedicate a day of the week for writing outlines and then another to scheduling the articles. Once you get the drafts, give yourself two to three days for edits and set a publishing date and then drip feed the link to social media accounts.
Plan out your content
Content planning involves brainstorming a number of ideas and tracking the creation and publication of these blog posts.
It doesn’t matter which tool you go with. What’s important is to remember to have a clear and organized list with you.
Not all ideas will become blog posts. You need to be flexible with your content strategy leaving spaces for entering in new angles.
Once you know the content capacity and have your team up and running you can choose the content mix for the month. This can be a mix of guest articles, videos, case studies, infographics and more. Choose written content over other content types. It’s inexpensive to produce if you’re on a shoestring budget.
Here are the details of a sample plan:
- 4 guest posts each month with targeted backlinks on niche-relevant sites
- 4-5 posts per week on your blog
- Two pieces of gated content. It can be long-form content or whitepapers
Assign this info on the editorial calendar
However ideally your sheet might need a few details like. For instance, if you want a calendar that helps you publish articles to your blog here’s what you can do:
- The title of the article
- The author of the article
- The status of the article whether it is in draft status, whether it’s under revision or if its sent for publishing
- The potential publication date of the article
- Topics confirmed
- Author assigned
- Content drafts
- Edited drafts
- Content approved
- Content uploaded to the platform
One thing most people ignore is the potential of your existing content. You can repurpose blog posts as videos or slide decks.
You can interview employees to understand their experience and viewpoints and share that as a presentation or video. You can combine multiple blog posts on a subject to an in-depth whitepaper. The sky’s the limit.
That sums it up for content on your blog or other channels.
For social media content here’s what do:
Gather images and videos for your social media posts. You need an asset repository for your social media campaigns. What are assets? Assets are nothing but the images of the content you’re using for posting new content on social media accounts.
The visual content library of assets should be organized well and be readily available through a folder marked for such use.
You can also store them on the Cloud through Google drive or other cloud channels. That’s what I do. You should neatly organize your assets in them. Ideally there shouldn’t be a need for you to search through the assets. The calendar feature can help with this.
Be flexible with your content
The biggest mistake with an editorial calendar is assigning a lot of work to different team members at the start but not making sure that the work is carried out with the same level of interest. That doesn’t in any way mean you need to micromanage.
One alternative at this stage when you’re not able to stick to a schedule is that you can discard the editorial calendar and publish content rather randomly.
OR you can make the editorial calendar more flexible.
Based on the resources you have you can choose to produce fewer pieces of content. By not using the full capacity you’re adding flexibility to the editorial calendar and giving more space to individual creativity.
The content plan should prime your brand for success. Don’t let unexpected requests distract you from the primary goal.
If you’re posting to social media channels, auditing your social networks is the first thing to do:
Ask your team for suggestions. Now that you are ready with the foundation it’s time to reveal the next few things. Send an invite to people who may need to use the same everyday.
Schedule a meeting for people to connect with you.
How to ensure that your calendar is successful
The success of a content calendar boils down to a few pillars:
- The content calendar should be accessible to everyone
While it isn’t feasible to give editing rights to the calendar to everyone in the organization, everyone in the organization should know where the calendar exists online with access to view it.
- There’s no right way or wrong way to create the calendar
A calendar is every bit you and your organization at large. Don’t try hard to mimic what others are doing or fit the calendar to some imagined standards.
- The calendar is the place for a content repository
All the ideas that aren’t currently scheduled but could have found a place on the blog or on social media channels live and breathe on the calendar to be used when appropriate.
Finally, measure your content success
The success metrics of your content marketing calendar depend on your content marketing goals. Track these metrics to understand the performance of your content.
For instance the number of social media shares or additional backlinks on guest articles or traffic to your site or a spurt in connection requests on LinkedIn all speak to the success of the guest post.
A strategic approach to your editorial calendar will help you continually improve your content strategy. Review these metrics as you plan ahead.
Further Reading: 7 KPIs To Measure Your Content Marketing Performance
There you have it: You should have all that you need to create your own content calendar now.
What do you think of the tips and tricks I listed that can help you with your own content marketing calendar for all your social and content needs?
Let me know in the comments below.
Hero photo by Syh on Unsplash
Content Calendar FAQs
Here are the things a content calendar should include:
1. A clear and concise way to track what content is being published and when. This could be as simple as a list of dates with corresponding topics, or it could be a more sophisticated system that includes links to drafts and notes on progress.
2. An overview of the topics that will be covered in the coming weeks and months.
3. It should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and new ideas.
Here are the steps on how to create a content calendar:
1. Decide on the format that will work best for you. There are many different templates available online, or you can create your own.
2. Once you have a template, the next step is to start filling in the details.
3. Begin by identifying the topics that you want to cover and the key dates that you need to keep in mind.
4. Start planning out your individual pieces of content. For each one, make sure to include a title, a brief description, the target audience, and the desired call to action.
5. Once your calendar is complete, be sure to review it regularly and make adjustments as needed.
A content calendar is a tool used by content marketers to plan, organize, and track their content marketing efforts. It helps content marketers to focus on creating timely, relevant, and engaging content that will resonate with their target audience. A content calendar also allows content marketers to see where their content fits into the larger marketing mix and helps them to align their content with other marketing initiatives.
A content calendar is an important tool for social media managers and marketers. It helps to plan, schedule, and publish content across all of your social media channels. A content calendar can also be used to track your performance and measure the success of your campaigns. When used correctly, a content calendar can help you to better engage with your audience and achieve your goals.
Any good writer knows that organizing content ideas is a crucial step in the writing process. Here are the steps you can organize your content ideas:
1. Choose a topic or main idea.
2. Once you have a general focus, you can begin to narrow down your ideas and brainstorm specific topics that you want to cover.
3. It can be helpful to create an outline at this stage, which will give you a roadmap to follow as you write.
4. As you flesh out your ideas, you may also find it helpful to group related topics together and create subheadings. This will help to keep your article organized and make it easier for readers to follow along.