Content is king, but that’s only true for compelling content. Using a content calendar gives a strategic approach to your content marketing and increases consistency, credibility, and conversions.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Content is king.” Of course, this is only true for efficient contents.
Compelling content builds brand voice and awareness. It generates new leads and fosters ongoing relationships. It establishes your expertise and reliability, and it provides your audience with valuable education and entertainment.
If that feels overwhelming, don’t worry, there are plenty of social media content tools to help you get organized and maximize your content success. One of the best tools at your disposal is a content calendar.
Overview: What is a content calendar?
A content calendar, also known as an editorial calendar, is a calendar that helps you plan, organize, and manage content. This gives a strategic approach to your content marketing and increases your consistency and credibility.
Content calendars typically include information such as dates, topics with an assigned owner, type of content and where it will be published, and article status.
Depending on your business and your needs, you can also choose to include keywords and calls to action. Keep this information in a worksheet or spreadsheet, or even use task management software like Monday.com.
Many brands use separate content calendars for social media. Social media calendars help you map social media content, plan effective social media campaigns, and schedule your posts. Even if your social media calendar is kept separate, align it with your overall content calendar and content strategy.
Benefits of planning an editorial strategy with a content calendar
Using a content calendar sounds simple, but it’s a powerful tool for planning your editorial strategy.
1. Make sure your content serves a purpose
Content for content’s sake is not effective. You want to create and promote content that advances your business goals and marketing strategy.
For example, content goals might include increasing your website traffic, social media engagement, or conversions. What do you want people to do after reading your content? Share it? Subscribe to a newsletter? Buy a product?
Your content should serve a purpose. It should engage your target audience, establish you as an expert in your niche, and guide people through the buyer’s journey.
Spontaneous and inconsistent content will not achieve these goals. You need to stay focused on the big picture and you need a plan. This is where a content calendar comes in.
2. Keeps you on track
Consistency is key when it comes to content marketing. You want to stay on your audience’s radar with useful, relevant, and engaging content. Inconsistent posting leads to loss of engagement, less credibility, and fewer conversions.
Maintaining a content calendar keeps you on track and helps you stay consistent. You’ll post on a regular schedule that will keep your audience engaged. And with a long-term view of your content, you can easily identify gaps, align content across channels, and schedule content around key events and dates.
3. Simplifies collaboration
Communication and collaboration between teams becomes much easier with a planning calendar. Give visibility to sales, marketing and management teams. The writers working on your website and blog can coordinate with videographers, designers, and your social media team to tie your efforts together.
With everyone on the same page, you’ll have a more cohesive brand story and voice, and a more successful marketing strategy.
Content calendar template that you can use to schedule your content
Use this free content planner to get started. As you become familiar with using your content calendar, you may discover other categories or types of information that you want to include. Feel free to customize as needed.
How to plan your content marketing with a content calendar
Before you sit down and start filling in the boxes for your editorial calendar template, read these steps. You will need to strategize and plan to maximize its effectiveness and success.
1. Define your content marketing goals
What do you want your content marketing efforts to accomplish? Brainstorm with your team to create a shared mission and vision for the content you create.
You might want to become a thought leader in your space, increase social media engagement, or drive more traffic to your website. Or maybe you want to accomplish all of the above. Your goals should guide you when planning your content strategy.
Be sure to include measurable goals on your list. You need a way to track the success of your content marketing and adjust it as needed. Measurable goals include site visits, unique site visitors, newsletter subscribers, people who download a content offer or fill out a form, and more.
2. Identify your buyer personas
Since you want to create content with your target audience in mind, identifying your buyer personas is essential. A buyer persona is a detailed, research-based profile of your ideal customer.
Buyer personas describe who your ideal customer is, what they do, how they find information and make decisions, and the challenges they face.
You may have already identified your audience. If not, pause and complete this step before scheduling additional content. Your content should speak directly to your ideal customer, and that’s not possible without a clear understanding of your target audience.
3. Audit existing content
Next, write down your existing resources and content. You can probably reuse some of this content instead of creating everything from scratch. For example, a current infographic can support a blog post and a video. An in-depth article can be broken down into smaller chunks of content or small social takeaways.
With the audit, you will also identify what type of content is missing and needs to be prioritized. Your audit should include the title, format/type, and any other important notes for each existing content item.
You can even organize your content according to the stage it corresponds to in the buyer’s journey. Here is a quick overview of the types of content for each step of this journey:
- Sensitization: Blog posts, social media posts and educational content.
- Consideration: Case studies, videos, podcasts, expert guides and comparison articles or documents.
- Decision: In-depth comparisons and demonstrations, product reviews and testimonials.
- Loyalty: User guides, newsletters, product updates, promotions and loyalty programs.
You want to have relevant content for people at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Let’s say your audit reveals that almost all of your content is in the Awareness and Consideration stages. As you build your content calendar, prioritize adding content for the decision and loyalty stages.
4. Brainstorm content
With your knowledge of existing content, think about new elements. Consider what content will appeal to your buyers and how you can guide them through the buyer’s journey. Consider the content marketing goals you identified in Step 1 and what topics and types of content will help you achieve them.
Remember to schedule promotional content around important events, product launches or other key dates. You might even want to schedule fun and engaging content for holidays or social media dates that resonate with your target audience.
5. Decide how often to post
Before you start scheduling content, you need to consider posting frequency. Your posting frequency will depend on factors such as your goals, your budget, and the number of people producing content for you. You can also consult your competitors to gauge the frequency and success of their content.
With blogging, a general rule is four posts per week. If that doesn’t work for you, post as often as possible. And always prioritize quality over quantity.
Social media is different. As any list of social media marketing tips will tell you, you need to be strategic about when and how often you post. For example, research indicates that businesses should post to Facebook no more than twice on weekdays and once a day on weekends.
Post more, and you run the risk of overwhelming your audience and losing their interest.
6. Fill your content calendar at least a month in advance
Once you have a list of ideas, it’s time to start filling out your calendar. Some people fill out their calendar three, six, or even 12 months in advance.
You want to find the right balance between planning and flexibility. Aim for at least a month in advance. As you become familiar with using your content calendar, you may want to plan even more in advance.
For key dates and promotions, feel free to move your calendar a bit forward so you have plenty of time to plan a successful campaign.
Optimize your content marketing with a content calendar
Creating an effective content calendar takes planning and strategy up front, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll empower your team to build an organized and compelling content marketing strategy that resonates with your target audience.
And when you start reaping the rewards of a solid content strategy, you’ll understand why they say content is king.