March 11, 2019

Why You Desperately Need a Content Calendar (and How to Put One Together)

 

desktop with a laptop, phone and calendar on top
Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine

In today’s digital marketing world, content is not only king; it’s the whole chess set. Almost no brand can sustainably succeed without visual, emotional, and snackable content that draws your audience in, piques their interest, and convinces them to consider you as a solution to their problems.

But that’s not the end of it. Many marketers don’t yet realize that the ‘what’ of content matters little without the ‘when’ and ‘where’. That’s why the end of the everywhere-phrase “Content is King” is now followed by “and distribution is queen.”

In other words, when you publish your content (and where your audience actually sees it) is absolutely the key to success. Without it, even the best message will sit idle. Even the best lead ads will fail to convert. And of course, even the best story will not be heard. No marketer or brand wants to spend their hard-earned dollars and put in countless hours of angst and effort on creative content for it to fail.

Instead, you need to plan. To strategize. You need to make sure that all the work you put into effective storytelling actually results in your desired marketing goal. Here, consistency is crucial.

The Importance of Consistent Content

person-with-feet-on-footrest-holding-tablet-displaying-monthly-calendar

How often should we publish new content on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/our blog?

It’s one of the most frequent questions among both novice and expert marketers. There is no magic formula; we don’t know if tweeting three times a day is better than twice for your brand. What we do know, however, is that certain trends exist and are undeniable:

 

To sum it all up, we know that consistency and frequency are both crucial to successful content marketing. If you go dormant, you risk audiences forgetting about you and turning their attention elsewhere. That’s the quantity side of the equation.

The Content Calendar as a Content Facilitator

A lot of content, of course, matters not.one.bit without the strategy behind it. Simply posting more will not lead to much, especially not when the Facebook algorithm continues prioritizing non-spammy, engaging posts above all else. Also, especially once you add multiple communication channels into the equation, you need to be able to tell your story effectively and appropriately for the medium. (!!!) We can’t emphasize this enough, and we’ll dive deeper a bit later.

For now, enter the content calendar. This simple tool allows you to not just keep track of the number of times you post, but also the ways in which these various tools interact with each other and add up to a more consistent overall experience. It helps you organize, schedule, and plan ahead. Who doesn’t love a good plan? We do!

The Foundation for Effective Storytelling

In this space, we talk a lot about the importance of storytelling for effective digital marketing. It takes your message to an emotional level, allowing you to cut through the clutter of promotional and sales-driven brand content. You can only tell an effective story, of course, if you know how to tell it.

Take your brand origin story as an example. You probably don’t want to share the same five-minute video that works so well on your website on Facebook, where videos under one minute perform best. On Snapchat, the least ‘polished’ of the major social networks, a high-gloss video will be even less effective.

Instead, you need to adjust your message to the medium, telling bits of the story through various channels for maximum effect and reach. That means making sure you understand exactly what you want to publish where, and when to publish it for maximum effect. Each post is a piece that builds a larger storytelling puzzle. With a content calendar, you can get the blueprint.

How to Put Together a Content Calendar

Content Marketing typed on white paper on old typewriter.

It’s not complex, but it does take a few steps. Go about it the right way, and you can easily build a content calendar that guides your strategy going forward:

  • Complete a social media audit. List all of your social media channels, ranked from best-performing to worst. Note how often you currently post on each.
  • Understand your current content. You cannot improve it without understanding it first. You can formalize this step into an audit, or simply establish an overview.
  • Outline your audience, especially in relation to each of the networks on which you are or plan to be active.
  • Do your research on how often to post, including but not limited to some of the quotes above.
  • Build your content calendar in an Excel file, or use one of the many publicly available templates to get started. We use Google Sheets because real-time updates can be seen by all stakeholders without getting lost in everyone’s inbox.
  • Input your content. Start with ‘evergreens’ to fill out the basics, such as posts during holidays or to establish your brand narrative. Pick themes for your brand to build content on each month, and consider content for your different personas. Target content toward people specifically on where they are in their sales journey. Awareness? Check. Loyalty? Check, check.
  • Leave spaces for timely content. Instead of filling out the entire calendar with pre-planned content, always leave some spaces to react to current news and events.
  • Build a content review process. Rather than one person inputting and publishing everything, consider a process in which multiple eyes see it before it goes live.
  • Schedule your content. Move from the external file directly to social media or your blog. By the time you schedule it, your content should have been reviewed and approved through all appropriate channels.

These basic steps take some time at first, but they become increasingly intuitive and repeatable. Each time you build out your content calendar, you can make sure that you input varied, high-quality content.

Through that process, you can also begin to build your cross-channel stories. With everything in a single document, you can make sure that you always keep the overview of the entirety of the story as it gets distributed into the various channels.

Take B&W Trailer Hitches as an example. After investing heavily in a branded lifestyle video, the company partnered with Scenic Road to maximize reach through various channels. That would have been impossible, or at least difficult, without a content calendar.

Together, we leveraged the video footage to expand reach through micro videos and images on various social channels–53 visual assets in total. Stitched together to tell a cohesive story, these prompted more than 20,000 social media engagements, 2,600 new followers, and more than 2,000,000 total video views. A simple video, through effective content planning, turned into a comprehensive campaign that significantly increased the reach and share of voice for B&W.

Ready to Build Your Content Strategy?

It’s not always simple. Any strategic marketing effort requires significant thought, planning, and creation of content. With a content calendar, you can streamline that process. Are you ready to take those steps? We can help, not just in creating the assets but leveraging them through various channels in a strategic way. Contact us to start the conversation.

Posted in Content Marketing