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Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Instagram. TikTok. These days we have an overwhelming number of options to engage our customer base and reach out to new potential clients. It is easy to spend an hour per day posting with so many possibilities and believe that you have done enough to satisfy your social media and content marketing checkbox. While many businesses get by with that strategy, random posts will only take you so far. To take full advantage of the social media channels that are available requires a content calendar. A content calendar is a great way to help you achieve a more organized and thoughtful approach to customer engagement.
A content calendar is a working document used to schedule posts across media channels. Posts can include blog entries, emails, photos, videos, infographics, and anything else you create or share to engage with your audience.
Maintaining a content calendar helps you.
Sounds like a lot of work? You bet it is! The upside is that planning helps avoid scrambling at the last minute or missing out altogether. Planning out a year or more in advance will help you develop a unified voice for your brand, keep your current customers engaged with your business, and help drive new clients to you.
Before we get into how to plan a content calendar, let’s take a step back and look at content strategy.
Content strategy is your plan to manage the media you use to engage with your current and prospective customers. As opposed to planning out when you will post and on what channels, content strategy involves taking a broader look at what you choose to post. This includes everything from the impromptu photo that you post to Instagram to the video for your website that you have spent weeks working on. Everything you post should reflect the voice of your brand. Combined with a content calendar, a content strategy will ensure that your posts are not only timely but are representative of your business. Here are some things to keep in mind when developing your content strategy.
As you create content to post, it’s important to know who your audience is. Just as you may have more than one type of customer, you may have more than one audience for the media that you post. If you have a wide audience, a great way to engage everyone is to create a unique mix of content (photos, blog posts, and video) and post strategically on different channels. Another aspect to consider is knowing how your product or service solves a problem for your target audience. Take the time to determine what problems they have that your service or product helps them to alleviate. Your content should acknowledge their problem, then guide them to your solution.
Most likely, your competitors are offering a similar product or service. What sets you apart from your competition. Are you an SME (subject matter expert)? Are you always on time? The type and tone of your content should reflect what makes you stand out from the crowd.
As you hone in on your target audience, an important thing to consider is where they spend their time. Are your customers more likely to see you on LinkedIn or Facebook, or both? The popularity of the various platforms changes over time, so it’s good to keep up with the demographics of the various social media networks and pay close attention to the ones you use.
To plan a content calendar, start with a list of topics and ideas relevant to your business. Forming a list of topics allows you to craft your message better and decide what channels you will use to disseminate media. While formulating ideas on a given topic, you should see connections between channels. For example, a quote you intend to post on Instagram could be the basis for a post on your blog or an article on LinkedIn.
One important thing to do at this stage is to be mindful of the types of posts you generate. There is no one right way to do this, but one example is the thirds’ social media rule.
Promoting your business is an obvious choice. Sharing posts and commenting on articles that others have written helps establish you as a collaborator in your field and a subject matter expert. Sharing personal stories is an excellent way to allow your potential new customers to feel that you understand their situation and are in a position to help them.
Creating a library for content such as photos, illustrations, infographics, quotes, and content writing ideas, will help streamline the process and keep you organized.
A basic content calendar consists of a set of ideas and topics combined with dates that you plan to make posts. The best content calendars have the lists of topics organized by what should be posted when and to what channel, and also include dates that are important to your business and to your customer base, including major holidays, events, launches, and anything else that is needed to track to better engage with your audience.
Plan, but don’t be restricted by your plan. One of the best ways to engage your followers is to post original content that responds to current events. While following and responding to trends in your industry is essential, responding to new events or breaking news will provide you with additional legitimacy in your field.
Managing content is a lot of work, which, when thoughtfully executed, will result in a great return on your investment. Luckily, there are many tools to choose from to help out. Here are just a few.
Google Sheets is basic, free, allows for shared editing, and can take advantage of several templates available for you to get started.
Trello, with its card-based user interface, is a web app that allows you and your group to organize and prioritize projects, attach files, and apply due dates.
Hootsuite has been around since 2008 and is designed specifically for managing a social media content calendar, allowing you to post directly from their platform to many of the most popular channels.
CoSchedule is a one-stop-shop for marketers. They offer a suite of applications that work together to help you organize your content, assets, social media, and calendar.
While some on-a-whim posts can be entertaining, a solid content strategy combined with a content calendar is an excellent way for you to think about your business and how you want to engage with your audience, attract new customers, engage with industry leaders, and set yourself up as an SME in your field. If you need help creating your brand voice or marketing strategy, please contact us. We are here for you.