A content calendar is a critical part of an effective digital and social media strategy. A well thought out calendar can be indispensable in ensuring that your marketing, particularly social media stays on track and can help you avoid the panic of knowing that you need to do something but not knowing what to post, tweet or share. How do you actually create a content calendar?
Step 1 – Build A Spreadsheet
There are lots of ways that you can manage a content calendar but a spreadsheet is one of the easiest and cheapest options to get started and can be easily shared amongst a team. Split your spreadsheet into days of the week, including dates and include a key or similar for all of your social media platforms and any other digital marketing that you want to include. Set up a separate tab for each month and work at least 3 months in advance. Any good content calendar will also include different types of content so mix it up with video, images, text, and blogs.
Step 2 – Add General Dates
Make a list of any dates or events that are relevant to your audience. For most audiences the usual occasions like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, bank holidays etc. should be included even if your products or services aren’t directly related. If your audience are likely to be talking about them then you should be too. Also look for industry specific dates and events. If for example, you have a pet or animal orientated business you should also include events like National Pet Month and Bring Your Dog to Work Day. For small retail include events like Small Business Saturday. These not only help with content to share but can also be great talking points with your audience.
Step 3 – Company Specific Dates
The next layer of dates to add is your company specific dates and you should include all of your events, trade shows, promotions, offers and sale periods. For any dates that you add also add extra content in for the build up. So save the date, post a couple of months before or book now or the last date to book if you are running a ticketed event.
Step 4 – General Interest
Ask yourself what else your audience are interested in and build it into your content calendar right from the start. Your customers are interested in lots of things other than the service or products you provide. Look for connected interests and think outside of your own industry. If your products are parent focused, for example, then talk about other things that they might find interesting like free days out, family activities or wet weather crafts.
Step 5 – Product Specific Posts
This is where a lot of businesses get their content wrong as they concentrate on product or service specific posts when in reality the majority of your content shouldn’t be that specific at all. Be creative about how you deliver your message so that you don’t just tell your audience to buy and make sure that different kinds of formats and messages are added to your content calendar.
- If you are on different platforms then you can share the same content across them but don’t put it on all platforms on the same day. Share it on different days on different platforms.
- Once you have your content calendar in place prepare as much as you can in advance. Just scheduling makes you unresponsive but plan ahead and schedule what you can, when you can.
- If you are working as part of a team or have others who can provide content then allocate responsibility as early as possible. Let people know what you need and when you need it by and remind them regularly.
- Don’t forget to be responsive. A content calendar is a great tool but it can’t take into account what may happen in the future. Forward planning and being up to date with what’s happening from day to day is the best combination for social media success.