Firstly, let’s get one thing cleared up, content marketing isn’t new and it isn’t complicated. As a concept, it’s about delivering informative content that educates the buyer and helps to position you and your business as experts in your field. Central to this is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, valuable information our audience will grow, our reputation will improve and ultimately, our business will benefit from increased sales and greater customer loyalty. In a nutshell, that’s it.
Having said all that, although the concept is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do it well. A successful content marketing campaign requires far more than sporadic posts on your website, it’s demands a considered and achievable strategy. At the centre of this strategy is a comprehensive content calendar, enabling you to create:
- Schedules of weekly or monthly deliverables
- Schedules of releases or deployment of other content like: videos, info-graphics and presentations
- Schedules and management of social media posts
- Schedules of events, conferences and activities that you keep track of for content generation
- And lots, lots more.
With all this in mind, here are a few tips for marketers looking to establish and maintain an editorial calendar:
1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE.
As with all marketing activity, knowing the purpose of your content marketing strategy is key. What are the outcomes your want to achieve? What are your business goals and how is your content calendar going to help you get there?
Whether it’s about increasing brand awareness or driving sales growth, only by defining a clear set of objectives from the start you can ensure that your activity is always working towards reaching those goals.
2. DON’T PLAY AT IT, COMMIT TO IT.
To execute a successful content calendar, over a sustained period, you have to fully commit to the concept. You have to buy into the idea that writing about your industry, emerging trends or developments, and less about your products, will get you better results. Equally, if you think you can dip in and out of content marketing, you are sorely mistaken. Content marketing only works when it is consistent and well considered – making the planning even more vital. Once you’ve embraced the idea of working to the calendar you’ll find that it completely streamlines your workflow; enabling you to manage production, publication and distribution of content across multiple channels far more easily.
3. BREAK IT DOWN
With a big increase in content production likely needed, being able to compartmentalise your activity is essential to stay on top of everything. Different brands or areas of your business will have differing needs and objectives so to meet these multiple goals, you should break your schedule down into different calendars. There are countless segmented calendar types you could choose and they should be based on your own specific requirements but there are a few easy ones to start with:
Blog editorial calendar
If a brand is looking to drive traffic to a blog, they will need to publish regularly and frequently. It can be difficult to maintain that consistency with business demands requiring priority. With an effective calendar in place, content requirements can be created ahead of time with ease, fitting requirements around other activity.
To keep your audience engaged, the focus for posts should be varied around relevant areas, such as thought leadership, product and service developments and key customer concerns. Don’t be afraid to have multiple people creating posts either, many of the best blogs involve several contributors providing audiences with opinions and insights from different areas of the business.
Premium content editorial calendar
Premium’ content, such as white papers or an e-book, usually requires consumers to fill out a short form to access the content. This is a great way to build a contact database and typically provides greater insight into who is accessing your content but it also creates a barrier between you and your audience and often requires greater resources to create the content due to its more detailed or longer form nature.
Social editorial calendar
The best social calendars don’t just cover what a brand will post on any given day of the week – brands will also want to track publishing schedules for multiple channels as well as social advertising spends and KPIs. Consider the extra collateral needed for each post – does it need to be visually stimulating for Facebook? Is the copy clever enough for Twitter? Does it have a theme?
4. KEEP IT UP
One of the hardest things to do is maintain the necessary level of content and stick to the calendar you’ve created. Don’t feel like you’re failing if you slip, everyone does. The key is to keep on top of calendar management and if you do miss a deadline, don’t give up, make up the requirement and ensure none of your team is going to create a hold up by not having their bit ready.
Think about performing a content audit after a few weeks to determine if you’re producing too much or too little content for your audience. Plan ahead, but always prepare to be reactive, and finally, make room for SEO – tracking keywords and phrases that are linked to a brand can help a team to brainstorm content, populate a calendar and create a sustainable content strategy.
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