Many of my clients are concerned about the amount of time they will need to spend creating and searching for content to share with their communities. Writing original content through blog posts can be time-consuming. Searching for and curating content to share is also a time investment, especially if done without a plan. My post on using listening tools for brand management and content curation will help organize your content curation. Now it’s time to add a content calendar to your strategy to plan what and when to post to your followers.
What is a Content Calendar?
A content calendar is a plan for publishing content to all your social media streams. The format is up to you. I prefer using a spreadsheet, but a Word document, Google calendar, or any other tool will work. If you’re sharing the calendar with other community managers a shared Google Document or calendar using any of these formats is a useful tool. Paid options like Hootsuite, Later and Sprout Social also contain calendar tools.
Your calendar should contain an overview of the topics, the dates, the content and links to relevant information. Include notes on photos or videos as well.
Plan for Creating your Content Calendar
Calendars can be set up yearly (very ambitious) or weekly or monthly. If you decide to use a yearly calendar plan to update and change regularly as ideas and topics come up. Remember nothing is set in stone. At the very least, decide on what you plan to post this week to get started. Then as this planning becomes a habit, look farther into the future.
Content pillars or sometimes called Content Buckets are the themed topics you’ll choose to post about, repeatedly, in your calendar. These will be specific to your brand and the goals you are trying to accomplish with social. What topics do you want to cover for your brand? For example, a dentist could cover cosmetic, general, home care and emergency care. Later has a great blog on content pillars with much more detail.
To help you plan a variety of content, keep in mind that most of your content should do one of four things, and that each of things can be measured by metrics in your analytics.
|Content Type||Social Media Metric|
|Educational||Blog subscriptions, website clicks, email signups|
|Entertain||Engagement, shares, reach|
|Promote||Website clicks, conversions|
Think about how your brand can create content that accomplishes each of these things within your niche regularly and plug into your weekly schedule. Keep up that rhythm of content each week, then measure using your insights to make sure you’re getting the results you want.
Deciding on a Schedule
Start by looking at your business calendar. What events occur regularly that you want to incorporate into your strategy? Do you have monthly meetings, are there community events you want to promote, do you have a regular schedule of marketing activities? Add these to your calendar and plot out the dates. Remember to include holidays and special events.
Now search for relevant articles, social objects (videos, photos, infographics) and links to your own website to support the content. If you’re new to infographics, Visual.ly is a great place to start. If your strategy includes a blog post per week, this is where you decide on the general topic for those posts. A word or two, a link to an article and an idea for a supporting graphic should suffice at this point.
If you’ve spent time making videos, infographics, white papers, or presentations, be sure to break down the content from these big items into smaller posts that fall into one of your content pillars. Check out my blog on Getting the Most of Your Social Media Content for ideas on this practice.
The Big Picture
Remember, a content calendar is a “big picture” document. Drill down for details as the dates approach. The most important thing to remember is, whatever you are sharing, keep it social and keep your audience in mind. What will add value to their day? What are they seeking?
Put in the effort up front on creating your calendar and you won’t be scrambling for content or neglecting your social spaces and your community down the line.
How do you decide what to share with your community?