One of the biggest struggles brands and marketers have with content marketing comes from a lack of direction with their content strategy. All too often, we see brands fall into the trappings of making posts that do not connect with the audience, or otherwise fail to stand out in the feeds of their fans. The best remedy for this issue is to develop a standardized editorial calendar to bring consistency to your content strategy, and a base for recording activity and performance.
Here are some basic steps for getting started with creating an editorial calendar for content marketing.
Part 1 – Set Rules for Your Shared Content
The first step with your editorial calendar is to decide on content that you will be sharing. This content should be a mix between materials produced in-house (e.g., blog posts, infographics, videos), and relevant materials created by other bloggers or content producers. To find sources of inspiration and material, research the thought leaders and social communities in your niche, and become active in them. Once you find sources that drive the trends in your industry, you’ll be able to deliver that message to your audience.
After you’ve found your content source, you need to switch gears and put yourself in the mindset of your audience. Ideally, you should have a basic knowledge of their pain points, consumption habits, and what makes them take action. With this knowledge, you can set the tone for your calendar by determining how much content is needed to drive growth and interaction of your brand, what topics make the biggest impact with the audience, and how frequently will you will need to deliver content to the audience.
Part 2 – Build Your Calendar
Now that your content strategy is solid, you can focus on the mechanics of publishing. An editorial calendar can be as basic or detailed as needed for your business, but like everything else, more information will lead to better results. The best tool to use for your editorial calendar is an Excel Spreadsheet (or Google Docs Spreadsheet); if you are working with a team, you may want to consider collaborative tools like HiTask to manage assignments by person.
No matter what tool you use as your primary calendar host, you should include fields or sections that outline these specific details about the promoted content:
- Title or Headline
- General content description
- Keywords or Tags
- Call to Action
- Assigned to
- Status of Post
- Where to Publish (blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc)
Part 3 – Fill in the Gaps
At this point, you have a source of content, and a framework for distributing it across your website and social networks. With this in place, you have everything you need to begin a long term content marketing strategy.
Set aside one hour at minimum to plan the content you want to highlight in the upcoming days, weeks, or even months. By including all of the information and links in your calendar, you’ve made a single resource that you can refer to when deciding what to post. If you are delegating your social management to an employee or agency, they also should have access to the calendar to make sure that the strategy stays on track.
When planning for a long term content marketing strategy, be sure to take major events into consideration. Holidays, special business events, local events, conferences, major product releases, and other low-hanging fruit that will have a strong social buzz are perfect places to begin planning for in advance with direct content for your audience.
Creating an editorial calendar is the first step to elevating your brand’s caliber on social media; you’ll quickly discover that social media is not just “a place to be,” but a system to gain and interact with your perfect client or customer.