Creating a Content Calendar: 5 Things to Look at for the New Year
Developing a content calendar may seem like a simple task. You have a bi-weekly or maybe monthly newsletter, blog articles a few times a month, some social posts and you’re good right?
But how do you know if you’re reaching your audience at the right time? What about Christmas season and the release of that new product in Q4? How about that huge conference in June? What type’s of campaigns are we running this year? And how am I going to bring in revenue through the content we create?
These are just a few questions that challenge content marketers. Planning is an intricate and crucial process if you’re going to be successful and remain competitive and relevant in 2015. Content marketing is by far the most effective strategy in reaching current and prospective clients, as well as building relationships with potential partners and referral sources. It’s the least abrasive way to keep them engaged with and informed about your business and industry, and ultimately to bring them to your front door with interest.
Timing is by far the most important element of your content calendar, other than the content itself. You must know who your audience is and where and when to reach them. If you’re hearing crickets then it may be time to look into your web metrics for some insight. This includes looking at social media analytics, click metrics (if you use unique, trackable URL’s when posting – which you definitely should be), as well as your email marketing metrics and website traffic data.
Finding when to best reach your audience is not an exact science. It’s likely to very among email and each individual social network, depending on their purpose (i.e. Facebook vs. LinkedIn vs. Twitter). When planning your content for the New Year you should look at some objective research as well as your past analytics to determine the best times for posting different types of content. Be sure to leave room for testing new timing and messages throughout the year as well, and if possible, get some feedback from you audience on how you can improve your content and its delivery.
2) Seasonality and Cyclical Industries
It may be important to change focus of content during times of the year when certain products and services are in higher demand. Similarly, during these times it’s critical not to forget about marketing the rest of your offerings, which is easy to do if you don’t plan ahead.
When planning for the New Year, don’t get caught up in specifics. There is no need to know the specific content to produce, but instead the topics of articles and videos, why you are creating them and when they should be distributed. Thinking about your content months ahead of time will help your organize your marketing and produce high-quality, targeted and timely campaigns.
You may find opportunity for a more involved content offering, like a downloadable guide or eBook. Looking ahead allows you to plan sufficient time to create the offering, design, publish and promote it. If you rush to create an eBook or guide last
second, it’s going to look like it and that reflects poorly on your business.
Going to large industry events like conferences and expos are a great way to develop new business as well as meet potential referral and channel partners. Leveraging the pre- and post-event promotion (“the buzz”) of event organizers in your own content can be crucial to developing these relationships.
Similar to businesses with seasonality or cyclical nature, this communication will work best if planned out ahead of time. This includes social posts, blog features, videos, and email newsletters leading up to and after the event. It’s not enough to mention you’ll be there a week before you go, but rather to build visibility for your business using organically developed and intelligently distributed content and things like event hashtags to join the conversation.
Planning your content to include messages about the event, promotions and offers for attendees, why you’ll be there, what you’ll do there (all of this in addition to your standard content distribution) is incredibly useful. You can build visibility for your business leading up to the event which will increase traffic to your booth or presentation the day of. Not mention you’ll gain favor with industry leaders and event organizers for helping them to promote the event.
NOTE: Promotion of organically held events (held through your business) is incredibly important as well. The marketing of these types of events falls primarily on your business thus the content and tactics to promote them should be carefully planned out in advance.
4) Variety and Diversification
Planning a diverse content distribution is essential. Talking too much about your business and your expertise will likely turn people off. Thus it is important to work in curated articles from other sources and industry leaders as well. In addition plan for short social posts focused on engagement, as well as time to go out onto social media and actively engage with prospects, industry leaders, partners, and others in your local community.
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check out our friends at Rock the Deadline.
However, when developing a content calendar your primary focus should be on planning original, or organic content, produced and distributed by your business. This includes blog articles, downloadable eBooks and Whitepapers, graphics and other images, as well as videos and email newsletters.
There are also the dreaded sales-focused messages. Many businesses don’t even incorporate these into their content distribution, but if you get creative they can work well. Planning not only the content you produce, but when and how you’ll deliver it is the primary function of a content calendar. Getting the right message to the right people at the right time is the ultimate goal.
In any business there are usually more than one person delivering messages related to the business. In the age of Twitter, LinkedIn and every other social network, the marketing department is no longer the only source of messaging, branding and company image.
The pitfalls of this are obvious, but social media provides a way to build your brand and market your business like never before. We can now tweet at CEO’s, manage customer service, obtain feedback and even produce sales leads through incredible visibility and access.
When producing your content calendar you must think of the team and how all members of a company can take advantage of content to grow your business. It may even make sense to begin using a social media management tool designed for teams to help in this organization. The worst thing you can do is create and curate great content and then use it improperly. Talk about wasted opportunity.
Bringing it all together
This is by far not a comprehensive list of things to think about when creating a content calendar, but instead few tips to help you begin planning for the New Year. Although there is a lot to think about when developing your content calendar, it’s important to keep the actual document as simple as possible. Only include the necessary fields and streamline it so that everyone in your business can understand it.
This will take some time and likely many revisions, but having a working document and content planning process in place to refer to many times throughout the year is the only way to make your content calendar produce for your business.