If you’re a business owner or manager, you know how tough it is to handle the day-to-day challenges of running a business. Add to this the burden of marketing, which in this day and age requires a near constant online presence. In fact, one of the biggest complaints reported by business owners is the challenge of developing relevant, interesting ideas for social media posts, followed by the lack of time to write and publish them on a regular basis.
Fortunately, there’s a straightforward solution that, with a bit of pre-planning, will provide you with valuable, appropriate topics and a schedule to post them. It’s called a social media content calendar and in this article we’re going to discuss how to create one.
What’s so great about a content calendar?
There are four basic advantages that a well-developed content calendar can provide:
It helps you publish regularly and on time: A structured schedule forces you to plan your content ahead of time, starting with some already-known company and industry events and occasions that will help you quickly develop some basic content, ready to post at the right time.
It provides a strategic marketing overview: A content calendar allows you to look at any given month, quarter, or year and see the level of marketing activity planned and what you’ll be talking about. As a result, you can tweak your communications and ensure consistency in your messaging.
It buys time to develop ideas and plan topics: Your content calendar will keep you aware of important upcoming dates and events, such as an industry trade show, a business anniversary, a new product or service launch, or some other topic that could benefit from some online marketing messages.
It encourages integration of other content sources: Once again, a content calendar that highlights, say, an upcoming industry event may trigger an idea to ask a third-party expert to contribute an objective post about the advantages and benefits your products or services provide the industry.
Okay, so how do I create a content calendar?
Now that you can see how important a social media content calendar is to creating a content marketing framework, let’s take a look at how to actually create one:
- Establish some goals
Any business that wants to succeed needs to have goals. What are yours? Think about how content marketing and social media can help you achieve those goals and then align your social media topics with them. For example, if you need to increase market share, it’ll help to develop topics and posts around the unique features and benefits of your products or services to attract more customers to them.
- Do some content brainstorming
The most valuable content is that which addresses the wants and needs of your target audience. What problem and challenges do they face? How can your company and what it offers help them solve their problems better than the competition?
Also, look at what you’ve already published that has been successful. “Repurpose” and re-use that same content in different ways to squeeze as much value out of it as possible. Break it into smaller chunks, use it in different channels, spin it in slightly different ways. You’ll be surprised at how much new life you can breathe into existing material.
What has your competition been doing that’s successful? Find ways to capitalize on that. Refute something they’ve posted and explain why with facts or address the same topic in your own, unique way to make it your own.
- Determine the right format
Your content is only as good as the format it’s presented in. If your target audience prefers short-form blog posts, all the in-depth eBooks and white papers will do you no good. You may have to do a little testing first to see what formats work best – webinars, infographics, blog posts, videos, to name a few – but once you establish your prospects’ preferred formats, make those the vehicles for the bulk of your content.
- Start building your content calendar
As we mentioned earlier, start with those regular and seasonal events that are no-brainers: traditional promotions and industry events, company anniversaries, seasonal opportunities, etc. Then fill in with topics and themes based on your business goals, target audience interests, frequently asked questions, and other marketing topics that will enable you to create a calendar full of regularly scheduled posts that will capture and retain audience interest.
- Develop a posting strategy
With all your topics and posts ready to go, establish an actionable plan:
- Which social media channels to use
- What content you’ll share on each one
- What your call to action will be for each post and channel
- How often to post on each channel
- Measure, monitor, and analyze
Set aside a little time on a regular basis to use the analytical tool or tools of your choice to gauge how your content marketing is working. Google Analytics, Sprout Social, ZoHo Social, Buffer and other freely available tools are a great way to track and analyze traffic and your success. See what works and what doesn’t and adjust your calendar and plan accordingly.
A solid content calendar is the cornerstone of any successful content marketing campaign. It will play a significant role in helping you develop and maintain your online presence. If creating and implementing a social media content calendar is something you feel you cannot, or do not, want to do yourself, contact us here at The Social Julie. We’d be happy to help.