If you’ve ever tried blogging regularly for your business, you know that creating and publishing great content can quickly turn into an overwhelming amount of work. Having a consistent content flow requires you to get organized and create a schedule that works for your business–you have to run your business and provide expert information to your customers on your blog and in your newsletters. This is where a content calendar becomes critical.
What’s a content calendar?
A content calendar (or editorial calendar, or social media calendar) will organize the way you curate and create content, as well as assist in developing your editorial strategy. A good content calendar will put all your scheduled posts for social media, blogs, and emails in one place, reducing the amount of time you spend researching daily or wondering every day what to post. When you plan out what you are going to say before you say it, you can allocate your time and your resources more wisely: you can schedule out your social media posts and set aside one chunk of time each week to write your blogs or newsletters.
Your content calendar should be easy to read and contain all the necessary information for your social media and blog or newsletter plans. You can use a spreadsheet or word document to organize your content ideas, among other avenues–the important part is that you put down ahead of time what you will say every day for the next week or the next month. (Pro-tip: start with a weekly plan, and then when you feel like you’ve got that under control, get even more efficient by planning out your whole month.) If you have more than one writer, your calendar should reflect which of your writers is responsible for writing, publishing, and promoting each blog or social media post. If you have several social media channels for content promotion, it helps to label your post or color coordinate them—this way, you and your team can see, at a glance, what you are posting each day and on which channels.
A content calendar helps to prevent the following common mistakes:
- Posting content that doesn’t perform
You have a lot of interesting topics to cover for your followers on social media. But you need to make sure that content is something that your audience wants to hear. Too often, business owners just put up social media posts or blogs on the fly, not knowing if it’s really something their audience will care about. Creating a content calendar forces you to look at themes for your content and plan out things that you know your audience will care about. If you don’t have a target audience in mind, then your content is at risk of inconsistent performance.
- Missing important dates
Have you ever gone about your day, then suddenly realize that you forgot a friend’s birthday, but only because you saw the reminder on Facebook? It feels bad to have forgotten it on your own, but it would feel a lot worse to miss the birthday altogether. The same goes for holidays or other important dates on social media or with your newsletters. If you organize a calendar the week or month before, you can do your research on any important dates that might be coming up for that next week or month and make sure that you post about them. Organizing all your content means you won’t miss posting on social media for relevant holidays important to your industry, product releases, or campaign launch dates.
- Overwhelming your writers or social media managers
If you run a small business, you want to make sure your resources are allocated in the most beneficial way for your business. Hiring people dedicated to your social media channels and for your blogs is a great idea, but it can only work if you aren’t overloading them with too much to write all at once. Overwhelmed writers means lower quality writing. Having a calendar means that you can plan out exactly how much content you’re assigning to each person. If you’re the only writer, then that means you can also schedule out for yourself what you know you can do, keeping in mind other deadlines that you have for a particular week.
- Overwhelming one social media network and neglecting another
When you post on social media “on the fly” or “spur of the moment” based on something that’s interesting to you, you risk only posting on one platform because it’s the platform you yourself are most used to. But that doesn’t mean it’s also the platform your audience is most used to. Also, you can run the risk of posting when it’s most convenient for you–say, 6 AM when you wake up…when no one else is online. Without a calendar, you can favor one social media channel too much, you can post at the wrong times, you can post too much without realizing it, or worse, you could be posting way too seldom. Having a calendar gets you on track to know what you’re posting, how often you’re posting on each day, and when you’re posting to reach your audience when they are online.
- Not doing the necessary research
You have a brilliant post planned, but when you or your writer sits down to create it, you realize that it requires a lot more knowledge on the subject than what you have at your disposal. Unfortunately, your deadline is…well…now, because it’s the only time you’ve got all week. The choice is to do all the research and hope you get to your blog, don’t do the research and write the blog anyway, or just don’t do the blog at all. This means a struggle to produce what you know is a mediocre piece of content, or worse, no content at all. When you use a calendar, you can plan and see in advance what you need to write about each week and when your deadline is, making sure you can plan for time well in advance of your deadline to do your research and write the best blog or newsletter possible.
With a content calendar, you have a plan you commit to and your social media marketing becomes a lot less daunting and a lot more manageable. Creating a content calendar means that you make all the necessary information available to you and your team in a single location. It also makes all your social media channels and resources easy to access when you need it. Those who fail to plan are, in essence, planning to fail. Make the most out of your blogging and social media efforts and put together a content calendar!
If you know you need to get your social media and blogging organized and scheduled, but don’t know where to begin, reach out to us! Our content and social media teams are experts at getting to know your audience and getting your schedules right the first time.