Do-it-yourself marketing presents both challenge and opportunity for many small business owners and entrepreneurs. If that’s you, I think you’ll agree that the reality of creating your own content sometimes feels like taming a mighty beast.
My first forays into digital marketing ten years ago involved leading a fledgling team of Air Force Band Airmen into a field none of us fully understood.
Hired as professional musicians, our mission was to tell the Air Force story in our 7-state region through community outreach concerts, events, and media relations. My team and I felt the pressure of being a captive to our content. We were rarely planning our posts more than a day ahead—reacting more than strategizing. Metrics were a fairy tale afterthought and our engagement on social platforms was pretty frightful.
The day I stumbled upon a forum of other content creators discussing strategies and tactics was eye-opening. Without fully understanding the benefits, I implemented a content calendar to help my team keep our heads above water. Little did I realize that this one planning tool would pave the way for a fully realized content strategy.
In this blog post, we will take a close look at some of the benefits of a content calendar that will inform and support your content strategy. I’m betting at least a few may surprise you.
1. Time Management
Who doesn’t wish there was more time in the day? If you are your company’s bookkeeper, facility manager, CEO, and salesperson, odds are good that time is a priceless commodity. Implementing your first content calendar is 100% worth it for this one benefit: saving you time.
Investing time to plan on the front end saves you copious hours in the long term
Allows you more time to sell, network, or manage your business rather than feeding the social content monster
Lowers your blood pressure--unarguably a good thing
2. The Big Picture
A content calendar is the best way to facilitate long and short-term planning. The following are all items you should see coming in advance, so why not prep your most creative and timely content?
Holidays: They happen at the same time every year and are an excellent opportunity for a campaign, contest, or special project. Check HERE for official holiday dates in 2019. While you're at it, plan for a few fun, unofficial holidays like Awkward Moments Day (March 18) or International Sloth Day (October 20). Find more wacky dates to commemorate HERE.
Events are a fantastic way to attract new customers and develop buzz around your business. Prepare to promote and cover your events by adding them to the calendar ASAP, even if it's just a placeholder.
Marketing Coach, Veronika Noize, offers additional tips on DIY marketing through events.
Updates: The best way to curate and reuse evergreen content and update trend-based content is by tracking with a calendar.
Just like in your personal life, consistency is a building block for growing long-term relationships with your audience. Hubspot lists maintaining an editorial calendar as one of five essential tips to creating effective content. Your content calendar will help you:
Set and keep your goals to deliver creative, valuable content
Assist in identifying gaps or excess content in certain areas
Use consistent tone across different posters and platforms
4. Quality your audience will love
Planning your content calendar will help you to think through content from your audience's perspective. You never want to sacrifice quality for quantity. Here's what to keep in mind:
Customize your content to meet your audience's needs.
Strategic and steady--your content calendar will help you deliver content at the right time and right place
Choose elements to track in your calendar that will help you stay organized and track progress. Here are nine essential items to include in yours:
Download this infographic on the KJMDigital Pinterest page!
6. Idea generation and curation
A content calendar is the perfect place to collect new ideas, including recurring themes and trending topics. For example:
Update old posts with new information as it becomes available. Listing the URL in an easily accessed calendar makes this even easier.
When you meet someone perfect for an interview or feature story, add that content idea to your calendar for future follow-up.
Frequently asked questions from customers make great content, either one at a time or as a list. Track them.
As you can see in this article, 105 Types of Content, your imagination is the limit. Curating your idea generation will keep you from feeling overwhelmed!
7. Content tracking
Tracking content is an obvious benefit, so here's a quick list of things worth noting:
Gaps in content: Are you light in personal stories or infographics? Is too much of your content sales-focused rather than value-added? Pay attention to make sure your strategy is complete.
Publication timeline: Frequency and timing are essential and should
match the preferences of your audience.
Over or under use of topics: Monthly or quarterly audits will inform how well you are covering your categories and serving your audience's needs.
8. Audience tracking and targeting
What can you learn about your audience from your content calendar? Lots of things!
Use your calendar to keep track of high performing content. Hot content can be re-posted, updated, and cross-promoted on other platforms.
Include a column on your calendar to indicate the audience(s) targeted by a particular piece of content.
Make sure you are covering each step of the conversion funnel with appropriate content to guide the buyer's journey.
Collaborate with your team and stay on the same page by having a calendar that the group can access and reference.
Here's what you stand to gain:
View the team effort as a whole--this is great for strategy and will motivate contributors
Group brainstorming leads to more creative efforts
One set place for due dates reduces confusion
Visualize and execute shared goals
Avoid duplication or contradiction
Easily identify needed assets--prepping in advance leads to higher quality content
Accountability--content authors have visual representation of their responsibilities and contributions
10. Continuity of Voice
According to Alex York with HubSpot, people gravitate toward brands that are honest and reliable. Constantly switching your brand voice from sincere to snarky just confuses your audience and may come across as deceptive.
"Keeping customers happy while informed is a tricky balancing act for brands. This means you need to maintain a clear voice right from the beginning. Otherwise, you’re going to annoy, confuse or upset your audience and drive away customers."
Planning out your content on a calendar helps keep your brand voice consistent and allows your content to be viewed as reliable information by your audience and industry leaders.
11. Cross-promotion and Content Stacking
Creating high quality content that resonates with your audience takes time and dedication. The most effective content creators out there are not only cross-promoting, they are making the most out of great content by re-purposing it for other platforms.
A cleverly designed infographic is priceless. So why only use it once? Share the original on Pinterest, then cross-promote small (cropped) sections on Instagram and Facebook. Finally, cross-promote from each of these to a long-form blog post that goes into more detail.
Read more about why you should be platform specific with content in this Hootsuite blog, Why You Should Not Post The Same Message Across Networks
Your content calendar makes cross-promoting and content stacking easier by keeping all of the information needed in one, easily accessible location. And it helps you track what version of the content appeared on which platform.
12. Keywords & SEO Strategy
This one's a doozy. Keyword and SEO are not just buzz words, they are THE words on every content creator's mind. While it is a small piece of the puzzle, noting your keywords for each piece of content will help you develop your SEO strategy.
What do you stand to gain with this extra work?
Understanding and tracking keywords will help you generate ideas
Keywords help you understand what your audience wants to see
Paying attention to SEO strategy will keep you flexible and adaptive
Add a tab to your calendar specifically dedicated to tracking Keywords used or usable within your content. You'll need to revisit and update this information regularly for it to be useful.
Need more info on this daunting subject? It's everywhere. Check out this article on SEO and content marketing for some help.
Finally, getting your content organized on a calendar is a step in the right direction for clearly identifying short and long-term goals and for researching the effectiveness of your content. Here are a few metrics to consider documenting with your content calendar:
Many businesses are not making use of content calendars to support their marketing strategy. While it may require a bit of time on the front-end, the end result is undeniable: time saved, content improved, brand strengthened, teamwork buoyed, and ideas curated.
Resources on this topic are fairly unlimited and readily available. Check out this great HOW-TO video from Hootsuite to get you started:
At KJMdigital, we want to help by connecting artists to businesses through our online landscape. And the KJM Team works because our mission and values align with what we value - radical transparency, autonomy and flexibility.
We connect your business to your local art communities through our cohesive digital branding strategies. Our Community Art Campaigns, Ambassador Programs and Thought Leadership Teams will help you reach your business needs today.
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Sherry Wynn is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University where she received her Master of Arts degree in Communications. She is retired from the United States Air Force and is a regular contributor to the Digital Millennial. Visit her on LinkedIn to connect!