How to Create a Content Calendar

How to Create a Content Calendar

Have you ever had the experience of seeing an interesting holiday or observance trending on social media and realized it was a missed marketing opportunity? While some of these holidays might be too unrelated or “silly” for your brand, you definitely would not want to miss a valuable chance to take advantage of trending topics with relevant- and often fun- social media content.

Although some of these holidays might seem odd, there is an abundance of observance days worldwide where marketers can seize the opportunity to share relevant content. This content allows the company to get involved in a movement or generate awareness for a certain observance.

This is where a content calendar comes into play. If you don’t take the time to plan out a content calendar in advance, you could potentially end up scrambling for content last minute. This is an issue because social media content is a key component to engaging your audience and attracting new customers.

Social media content calendars are an easy and effective way to plan and organize upcoming content. Taking time to create a content calendar is one of the most effective things that marketers can do to schedule months of quality social posts ahead of time. This post will detail the important reasons why your business should have a content calendar and how to get started!

Why is a Social Media Content Calendar Important?

Social media marketing continues to grow in importance for businesses. According to Sprout Social, in 2017 30% of millennials engaged with a brand on social media at least once a month while 60% of baby boomers checked social media for brand promotions. With the numbers only expected to increase, it is critical for businesses to put efforts towards their social media marketing plans.

  1. Keep Track of Important Dates
    Content calendars are exactly what they sound like. They keep track of important dates and allow marketers time to plan content accordingly. This includes dates like holidays, observances, company events, product launches, new marketing campaigns, and more.

    In addition to never missing important dates, a content calendar is also a place to document performance notes. Marketers can mark previous year’s numbers and strategy information in the content calendar for comparison. Including this information can help you with planning new content, seeing what works and what might need adjusting.

  2. Stay Organized
    Social media content calendars are a useful tool for keeping content and scheduling organized. A very clear benefit, right? Although some brands still fail at using content calendars.

    Being organized not only prevents you from missing important days, but also allows you to keep track of your publishing schedule. Having a visual guide allows marketers to see what they are publishing and where. This way, it prevents one social channel from getting content while another goes untouched.

    As marketers, we know consistency is key. Creating a content calendar helps to establish a regular flow for each social network and makes it easy to stick to.

  3. Time Saver
    Again, this can seem obvious, but it’s a huge benefit! Social media content calendars save time in the long run by creating efficiency. Knowing what assets you will need and when you will need them will ensure things run smoothly and prevent time waste.

  4. Teamwork Made Easy
    Working with a team of marketers can get difficult, but having a single source of information makes collaboration easier. Social media content calendars serve as the single source of truthful information for what’s being posted and when.

    This way, whether your sharing ideas with your team or updating a manager, everyone is on the same page. This is especially easy when the calendar is kept in a shared platform, such as Google Sheets (link). Not only is everyone updated, but having a shared link promotes easy collaboration and sharing of input.

  5. Create Successful Content
    Not only are social media content calendars useful for planning content, but also for gaining a deeper understanding of what type of content works and what doesn’t. By understanding what type of content gets engagement, marketers are able to increase their success rate and create more of what their audience likes to see.

    How so? Well, it frees up time and energy for marketers to devote to measurement instead of scrambling for last-minute publishing. A clear visual guide allows marketers to notice patterns more easily. This provides a deeper understanding of optimal post times, target audience, and overall successful content.

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar

Now that we’ve discovered WHY a social media content calendar is necessary, let’s find out HOW to create one.

  1. Focus on Your Audience
    Remember that every piece of content is created with the audience in mind. Understand your audience by identifying their personas. This will help you create a content calendar that appeals to either existing or potential customers.

    Define your different audience types and think about the type of content that would resonate with them. If you have a great idea for content? See if it aligns with the buyer personas you have established. If not, invest your resources elsewhere.

  2. Research, Research, Research
    In order to be able to plan out successful content, you need to know what has been successful in the past. Study existing content and be sure to include successful content strategies in your calendar.

    Some questions to ask yourself when researching content:
    -What type of content got the most likes?
    -What type of content generated the most comments?
    -What type of content was shared the most?
    -What type of content got the highest amount of views?
    -What type of content got the highest engagement rate?

  3. Go Through Existing Content
    After reviewing and researching what works, audit your existing content to see what is still usable. Organize your content library into different categories and types.

    Types of content would be:
    -Blog Posts
    -Webinars
    -Videos
    -Images

    Categories of content would be:
    -How-to’s
    -Lists
    -Q and A’s
    -Informational

    When you have organized your existing content, ask yourself:
    -What content is still usable?
    -What content can be updated?
    -What content can be repurposed?
    -What content cannot be reused?

    Any of the items that fall into the first three categories have potential to be new, fresh content that can fill your content calendar.

  4. Add in Major Events
    Now that you’ve gone over and audited your content assets, create an overview of major events in your content calendar. Whether your calendar takes the form of a document, spreadsheet, or actual calendar layout, it’s important to map out the events you want to create content around. After all- this is a calendar, so it’s only right to include holidays.

    Some important events to add to your content calendar include:
    -Holidays (big and small)
    -Social media observances
    -Product launches
    -Company events

    When adding these events, keep your industry in mind. Depending on your business, your calendar may include fun observances like “National Puppy Day” or “National Donut Day”. These days are great opportunities to create fun, relatable content.

  5. Organize your Process
    Now that you have filled in your content ideas and marked important events, it’s time to figure out your calendar process. First, you and your team should decide how often you’re going to publish on each social network. This varies from business to business, as some social channels work better for some industries than others.

    Next, come up with your content mix. How much of each category and type of original and curated content will you publish? Remember- this is a process and it may take some time to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Also, you’ll need to determine how you and your team will generate new content and the process of bringing these ideas to life. Figure out who is in charge of what in terms of publishing, updating, and scheduling on the content calendar.

  6. Make Use of Your Content Calendar
    What a process! Now that you have set up, organized, and planned your content calendar, it’s time to make use of it! Use this as your universal truth of your content.

    Start with a brainstorm and use different perspectives to come up with unique ideas to plan, create and schedule content. In theory, this may seem simple, but can be difficult in practice. With a little organization, however, you can maintain a social media content calendar that will keep you and your team efficient, productive and able to create better quality content.