Even You Can Create a Content Calendar
The Sprocket Report
The term “content calendar” shows up in marketing blog posts everywhere, but very few people we know actually use one. To finish 2017 strong, why not give it a whirl for a few months? We’ll get you started!
First let’s get common consensus on what a content calendar is. As you would suspect, it lists the days, weeks and months ahead and then you note what marketing content you plan to distribute on which days and to which outlets.
The reaction of most folks is: “I don’t have time for that.” We certainly understand that you are already overworked and we don’t want to add to your load, but just a little bit of preparation now can make things so much easier for you later. And as a bonus, your marketing will be more successful, too!
Content calendars can be very complex, but for this end-of-the year exercise, feel free to keep it super simple. There are tons of options online you can download, including a monthly option from Twitter with some interesting content ideas already filled in. You could also use any spread sheet program you’re already comfortable with or even scribble on that free paper calendar kicking around the office.
When you fill your calendar, think of a jar of rocks. If you put in the big rocks first, the little pebbles fall in among them. Your rocks won't fit in if you try to fill the jar in the opposite order; nor will your marketing communication time or budget.
So first you need to identify your “Big Rocks” – the content you MUST talk about. That could be an event your organization is holding. Or the shopping season. Or the holidays. Mark those dates on your calendar.
Next, add in your “Pebbles.” Think through what you can say to support the Big Rocks and when you’ll need to say it. For instance, the beginning and end of event registration, gift shipping dates, Black Friday deals, Halloween and so on. Note what you want to say on the calendar days that you want people to hear it.
That might be enough of a calendar to start with, but look for blank spaces, where you can fill in with your "Sand". Providing a regular flow of content keeps folks interested until you have a Big Rock to share. For ideas on what to share during those blank spaces, try that Twitter calendar or daysoftheyear.com or something similar. The idea is to mix it up – some news, some fun, some promotion. Don’t feel you have to fill in every day because unexpected news is bound to happen and you’ll now have room to add it without moving everything around.
If you still have a few minutes, go ahead and write the first couple posts. But if you can’t spare any more time right now, make an appointment with yourself to get back to it soon and file your calendar where you can find it. Now when you have to get back to it, you can just grab the calendar to see what your writing assignment is and do it. No more blogger’s block!
Remember to always publish your news FIRST on your own website and THEN to your social media and press release outlets. Write whenever you can squeeze it in – any one article won’t take long – and your website, Facebook and other platforms should all be able to schedule your posts so they will publish on the date you’ve planned. Or use a tool like Hootsuite for your scheduling. https://hootsuite.com
The content calendar will free you from I-haven’t-posted-in-a-month guilt and from frantic last-minute promotion. In addition, your marketing efforts will be more successful and your brand will look more professional.
If you’re unsure how to manage the tools or want to learn more about digital marketing, consider an hour’s worth of training. Just give us a call. We’re happy to help you get started so you can continue doing it yourself in 2018.