You have one on your phone. You use your work email's version to maintain order of your meetings. You may have a physical copy stashed in your purse, bag, or briefcase. Your fridge might have a dry erase board version. It can be completely barren or packed to the brim with detail. Some may have photos of cute kittens, tropical paradise scenes, or inspiring quotes.
Calendars are an incredible organizational tool, helping us make sense of our responsibilities and events. They can take all forms, such as large wall calendars with only the month and the date to a detailed book that has the day broken down into half hour increments. There is a design for every lifestyle need and aesthetic taste.
For families, a calendar is often a must. Jennifer and Luke have soccer practice at 5pm, while Dan has his adult softball game at 8pm. With weddings, birthday parties, sports, arts, and other events and activities, a calendar helps keep everyone organized.
The same is true for content marketing teams. You have your content writers, social media strategists, editors, graphic designers, video editors, project managers, and project directors all working on a variety of projects at the same time for different clients and different deadlines. One is also necessary for internal marketing efforts as well. It is not uncommon to have multiple content calendars for different projects. You can even combine them into one overview calendar.
The main goal of the content calendar is to help teams communicate project responsibilities and ownership, adhere to deadlines, and anticipate their workload in the coming days while also allowing them to strategize.
The Importance of Having a Content Calendar
We've touched a bit already on the necessity of a content calendar, and organization is one of them: Unless you have an exceptional memory, you need to jot down what is due when so that you don't delay a project's timeline and miss a deadline. Now add the responsibilities of ten other individuals and the fourteen projects that are currently ongoing. Not to mention, some of your team work in different regional offices. The content calendar software currently on the market has various features that let you get into the weeds in terms of detail, making sure your team never misses a beat and always know the status of a project at any given moment. Having a well-rounded content calendar can improve your team’s efficiency (and keep them sane!)
Here are some other reasons why you’ll want to implement a content calendar
See the big picture. A lot of team members are unwittingly wearing blinders if they don’t communicate with what the others are doing. Does the social media team know what the content creators (e.g., blog posting) are doing? Do we know, with certainty, that what we are all doing is supporting the brand and not contradictory? With a content calendar, you can see everything that is going at all stages with all team members.
Better teamwork. Too often, the marketing team is siloed by sub-teams or roles. You may have an all-team meeting, but that doesn’t constitute as “working together.” With a content calendar, everyone knows what is due and who is responsible. There is no need to say, “Wait—I thought Sara was supposed to be doing that?” You can work together in groups and as a whole.
Keep everything together. A great content calendar will allow you to manage everything in one place versus relying on multiple tools to get the job done. Doing it in one program will prevent data loss and allow for quick reference back to previous campaigns and replicate their success.
Now that you have a better idea of why you need a content calendar, it’s time to learn what needs to be included.
What to Include in a Content Calendar
What to include in your content calendar depends on a variety of factors, including what you do and what goals you want to accomplish.
Incorporate Your Goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to be the number one restaurant in your area? Are you trying to get new clients? Think about how to turn these goals into actionable items and include them as part of your planning process. If you’re looking to be ranked as the top restaurant in your area, you might start a campaign that encourages people to leave a review. Consider how long you want to run the campaign, and don’t forget to make adjustments as needed depending on how well it’s going.
Incorporate Topic Clusters. “Topic clusters” just means that you have one main topic (e.g., branding, quick meals, gardening) that you can break up into a variety of sub-categories and more specific topics. Use these to inspire your next content. You can write a white paper and then a series of blog posts that look at major points in turn. Promote the white paper and blog with a series of social media posts. One main topic is fodder for endless pieces of content.
Timely, Themed Content. You can’t plan for real-time content, which is content that can happen at any time—the sudden death of a celebrity, a tsunami hitting Japan, and more. But you can plan for holidays, product or service launches, events, and more. And content that revolves around these themes often does well and gets a lot of traction. The good thing about preparing for key dates (e.g., Black Friday, Easter) means that you can plan months in advance. That way you don’t have to scramble to get content put together and can focus on creating a magical content experience for your audience.
Quantity of Content. Another consideration is how often you should post. Do you post once or twice daily on each social media account and then follow up by engaging with your audience through responses and retweets? Or do you post multiple times per day? How often do you create long-form content like white papers and eBooks—monthly or quarterly? You need to decide the frequency in which you post any type of content that you create.
Time to Post. Another consideration is when you post, since you want to make sure you get as many eyes on your content as possible. If you're targeting working professionals, is it best to post during or after the work day? And are the same times applicable for all channels? While many websites offer suggestions for times for platforms, you will want to look at your analytics to see what times work for your particular audience.
What to Consider When Creating Your Calendar
Brainstorm/Collaboration. You want to be able to get input from all of your team members while also creating a calendar that works. Hold meetings to discuss the upcoming content calendar(s) and brainstorm ideas that work. What past content saw a lot of success? What topics can we elaborate? (With CONCURED's software, brainstorming is done for you. By letting you know exactly what to write about, you can create content that resonates with your audience and increases ROI. It helps ensure content calendar success each month.)
Once these are generated and agreed upon, you can create the calendar. Once that is complete, distribute to the team for review and final input.
Campaign Management. Managing multiple campaigns at one, whether they're for your company or a client, involves a lot of moving parts. You have the team, who needs to adhere to deadlines. Then you have the content and when and where it needs to be posted. And if it's a cross-channel campaign, you need to be able to seamlessly execute it. A good content calendar will help you manage your campaigns with ease.
Previous Calendar Success. If you know that a particular content calendar did well, you'll want to replicate its success. You should take a look at your content analytics to see what performed well, average, and poorly. From there, determine what elements made it perform as it did: Was it the topic? The timeliness (e.g., event or launch)? The format? Or was it an outlier—did it go viral? You can then incorporate these elements into your next calendar. Continue to evaluate to fine tune and create a content calendar that always hits the mark.
Creating Your Calendar
A lot of strategy and effort—and sometimes months of planning—goes into making a content calendar. It is no longer as simple as saying, "We will post a blog every Tuesday." What works for your company might not work as well for others. Maybe you only have the resources to create a calendar on a month-by-month basis. Maybe you have a large company with various brick-and-mortar stores, so you need to plan a year in advance to ensure everyone gets the correct materials on time.
If you do not yet use a content calendar, now is the time. Good content is too important to your company's success to try and manage it on a whim.