How important is a content calendar, and what should it include?
There are all sorts of different elements that come together as part of an effective content marketing strategy. While many of these – such as high-quality content and amplification via social media – are relatively obvious, there are a few factors that can be a little harder to wrap your head around.
One of these is a well-organised content calendar, which can make a huge difference when it comes to knowing what content to create, and when to publish it.
But what is a content calendar, and what sort of information should these crucial documents include? Just as importantly, why are editorial and social media calendars so vital to your organisation’s digital marketing efforts?
A well-organised content calendar can make a huge difference when it comes to knowing what content to create, and when to publish it.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is simply a document that outlines all of the material a particular business plans to put online as part of its content marketing strategy. This could include blog posts, whitepapers, user-generated content or even specific tweets, as well as when and where each of these content types will be published and promoted.
As the Content Marketing Institute puts it, a calendar: “details every piece of content being managed. Some organisations call this an editorial calendar, others call it a content calendar.”
While these terms can be used interchangeably, there is a slight difference when it comes to specific social media calendars. These can either be included as a separate section of an overall content calendar, or may sit on their own if a business’ social media posting is handled by a different department or individual.
Important dates and other information (such as specific trends that an organisation may wish to piggyback on) are particularly important for social media content calendars, as the timing of a tweet or Facebook post can have far more of an impact than the publishing date of a blog. This is down to the immediacy of social media channels, and the importance of reaching a target audience at the right time – such as the week before a big product launch.
Without a well-planned content calendar, it’s that much harder to ensure these social media posts (and the supporting content they link to) end up in front of your audience at the right time.
What should a content calendar include?
While you might be thinking that all a content calendar needs to include is a list of topics, tweets, and when to publish them, high-quality calendars go beyond this to give marketing teams a far better idea of what various content types need to accomplish. This sort of additional information can include:
- Why each piece of content is being created – in relation to overall strategic goals such as driving traffic or converting leads into sales.
- Who each piece of content is being created for – in relation to target audience personas that have been created early on in your content strategy.
- Where and when each piece of content will be published
- What makes each piece of content different to material that’s already available on the same topic.
- How the success of each piece of content will be measured. For example, the volume of click-throughs generated by a specific tweet, or how many form-fills are completed by your audience after they read a blog post.
All of this information may sound a little scary and difficult to compile, especially if you’re new to the world of content marketing. Fortunately, this is where the experts can help – often a business will outsource the creation of their content calendar to a content marketing team, and simply sign off the completed document before any internal or external content creation commences.
As an example, take a look at Hubspot’s content calendar template below.
Calendars save huge amounts of time by making your content planning and creation more streamlined and organised.
How important is a content calendar?
Now that we know what social media or editorial calendars are and what they should include, it’s important to consider the benefits of utilising these documents when planning a content marketing strategy.
The first and most important reason to use calendars is that they can save huge amounts of time by making your content planning and creation more streamlined and organised. This means that when it comes time to produce a certain number of pieces (or social media posts) per week, you won’t have to waste valuable time working out what to create and where to place it.
When working to tight deadlines, this organisation can be critical in ensuring a steady stream of high-quality content that boosts your business’ presence online and continually attracts new customers from within your target audience.
In addition, a content calendar makes it far easier to account for, and take advantage of, key dates within your industry. This could be something as simple as the Christmas holidays if you’re in the eCommerce sector, or a specific conference or event if you’re in a more niche industry. By having all of these dates clearly laid out in a calendar, it’s far easier to plan and create content that relates to what your audience is thinking about at a specific time. In turn, this will establish an organisation as an industry leader with its finger on the pulse, as well as boosting SEO by tying certain pieces of content in with highly searched trends.
The bottom line is that a content calendar should be a key component of each and every digital marketing strategy. Without one you’re flying blind, and severely limiting your chances of having your content perform at its best.