Every good content marketing strategy starts with a well-planned content calendar.
Here are eight steps for building an effective calendar:
1. Design your calendar. Choose a format: an actual calendar template, a spreadsheet, a PDF template or even an online project management tool. From there, decide how to map out your content (e.g., weeks or months in advance). You can start short term and expand as you come up with ideas.
2. Organize content types. Create personas of potential customers, considering any questions or concerns that you can address for them. Ask what brand voice you want to project. Do you want to be casual, professional or somewhere in between? Define your brand’s identity, and ensure your content reflects it. Identify content categories: long blog posts, short blog posts, social media updates, photos, videos, infographics and so on. This will help you vary your posts rather than exhausting one or two formats. You might color-code each type of content to help you visualize it.
3. Determine how often you want to post. Depending on your resources—business size, number of employees, free time—and what works for your business, you might post on certain platforms daily, semiweekly, weekly, biweekly or even less frequently. Regardless, it’s important to be consistent. For instance, if you publish a blog post each week, specify a day and tell your followers, so they know when to expect it. On social media, post more frequently to be considered an “active” user.
4. Look for opportunities to repurpose content. Despite the massive demand for “new” content, you don’t have to come up with original assets for every channel every day. There easy ways to slice, dice and stretch the content you create for one medium for use on another. If you write a blog post, you can take adapt a snippet for a Facebook caption. Highlight key elements for a text-based video on Instagram. You might even turn sections into an appealing infographic. You can also update older, high-performing content with new information. The more mileage you can get out of a piece of content, the easier it will be to sustain your content marketing efforts.
5. Be flexible enough to jump on trending topics. Along with a steady stream of “evergreen” content ideas, you might also post timely content covering industry developments or current events. This will help establish you as a relevant and credible expert in your field.
6. Ask your team for help. The more people you include in brainstorming, the more insights and ideas you’ll gain. Plus, you’ll have more people to delegate to, which will help you tackle more projects in less time.
7. Schedule cross-channel content. When planning content, integrate other types of marketing into your strategy. For instance, pair a blog post with a social media update, and schedule them to go live on the same day. Also, engage with other bloggers or influencers in your industry or niche, through follows, comments, “likes” and shares.
8. Measure your content performance and adapt. As you publish your content, check your stats to evaluate posts’ performance. Maybe your audience prefers short listicles to long blog posts, or maybe they want more videos and fewer photos. Whatever the results, don’t be afraid to make adjustments and experiment with new ideas.
A version of this post first appeared on the Lightning Media Partners blog.