So you’ve nailed your content strategy and now you’re ready to implement it. You’ve got tons of creative ideas about how to reach your audience and boost your ROI. But you need some structure, a central place to hold all of the nitty-gritty details and a way to clearly visualize what is happening when. This is where a content calendar comes in handy.
Essentially a content calendar is a tool to help you organize and plan all of your content output. The whos, whats, wheres, whens, and hows. It’s a constantly evolving document that you refer to on a day-to-day basis to keep track of where you are, what’s worked well and what’s coming next.
- The benefits of a content calendar
- What to include in your content calendar
- Where to host your content calendar
- Useful resources for building your content calendar
- Best practice for building a content calendar
The benefits of a content calendar
The benefits are numerous, but here are Nudge’s top three pros:
A content calendar is an excellent way to focus your efforts in a way that best aligns with your goals and objectives. We’ve all had those moments at work when we sit there bewildered, unsure what we should be doing next. Spending time planning out which content pieces you should work on and when is a fool-proof way to avoid those slack jaw moments. Having a clear plan also makes it a lot easier to jump straight in on those “struggs to func”* Monday mornings and stick to agreed timings. And who isn’t looking for ways to work smarter not harder?
Having everything mapped out in one central place not only aids you but gives you the best shot at collaborating well with your team. Sharing the plan with your team and asking them to provide feedback in one place keeps the process streamlined and everyone on the same page. It also allows you to see at a glance if anything you need is missing, i.e. feedback, approval or content.
More time for creativity
Building a content calendar does take some effort up front to get set up and working to its best advantage (I’ve given some tips on what to think about below). However once taken care of, you’ll have more time to put your creative brain to work to tackle how best to maximize your brand. Simply put, once you’ve developed your content calendar, all you’ll have to do is populate it with your ideas.
What to include in your content calendar
When it comes to developing your content calendar, you’ll need to think about your specific needs and what you need your content calendar to tell you. The basic information you’ll need to include in your content calendar is:
- Channel your content will feature on
- Date, time and time zone it will go live
- Link to the content and any assets
- Link to the published campaign
Other things you could include, depending on your requirement, are:
- Content format (i.e. post, blog)
- Campaign name
- Who you are targeting
- Name of the content manager
- Key performance metrics
Where to host your content calendar
You’ll need to host your calendar somewhere easily accessible for everyone who needs to see it. Here are some of the best collaboration-friendly platforms to host your content calendar:
Google Sheets – An oldie but a goldie. Sometimes a classic spreadsheet is the best way to go. It’s shareable and your team will likely be very familiar with the interface too.
Trello – Using Trello you can create checklists with due date reminders and assign people to each action that needs completing. It’s highly customizable and uses a simple drag and drop function, but it may require a little training time for colleagues who are not familiar with it. Here’s a how-to guide on creating your content calendar using Trello.
Hootsuite Planner – This is a sophisticated tool that gives you a broad ‘Planner’ section to overview all scheduled content activity and then a more detailed ‘Content’ section for scheduling content and recording approvals. However, there are costs associated with this option and it’s specifically suited to social media content.
Useful resources for building your content calendar
Some other resources that may come in useful when building your content calendar are:
- Hubspot offers free social media and editorial content calendar Excel templates plus tips on how to make your calendar work best for you.
- Marketo has pulled together this very comprehensive free ebook on how to develop a social media content calendar.
Best practice for building a content calendar
And finally, some best practice to keep in mind when building your content calendar:
- Be flexible. Even the best-laid plans need to be adaptable to changes. Make sure you’re prepared to react to new trends and topics to stay relevant and take advantage of good exposure opportunities.
- Only make your content calendar as complex as it needs to be. An over-complicated calendar that becomes a burden for you and your team to maintain will lose its value and get overlooked.
- Keep a more general monthly or yearly calendar to keep track of important events to bring relevancy to your content. These could include organizational events, industry events or international events (i.e. Super Bowl, International Women’s Day).
- Keep tabs on what’s worked well in the past and use these learnings to craft your content. You may want to create a content library of your most successful content to keep it close at hand.
*Struggling to function
About the author
Sarah Plant is a British content writer that helps organizations put their best foot forward with the right words. She draws upon her experience of working in marketing and fundraising, both agency- and client-side, to tell compelling stories that maximize audience engagement.