A content calendar gives structure to the content expressions of your company. And there are often more than you think. Blogs here, some website texts there and of course all that social content. This makes it useful to structure this and make it workable for everyone. Also something for your organization? In this blog I give some tips for setting up such a calendar and personal learnings from practice.
Roadmap to a successful calendar
Creating a content calendar is not a higher math. However, it is essential to tackle this process well and to take into account both best practices and the needs of your organization. Since a lot has already been written about setting up a content calendar, I keep it brief with the four steps below.
Step 1: brainstorming for the base
Organize a brainstorm with the people who are most involved in the creation and publication process. Determine the conditions that the calendar must meet and which elements must actually be included. Usually these are elements such as topic, author, deadline and publication date, status, channel, format, target group and preferably phase in the buying process. Is your organization internationally active and do you want to work across borders? Add elements such as language, country and the question of whether something needs to be translated.
Step 2: choose tool & elaboration
Then choose a workable and appropriate platform to set up the calendar. Excel and Spreadsheets (online, so handy) are simple platforms to shape the calendar. You can also opt for tools such as Trello or Hubspot. Choose at least the tool that fits your organization and workflow. Discuss the elaboration of the calendar in a second session
Step 3: fill in content calendar
Make a good analysis of the type of content you use and evaluate what kind of content it does well. You may have strong evergreen content that is suitable for updating and reuse. Also data such as frequently asked questions in the customer service or keyword research of your SEO colleague are useful input here. Discuss these matters in the second session where you will fill in the calendar. When completing, create a balance between the different types of content, also in nature. Exchange commercial and inspiring or informative expressions with each other. Also take into account the buying phase of your customer. Useful models to use in this distribution are for example the Hero – Hub – Hygiene model, See Think Do Care model or the classic AIDA.
Tip: use tags and UTM codes for your content. This makes it traceable and measurable. Not only useful for Analytics, but also when multiple departments, branches or partners can use the content
Step 4: evaluate
Evaluate after a few weeks how the content calendar works in practice. What are you doing and do you miss something? Then apply these learnings on the way to an even more workable content calendar.
8 learnings from practice
In practice, the creation, implementation and compliance is not always easy. Below are the things that I encounter as a content consultant and like to give you as a learning experience:
- Are you going to implement the concept at another organization or department? Then arrange for a joint kick-off in which everyone is given the opportunity to give input and map the wishes. This reduces the feeling that you are such a person who ‘just comes to tell you how to do it’
- Make clear agreements. Speak among other things who is responsible and set deadlines
- Keep the calendar clear. The art of a successful content calendar is that it is workable. So avoid the calendar becoming a beast with 20 tabs and 30 columns per sheet. Catch the essence and scale in time for a more professional tool
- Work as much as possible with fixed input. Think of columns such as Type of content, target or target group. Here you have the same options each time. Record this by using dropdown menus with fixed options (in Excel or Spreadsheets). This way you prevent a proliferation of answers
- Automate matters as much as possible. Think, for example, of drop-downs where you can immediately make this new option available everywhere by adding one extra option in the source data. Saves a lot of work
- Make sure the calendar is dynamic. You want to apply structure, but do not pour it into concrete. So add new columns if necessary and create space for new content items such as for example sign holders or press releases
- Create a central place to store content that can be accessed by those involved. For example, I regularly use Google Drive as an online collection point that both I and the customer have access to
- Express your appreciation for the work done by the team and accept that mistakes are made in the beginning. A new method is getting used to and usually has start-up problems. Evaluate after the first few weeks and take the learnings with you
So far the tips and personal learnings that I encounter in practice. As mentioned before, a good content calendar helps both your content input and workflow a big step forward. Well worth it so if you take your content (marketing) seriously. Knowing more? Feel free to contact us. And also check out our online marketing blog for more practical tips and the latest online marketing news.