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content marketing calendar
January 23rd, 2017

Create a Content Marketing Calendar in 4 Simple Steps

by sage island

One of the most common resolutions for the new year is getting more organized in our personal and professional lives.

While we can’t give you any tips for your personal life, we can help you out professionally.

If you own a business, you probably juggle a lot of responsibilities. From payroll to customer service to hiring and firing, it’s all too easy to let your digital marketing efforts slide. Instead of a perfectly planned and flawlessly executed campaign, you quickly share a link to your company’s hours and call it a day. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of content that will bring in business.

One way to avoid this fate is by creating a content marketing calendar at the beginning of the year. A strategic content calendar ensures that everything you post does the following:

  • Serves a purpose
  • Branding remains consistent
  • Sets you up to take advantage of opportunities as they arise
  • Ensures you are publishing a steady flow of content your audience actually wants to see.

The result of doing this – a professional online presence and a polished look will help sell your products and services.

The content calendar process.

Your content marketing calendar can be as simple or as detailed as needed, but it only works if you stick with it. At Sage Island, we open our clients’ content calendars daily—this saves us time and energy, keeps us organized and on track, and guides our responses to problems as well as opportunities. If you have a content calendar, you can quickly answer questions such as whether a new platform fits your strategy, if you should spend advertising dollars on a new product, and whether your bedrock services are being effectively articulated.

There are many ways to create a successful content marketing calendar, and how you organize yours will depend on your industry and goals. No matter what route you take, the following four steps for creating a content calendar are essential to the process.

Brainstorm content that aligns with your goals.

The first step to creating a strategic content calendar is to be clear about your goals. What do you want to do?

  • Do you want to increase sales?
  • Generate leads?
  • Get more emails?
  • More website conversions?

If so, how will the content you post help achieve those goals? What questions are you commonly asked, and how can you answer them with engaging, informative content? How can you position yourself as a trusted source of information and expertise? A good idea is to check out your competition and see what kind of content they’re posting, then try to take it a step further.

Once you know your goals, you can have a little fun. Pay attention to trends, hashtags, and holidays to foster engagement and participate in the online community. For example, the hashtag #MotivationMonday is popular among fitness communities, while National Cupcake Day is the perfect excuse for a chocolate company to celebrate. When you find a good balance between self-promotion and community involvement, you’ll know you’ve struck content gold.

Choose your platforms wisely and decide how often to post.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tik Tok, your blog—there are a lot of places to publish your content, but which platform is right for you? That will depend on who you’re trying to target. If you want to reach tech-savvy millennials, Snapchat is your best bet. If Baby Boomers are your most loyal customers, head to Facebook. If you’re in the fitness business, fire up your Instagram account. Remember, it’s better to focus on a few sites that will yield results rather than waste your time blanketing every social media platform with ill-fitting content.

As for how often you should post, consider how much time you have and—more importantly—who will oversee your social media presence. Will you keep it in-house and hand it over to a member of your team? Will you hire a new person with the skills and knowledge to run your accounts? Will you work with an outside agency, such as Sage Island, to manage your accounts so you and your employees can do other things? How you choose to proceed will dictate how much time you must post and how often you can create unique, compelling content.

[Need for tips for creating a social media strategy? Click here!]

Schedule posts but leave time for serendipity.

As you create your content calendar, think about your long-term and short-term goals, and break your calendar down by year, month, and week. While the yearly outlook might be sketched out in broad strokes, your weekly calendar will be more specific.

Now’s your chance to incorporate your sales cycle and your busy season, as well as holidays, special events, and big sales. By thinking ahead, you’ll be able to plan for these occasions and turn them into opportunities.

For each day you’ll post, write out the exact copy you plan to use and note which platform for which it’s intended. If you want to post about the same thing on Facebook and Twitter, make sure your copy is optimized for each site. For example, you should tag any products or places you mention on Facebook while maintaining that Twitter only allows 140 characters. Since you know what you’ll be posting each day, take the time to gather all the media and links you’ll need, including photos, videos, PowerPoints, and GIFs, and keep them in a folder you can quickly access.

Of course, nothing on the Internet goes quite as planned. While you can write out every post and gather the best GIFs, there will come a day when a conversation starts, a hashtag will begin trending, or an event will unfold, and you want to take part. In these cases, it’s okay to veer from your content calendar; in fact, it’s encouraged. Posting in the moment will keep your accounts from sounding robotic and allow your personality to shine through. Those serendipitous moments are what makes social media so exciting and so effective.

Analyze your results and act accordingly.

While posting engaging content that gets tons of likes, follows, and retweets are the part everyone sees, there’s another, less glamorous aspect of your content calendar that’s just as important: analytics.

Each month, you should review your stats on each platform and take notes on what worked and what didn’t. Which posts got the most attention? Which images did your fans gravitate toward? Did you lose followers or grow your community? Keeping an eye on this informative will help guide your choices as you prepare to repeat the cycle and ensure that your efforts don’t go to waste. Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If something you’re doing isn’t working, you need to change it. The only way you can do that is to analyze the results of your efforts and make the necessary edits.

The types of analytics you’ll have access to varies from platform to platform. Facebook offers robust insights that will help you tweak targeting, the time of day you post, and how many people you reach and engage. Twitter will tell you which tweets received the most impressions. On Instagram, likes and comments speak for themselves. Pay attention to these numbers and act accordingly, and your results will continue to improve as time goes on.

If you’ve read this far, then you understand the importance of creating a content marketing calendar and how much it can help your business reach its goals. If you need help getting started, contact Sage Island, and let our marketing experts set you u

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