How to create a content calendar for your marketing strategy
As a marketer, you know that creating a consistent stream of high-quality content is essential for building a strong brand and engaging with your target audience. But with so many channels to manage and content ideas to execute, it can be challenging to stay organized and ensure that your content is aligned with your marketing goals.
That's where a content calendar comes in. A content calendar is a tool that helps you plan and organize your content strategy, ensuring that you're delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time.
In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of using a social media content calendar, how to create one, and tips for making the most of this valuable marketing tool. Whether you're a seasoned marketer or just getting started, this guide will help you take your content strategy to the next level.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar, also known as a social media calendar or editorial calendar, is a strategic planning tool that helps businesses organize and schedule their content for publication across various platforms. It serves as a roadmap for the creation, distribution, and promotion of content, ensuring that your marketing efforts are consistent, timely, and aligned with your overall objectives. A social media content calendar:
- Sets a timeline for content release: A social media content calendar lays out a clear timeline for when each piece of content should be published, making it easier to plan and coordinate your marketing efforts. This helps maintain consistency in your content output and ensures that you're regularly engaging with your audience.
- Details the dates and times content items will go live: The calendar includes specific dates and times for when each piece of content is scheduled to go live, taking into account factors like optimal posting times and platform-specific requirements. This level of detail helps maximize the reach and visibility of your content.
- Helps schedule when and where you plan to publish upcoming content: An editorial calendar enables you to schedule your content in advance and tailor it to the unique characteristics of each platform, like social media, blogs, and email newsletters. Doing so ensures that your content is optimized for maximum impact and engagement on each platform. This approach helps you to effectively coordinate your marketing efforts, increase your brand's visibility, and ultimately drive more traffic and conversions to your website.
- Can be an essential tool in evaluating the success of your marketing plan: By tracking your content's publication and performance within the social media calendar, you can easily analyze the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. This enables you to identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement, helping you refine your approach and optimize your content for better results.
Overall, a social media content calendar helps you streamline your content creation and distribution processes, ensuring that your marketing efforts are organized, consistent, and effective. By leveraging a social media calendar, you can take control of your content strategy and drive better outcomes for your business.
Benefits of using a content calendar.
A content calendar is a powerful organizational tool that streamlines the content creation and distribution process, ensuring an effective and cohesive marketing strategy. By providing a clear roadmap for publishing and promoting content across various platforms, a social media calendar enables you to stay organized and meet your goals.
Advantages of using a social media calendar include:
- Organizing your content marketing: Content calendars play a crucial role in organizing your content marketing efforts. By offering a clear, visual representation of your publishing schedule, they enable you to strategically plan and allocate resources for various content types and platforms. This bird's-eye view helps maintain a balance of topics, ensuring that your audience remains engaged and interested.
- Keeping everyone on your team on the same page: A content calendar can be an incredibly valuable tool for keeping everyone on your team on the same page. By providing a centralized location for all your content ideas and plans, a content calendar ensures that everyone on your team is aware of what content is being created, when it is scheduled to be published, and where it will be distributed.
This level of transparency can improve collaboration and communication among team members, reducing the risk of duplication or conflicting content.
- Documenting the timing and details of what you have already accomplished: A content calendar documents the timing and details of what you have already accomplished in your content marketing efforts. By tracking when content was published, where it was distributed, and how it performed, a social media calendar can help you to evaluate the success of your content and identify areas for improvement.
This historical record can also be useful for planning future content, as you can see what has worked well in the past and what may need to be adjusted. Additionally, by documenting your content marketing efforts, a social media content calendar can help you to stay organized and ensure that you're delivering a diverse range of content types and topics to your audience.
- Improving accountability: A content calendar is super useful for boosting responsibility in your content marketing game. It keeps track of your content plan, covering the ins and outs of what you've done and when, making sure you stay on point with creating and sharing content. This organization method highlights weak spots in your content game plan. Plus, a social media calendar helps everyone on the team stay in the loop about what's being made and when it's going live.
How to create a content calendar.
To make the most out of your content calendar, it's important to understand the different components that go into it. In this section, we'll explore the various aspects of a social media calendar and how to effectively organize one to streamline your content creation process. Whether you're a seasoned content creator or just starting out, this section will provide valuable insights into creating a successful content calendar.
1. Define your goals.
When it comes to creating a social media content calendar, the first step is to define your goals. Before you can start planning and organizing your content, you need a clear understanding of what you're trying to achieve with your efforts.
This means setting specific, measurable goals that align with your overall marketing strategy. For example, your goal might be to increase website traffic, generate more leads, or improve customer engagement. Once you have defined your goals, you can start to plan your content strategy around them, ensuring that your content is designed to achieve those goals.
By starting with clear goals in mind, you can ensure that your content calendar is aligned with your marketing objectives and that you're making the most of your content marketing resources.
2. Create a template.
Once you have defined your goals for your content marketing efforts, the next step in creating a content calendar is to create a social media content calendar template. A template is a pre-designed layout that you can use to organize your content ideas and plans. It typically includes fields for the title of the content, the type of content, the target audience, the date and time of publication, and the distribution channels.
A content calendar template ensures that all your content is organized in a consistent and easy-to-follow format. This streamlines your content creation workflow and distribution efforts, saving you time and improving the overall effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. Overall, making a template is an essential step in creating a social media calendar that will help you achieve your marketing goals.
Consider managing your workflow by creating a template on a spreadsheet tool such as Google Sheets or Excel. A spreadsheet acts as a great content calendar tool because you can easily organize, sort, date, and color-code your content product in a way that is easy for anyone to understand.
If you prefer to organize content production online and want to use a calendar view, consider utilizing Google Calendar. You can organize your workflow by due date or publish date and share with your marketing team or with any freelancers so everyone can have access.
Additionally, consider utilizing a social media management tool such as Adobe Express’ free content scheduler. Content automation saves you time and increases functionality — and Adobe Express’ integrated project management tool allows you to create content, schedule, and publish content in one place. Choose whichever content calendar tool works best for you and your team’s social media strategy.
3. Choose your channels.
After defining your goals and creating a template, then choose your channels. This means deciding which platforms and social networks are best to distribute your content.
Depending on your target audience and your marketing objectives, you may choose to focus on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok, or you may choose to distribute your content through email marketing or other channels like YouTube or via podcasts.
Choosing the right avenues ensures that your content is reaching your target audience where they are most likely to engage with it. Plus, choosing the best channels helps you plan content more effectively, as you can tailor to the specific requirements and preferences of each platform.
4. Start with the calendar year.
The fourth step in creating a social media content calendar is to strategize in accordance with the calendar year. This means planning your content strategy around the major events and holidays that occur throughout the year, like Christmas, Valentine's Day, or the Fourth of July.
Starting with the calendar year ensures that your content is timely and relevant. Beginning with the calendar year also helps you plan content more effectively, as you can see at a glance what major events and holidays are coming up and prepare your content accordingly. Plus, by aligning your content with the calendar year, you can ensure that you're delivering a diverse range of content types and topics to your audience, keeping them engaged and interested in your brand.
5. Add fresh content.
The fifth step in creating a social media content calendar is to add fresh content. While it's important to plan your content strategy around major events and holidays, it's equally important to ensure that your content is fresh and engaging, and that you're delivering new content to your audience on a regular basis.
This means brainstorming new content ideas, researching trending topics, and staying up-to-date with industry news and developments. Adding fresh content to your content calendar keeps your audience engaged and interested in your brand, and ensures that your posts are always relevant and timely. Adding fresh content also helps you achieve your marketing goals, as you can use new content to target specific segments of your audience or to promote new products or services. Consider tapping into newer content opportunities such as livestreams or reels.
6. Maintain evergreen content.
The sixth step in creating an editorial calendar is to maintain evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that remains relevant and useful to your audience over time, regardless of when it was created. This type of content can include tutorials, how-to guides, and other educational content that provides value to your audience and can be shared repeatedly over time. Consider carrying out competitor research to find long-term trending topics and optimizing this type of content for SEO.
Maintaining evergreen content in your social media calendar ensures that your audience always has access to valuable resources that help them solve problems or achieve their goals. Additionally, evergreen content helps to drive traffic to your website or social media channels over the long term, as it remains relevant and useful to your audience even as new content is created.
7. Make use of prior content as appropriate.
The seventh step in creating a social media content calendar is to make use of prior content as appropriate. This means revisiting and repurposing content that you have created in the past, ensuring that you're making the most of your content marketing resources.
By repurposing content, you save time and effort while still delivering valuable information to your audience. For example, you might turn a blog post into an infographic, or create a video based on a popular social media post. In addition, repurposing content can help you reach new audiences, as you can share the same content in different formats or on different platforms.
Making use of prior content as appropriate ensures that your content marketing efforts are efficient, effective, and focused on delivering the most value to your audience.
8. Decide on publishing frequency and set time limits.
The eighth and final step in creating a content calendar is to decide on your publishing frequency and set time limits. This means determining how often you will publish new content and setting deadlines for each piece of content.
By setting a publishing frequency, you can ensure that your audience knows when to expect new content from you, and that you're consistently delivering fresh content to keep them engaged. Also, setting time limits for each piece of content ensures that your content creation and distribution efforts are efficient and effective. This means setting deadlines for each stage of the content creation process, from ideation to publication, and ensuring that each piece of content is reviewed and approved before it goes live.
What to include in a content calendar.
When creating an effective social media calendar, you must determine the right information to include that aligns with your marketing goals and strategy. It requires careful consideration of several key elements.
In this section, we'll explore what elements ensure that your content creation process runs smoothly and efficiently. By carefully selecting the information in your social media calendar, you set the foundation for a well-organized and successful content marketing campaign.
Determine what timelines to include.
In order to be effective, you must establish appropriate timelines for your content. Begin by considering your overall content marketing strategy and objectives, which will help guide the frequency and distribution of your content. Assess factors such as the time required for content creation, the optimal posting times for your target audience, and any seasonal or industry-specific events that may influence how you schedule posts. Your calendar should plan out content production for a full year.
Once you've gathered this information, decide on the most suitable timeframes for your content across all channels, especially social media. This can range from daily, weekly, or monthly schedules. Strike a balance between maintaining consistency in your content output and avoiding overwhelming your audience with too much information.
Additionally, factor in timelines for each stage of the content creation process, including research, drafting, editing, and publishing. This will ensure smooth collaboration among team members and allow ample time for revisions and adjustments as needed. By thoughtfully determining the timelines for your social media calendar, you can optimize your content marketing efforts and drive better results.
Determine who is involved.
When creating a social media calendar, you must determine who will be involved in the content creation process. This includes identifying the stakeholders responsible for creating and publishing content, such as writers, editors, designers, and social media managers.
It's also important to inform users who the collaborators are and how they are involved in the content creation process. This is why it's important to share the social media calendar with team members: it allows them to shape their goals and ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives.
Team members should be able to contribute their thoughts and add status updates to the calendar as needed. This can be done by creating a system where individuals can provide feedback on the content and suggest changes or additions. By involving the right people in the content creation process and providing a clear and transparent system for collaboration, you create a content calendar that maximizes the potential of your team and ensures that your content meets the needs of your audience.
Decide which platforms to use and when to post specific content.
In today's digital age, it's important for content creators to not only create high-quality content but also to publish it on the right platforms and at the right times. With so many social media platforms available, it can be challenging to determine which ones to use and when to post specific content. However, by carefully considering your target audience and their preferred platforms, you can design a comprehensive plan for your content distribution.
In this section, we'll explore how to determine which social media platforms to use for your content. We'll also discuss the best times to post specific content to maximize engagement and reach.
By understanding the nuances of social media platforms and their audiences, you can create a successful content distribution plan that drives traffic and engagement.
Conduct an audit of current social media accounts.
Conducting an audit of your business's current social media accounts is a critical step in optimizing your online presence and ensuring the success of your marketing efforts. The process involves several key aspects:
- Examine account security and passwords: Safeguard your social media accounts by regularly updating passwords and implementing strong security measures, such as two-factor authentication. This helps protect your business from unauthorized access and potential reputation damage.
- Remove outdated profiles and imposter accounts: Identify and delete any inactive or outdated profiles that may confuse your audience or dilute your brand image. Additionally, report and remove any imposter accounts to maintain the integrity of your brand's online presence.
- Hone in on your target audience and ideal customer profiles: Analyze your existing followers and engagement data to better understand your target audience, their preferences, and behaviors. This information helps you create content that resonates with your ideal customers and drives engagement.
- Review metrics to identify successful posts, campaigns, and strategies: Regularly analyze your social media performance data to determine which content types, campaigns, and strategies are yielding the best results. Use this insight to inform your future content planning and marketing tactics.
- Identify gaps, opportunities for improvement, and areas of underperformance: Assess your current content and engagement levels to pinpoint areas where you can improve or capitalize on untapped opportunities. This may include exploring new content formats, addressing customer pain points, or refining your messaging.
- Identify the times and days of the week your audience is most engaged: Analyze your engagement data to determine when your audience is most active and likely to interact with your content. Schedule your posts during these optimal times to maximize reach and engagement.
Conducting an audit of your social media accounts is vital for optimizing your online presence and ensuring the success of your content marketing efforts. A thorough analysis of the elements above will ensure that you have the necessary information to develop a powerful social media calendar that yields maximum results.
Determine what each post will include.
When planning content for your business website and social media pages, it's critical to consider several key elements to create engaging and effective posts. These components work together to convey your message, reinforce brand identity, and drive user engagement.
Here are the main points to consider when crafting each post:
- Copy: The written content in your posts should be clear, concise, and tailored to your target audience. Ensure that your copy reflects your brand voice and effectively communicates the intended message while encouraging users to take the desired action.
- Keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords into your copy to improve search engine visibility and help users discover your content more easily. Be mindful of keyword density, avoiding overuse that could deter readers and negatively impact your credibility.
- Branding and logos: Consistently use your brand's visual elements, such as logos, colors, graphics, and fonts, across all posts on your website and social media pages. This helps establish brand recognition and creates a cohesive online presence.
- Hashtags: For social media posts, utilize relevant and popular hashtags to increase content discoverability and reach a broader audience. Research trending industry-specific hashtags and strategically use them to boost engagement and visibility.
- Links: Include links to pertinent content, such as blog articles, product pages, or event registrations, to drive traffic to different parts of your website or other online platforms. Use link-shortening tools to create clean, trackable URLs that don't clutter your posts.
- Other graphics: Enhance your posts with eye-catching visuals, such as images, GIFs, or videos, to capture your audience's attention and support the message you're conveying. Make sure these visuals align with your brand identity and contribute to the overall user experience.
By carefully considering and integrating these elements into your website and social media posts, you generate captivating content that resonates with your audience, drives engagement, and effectively supports your marketing goals.
Content development tips.
When developing a successful social media marketing strategy for your business, it's crucial to identify what content resonates with your target audience and aligns with your brand values.
Start by analyzing your customers' needs, preferences, and online behaviors to make content that addresses their interests and pain points. Additionally, consider the unique features of each social media platform, ensuring that your content is tailored to maximize engagement and reach.
By carefully selecting and crafting content that supports your marketing objectives and nurtures your online community, you strengthen your brand identity, drive customer engagement, and ultimately achieve better results in your social media marketing efforts.
The social media rule of thirds.
The social media rule of thirds is a well-established guideline that helps businesses create a balanced and engaging content mix on their social media channels. By adhering to this rule, you'll ensure that your social media presence delivers value to your audience while promoting your brand and fostering meaningful relationships.
- One-third promoting your business or driving conversions: Dedicate approximately one-third of your social media posts to promoting your products, services, or events, and encouraging conversions. This may include sharing promotional offers, announcing product launches, or highlighting the unique selling points of your offerings. The primary goal of these posts is to generate interest in your business and drive sales or other desired actions.
- One-third sharing curated content from industry thought leaders: Another third of your posts should focus on sharing valuable content created by industry experts and thought leaders. Curating high-quality, relevant content from trusted sources not only positions your brand as an authority within your niche but also provides your audience with useful information and insights. This helps build credibility and trust with your followers.
- One-third involving personal interaction with your followers: The remaining third of your social media content should be dedicated to engaging directly with your audience. This involves responding to comments, asking questions, soliciting feedback, or simply sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses into your business. By fostering personal connections and nurturing your online community, you strengthen brand loyalty and enhance customer satisfaction.
By following the social media rule of thirds, you can create a diverse and engaging content strategy that caters to your audience's needs, promotes your brand effectively, and cultivates strong relationships with your followers.
The 80-20 rule.
The 80-20 rule is a popular content strategy guideline that encourages businesses to focus on delivering value to their audience while promoting their brand in a balanced manner. By following this approach, you can create a diverse and engaging mix of content that caters to your audience's needs and drives conversions.
- 80 percent of your posts inform, educate, or entertain: The majority of your social media content should be dedicated to providing valuable information, education, or entertainment to your audience. This approach helps establish your brand as a trusted resource within your industry and fosters a sense of community among your followers.
- 20 percent of your posts promote your business or drive conversions: Allocate approximately one-fifth of your content to promoting your products, services, or events, and encouraging conversions. By limiting self-promotional content, you ensure that your audience remains engaged and receptive to your marketing messages.
- Generate a variety of types of content: To maintain audience interest, combine a diverse mix of content, including videos, infographics, podcasts, articles, and more. Using variety enables you to cater to different preferences and learning styles, making your content more accessible and engaging.
- Let the platform and audience inform what types of content you post: Different social media platforms and audiences may require different types of content. For example, Instagram is better suited for visual content like images and short videos, while LinkedIn is more appropriate for professional articles and thought leadership pieces. Tailor your content to each platform and audience for maximum impact.
- Some types of content work better for different types of posts: Certain content formats may be more effective for specific types of posts. For instance, employee stories and product demos might be best presented as video clips, whereas step-by-step instructions could be better conveyed through infographics. Experiment with various content formats and analyze engagement data to determine which types work best for your brand and audience.
By implementing the 80-20 rule and considering these main points, you create a well-rounded content strategy that appeals to your audience, promotes your brand effectively, and ultimately drives better results for your business.
A social media calendar is an essential part of any effective marketing strategy. To get the most out of your content, take the time to conduct a thorough audit of your current social media accounts and determine what each post should include. Consider leveraging the above sales tips, as well as following the 80-20 rule or the social media rule of thirds for maximum impact on your audience.
With thoughtful consideration and strategic planning, you can create captivating posts that resonate with users and drive engagement while promoting your brand effectively. Investing in high-quality content is key to building relationships with customers online and ultimately achieving success in your digital marketing efforts.
This post was updated on July 19, 2023.