Whether you’re managing social media for a startup or a Fortune 500 company, everyone on your team needs to be on the same page. You’ve heard about the importance of a unified social media strategy many times before, but social media management goes far beyond scheduling out Facebook posts and tweets for a given day. It's important to ensure that social media activity is aligned with other active marketing efforts such as email campaigns, video, and even new website developments.You need a place to manage all of those efforts where they can be viewed and interpreted clearly by different teams across your organization. Enter: the content calendar.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a working document (usually in spreadsheet format) used to schedule out what you’ll post acros which platforms for the month, and in more detail, the week, day, and even sometimes the time of day if need be. You can run multiple content calendars for social media marketing, email marketing, blogs, etc., or you can put them all in one place.
A well-maintained content calendar also helps keep all of your marketing efforts focused on the same goal. It allows you to view your campaigns as intertwined and working together to tell the same story so you’re able to devise a better plan of action for your overall marketing strategy, and analyze data across platforms for a better reading of your efforts and audience.
What is the importance of a content calendar?
One of the many benefits of using a calendar format to plan marketing efforts is the ability to visualize what your content strategy will look like over a period of time and stay organized across platforms. It helps you plan your marketing efforts around events or important dates in your industry or company and see where there may be holes in your content, and it allows plenty of time to fill those holes with relevant content that is valuable to your audience.
Viewing your content distribution schedule in a calendar format with (for example) social media and email marketing side-by-side can help you take advantage of areas of overlap between campaigns that you may have missed otherwise. Maybe a line from your email campaign would make a great tweet or Facebook post?
A content calendar is more than just a tool to help your business grow. It also makes your life easier when creating content by reducing the need to dig for information to create informed content. As you’re writing a social media post or scheduling the perfect day to roll out your next blog post, you’ll be able to look across your marketing efforts and make informed decisions and maintain a cohesive marketing plan. Granted, there is a lot of work involved in planning out months of content distribution, and you’ll inevitably be thrown a few curve balls along the way, but with a solid organizational system in place, you won't go into full panic mode when it’s launch day on a new website update and you need brainstorm a quality Facebook post to promote it on the spot.
Using a content calendar to plan ahead of time allows you to create a consistent flow of content that continues to build towards your ultimate marketing goals and develop a unified voice for your brand as experts in your industry. Having the ability to plan out content for an entire year or more keeps your brand voice consistent and makes your content a reliable source for members of your industry.
In terms of social media, would you rather follow a Twitter account that shares interesting, engaging content every day, or one that tweets four times on Monday and not at all the rest of the week? I think you know the answer to that, but remember - one of the most successful ways to grow your social following is to comment on social trends, and always have something original to say. Sometimes this actually means not planning. This seems contradictory to everything mentioned above, but with certain aspects of your marketing efforts, like social media, you have no way of predicting when major news is announced in your industry, or when you find a great way to use a trending hashtag on Twitter.
The bottom line is, content calendars are great organizational tools for short and long-term planning and goals in your marketing strategy. Just don't let that box you in too much!
Are you ready to use content calendars in your social media strategy? HubSpot has a great free content calendar template to help get you started!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on content calendars! Is your company already using them? What kind of organization works best for you? Comment below and let us know!