What is a digital content calendar and do I need one?
A content calendar is actually quite a simple concept but many businesses either don’t know what it is, think it’s too complex for them or don’t think they need it. Trust us, you should have one; even if it’s very basic.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is simply a calendar (could be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or Outlook calendar) that outlines what content you are going to produce, publish or share on each day/week/month etc. Businesses who have a content calendar, use it to stay organised with what they’re producing and publishing.
Can’t I just publish whatever’s on my mind?
Yes you can; but what if what’s on your mind with regard to your business or your work has a similar theme all the time? We think it’s better if you mix it up a little.
If you simply keep publishing content about the same thing, with a similar look and feel, your potential clients will soon get bored with what you’re sharing; they won’t be seeing anything new; and they’ll probably move to your competitor for insights.
But if you mix it up a little and provide your website and social media visitors with variety, firstly you’ll demonstrate a broad range of experience and expertise and secondly, they’ll be much more inclined to see what you’re up to – because it will likely be more engaging than seeing the “same old, same old” every day.
A content calendar can ensure you’re publishing a variety of content
A content calendar can simply outline, weeks or even months in advance, the type of content you intend to curate. It could include breakdowns like:
- Topics – you can look at a variety of topics to keep your visitors interested in what you’ve got to share
- Media type – blog, infographic, video, podcast
- Authors – you might want an even mix of authors or curators for your online content
You can be as detailed as you want. You may simply record on which day, the title and/or medium (blog, video etc.) of what you intend to publish or post. Or you might go into more detail and actually write your blog or your social media post well in advance.
From our point of view, providing the more detailed option earlier, takes the pressure off. What if you have a blog scheduled for next Friday (that you haven’t yet written) and suddenly next Friday arrives and something more urgent gets in the way? But if you wrote your blog several weeks ago or even months ago, it will be ready for publishing on Friday.
Your content calendar doesn’t have to contain all new content
When you write your blogs or produce your videos or animations or infographics, you should be thinking about the “life span” of that content. Often the content you produce can be shared over and over for many months, if not years (this is called evergreen content). This allows you to fill your content calendar with content you’ve produced (and shared) in the past.
If you’ve already shared it before, just remember to leave a reasonable period of time before you start sharing it again.
How do I start a content calendar?
Firstly, pick a platform to build it on. Some people use a calendar format, some people simply use an excel spreadsheet and then there are also some content calendar specific platforms and templates available.
Now you need to determine, generally, now often you want to publish or post something. Your content calendar may have a component for publishing new content to your website and then a second component, for example, for sharing content across your social media platforms or your email campaigns.
Determine how often you can write a new article for your website; we’d recommend you try and strive for once a fortnight as a minimum.
Then determine how often you’d like to share content from your page or other sources.
Now you need to select what criteria you’re going to use to identify the type of content you’re going to produce and share.
If you’re a law firm, you might colour code your areas of practice to ensure you have a good mix of content for each area. Then you’ll want to see a variety of colours evenly distributed across your calendar.
It may be that you want to concentrate on one primary area of practice and some secondary areas. Then you would see a primary colour appearing more often than other colours but still a fairly even mix. You might realise your calendar is missing a particular colour and this could be your catalyst for getting one of your lawyers to write a new article.
You might apply a text colour then to the type of content; a blog, a podcast, a video, a social media post.
We think you should have a content calendar that provides you with at least the next 4-6 weeks’ worth of content. Of course, if you can have it filled for more than that period, that’s great.
It’s also important to be flexible
Once you’ve created your content calendar and you’re populating it on a regular basis, remember that it doesn’t have to be set in stone.
If something comes up that you weren’t previously aware of and it’s topical, you might want to add it to your website or your sharing platforms immediately. You can adjust your calendar to accommodate this. Remember, if you’ve already prepared something for a particular day and you have something else to take its place, don’t simply discard your original content. Move it to a new date; don’t waste the hard work you’ve already done.
If you publish or share something new, at short notice, it’s important to still remember to add it to your content calendar. That way you can search what you’ve done in the past. It’s much easier to search a content calendar than to search your website, your social media posts or your email campaigns.
How much content should there be in my content calendar?
It depends. You might read a lot of articles online that indicate you have to be publishing and sharing like there’s no tomorrow. Yes, generally speaking the more you publish (good content that is), the higher the likelihood of getting results. But what if you’re only small? Maybe it’s just you, or you and a couple colleagues or staff.
You should do what you can reasonably do, and then a little bit more. If you’re producing quality content and you’re sharing it through social platforms, email campaigns, paid advertising and promotions, it will get traction.
Once you see results, you might be tempted to do more… and more. Or you might realise it’s time to outsource your digital marketing. We can help and we’re more than happy to have a chat with you about your needs.
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