You’ve spend a good amount of time crafting lots of perfect content. Now it’s time to share it on each of your social media platforms. If you don’t have a strategy to organize and schedule your content, you may be feeling overwhelmed and stressed about getting it out to your audience. Creating content for your social media campaigns is one thing; trying to figure out just how and when to share it is another. This is where a content calendar comes into play—and we’re not talking about where you write “Share blog post today!” on that old-fashioned full-sized desk calendar. Nope. We’re talking about a calendar that helps you track all your content and schedule when to post it.
Let’s clarify that there is nothing wrong with a pen-and-paper calendar. You can definitely use one of those. Our goal is to help you create a calendar—whether it be something you can write on or something you can type in—that will help you become more organized in scheduling that awesome content you’ve created. Our tips here are geared toward building a calendar in spreadsheet format, but you can adjust the information for whichever type of medium fits your calendaring needs.
There are several content calendar templates available on the web. The trick is to find the one that’s perfect for your business. While we can’t say which one will work for you, we can highlight the things we feel are most important and useful to include on your calendar. You’ve worked hard on that content—let’s organize it and get it shared!
Determine Your Content
Because each business is in some way unique, your content and how you present it will be unique as well. Some of the ways to share content will work great for you; some will work better for others. There may be some you don’t ever use. The key—whatever methods and however many you use—is to organize them by content type. That way you get a big-picture view of what you’ll need to create and share each week, month, and year.
Not sure what type of content to create? Here are a few ideas:
- Blog posts (see our tips on how to create great content)
- Social media posts (see our tips on helpful tools for managing social media)
- Website content
- Motivational quotes
- Product announcements
- Charts and graphs
- Product demos
Master Calendar and Publishing Schedule
Once you’ve decided on the type of content you want share, you’ll need to decide when and where to publish it. For example, you may have a live video on your website, a newsletter for your email list, a product webinar, and a social event set for that month in addition to your weekly blog posts and daily social media posts. Your publishing schedule is your call, but keep in mind that for your content outlets to be most successful, you need to be consistent in posting to them. This is where a master calendar is a must. You can make these calendars weekly, monthly, and/or yearly. The idea is to see your content at-a-glance and create a schedule for when it will be published. Color-coding helps identify separate types of content.
Here’s what a monthly content-publishing calendar might look like:
Individual Content Calendars
Now that your monthly calendar is set, what’s next? What are those blog posts going to be about, and who’s going to write them? Who’ll be posting on social media—and what are those posts going to say? Don’t worry—there’s a calendar for that too!
Let’s start with a blog post schedule. Again, you’ll tailor this to your company’s unique needs, but consider the following for column headings:
- Publish Date
- Blog Post Subject/Title
- Due Date
Depending on the types of blogs you post, you can add additional columns such as “Blog Type” (full, short, infographic, etc.) and, if you share the duty of content creation with another person in your company, you may also want to add “Owner” and “Status” columns.
Another calendar you’ll want to consider is the social media calendar. This topic could be an entire post of its own, but we’ll summarize here. Social media calendars can be detailed or basic. They can be platform driven or topic driven, but either way, because you should be participating in social media daily, these calendars are best organized in a weekly schedule. In all social media calendars, you should include:
- Time of posting
- Day of the week
For a more detailed calendar, you can include relevant hashtags, links, graphics, photos, and even copy (the text of your post). You can also include an author, as with your blog schedule, and a column to indicate if it’s been scheduled in your social media manager (i.e., Hootsuite or Buffer). We’ve included a basic social media calendar example below, but take a look at Solo Pro’s list of social media templates for what type is the best fit for your company’s needs.
Finally, don’t forget your metrics report. While this isn’t technically a calendar, it is one of the most important aspects of content marketing because you can measure the types of content getting the most engagement, leads, and, hopefully, clients. It’s key to measuring your ROI with all the effort you're putting into your content!
Here’s a basic metrics report showing surface-level reports. Keep in mind there are many different ways to measure your ROI and that you should research the best ways to determine what is working for your business.
One of the best things you can do with the above calendars is to combine them into one document. Whether you use Excel, Numbers, or Google Sheets, your calendars can be placed on separate pages in the same document. And don’t forget to include a planning day on your calendar—a day to create your calendars and to organize each week, month, and year! Finally, keep in mind that content expires, becomes irrelevant, and is fluid. Be flexible with your calendar. Move content, replace it, and be willing to scrap something that isn’t working. Think of content marketing as a moving target—sometimes the arrows just don’t hit their mark!
Do you have a template you use? What’s the biggest benefit you’ve found in using content calendars? Please share with us in the comments below.