How to Build an Efficient Content Calendar

When small businesses first start out in the content marketing world, they usually assign blog and social media posting to any employee who has the time. As a business grows and the content channels become more popular, however, running the digital marketing side can take up significant amounts of time. This is when an editorial calendar becomes necessary. With a little organization and a strong system, almost any business can easily manage its content marketing plan.

Kick the Other Cooks Out of the Kitchen

Image via Flickr by mripp

Small businesses tend to give their social media passwords to several employees so everyone can chip in when they have ideas. A restaurant might give the head chef Instagram credentials to showcase his specials for the week, while the owner might post about deals and events happening to bring in customers. This leaves marketers in a state of shock when they see replies and comments flood in from a post they didn’t even know existed.

In the time it takes to post content online, anyone related to the business can easily send a photo and caption over to the point person in charge of social channels. First, this ensures that the content upholds the voice of the brand and remains free of spelling and grammar errors. Next, this prevents overposting, as multiple members of the business aren’t talking over each other at the same time.

Above all, make sure all of your content comes from one voice. You might have multiple contributors, but no one should post content without the oversight and blessing of whomever runs the calendar.

Lay Out the Goals of Each Post

Your business shouldn’t create a single piece of content until you can determine how posting it will help achieve your business goals. Make sure you’ve clearly defined these goals before starting out. Begin with a few different goals for your business and create content categories for them. Once you’ve set them, only post goal-driven content. Ideation around these goals will be easier moving forward. Here are a few examples:

  • Lead Generation: I want to acquire more leads and clients.
  • Business Development: I want to recruit top talent and new employees.
  • Channel Growth: I want more traffic and engagement with my content.
  • Outreach: I want to build new partnerships and grow my site’s SEO.

Startup agencies illustrate the perfect example of using social media to achieve certain goals. Why do they post pictures of ping pong tournaments and company outings? They certainly aren’t going to land more clients by having a party on a Tuesday afternoon, but they might attract top talent and hungry Millennials who want to work in a progressive environment. You have to give up posting pop culture memes completely, but you do have to make sure they fit into one of your core categories.

Build a Calendar With the Resources You Have

The next step is to create a monthly content calendar for your blog, social, and outreach channels. Try the innovative template from Inbound Rocket or keep it simple with Google Calendars and Excel spreadsheets. Pick whichever template your business will actually use.

By now you should be staring at a blank calendar with 30 days to fill with content. Review your budget and time constraints, and set realistic expectations for the amount of content you can post.

Do you have a content budget of $200? If so, your dream of 10 infographics per month is probably out of reach.

Do you have an intern working 12 hours a week on your social media and blog content? If so, your goal of two blog posts a day might be unrealistic.

There’s no shame in starting small if you only have the resources for a few blog posts and limited digital media each month. If anything, starting small means you have room to grow as your resources expand.

Evaluate Opportunities for Cross-Channel Promotion

Copying and pasting the same social media posts across all channels is no longer a viable plan, but you can still share the same content with a little extra creativity. For instance, once a blog post goes live, you can share it on Facebook to drive traffic. A few days later, give that blog post a second bump on other networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. A few days after that, share the article in your newsletter. By spacing out your promotions you’re not bombarding your entire audience at once, and you can keep the buzz going around your blog content for a few weeks instead of a few days.

Managing four or five different content marketing channels can be challenging, but if you’ve thought of 10 different blog ideas, then you have 10 different Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts for your brand. Use cross-channel promotions to avoid overthinking.

Build A Content Bank to Cover Your Bases

While making sure one person manages the calendar and content is crucial, it can be difficult for that person to take a vacation or a sick day without your marketing channels going dark. There are plenty of scheduling options for automatic posting, but your team could still end up scrambling for content.

While you’re still building up your blog, create a few evergreen posts that you can keep in your drafts for a rainy day. Contributors will miss deadlines, crises will spring up in the office, and clients will move up projects or ask for a redo. The best thing you can do is have a content backlog to pull out when the time calls for it.

You’ll definitely experience growing pains as you attempt to create something from nothing in your content calendar. You probably won’t get it right the first time, and you’ll need to make numerous changes in order to find what works for your team and your business.

The whole point of this exercise is introduce organization where there once was chaos. If you find that you’re spending hours sweating over the calendar each week, then you’re approaching it the wrong way. The content calendar is there to help and make your job easier, not harder.

About the author

Amanda Dodge