No matter what industry you’re in, you’ve got to create great marketing content. And while it would be ideal to await a morning muse who arrives with your early cup o’ joe, those blissful days are few and far between. That’s why you must strategize, prep and plan your content. Not only because inspiration often doesn’t arrive on schedule, but because in order to make the most out of your content for marketing efforts and to execute top quality work, more thought needs to go into your long-term goals than just drumming up a Facebook post and clicking publish.
Yeah, you can create a video in 5 minutes, yes you can caption it and off you go … but imagine how much better all of your marketing efforts could be with a plan in place. We’re here to give you some key tips on how to devise a content calendar straight from the Promo Content Team.
Define Your Audience
First things first, decide who you are talking to. We like to compile all of the different qualities of our audience and imagine one person that represents that group. Then we name him/her. Because content is truly about personal communication and relationship building, devising work as if you are sharing it with one very specific person in mind will keep you clear and focused on the process. Consider the following to start: age, gender, interests, how they spend their time, shopping habits, eating habits … the list goes on.
As you profile your audience it’s essential to imagine what they like to look at and engage with online. Consider if they spend time on social media and which channels, what other companies do they follow, what products do they use, how do they like to be communicated with. This goes for emails (keep it personal) to Facebook ads (keep it engaging). If as you ask these questions you discover that in fact, you have more than one target audience, that’s ok. Just make sure that when it comes to content you are communicating with each in their own relevant way on their own online platforms.
Find A Content Crush
The research phase is not over. In fact, it has just begun. Open up that computer and prepare yourself to have loads of tabs. It’s time to discover a content crush. Or a list of them. Not that you know your target audience you should start to look at other established brands they likely engage with and read read read all that content. Start to get a feel for tone, style, humor. Visuals and so on. Then you can pair down what rocks and what socks (see what we did there). Subscribe to all the content of your crushes and continue to have inspiration fill your inbox.
After you found the “North Star” for your content goals, you’ll also need to audit your competitors. This step we recommend opening up a spreadsheet for. Consider how they showcase their features, what differentiates them from the others, and from you, who engages with them and on which platform(s). This is not a step you’re doing in order to copy your opponent – no way. You want to do a thorough audit so that when it comes down to sitting and writing, you are standing out rather than getting mixed into the bunch.
Did you know there is such a thing as Internet Holidays? Yup, holidays simply for the joy and pleasure of sharing content online and jumping into fun themes and trends. Both national, religious, and internet holidays all offer one uniquely helpful things for content creators and that’s the assurance of a trending hashtag. Devising content that others will be speaking about on any given day is basically why social media is a dream digital marketing platform and can bring you new leads and higher engagement just because you were paying attention. Now, that said, do not ever, and we mean ever, sacrifice quality or brand identity because something is trending on Twitter. That’s tacky. But if an internet holiday exists that is relevant to you and your audience, dive in and make something that stands out.
To start you can follow our monthly Promo Plan filled with a content suggestion for every day of the week including relevant hashtags. We picked some holiday winners and daily trends that are in line with most businesses. You can also take a look at the annual Hubspot calendar to see more.
So, you know who you’re talking to and you know how others are talking to them. Great start. Now it’s time to decide where you’re reaching out.
Here are your major options:
- Landing page
- Social Media: Facebook Page, Facebook Group, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +, Slideshare, Quora
- Banners and Ads
Over time you’ll hit all of these and then some but to begin you can map out which places you want to focus on and how frequently you want to publish content there.
Here’s our recommendation:
- Website: Huge effort upfront, update with new products and sales monthly
- Landing page: Advanced and campaign specific
- Email: Send weekly
- Blog: Publish weekly or bi-monthly
- Social Media Step 1: Facebook Page (daily), Instagram(daily), LinkedIn (bi-weekly)
- Social Media Step 2: Facebook Group (3x/week), Twitter (3x/day)
- Social Media Business Specific: Pinterest, Google +, Slideshare, Quora
- Banners and Ads: Advanced
With so many exceptional tools online we highly recommend looking into content management tools for your emails and social media channels to start. You can find some of our favorites in our blog post, 33 Must have Marketing Tools For Every Business.
Fill It In
Can you believe all of that was before even sitting down to write your content? Here we go, time to fill it in. But this takes strategy too. You want to ensure you have diversity in your content items and you’re offering helpful tips and relevant exposure to your business. You also need to have easy to digest and enjoyable writing with a clear tone and voice. After all, you want your audience to look forward to receiving what you’ve written.
Take it month by month, or for social media perhaps week by week. First, decide a theme, then the headline, then outline and last fill it all in and begin to work on the visuals to complement the writing. Or if it’s video creation, jump from your theme and goal to selecting the right footage and then adding text and music.
Pro Tip: No matter how amazing you are at creating content, everyone needs a second pair of eyes. If you’re writing, grab yourself an editor? If you’re creating videos, get a trusted friend to give a second opinion before running your campaign. Often we can be so close to our own work we miss things that are obvious to another person.
Make Time For Spontaneity
You can plan until the cows come home, and you should, but you also need to stay relevant. We encourage anyone in the content creation world to have a plan, cross your t’s and dot your i’s and then leave yourself room to develop the unexpected. For example, if your weekly content is already ready to go, you can carve out 30 minutes each morning to check out the Twitter trends, viral articles, and bustling conversation in hopes of something relevant your business can tap into. This sort of real-time content creation is invaluable and can only be done if you’re ahead of the curve on your day-to-day.
With content creation that’s endless opportunities, and for the best of us, endless ideas of great ways to make an impact. That’s why building a calendar, establishing a strategic plan and getting everyone on board to execute is vital. Yes, you can always wake up in the morning and bang out 600 words, but why push yourself to do that when you can make such a greater impact when you consider the what, when, who, and why in advance of a deadline? Build yourself something to be proud of and then feel free to still color outside the lines.