We’ve said more than once on this blog that a content calendar is the best way to keep your content organized, ensuring you publish consistently without neglecting any of your targeted channels or customers. However, how exactly do you manage a content calendar? For that matter, how do you even put together a content calendar? Fortunately, we’ve got the answers you need, both in this blog post and in our free guides, “The B2b Guide to Content Marketing with a Small Team” and “The Formula for a Successful Creative Marketing Team.” You can also see how some of your existing content measures up with our content scorecard.
Setting Up a Content Calendar
Putting together a good content calendar will take some experimenting. Every marketing team is different, so you have to find the system that works best for everyone. But there are a few basic things every content calendar should include, and there are several free templates out there that you can use to get started.
What to Include
Obviously, the details of your marketing team’s content calendar will depend on your content, including your platforms and your audience. However, a good content calendar will absolutely include the following things:
- A list of your scheduled content, including author information, organized by when they will be published (it is a calendar, after all). Blog posts, guest articles, newsletters, email blasts, tweets, Facebook posts—everything should be included.
- Where those posts will be published. For example, a blog post can be published across many platforms, and newsletters can be disseminated to several different distribution lists. The important thing to remember is not everyone will receive everything; that would be missing the entire point of creating targeted content.
- Content metrics. People need to know how to measure the content they produce, to see if it’s having the desired effect and reaching the right people.
- Important events and dates. These notes will serve as a reminder to create content related to these events, like notes or opinions on a conference.
What It Should Look Like
It’s important not to reinvent the wheel here. A lot of people and companies have created content calendars, many of which are available for free online. A search result for “content calendar template” yields an almost-overwhelming number of hits, however, so make sure whichever calendar you choose as a template has the following traits:
- Shareable. Using a Google doc, for example, allows multiple people to access the content calendar at once, which is crucial when people are working on different deadlines. You might want to have only one person in charge of making edits, to ensure version control.
- Multiple tabs. If a writer who’s just interested in creating and scheduling social media content, a snapshot of all the content your marketing team is producing may be a bit overwhelming. So, per the Content Marketing Institute, “it’s helpful to have two editorial calendars: a master calendar where you can see everything at a glance and separate calendars for specific activities.” These snapshots can have details specific to that content type as well. For example, a tab for blog posts could have information on focus keywords, categories, and tags.
Managing a Content Calendar
Once you assemble all the moving pieces of a content calendar, you need to make them work together in the best way possible. That’s essentially how you manage a content calendar.
Again, why reinvent the wheel? Taking content that’s already being developed and finding multiple purposes for it is a smart way to manage your content calendar:
- Use the engaging lead paragraph from a whitepaper or press release as a Facebook post.
- Use a series of live Tweets from a conference to created a blog post summarizing the event.
- Take the salient points from a product guide and use them as a blog post.
Identify What’s Missing
A managing editor or editorial team should be able to look at a thorough content calendar and see what content they are missing. They should be asking questions like:
- Are all relevant events included, along with supplemental content (press releases, interviews, whitepapers, etc.)?
- Are you creating content tailored to each of your ideal customers?
- Are you distributing content on each of your target platforms, including social networks?