Two Reasons to Use a Content Calendar

Content can be overwhelming. There’s typically a lot of it, if a content manager is doing his or her job correctly, and it’s consistently being pushed out to the masses. When developing a content strategy, a lot of elements are involved like meta data, message architecture, keyword strategy and some sort of plan to attack search engine optimization. When just starting out, an element of a content strategy that is sometimes overlooked is a content calendar, also occasionally referred to as an editorial calendar.

Here are two reasons why a content calendar is a must for every content strategy:

1. It keeps you organized:

With so much content flowing in and out, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of it all if not for a content calendar. This is exceedingly helpful when there are multiple people contributing content. If it’s a blog with multiple bloggers, the content will be coming in from all over the place and it can’t just be published as soon as it comes in. A content strategist must make sure there’s an equal amount content coming out daily. There can’t be 10 posts on one day and none the next. All of this is far easier to keep track of when there’s a content calendar keeping track of these things all in one place. Many content management systems, like WordPress, have a function like this built right in. This is most likely because these services realize the extreme importance of a content calendar.

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2. It’s easier to keep strategy aligned:

Keeping the content strategy on track is extremely important because when brands sway away from their strategy, they often lose track of their brand voice as consistency, as well. A content calendar lays out your content and allows you to place it and distribute it in ways that make sense and will contribute to the message you’re trying to get across before you don’t have the ability to control it anymore. What I mean by that is, if you’re just pushing out content that you think aligns well with your brand message, you can’t identify any potential problems until all the content is already out there. With a content calendar, it’s easy to have foresight before the content is published to be sure the message you’re sending is strong and effective.

Content calendars can be helpful for a variety of different mediums, whether it be social media content, blog content, or any other types of content.

Two Questions to Ask When No One is Talking

via Google+

via Google+

Last week, I took over the reins of the Google+ Community to moderate the class discussion about content strategy. Some posts generated discussion and others didn’t, and it got me thinking about people who moderate professionally. Every day, community managers and moderators post content, measure engagement, interact with commenters and then do it all over again. There have to be certain times when a piece of content is posted and no one responds. When posting so much content daily, not everything is going to be successful. A moderator shouldn’t see this as a failure but they should take the opportunity to identify why the post didn’t perform well.

Here are two questions a moderator should ask when no one is talking:

1. Am I targeting the right audience?

Whether it be the entire content strategy or one particular post, it’s important to know if the content being produced is focused on the right audience. Before you even create the social media account or platform you’re moderating, you know what audience you’re targeting. Make sure you know how they use social media and more importantly, how they best like to consume content. Certain audiences can be extremely particular with the types of content they like. Some groups love photos but hate videos, others prefer links, so it’s important to know and cater to these preferences.

The next step is to go through either the post or all of your recent content to see if you’re targeting it in the way you intend to. After doing something for a while, it’s not always easy to take a step back and examine your own work. But, it’s extremely necessary.

 

2. Am I talking about the right things?

If you’re a blog about science, don’t post about literature unless you have a fantastic way to relate back to science. There’s a reason people come and comment, it’s because they love or are experts in a certain subject. They don’t come to find out more about other subjects. So if you answer “yes” to question 1, this might be the problem.

Some groups that require moderation talk about some very specific topics. This summer, I moderated a group that only talked about cloud-based technology solutions for small businesses. They didn’t want to talk about mobile solutions for small businesses or social media solutions for small business, only solutions related to cloud-based technology. The big issues is that there’s not always fresh content to talk about, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be inactive. It’s important to give the audience the content related to the subject they are interested in and keep the conversation going when the conversation isn’t necessarily fresh.

Final…

 

Thinking

picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Thoughts

Like any project that involves several deliverables, I initially found the idea a bit scary. This was especially true because this involved an actual company that I would be working with instead of a number of imaginary ones that I’ve used in other classes. Though the deliverable is just a proposal, I know personally I was less cavalier about my choices and recommendations since there could be real-life implications about the decisions I made. All of the imaginary companies and organizations I’ve worked with in the past had few issues and tended to be on their A-game at all times. That’s generally not true with actual businesses. 

Experiences

Although I was not able to connect with the company as well as I would have liked, I really enjoyed the experience of learning more about the company and the area. I imagine that actual content strategists are also challenged with trying to connect with clients who may be out of town or even out of the state. I really enjoyed the chance to use my research skills and techniques that were developed in my library classes along with the chance to be creative when developing the core strategy, thinking of topics, or creating content ideas for the editorial calendar.

Triumphs

My favorite and yet most challenging portion of this exercise was creating the editorial calendar. I loved trying to come up with content ideas. Though the demands of the semester eventually won out, for a while, I enjoyed creating my own editorial calendar for my own Twitter account. For me, coming up with possible topics is fun. I recognize that I was in a unique position because I was the only person coming up with ideas and therefore did not get negative feedback on my ideas from other people.

Although I enjoyed this exercise the most, it was also challenging because I also had to keep in mind that the client and their needs. As much as I would have wanted to add even more content ideas, I had to keep in mind that executing the calendar (assuming that it is accepted as is) is not the top priority of the store. I have worked in retail and even as a store manager, I was afforded little time on the computer and so I had to keep this in mind when creating the calendar for my client. Hopefully, the calendar would also be used as a template for future months so I wanted to create content ideas that could be easily repeated over time.

Tribulations

The only tribulation again was related to not being able to talk in more detail with the client. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but there are just some questions that must be answered by the client. Although there a couple areas where more information was needed for an accurate analysis, I think the proposal should still be of use to the client.

Lessons Learned and Tips from the Slightly More Experienced

  • Be more aggressive when trying to get the information you need from the client. They asked you to do a job for them. Help them get them onboard if they missed the train leaving the station.
  • There is no one right way to do content strategy. Otherwise, there would not be all these books on Amazon.
  • Use all your knowledge, not just content strategy-related, to develop a content strategy. That summer scooping ice cream may be of help when developing your strategy.
  • Have fun! In the end, you’ve created something that can help your client. You might have had a rough go, but if it were so easy, you wouldn’t have had to do the job in the first place.