Content marketing is here, and soon you’ll be hearing more and more about it. According to an April 2013 survey of U.S. marketing and advertising executives, 70% of brands and 77% of agencies used content marketing during the year 2012. That’s great and all, but what the report doesn’t tell you is how to plan, strategize, organize, and execute an effective content marketing strategy. One tactic every content marketer needs to keep in their tool belt is utilizing an editorial or content calendar.
An editorial calendar can be used to efficiently plan, strategize, and control the publication of content across media outlets over a certain period of time. You can use a calendar to schedule the posting of content on a weekly or monthly basis, and to plan ahead for events, announcements, and campaigns that you would like to support with content. Let’s say you’re running a huge social campaign around an event in a few months. Now is the time to start planning your content marketing efforts in the calendar. However you decide you want to utilize an editorial calendar, here are a few tips to get you started and keep you going.
The first step in any initiative is to plan. Gather your team and brainstorm the kind of content you will be creating and managing in the calendar that aligns with your marketing objectives and audience needs. If you’re focused on operating as a news organization, you may want to prepare the group to move quickly and act fast on breaking news and assignments in the calendar. If you’re creating longer-lasting evergreen content, you may want to start researching what you’re going to write about, create a project to organize that type of content, and then start brainstorming ideas to be entered into the calendar as assignments. Let’s say you’re in the technology space. Are you going to cover news from events or conferences? Will you report on new product upgrades and announcements? If so, you need to find when and where those activities take place, who will write for you, and what topics you will cover. Once you have the basics covered, move those folks toward the calendar and manage your process there by utilizing submission deadlines and publishing dates.
Once you have a sense of what kind of content you’ll be creating, put the editorial calendar into action. Start to import assignments, attach deadlines to those assignments, provide direction and any helpful supporting information to the writer, and categorize each assignment appropriately. One of the most important features of a well-maintained content calendar is the ability to sort by projects, content types, and categories. As you start to create more and more content, it becomes increasingly difficult to track where that content is in the workflow process. Having the ability to sort by evergreen content or tech news content is extremely helpful in staying organized.
After content starts streaming through the calendar, it’s important to manage the workflow process to ensure that deadlines are met. Having visibility to where content is in the workflow is key. Grant team members access to the calendar so they can stay on top of their areas of focus. By setting publish dates for your assignments, you will be able to approve content ahead of time and automatically publish on the date you previously set when creating the assignment. This also helps maintain consistency in publishing and properly fuels your social channels with fresh content.
The content creation process is not something you set up once and sit back and watch in action. Content can be a huge part of many of your current traditional marketing strategies. Your content marketing efforts can help drive awareness and interaction to marketing tactics involving isocial media, event marketing, conferences, or whitepapers and thought leadership. Setting up a content calendar is a key step in having a successful content marketing strategy.