Nearly anyone with even a rudimentary grasp on marketing and promoting their business realizes the importance of content. Of course, nearly everyone also knows that the amount of time available on any given day to execute a content strategy is limited.
With client meetings, internal brainstorming sessions, customer contact, and everything else that goes on day-to-day in a business, how do you find the time to brainstorm topics and keep your various content channels on track? Rather than leaving it up to chance, create an editorial calendar.
The best thing about an editorial calendar is that, if you're standing back and looking at the big picture - and you should be, it's broadly applicable across several of the channels you're using to promote your business. The same principles you're using to plan and execute for your blog can be applied to your business's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn feeds.
Here are a few simple ways to get your new editorial strategy started:
Find the Means to Manage Your Calendar
There's no single right way to do this. If there's a tool with which you're comfortable, whether it's your Google or Outlook calendar or an Excel spreadsheet, use it. If you're stuck, the good news is that as with seemingly everything else, there's an app for that. HubSpot CRM, Trello, and various WordPress plugins can all help.
Figure out Your Subject Matter
It's not especially challenging to set up a blog, a Facebook group or page, or a Twitter account. Anyone can, and there are times when it seems like everyone does. Figure out as many topics as you possibly can, from general, evergreen content to answers for highly specialized questions.
Decide On Your Timing
Now that you have a tentative list of topics, divide by 52. That's how many posts you can plan per week. Be mindful of the fact that consistency is paramount; you're better off posting one blog post per week than posting daily for three months and then stopping for weeks at a time because the well's run dry.
Build Your Pipeline
Your business doesn't exist in a vacuum. What are your competitors doing? How about the other businesses in your vertical? What kinds of questions are common for your customers and clients? Equally important, what's happening in the future that might make for interesting content?
Build a Clip File
Become a magpie. Collect every last article, funny anecdote, meme, infographic, survey and editorial that pertains to your niche, sorting by the channel in which it will be used. Some content might be too short for your blog or news feed, but might be perfect for your Facebook or Twitter followers. Find reliable sources; in addition to aggregators like Google News and Alltop, monitor the key voices in your industry, and don't be afraid to look outside it for lessons that can be drawn from other fields.
Manage Your Team
For some businesses, your social media "team" may only consist of one person who's managing your different channels with input from other key players; larger companies might employ multiple people. Ensure that anyone who needs access to the essentials - your calendar, clip file, accounts, and other relevant information - has it.
With an RSS feed, applications like Hootsuite, or CRM software like Nimble, it's possible to automate various parts of your content pipeline. Some kinds of automation can hurt rather than helping (RSS feeds and social media automation, if not set up carefully, can result in duplicate or unwanted information going to your readers), but other types - especially those that streamline your research and writing - can help you make the most of your limited time.
Make Course Corrections
If certain types of content aren't working, if industry trends are outpacing your plans, or if a sudden spike in search terms or traffic to a specific article happens, make sure you're ready to respond.
The old adage that failing to plan is planning to fail may be the mother of all clichés, but there's plenty of truth in it. A scattershot approach to your business's social channels and promotional planning results in poor implementation, and that in turn leads to poor engagement. Imposing a structure on your efforts helps you to better allocate time and resources - not just cash, but time and human capital - in a way that will help you meet your business's tactical and strategic objectives.