Make 2013 your most Profitable, Productive Year with a Content Calendar

The New Year is approaching. It’s the perfect time to implement practices that will improve the organization and efficiency of your content marketing plan for the coming year. 2013 has been declared the Year of Content. Content Creation is crucial to optimize your website. Great content will make your brand stand out from the competition, generate inbound leads, and establish authority, trust, and likeability.

Without the frequent uploading of new, valuable, trusted content, why would people continue to return to your website or social networks? Your creative concepts must be consistent, provide value, and be dynamic enough to make people take notice amidst the ocean of content flooding the internet. There is one tool that is vital to doing all three for maximum impact.The key to your content creation and website optimization strategy is: a Content Calendar.

Why a Content Calendar?

Google’s algorithm updates, Panda and Penguin, are making it more difficult to sustain or improve your search engine rankings without superior content. In order to optimize your website, a content creation strategy that utilizes creative concepts and is managed through a content calendar can be the linchpin to your content marketing success. Companies must view themselves as publishers if they are going to compete in the dog-eat-dog world of online marketing. And with the Year of Content right around the corner, the time to start is today.

Using a Content Calendar to Organize your Content Creation, Management and Distribution

A Content Calendar is your most powerful weapon in organizing your content. Print publishers have always used them, but they call them Editorial Calendars. The benefits and capabilities are abundant and essential: keep your content creation and publishing on track, maintain a consistent editorial theme and tone, avoid the stress of impending deadlines, ensure you won’t be without content when emergencies arise, facilitate cross collaboration across multiple departments and personnel, and then some. For companies with multiple content contributors and more cross staff collaboration, it’s best to divide the content calendar into 2 separate calendars: 1.) Year and 2.) 30-60 Days.

The Year Content Calendar

Plan out your 12 months of content creation according to an overall arc that incorporates key buying patterns, special industry events, product launches, and any significant or seasonal happenings occurring during the calendar year. This allows you to keep the entire team in the loop and coordinate across different departments. Your staff will be prepared and always on their “A” game. Instead of reactionary press releases, marketing pushes, blog posts and seminars—they can anticipate key events and lead the online conversation. This is how thought leaders and key industry players maintain their reputations for being on the front lines of innovation, knowledge and power.

A few things that must make it onto your annual Content Calendar:

Does seasonality affect your business? If you sell greeting cards, for example, then holidays are prime times for your sales cycle.
Are there any wide scale industry events, awards, or happenings that occur?
Are you planning any product launches, major staff changes, or special announcements?
When you plan a year out, you are in the best position to coordinate your content creation for maximum effect.

The 30-60 day Content Calendar

The 2 month content calendar gets into the nitty-gritty details of your content creation strategy. Here you focus on coordinating your content with your company’s marketing pushes, sales promotions, special events, current trends and significant industry news. Your content contributors and collaborators all have advance notice of their upcoming deadlines, so they can adjust their workflow accordingly. This cuts down on missed deadlines and miscommunication of priorities, responsibilities and content criteria. This also allows you to incorporate vital components for web optimization into your content: multi-media, internal links and key words.

The consistency and superior quality of content that results will boost engagement (blog comments, social media mentions and likes) and social sharing (reposts, retweets, and shares)—enhancing website optimization even more! If you work for a larger organization, you may want to add workflow steps (including legal, fact checking, proofreading, or other elements) that will streamline your content creation and project management process.

What to include in your Content Calendar:

Your calendar should have all the basic information needed for content creation: Names of those assigned to each project, deadline, any specific criteria (keywords, interviews, production needs, etc). Content that should be included is not limited to social media posts and blogs.

A well-rounded, engaging content marketing plan includes all forms of content:

videos, photos,
social media posts (Facebook updates, Tweets, LinkedIn updates and YouTube uploads)
marketing materials,
press releases,
industry and business articles,
industry conferences,
white papers,
noteworthy events.

The advantage of a content calendar is its function as a project management tool. You can break down bigger projects into smaller chunks, making the most of your creative concepts and stretching your content pieces. A video can be segmented into shorter videos that can be shared over time as a series. An interview can be split into Part 1 and Part 2, serving as two blog posts. A case study can become a white paper. A popular blog can be shared via Facebook and tweeted out. You may cover a large industry conference and release it as a combination of podcast, blog post, video interviews, product reviews and “real time” tweets and social media updates. With the organization power a content calendar provides, the possibilities are endless.

A Content Calendar is intelligent Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing strategy is a long term plan designed to attract leads, build relationships, convert inbound leads into customers and retain those customer relationships through on-going trust, likeability, and value. A long term plan needs an effective tactic for organization and management. A Content Calendar is that tool. It’s one of the strongest and most useful of all the tools in your Content Marketing tool box. Use it well and your online marketing will sky rocket your brand above the content clutter and increase your market share, while solidifying your spot as key player and thought leader in your industry.

Do you use a Content Calendar?