How to build a content calendar for your business
The goal of publishing content is to attract, engage and acquire business from your target audience. Content Marketing can help you to grow your social media audience, build awareness and trust, enhance SEO ranking, drive web traffic and generate leads. When done well, it can give online sales a boost.
Examples of Content Marketing include social media posts, images, videos, infographics, blogs and surveys. In general, visual content tends to attract more attention. It is favoured by some social media channels and users (for example a Tweet with an image is more likely to earn customer engagement by being shared and re-tweeted). In addition, a picture often tells a thousand words so it is definitely worth investing in a library of photo, animated or video to support all of the content you are creating. This doesn’t have to be costly. There are some handy tools available, many of which offer a free service, where you can source high-quality stock imagery, for example, canva.com. This website allows you to create social media posts using a range of images, photos and icons. You can pull together a compelling infographic using sites like piktochart.com. If you are looking for images that you can edit then definitely check pixabay.com which allows you to download and use images for free. You can then use Canva to overlay your own messages on these images and share them within, or when sharing your content.
So how do you create a content plan that works for your business?
Firstly, you must establish a routine. If you plan your content creation then it is easier to stick to it. We recommend setting up a content calendar so that you and your team are clear on the type of content being posted, and the dates for posting. A calendar allows you schedule and plan all your content, ideally across several months. You can see at a glance what is happening across all social media and online channels, allowing you to ensure that there is even coverage across all of your platforms. A calendar allows you to develop key content for your busiest periods. Holding an editorial meeting weekly or fortnightly will give you and the team the opportunity to brainstorm ideas and compile a list of content items, which can then be produced or sourced.
There are many free calendar templates available for download or you can set one up using Excel.
Getting clever with content creation
It is time-consuming to constantly create new content so it’s always a good idea to try re-purpose existing content. For example, an existing paper brochure or leaflet can easily be turned it a blog along the lines of ‘10 ways to use our product’. Alternatively, you can break the brochure into a series of tweets, using product photos to show the benefits of what you are selling. Nowadays, the quality of cameras on smartphones are so good that it is possible to create short videos in-house and post them on your social media channels. Think about a weekly update via video or a tour of your premises /farm /factory to show consumers where and how the product is made and who are the individuals making the food as people like to buy from people. This works particularly well for food products as provenance is a key consideration in many consumers’ purchasing decision.
What are people talking about – use online conversations to inform your content creation
Why not tap into what is happening locally or nationally? For example, national holidays like St Patrick’s Day or Easter. It works well if you can align your content to the seasons, sporting calendar or academic year, for example, the GAA finals, rugby games, summertime offers, Winter specials, back to school bargains etc. A quick search for trending topics on Twitter can yield great ideas for how to engage with people online.
Know your audience
When pulling together your content plan, always start with your target audience. Think about their likes and dislikes, their demographics and their digital behaviours. What are the best social media channels to use to attract this audience? What devices are they using? What type of content will get their attention? When you know your audience, it is easier to appeal to them online.
Lastly, ensure that you have some goals and that you measure results. Use analytics to track how your content is being consumed, and the engagement levels for each piece of content. Track the sales impact so you can work out an accurate return on investment for your content. By monitoring in this way, you can easily see what is working and what is not, a allowing you to refine your content marketing approach.