In our previous blog post, we spoke of why a content calendar is so important. Now, we talk about how to create a content calendar that works.

A content calendar is an important tool to help keep content organised and provide a “command center” for social media activities.

It’s also a great way to stay connected with our content and identify what’s working and what’s not. It is easy to get into the nitty gritties and lose sight of the big picture. A content calendar prevents that problem from happening.

Here’s how…

Broadly speaking, here are the goals that a content calendar must achieve…

  1. Provide a big picture view of what is happening on the social media platforms we control. This will help agencies walk their clients through how they plan to take the “Brand message” and “social media agenda” forward
  2. Provide enough detail of the operational aspects for the team to know “what to do, when and how”
  3. Visualise a SMART plan to execute on the content that’s been identified for publishing.
  4. Be rigid enough to provide a clear framework and yet flexible enough to accommodate any pertinent, last minute changes that may impact the brand story.

A content calendar, when working at optimum levels, transforms into a dynamic document that is constantly updated by assigned parties. The calendar comes alive when people constantly collaborate and collate information that they receive. In many ways, it also ‘gamifies’ the process of content creation, curation and publishing.

So how do we create a content calendar that works?

Begin with the end in mind – Steven Covey

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

Question 1 : What result does the client want to achieve with her business (and as a result – her content) Is it just ‘advertising’ the business? Education of the target audience? Footfalls at the storefront?

Question 2 : How much investment of time is she willing to make in her content? The 4 Client Types

  • A : Is she willing to actually engage with the content writers on your team to come up with content that resonates with your target audience? This is ideal, but rare. Create a content calendar in collaboration with the client.  
  • B : Does she have a team that would help you craft the content and then let the team go ahead with the content strategy? This is also good. But be sure to ask exactly who is responsible and will have the “final approval authority” in matters related to content upload. Is the team ‘in sync’ with the business goals and clear about the desired outcome/s?. Create content calendars that are flexible and can accommodate frequent changes with specific posts, while keeping the theme intact.  
  • C : Is she looking at content coming from you exclusively – but with approval mandates handed out by herself or her team? Be careful. There is a chance that the approvals may take time as well as a possibility of ‘micro management’. Use your judgement to evaluate whether the interference is in your ‘safe-zone’. Be sure to bill the client for the time you’ve spent collating the content as well as any graphics you may have had to pay for. Distance your agency as much as possible from such engagements. Create a calendar that is short term (not more than 2 weeks of content).
  • D : The online presence is completely ‘your baby’ : While this is “Content Creation Heaven”, it would make sense to use your power to advise and guide the client on what should work and what may not. Use this state to gently nudge the client towards Type A for best outcomes for both you and the client. Create the calendar yourself, but as in Type A, run it past the client so that she feels that she’s part of the social media mission.

Question 3 : Are there any themes that need to be woven into the content? To gain clues on this, look at the objectives that the client has set out for the business and move along those lines. Start by looking at what are the specific areas where she needs social media intervention – it could be LiveTweeting an event, providing a Facebook event page for a business event or even a simple series of posts timed to catch an occasion that is relevant to the business. Build these into the calendar as a framework and then add other content pieces to add more muscle and tone.

Answering these three questions and the other points we’ve covered will take some time. But believe us, it’s well worth the effort.