What do weddings, Black Friday sales and social media have in common? Planning. If you want to make a big impact — with a wedding or a sale or on social media – you have to plan for it.
Digital content created on the fly makes it easy for typos to sneak in unnoticed. Creating — and living by — a social media calendar allows you to ideate, proofread and schedule posts ahead of time, which takes the stress out of the planning.
Creating new and engaging content is a constant churn, not to mention the refining, resizing and rewording of each piece to suit the requirements of different social channels. Digital storytelling is an art as much as a science and it takes time to understand what your online community wants and needs from you.
Paper Mart, a fourth-generation family-owned business with long-term employees and customers, takes a familial approach to their marketing because they know many of their customers are also family-owned businesses.
Allison McGuire, vice president of marketing, lives by a social media calendar because of the breadth of information shared across a variety of platforms. “Through our marketing emails, socials and blog, we frequently share customer and employee spotlights, offering up information about their background and how they got to where they are today,” she says. “That peek behind the curtain makes our customers more invested in Paper Mart. It must be engaging and flawless. No exception.”
What is a content calendar?
Think of your content calendar as your compass. Getting started is an investment in time and resources but organizing and preplanning content creates an easy-to-navigate roadmap that allows you to connect community updates, special holidays, employee, company and product/sales events.
A content calendar can be as simple as a spreadsheet on your computer to track content as you create and publish it. Or it can be more complex and dynamic — an online system that allows you to collaborate with teammates in real time. Whichever route you choose, planning ahead empowers you to craft powerful narratives across social media, key marketing channels and on your website.
Betsy Mello, senior vice president of e-commerce sales for Dorel Home, said that because many of their products are sold online, storytelling is the linchpin of their marketing strategy.
“Buying furniture online is not an impulse buy — it requires much consideration and storytelling is critical,” she says. “We highlight the benefits and specifications of each product but also speak to the innovation, the problems it may solve (for example space-saving in a small dorm or apartment) and how the story of our product will fit into their lives.”
Unlocking the multifaceted advantages of a content calendar
Beyond organization, a content calendar offers a host of benefits that fosters measurable, sustainable online growth.
- Develop a consistent posting rhythm. Consistency is a key pillar of success on social media. The more regularly you post, the more your content is woven into the algorithms of your chosen social media platforms. Whether you’re promoting a sale or celebrating a national holiday, exposing your content to an ever-expanding pool of potential customers is the goal.
“We consider ourselves always on,” says Mello. “Efficiency and clarity to the customer of our products is what drives our content machine. With our evergreen process of product development, we focus on bringing our newest and most exciting product to the consumer as quickly as possible.”
- Craft better quality content with fewer typos. Preparing content in advance serves as a fail-safe for your social media updates. It provides breathing room to review content and allows you to see the tone and texture of your emerging brand personality. If your updates involve sensitive content, that sober second thought before posting can prevent embarrassment or being seen as tone-deaf.
- Nurture creativity. Once you’re into a routine of creating and scheduling content — instead of in-the-moment panic-posting — your creative horizons can expand. Managing a contest on Facebook or Instagram, for example, might be conceivable now that all your content is written ahead of time, right? Maybe it’s time to consider a collab with influencers?
- Leverage analytics to enhance storytelling. “We review Google search trends to help guide topics and themes for marketing as well as organic traffic to our blog posts and videos to help determine their success and if the articles warrant iterations on the same topic or a series of similar stories,” says McGuire.
- Explore new ways to create content. Utilizing generative AI to suggest ideas for blog content, brainstorming, and proofreading articles expedites many processes in the digital marketing space. Mello says Dorel focuses on KPIs to help understand how top-performing keywords can help generate more reviews and drive sales. “Amazon specifically has been leveraging generative AI to summarize reviews, which we have found very beneficial and have seen positive sales results.”
McGuire acknowledges the power of AI at all levels. “Our SMS provider (Attentive) has a built-in AI tool that suggests variations of a message if you need some inspiration to make them more fun and engaging,” says McGuire.
As many benefits as a content calendar offers, be aware of its limitations. If your social media updates lack personality, they might be seen as robotic, bland or uninspiring. A content calendar helps you organize your content — but it doesn’t replace the vital element of creativity.
If you’re using scheduling tools across multiple platforms, ensure your social media crisis plan is easy to execute in an emergency. After a catastrophic event — local or global — brands often choose to go dark for a short period, especially if loss of life is involved. I recommend using a platform like Hootsuite, SproutSocial or SocialPilot for all your social media scheduling, and pausing as needed.
The benefits of a content calendar are manifold. It fosters consistency in posting, mitigates the risk of typos, nurtures creativity and unlocks the power of analytics for storytelling enhancement.
What’s more, it opens the door to innovative content creation, such as leveraging generative AI and other tools to streamline digital marketing processes. Content marketing, facilitated by a content calendar, is a powerful engine that will streamline your digital marketing, making the journey more efficient and results-driven.