Updated: Dec 17, 2019
It's Content Calendar time again!
You may be asking yourself, "Annie, what the hell do you mean Content Calendar?"
That is a question I get asked a lot, especially when working with new clients or during meetings with prospective clients. Sometimes I start talking about building a content calendar for a client and watch their eyes gloss over because they don't know what I am talking about. One of my best friends and clients Rachel Scholten with Kneeling Cat Pilates told me that after she looked at hers for the first time she was really glad I was creating that for her and she didn't have to do anything with it. So I'm going to tell you what a content calendar is, why I believe they are so important, tricks I use to make them WAY easier than you would think they are, and how you can do one for yourself. This is going to be a little bit more long winded than my normal blog but if you've ever heard me talk about content calendars that won't surprise you.
So first things first, a content calendar is literally just that. A calendar with what your social media content will be, some people call them editorial calendars, especially if they are doing anything beyond social media. There's a million different ways you can create one, just search on Pinterest and you'll find a ton of different options, a lot of them free which is great. You'll find everything from a super pretty PDF, a list with dates, or a spreadsheet like mine. I spent a lot of time researching different ways to put a calendar together for my clients and created my MASSIVE spreadsheet that I update each year so when I start a content calendar for a client every day of the year is available in that document. As Britney Brown with Britney Brown Photography likes to say "I'm a lady in the streets and a freak in the spreadsheets."
I start in October or November putting my spreadsheet together so I have time to tweak it, let some of my clients and friends look at it to make suggestions, and have it completely ready before mid-December when I will develop all of my January calendars so that I can take time off at Christmas. It has an exhaustive list of hashtags to use for each day of the week so that if you are struggling with content you can use something like #motivationmonday or #wisdomwednesday to plug in something to engage your audience. It also has every national holiday along with #hashtagholidays and celebrations that last a week or month long, like National Pizza Month or Disability Employment Awareness Month. It can be overwhelming the first time you look at it. It's brightly colored and filled with information. I do also have a less fun grayscale version because a few clients said they got distracted by the colors. It also includes a space for every social network my clients work with, any newsletters, events, advertising, blogs, and a lot more. I want to make sure it's a comprehensive document that contains any and everything they do for marketing, but most importantly their social media. It helps me plan everything in one place.
While having the entire year in place makes it easy for me there are a lot of ways that you can make it easier on yourself and make your time spent on marketing and social media more efficient. The complaint I hear from people most is that it takes too much time and they don't know what to post. PLAN IT! That way you only need to take the time to schedule what you want to say and don't have to think of something on the fly. You can do it in a paper planner (I often keep track of stuff in my Passion Planner), in your calendar that is on your phone, or literally on a sheet of notebook paper if you don't want to have a content calendar. Look at your month and see what you can talk about. Oh you have a FuseDSM luncheon this week? Great! Plan to post about it. Celebrating Small Business Saturday with a sale? There's a few to prepare everyone. Not sure what you're going to do for an entire week? Find a quote and you've got a Motivation Monday, Wisdom Wednesday or Feel Good Friday ready! Are you an Italian restaurant? Then you should celebrate EVERY food holiday that is about pizza, pasta, noodles or anything vaguely Italian. Keeping a calendar of everything also helps to make sure you aren't posting too much of the same thing and that you're posting the right thing at the right time. It also helps you make sure that you're providing informative, entertaining, and engaging content and not just selling. It's the 80/20 rule. Only 20% of your content should be a sales pitch. The rest should be anything but. If you are only talking about sales people have an easier time clicking the dreaded "unfollow" button. Be unique!
The strategy side of social media is my favorite. Sure you can pay money to some company that gives you 175 posts for your social media but the problem there is it looks like everyone else's social media. How many times have we seen multiple salespeople or businesses post the same "Post a GIF about your job?" I can tell you that I've seen it WAY too many times. By sitting down and thinking about your audience, your business and what you want to talk about you create a unique social media presence. You're probably thinking to yourself "But Annie, those come with images and I just have to plug and play." I know. They are easy to use and easy to fall for. But you know what else is easy? Canva. Use a photo you took or a stock photo and you have a graphic to use. That fancy picture of a desk at the top of this page - that is courtesy of under 5 minutes on Canva and a stock photo. The photo below, that's my photo and a couple of minutes in Canva. It personalizes my presence so I don't look like everyone else.
See that website and hashtag in the corners? Something that simple makes your content YOURS and yours alone. Making sure that your competition or another person can't use the photo without someone knowing you made it is also important.
I've talked about the importance of creating, maintaining and using content calendars to individuals, businesses, and teams before. It makes life easier and who doesn't love that? It saves time, which for a business owner is money and our most precious commodity. Resources exist so that if you're like me and not a professional photographer or graphic designer that you can still have a professional presence without investing a ton of time and money.
Does it all still feel overwhelming? Don't worry, I am here to help! Occasionally I've been known to let my Content Calendar out of my possession for someone to use or even help them decide what is most important for them to include in their own version. Reach out and I'll see what I can do to help you create content calendar peace.
Now it's time for me to get back to work on those spreadsheets for November!