What is a Content Calendar and Why Do I Need One? - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 23 Nov 2016

What is a Content Calendar and Why Do I Need One?

Did you miss our latest webinar on the topic of content calendars? Read on for the recap or watch the webinar video below!

Content marketing has been a buzzword phrase for several years now, and just like any other marketing initiatives, it takes some planning to make sure you’re delivering your content to your audience where they are at. That’s why it’s important to take some time to plan out your content marketing efforts in advance, and one of our favorite planning tools can help you do just that. Today, we’re talking all about content calendars!

content calendar

A content calendar, sometimes called an editorial calendar, is essentially a tool that helps you schedule out the content you’re going to post and where you plan to post it. They allow you to visualize not only how the content will be distributed over a given timeframe, but also plan around events, spot gaps that need to be filled, and help you set and keep deadlines. It’s a resource for the entire team to use to plan all content marketing efforts. MailChimp summed it up best when they said “Your content calendar is a framework for the ongoing story you want to tell about your business.”

You may find yourself wondering “Why do I need a content calendar?” For starters, a content calendar helps keep you on track and set up best practices for editorial planning by creating good posting habits with a consistent posting schedule. A content calendar will also allow you to be proactive about your message. As it needs to change, you are being conscious about your message and position, instead of shooting from the hip. Beyond that, a content calendar can:

  • Create a space for all team members working on your content marketing plan a centralized place to keep content ideas and topics together.
  • Let you see opportunities for overlap, such as embedding a relevant tweet into an email newsletter, which campaigns should be posted directly to Facebook, etc.
  • Help ensure your blog content is varied so that you are regularly posting industry news, company updates, how-to and listicle articles, case studies, etc. This helps keep your audience engaged by avoiding redundancies, random content, or a lack of content.
  • Create an editorial cycle so multiple pairs of eyes are reviewing content for grammatical and spelling errors, broken links, etc., prior to publishing.
  • Help you determine what content should be promoted.
  • Allow you to get ahead so you can spend more time listening to and engaging with your audience.
  • Help you establish content policies, and more specifically, social media policies.

Another common question that comes up is “Who will use our content calendar?” The short answer is anyone that’s a part of your marketing team. More specifically, the team members using the content calendar will be anyone that contributes content for your marketing program, which can include not only written content but also video content, photography, and infographics to name a few. With that in mind, in addition to your content writer or manager, you’ll also want to include your social media manager, designer, a designated proofreader, and the project lead or manager.

via GIPHY

Now that you know more about why a content calendar is so important and who uses it, let’s take a look at what you need to get one started. First, you need to determine what type of document you want to keep your content calendar in. There are lots of resources out there. Some businesses simply use a calendar like Google calendar. Here at RPS, we use Google sheets and have tabs for social media content, blog content, webinars, and newsletters. However, there are tons of templates out there you can look at for inspiration, including formats based on Excel, PDFs, and WordPress plugins. Find the one that works best for your team and go with it. (We’ve included a few links to some great resources and templates at the bottom of this post!)

content calendar

From there, you’ll need to determine how you’ll plan things out – monthly, quarterly, or annually. Then, you’ll need to decide the following:

  • A theme – Again, this can be monthly, quarterly, or annually. You may have one main theme for the year and sub-themes to fall under that at specific points. As you choose your themes, you may want to schedule some content brainstorming sessions to help you choose topics and plan out your content.
  • Target posting dates – Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights will be especially helpful in determining what days and times your content should be published. They can also help you determine which types of content are more appealing to your audience.
    content calendar
  • A key explaining what certain fonts and colors mean – As you’re filling in your content calendar, you’ll want to create a key so that all team members are aware of what certain colors and font styles mean. For example, anything highlighted in yellow is Instagram content, green is blog content, etc., while items in boldface font are approved and ready to be posted or scheduled.
    content calendar
  • Assignments – For larger content marketing teams, it may help to designate which tasks are assigned to certain team members. This not only helps spread the work out, but can also help if a team member is out sick and needs coverage for their posts for the day.
  • Flexibility – Things come up. You may find an opportunity to write a blog on the spur of the moment, or another project may keep you so busy that you may not get to your postings for the day. Unless it’s extremely timely content, you can always go back and post it later.

Hopefully we’ve given you some information that will be helpful as you work on your 2017 content marketing plan. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any other questions about content calendars!

Content Calendar Templates and Resources