5 reasons your business needs a content calendar

Creating social media content can be daunting for small business owners. Still, it's an essential tool for building an audience, reaching your target market, and promoting your product or service.

With the dawn of the internet, business marketing strategies were changed forever.

Today, potential customers are more likely to find your business through social media than through word-of-mouth, print advertising, or traditional advertising. That's why it's so essential that your business has a social media presence and posts consistent updates and information that educate and engage your audience.

In addition to wearing many hats as you run your business on a daily basis, managing your social media presence can feel like a whole new job - and in many ways, it is another job. But there is an easy way to make it simpler and more manageable.

Enter the content calendar! Implementing content calendars into your social media strategy can completely change how you approach social media marketing, making it easier, faster, and more effective.

What is a Content Calendar?

Before we get into content calendars, let's start with your digital content. Your content encompasses images, blogs, videos, and mailers - essentially, every piece of marketing material you post online or have saved in a repository forms part of your content.

There can be two major pain points regarding content: Having too much of it and having too little.

Having tons of content saved (think product photoshoots, blogs that were never published, raw video footage, etc.) can feel overwhelming. You know it's valuable, but you may not know how to effectively organise and publish it to engage your audience and drive business.

On the other hand, having too little content is also a problem. You want to post on social media and increase your engagement, but you might not know where to start.

This is where your content calendar comes in. A content calendar will look at all of these vital pieces of content and create a strategy that tells you what to share when to share it, and which platforms to share it to.

What Should Be Included in Your Content Calendar?

Before you start building your content calendar, the first thing you should do is a content audit. Take a look at your website (if you post blogs regularly) and your social media pages and define the following:

  • How often are you posting to each platform?
  • Which pieces of content performed well?
  • Which pieces of content performed poorly?
  • Are your brand identity, tone of voice, and messaging consistent across all platforms?
  • What comments is your audience leaving on your posts?

Once you've completed your content audit, you should have a clear idea of what kind of content you should keep posting, what kind of content is performing poorly, and whether there are new types of content you can start experimenting with.

Some of the things you can include in your content calendar are:

  • Product launch days
  • Seasonal campaigns
  • Promotional activities
  • Quarterly marketing goals
  • Lead generation drives
  • Audience growth

When planning your content, you can categorise each type of content as "Evergreen" or "Topical."

Evergreen content is content that's always relevant, whether someone reads it tomorrow or six months from now. For example, a blog post entitled How to Lose Weight and Improve Your Health is evergreen because it's a topic people will be interested in throughout the year.

Conversely, a blog post entitled Weight Loss 101: How to Slim Down for Summer is a topical content piece because it will only be relevant to people in the summer months. Once you're in autumn or winter, the blog post will lose relevance to your audience.

Once you've established a mix of evergreen and topical content, the next step is to create your content calendar.

Google Sheets is a free, easy-to-use tool that allows you to create monthly calendar overviews where you can see every blog, social media post, and other types of content that will be published that month. Because it's stored in Google Drive, your entire marketing team can access the calendar from anywhere and keep updated with any changes made.

If you don't want to create your own content calendar from scratch, you can also download content calendar templates for Excel or Google Sheets from HubSpot here.

To keep track of your content planning and project management, you can use Trello, Asana, or Mondays. Each of these platforms offers tools to help your team keep track of what they're working on and gives you an excellent overview of where content is in the creation pipeline.

How a Content Calendar Can Improve Your Business

1. Keep Track of Your Marketing Strategy

Keeping up with your overall marketing strategy can be tiring, especially when you have a hundred other things to worry about.

For your marketing strategy to be effective, it needs to be cohesive across all touchpoints, including blogs, social media, mailers, and your website - and someone needs to keep track of all of those touchpoints.

For example, suppose you're running a summer sales campaign. In that case, the campaign messaging should be communicated throughout your digital content, so wherever a potential customer interacts with your brand, they're receiving the same information, at the same time, in the same tone of voice.

Creating a content calendar is an easy way to keep track of your various marketing activities and can do a few other things for your business:

  • Allows you to see if there are platforms that are being ignored
  • Enables you to spot new opportunities in the digital space
  • Ensures your content and messaging are consistent across touchpoints
  • It lets you tailor your content to the audiences on each platform
  • Allows you to create overlapping content that tells a story

2. A Content Calendar Gets You Organised

If you're creating content in a panic a couple of days before you launch a new product or sales campaign, you might start to think that content creation is inherently stressful - but it doesn't have to be.

Set aside a few days or even a week to plan your entire content marketing strategy for the next few months. Once you've planned it, all you have to do is make sure you're following the strategy and making ad-hoc changes when needed.

3. A Content Calendar Saves You Time

Once you've planned out and created your content, the next step is to publish it. Two decades ago, this meant waiting for the day it needed to go live and then pressing the 'Publish' button. Those days are long gone - now, you can use automation tools to schedule everything from social media content to blogs to ads.

For example, if you create three months' worth of content within August, you can schedule them to be published throughout September, October, and November - giving you some breathing room to shift your focus away from content marketing and back to your business, then come back to it when you're ready to create the next batch of content.

Some platforms, like Facebook and WordPress, allow you to schedule content natively, but there are loads of powerful automation tools that not only schedule your content but keep track of your analytics and allow you to build monthly reports at the click of a button. Some of the most popular content automation tools include Hootsuite, Social Pilot, Content Studio, and BuzzSumo.

4. A Content Calendar Ensures You're Posting Consistently

When creating your content calendar, one of the most important things to define is how often you'll be posting to your social media platforms. There's no magic number, and quality is always better than quality - but once you've decided on a number, it's essential to stick to it.

Not only does your following expect to see consistent content from your brand, but the algorithms on Facebook and Instagram may even penalise you by showing your content to fewer people if there are long gaps between your posts. After all, those platforms also have a vested interest in ensuring you're posting consistent, high-quality content.

By combining the power of a content calendar with automatic social media publishing tools, you can "set it and forget it," knowing that your content is going out regularly without any additional effort on your part.

5. A Content Calendar Helps you Track Data

One of the most frustrating things that can happen to a business owner is having a particularly good (or bad) month and having no idea why. If traffic drops to your website or sales skyrocket through the roof, it's essential to know why it happened so you can replicate the results.

Having a content calendar lets you see exactly what resonated with your audience - whether it was a great blog post that drove website traffic, a vibrant video that increased engagement, or a competition that grew your following.

By taking the guesswork out of your analytics, you can get a better idea of what content performs well with your audience and use that information to create even more content that resonates, builds brand loyalty, and ultimately grows your business.