Using social media creates a content monster that needs to be fed. In most organisations a lot of thought and planning goes into the concept, design and development of content. Today’s post is a framework for building that content plan. I am focusing on social media, but the principles of building this plan work for other types of content.
Think about your content in terms of layers.
Content can be broken out into three types; evergreen, events and spontaneous. Each requires a different approach but when used together will increase the impact of your social media presence.
Sometimes also called drumbeat content, evergreen content can be planned and developed ahead of publishing.
- Use dates that are important in your industry
Think more broadly than company specific dates. For example Philips, manufacturer of X-ray machines, posts on Marie Curie’s birthday.
- Build out from campaigns and events
If you’re running a campaign on a specific product build brand content that supports your campaign message. For example, if a bank is running a campaign around savings products then the brand content could include articles on the psychology of saving.
- Build a theme
Even if there is no specific date to connect it to you can build content around a theme, for example designate May as “Internet of Things” month and produce content around the trends, technology and developments in this field, of course you can connect this content to your own connected products,
- Build a series
Use a specific rhythm to activate one idea. For example there’s a “Meatless Monday” trend in certain healthy circles if you’re a food company you could use this and promote vegetarian menus every Monday. Alternatively use a series of longer articles to go into depth on a specific area of your company’s expertise. f
To make this work
Research relevant dates for you and determine which themes/ series you want to build on.
Develop quality content, which means spending on design, photography, writing or filming the content you need.
Don’t be afraid to re-use this content, either posting highlights onto twitter/facebook, or repurposing it for other platforms.
Keep cultural differences in mind, not everyone celebrates the same thing, in the same way, or even on the same date. (Mother’s day is widely celebrated – but not on the same date).
There are already a number dates to use on social media; those company announcements, conferences, events and campaigns that your company attends or produces.
Product launches are known months, or even years in advance, adding brand content to support the launch can increase the impact of the campaign.
Company leaders attend and speak at events throughout the year, decide which of these would be of more general interest, take any “infographic” or suitable images from presentations and re-use them on social media.
To make this work
Add the known events and campaigns to your calendar, include the event/campaign contact person.
Work with the event/campaign lead to develop content that supports their plans.
Use a simple hashtag for your own event/campaign and encourage a wider audience to publish under it.
Your company wins an award, there’s the announcement of a merger (or divestment), you’re finally in the ranking you’ve been working towards, you hear of an significant date that matches your company’s portfolio – on the date itself. Every content team I’ve ever worked with has “last minute” content needs. So while I’m a big fan of planning ahead you also need a little flexibility to take advantage of these opportunities.
To make this work
Prepare likely potential images for your asset library, eg relating to awards ahead of time. The more diverse your asset library is the more likely you are to have a suitable image to hand.
Use your social listening tools to monitor awards in your industry, and watch for the announcement of relevant rankings.
Maintain good contact with the colleagues who handle last minute announcements. Explain to them that you don’t need to know the content of the announcement which may be confidential, but if you know the timing and the sort of content they’ll need you can work with that. Encourage their input into the asset library, to build relevant assets.
Putting the three layers together we can see that the impact of your content, whether measured in exposure or share of voice, increase when the layers are combined.
All three forms of what does a content calendar need good planning to be successful, but how far ahead to you have to plan?
The honest answer is “it depends”.
For this blog I have a plan that’s about 2 months ahead, with a content deadline of about a week before publication. But that timing needs to change if you’re collaborating on content with a team or you have approval steps needed. Large organisations are more likely to have deadlines further ahead of publication and the plan for content themes is probably running 6-12 months ahead.
I use a google calendar, I can look at anywhere, on any device, I can add assets and links as I go. But my blog drafts are written directly into wordpress (not best practice). That works for a one person company and would probably scale up to a small team. For large companies there is an amazing array of sophisticated tools on the market. They enable planning and collaborative development of content, publication, sharing/editing of posts and assets, and reporting on content performance.
None of this is that hard to work out, but maintaining quality content requires a rare combination of creativity and discipline, with a dash of flexibility to take advantage of those out of the blue opportunities.