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The wonderful world of the content calendar

AimeeBullinger -- Tue, 12/03/2019 - 3:48pm

You’re busy. There’s too much to be done and not enough hours in the day. We get it. And we feel your pain.

Creating web content has been added to your plate on top of everything else you do. It may seem like too much or feel out of your comfort zone. We get that too.

You may be wondering what to post, when to post, and when you’re going to get it all done.

Luckily, we have a handy dandy tool that can help.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the content calendar.

 

A content calendar is a way to plan out and organize future content. It gives you the ability to visualize content strategy over a period of time and stay organized across all channels. It helps you plan your communications and marketing efforts around important opportunities.

Basically, it’s awesome.

For example, a social media content calendar is a place to plan all content that will be placed on social media channels. An editorial content calendar is meant to plan out specific marketing assets such as web updates, student and faculty spotlights, announcements, blog posts, videos, or infographics. If you’re doing both, then make a content calendar that covers all of your bases.

The web team has been using a content calendar for years and it’s made a great improvement to our strategy, impact, and workflow. We use it to keep track of news releases, social media posts, web content, videos, and internal communications. It allows all of our team to see what’s planned for the month/year and how all of the communications build on each other. For us, it’s been a lifesaver.

What Information Goes into a Content Calendar?

New and engaging content is critical to the success of your website and your connection to target audiences. A site with updates, stories, announcements, events, and spotlights reflects a college/department/unit with a lot going on—one that others will want to be a part of or admire. Want to attract new students? Have new and cool content. Want to celebrate your students and faculty? Have new and cool content. Want to compete with other universities for research dollars and quality students? Have new and cool content.

How is a content calendar key to that success? It’s the place where ideas, topics, and dates are stored, and it allows you to be proactive. While this is a great first step in organization, an excellent content calendar will go above and beyond to include the following:

  • Deadlines and important reminders
  • Prompts to update content monthly, as well as key areas of content that need to be adjusted every year
  • An assigned writer, editor, publisher, and scheduler
  • List (and links) to channels the content will be posted on

Incorporating the above items will help to create a functional content calendar that will help your team stay on track and focused. Just remember, how much information is included in a content calendar is entirely up to you. At the end of the day, the sole purpose of creating one is so those broad ideas and strategies turn into actionable campaigns, so it shouldn’t be overwhelming.

Typically, it’s helpful to plot out the big things first. For example, holidays, major project launches, important deadlines, and possible quarterly or monthly themes should be considered. Anticipate ways to address these concerns. Doing this will make it easier to break down tasks into weekly and daily goals and deadlines.

Divide and Conquer

A content calendar makes it possible for you to organize thoughts and divide content into appropriate segments. It helps with planning, outlining tasks, and allowing others to coordinate efforts. That’s right—coordinate efforts. Just because you are the web ambassador for your site doesn’t mean you’re the only person creating content. In fact, a large part of your role is requesting and coordinating content from other people in your area.

A content calendar lets you plan and assign tasks that you can then use to remind and hold people accountable for delivery. It keeps everyone on track to accomplish tasks and achieve goals and it makes sure that all efforts have the same end goal in mind, so make sure it’s easily accessible for your whole team.

Google Sheets is a great place to keep your calendar because it allows multiple people to access it and update it in real-time. The web team has been using one in Google Sheets successfully and we’d like to share it with you. You can download an Excel version and upload it to Google Sheets if you’d like others to see and collaborate on it.

We added the Spring academic calendar events to it, along with a few web and social media content suggestions to get you started. Feel free to customize it in any way that you think will work best for your team.

If you have questions on how to use a content calendar, email me at aimee@louisiana.edu. I’m happy to be a strategic partner in your content planning and hope to help you set up a process that will help you work smarter, not harder.

Happy calendaring!