Content planning is like a healthy diet. We all know we should do it; it’s just challenging to know the exact steps that guarantee success.
We’ve put together a few recommendations for your content planner to lead you to the Olympus of marketing!
Assign Roles in Your Marketing Strategy Plan
When you’re planning future marketing strategies, it’s best to assign responsibilities for each individual step. Depending on your company’s strategy and personnel fluctuations, you may not be able to assign every single task, but you will save time if you have a rough idea of the content team members involved.
From time to time, it can help to run not only a content audit, but also a role audit, where you define business goals, identify roles and responsibilities and allocate projects and resources to relevant content strategists and content teammates.
As you’re planning your team members’ responsibilities for marketing strategy and content creation, project management, performance analysis, and user experience, ask yourself where the inefficiencies in your process lie. Maybe you’ve got a team member in a different time zone or you need to improve communication between IT and the content strategists.
Nobody can really keep up with the speed of technical innovation these days, and content planning tools are no exception. But it’s still always important to try to check in now and then to see if the solution you’re using still reflects your needs.
We found that some of the most common tools marketers use today include Buffer, HubSpot, MissingLettr and Pardot. Most marketers use a collection of tools to accomplish their day-to-day tasks, but wish they could narrow it down to just 1. The Brafton Content Marketing Platform was developed as a solution to the age-old problem of too many tools.
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Define Deadlines for Creation and Signoff
Want to hear something weird? Most editorial calendars on the web aren’t actually… calendars.
Yes, they describe the activities you’re planning and the dates on which they occur. But in most cases, they offer only sparse information on the practical aspects of a successful content strategy. So let’s cover them now.
Once you’ve covered all the fun parts of your content ideas and gathered the valuable content you’ve already produced, it’s time to address more mundane issues like the editing rounds going on with every content piece. They might not be as exciting as fine-tuning your marketing funnel or drafting new content, but without them, you don’t really have much of a plan.
Whichever step of content planning you’re looking at, try to envision the workflow required: That’s the actual work, from content ideation to the finished social media and website content. Then, try to assess each task’s time frame and feedback cycles.
Instead of simply setting the goal to gather content ideas, schedule time in your calendar for assessing content production requirements, establishing and communicating deadlines and allocating time for keyword research and revisions. As you move along, you can monitor your team’s progress against the goals you set and adjust accordingly.
It’s also worth noting that you can save yourself a ton of time if you plan all those nasty little details in the first step. If your team knows where everything lives and who is responsible for what from the get-go, they don’t need to hunt down links or details in emails or chat rooms. A standardized content planning tool may be boring, but it’ll save you time and frustration. Oh, who are we kidding? Content plans are fun!
Use Content Marketing Tools To Share, Collaborate and Track Success
Having a content marketing strategy can already put your mind at ease. But knowing you have the matching tool for the job will give you the deep relaxation of a Buddhist monk.
As you go through your role and content audit, you’ll no doubt define which content types and social media platforms are right for your brand and target audience. It’s good to have an overview of content marketing and to follow recent trends, but no brand needs to be everywhere.
And that’s why you can find so many highly specialized planning tools for content marketing efforts. Depending on your target persona, chosen platforms and content types, you may find that you need to combine a bare-bones general-purpose planner with a specialized content calendar for Instagram.
For most content marketers, though, we’d recommend having a tool for one big-picture editorial calendar. Here at Brafton, we use our proprietary in-house platform.
It allows us to define and communicate deadlines within the team as well as with our clients. And thanks to the different views on content assets and resources, our clients don’t have to dig for deliverables in their inboxes or in a shared folder.
3 Traits of a Good Content Calendar
A good content calendar will keep you on track while maintaining consistency and adapting to your content team’s shifting priorities. Before blindly following any advice, you should always check in with yourself. If you’re a visual person, a Google Sheet filled with shortcuts and acronyms won’t get you anywhere.
Aside from that, most solid content calendars combine a few traits, although they might serve those needs in different ways.
- Adaptable Overview: During day-to-day activities, every content marketer needs to switch between planned details and the overview of entire strategies with just a click. Make sure all the relevant assets associated with a project are always available and that each team member has the information most relevant to their task.
- Collaboration: This is where the calendar metaphor falls a bit short. Your content calendar has to foster collaboration among your team members and offer customizable solutions for feedback, revisions and deadlines. Your tool of choice should adapt to your team’s structure and production, not vice versa.
- Technical Requirements: Your content calendar should support the content types and platforms you choose, integrate with analytics solutions if necessary and give you flexibility for content repurposing and strategy adjustments.
Not every content calendar needs to have all the bells and whistles of a complex project management system. Your tool should match your goals. Now that you’re aware of common issues, do your own research and find the right tool for your needs!