How to Build a Content Calendar

Organization is key to any efficient business process — especially marketing. You want to ensure you’re producing quality content on a regular basis to engage consumers and drive sales. But this isn’t as easy as drafting a blog post or capturing a video whenever inspiration strikes. If you want results that count, you’ll have to maintain consistency in your branding efforts.

That’s why it’s crucial to build a content calendar, which organizes your marketing content across all channels — blog, social media, email newsletter, etc. — on a daily, weekly, monthly and/or quarterly basis. This calendar can keep your ideas and deadlines in check, and will save you and your team time and energy. 

Here are eight tips to help you build a content calendar for your marketing strategy.

1. Design your calendar

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide the format of your calendar. This can be an actual calendar template, a simple spreadsheet, a PDF template, or even an online project management tool. From there, decide how you want to map out your content (e.g. weeks or months in advance). You can start short-term and expand as you come up with ideas.

2. Organize content types

Ask yourself who your ideal audience is and what they might want to learn from you. You can do this by creating personas of potential customers, considering any questions or concerns they might have that you can answer for them.

Additionally, ask yourself who you are as a brand. What voice do you want to project? Do you want to be casual, professional, or perhaps somewhere in between? Define your brand’s identity and ensure your content reflects that intended persona.

Once you figure out exactly what you want to write or create for your audience, break it down into different categories (e.g. long blog posts, short blog posts, social media posts, photos, videos, infographics, etc.). This will help you mix up the types of posts you share rather than exhausting just one or two forms of content. You may wish to color-code each type of content to help you visualize it better. 

3. Determine how often you want to post

Depending on your resources (business size, number of employees, free time, etc.), you might choose to post on certain platforms daily, biweekly, weekly, or even less than that. This is entirely up to you and what works for your business.

Regardless of how often you share your content, it’s important to keep your posting schedule consistent. For instance, if you choose to publish a blog post each week, choose a specific day and communicate it to your followers so they know when to expect it. On platforms like social media, however, you’ll want to post more frequently to be considered an “active” user.

4. Look for opportunities to repurpose content

Despite the massive demand for “new” content, you don’t have to come up with completely new assets for every channel, every day. There are plenty of ways to slice, dice, and stretch the content you create for one medium for use on another, with very little additional effort. For example, if you write a blog post, you can take a snippet of that and adapt it for a Facebook caption. You can highlight the most important elements of the post and create a text-based video to share on Instagram. You can even turn parts of the blog post into a visually appealing graphic. 

Don’t forget that you can also revisit and update older, high-performing content with a little bit of new information. The more mileage you can get out of one core piece of content, the easier it will be to keep up with your content marketing efforts.

5. Be flexible enough to jump on trending topics

It’s good to have a steady stream of “evergreen” content ideas, but depending on your business type, you might also want to post content covering new industry developments or current events. In these cases, you’ll want to be flexible enough to adapt your strategy and publish “trending” stories in a timely fashion. This will help establish you as a relevant and credible expert in your field.

6. Ask your team for help

Get your team involved in brainstorming. The more people you include in the process, the more insight and ideas you’ll gain. Plus, you’ll have more people to delegate to, which will help you tackle more projects in less time.

7. Schedule cross-channel content

When scheduling content, integrate other types of marketing into your strategy. For instance, pair a blog post with a social media post and schedule them to go live on the same day. Also, find other blogs or influencers in your industry or niche, and make an effort to engage with them on a regular basis, whether through follows, comments, likes, shares, etc.

8. Measure your content performance and adapt

As your publish your content, check your stats and evaluate how well certain posts perform. For instance, maybe your audience prefers short listicles to long blog posts; or maybe they want more videos and less photos. Whatever the results may be, don’t be afraid to make adjustments accordingly and experiment with new ideas.

Content marketing is a great way to engage and connect with your target consumers while establishing yourself as a reliable source in your field. Building and maintaining a content calendar will help you achieve your marketing goals with ease while developing and assessing your strategy as you go. 

Need help creating your content calendar? Each of our marketing consulting services includes a comprehensive content calendar template that we’ll work with you to fill out. Get more details here or contact us with questions.

5 Good Reasons to Outsource Your Social Media Management

Social media has the potential to be a valuable marketing and customer service tactic for businesses across all industries. But if you don’t prioritize it — or if you only have a few minutes a day to spend on it — you won’t see the results you want.

Busy entrepreneurs can only do so much. To ensure you’re making the best of your social media strategy, you might consider hiring someone to help you out. Here are five good reasons to outsource your social media management.

1. Consistency in brand voice and scheduling

When you’re being pulled in every which way, it’s difficult to be consistent in business — especially online. However, your social media accounts are crucial to reaching consumers and providing quality content on a regular basis. Neglecting your profiles because you’re too busy can damage your company’s reputation.

You might think to ask your employees to help out, but if they don’t have experience with social media for business (or if you have multiple individuals managing different accounts), you’ll end up with inconsistencies in your brand voice, creating mixed messages for your followers.

A good social media presence requires time and commitment; but as a business owner, you only have so many spoons. If you don’t have the time or energy to be consistent in posting and engaging with your followers, it may be wise to outsource your social media to an experienced agency.

2. Better audience engagement

Social media allows your business to foster a more personal relationship with your customers. While you likely don’t have the time to scroll through your feed and answer questions and comments on all of your pages, hiring someone to do so could increase audience engagement and drive more traffic to your sites, thus increasing your revenue and improving customer service.

Additionally, an engaged audience is a loyal one. Build your following by investing in them, providing the valuable content they crave.

3. A new creative perspective and marketing expertise

Many business owners underestimate the importance of social media. They might scoff at the idea of “wasting time” on Facebook and Instagram when they could be focusing on their products and services. This attitude can be detrimental to your business.

You might believe you’re “good enough” at social networking, but that won’t drive results; it won’t help you attract new followers or connect with existing ones. 

Social media managers are experts in their craft. They have creativity and insights, and their input can help you showcase your brand in a whole new light.

4. Save time

As an entrepreneur, you simply might not have the proper time to invest in social media management; and the short period you do spend upping your social game is likely insufficient against competitors who outsource.

Hiring a person or agency with the right expertise will allow you to forget about your Twitter posts or Facebook likes and focus on your own skills and passions in relation to your brand, while still reaping the benefits of a quality social media strategy.

5. Earn new customers

You might think you can’t afford to outsource your social media management, but this investment can actually pay for itself in the long run. Not only will you gain back valuable time to dedicate to current and new clients, but you’ll also be able to drive traffic and sales with a solid social media strategy. It’s a win-win.

It’s normal to be hesitant when considering outsourcing this major business operation, but doing so can benefit your brand in ways you’ve never considered. You’ll not only increase your customer base and loyalty, but you’ll also form valuable connections that could lead to future referrals and organic sales leads. 

Lightning Media Partners offers full-service social media management for small businesses and independent creative entrepreneurs. Check out our social media management packages or contact us for more details.

What Is Content Marketing?

Today’s consumers are smarter and savvier than ever. They know what they want, and they know where to get it. And with millions of competitors investing in quality marketing and advertising tactics, it can be difficult to set your brand apart from others.

Often, business owners think that intrusive marketing tactics, like commercials or pop-up ads, work best. However, your potential customers don’t want to be bombarded with details about your products or services. They do, on the other hand, want information that would benefit them in some way — information they choose to consume. That’s where content marketing comes into play.

What is content marketing and why does it matter?

Content marketing is the ultimate form of advertising in today’s consumer-focused world. Rather than throwing products at potential customers, you’re offering them valuable information while gaining their trust and, in turn, their business.

You can create relevant content while still marketing your products and services. For instance, if you’re a wellness company selling natural alternatives to modern medications, you can craft a blog or social media post about coping with specific symptoms and which harmful ingredients to avoid in treatments. Then, at the end of your piece, you can include information about your products and link to them.

This tells your audience that you truly care about their health, and you aren’t expecting anything from them in return. Your products are there if they need them, but they can still access your wealth of insight without investing money in your business. That’s how you want your content marketing strategy to come across.

How can content marketing improve your business?

There are many reasons why content marketing is superior to other marketing strategies today:

1. It builds an engaged audience.

If you provide credible information that interests your reader, consumers will come back for more. Their engagement will often lead to a commitment to your brand.

2. It generates potential leads and new customers.

The more traffic you drive to your site, the more consumers you will attract in the process. Readers might share your blog posts on social media or send it to their networks via email, which means you’ll reach a broad audience with potential leads and customers.

3. It’s more affordable than traditional marketing.

Content marketing is as simple as crafting a blog post and sharing it on your site, sending an email, or posting to social media. It takes little more than your time and creativity, and if you’re relying on organic traffic (as opposed to paid or boosted posts), it’s 100% free to do.

4. It gives you an opportunity to re-engage your existing customers.

With this form of marketing, you’re not neglecting existing customers to attract new ones. Your content, so long as you are choosing new topics and listening to readers’ feedback, is valuable to all consumers — both old and new.

5. It’s a potential revenue source.

Blog posts and social media are great ways to promote your products while building a loyal customer base. It’s likely some of your audience will be interested in your products after reading your work.

The secret to content marketing: add value

According to Forbes, the No. 1 secret of content marketing is to add value to the reader. In order to do so, you have to understand what your audience wants. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

Additionally, consider the industry in which your business exists. What are some common topics or issues involved in your field? For instance, if you’re a health food company in the organic foods industry, you can cover the risks of eating non-organic foods, where to purchase cheap organic produce, etc. That information is valuable to your target audience.

Every business can benefit from content marketing. If you want to experiment with a free marketing strategy that strays from traditional, give content marketing a shot — what do you have to lose?

Lightning Media Partners specializes in content marketing, including blog management and copywriting. Visit our services page to learn more about our marketing packages, or contact us to find out how we can kickstart your content marketing efforts.