The influencers have cracked the code, big brands have as well, but do you know how to make social media work for you for free?
To consistently create, post and engage with the right people online?
Just take one look at your news feed on Facebook, and you will literally see loads of sponsored posts, giving away content planners and calendars, or perhaps charging a small fee to give you the next 12 to 18 months worth of posts all ready to go.
Google search “free content calendars, planners, programs and systems” and there are literally millions of templates, checklists and free tools available.
How do you know which one is right for you?
If the truth be known, many of these calendars and planners will work.
WHY WOULD A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER NEED A CONTENT CALENDAR?
Before we start taking a look at how to calendar your content, let’s talk about what a content calendar actually is, and a few baseline requirements for success.
A content calendar is a shareable resource that teams can use to plan all content activity across all social media platforms.
It allows you to visualise how your content is going to be ‘sliced and diced’ and distributed throughout the year.
Some people prefer a calendar-based format such as Co-Schedule or Trello, as opposed to creating just a long list of content to be published.
There are others who use an Excel spreadsheet or the like.
It does not matter what type of calendar you use, what’s more important is the consistency of using the damn thing.
The key to success is consistency, and it is ridiculously critical to content success. But like many, to come up with ideas and brilliant sparks of creativity helps, but you cannot rely on ideas alone.
Let’s be honest, there are times when the last thing you feel like doing is to create another piece of new content.
There is no one right way to calendar your content.
Like planners and calendars, there are a million different methods, templates and approaches to take.
Like you, I tinker and change and tweak regularly.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR CONTENT CALENDAR IN THREE EASY STEPS.
STEP ONE, START WITH EXISTING CONTENT ASSETS.
These are what I call your hidden assets.
Rather than focusing on creating something new, we should really be focusing on creating more with what we already have.
Start by taking note of all your existing content and resources to see what can be repurposed and remixed.
This could be from Zoom meetings you’ve attended, summits, courses, trainings, books, firsthand data or research, colleagues and co-workers, whitepapers and reports and don’t forget your blog posts.
Nothing goes to waste.
STEP TWO, IDENTIFY YOUR CONTENT SHOWS.
It’s time to start thinking like a media mogul or a television network and create content shows.
In short, these content shows become predictable, steady initiatives that our audience can learn to rely on and recognise.
An example of these could be a binge-worthy show, which could be a podcast, video series, webinar series, whitepapers, or reports.
It should target at least two of your audiences, and you can do them at least twice per month.
This type of content comes from what I call content pillars, the things you stand for and stand against.
Let me share an example; my focus when it comes to social media is organic, all that home-grown style marketing you do yourself without paying a cent for.
It could be a Facebook Live that is a live chat with hosts once a week at the same time.
Another example is a one-time spectacular.
This could be a quarterly or yearly show where it’s a major customer pain point or topic.
Think whitepapers, research papers, and contests.
These don’t have to be the same level of consistency that you would normally do, but certainly in line with what your ideal customer would like to read.
Another example is a regularly scheduled show.
Think of this as your blog.
These are on-going content initiatives, an example of this is a post I have recently done talking about the top 10 topics for blogs and content creation, you can read the first in the series here.
This is a great way to fill out your calendar. It doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% on theme.
It could be written by a different author, a guest, topic or format depending on the content, but it always connects back to your major strategy of what you’re looking to achieve.
The trick here of course, is that you will already have content shows in your existing hidden assets, so check your inventory first.
STEP THREE: PLAN, SCHEDULE, PUBLISH, SLICE, DICE, PROMOTE, REPURPOSE, TRACK AND TWEAK.
It doesn’t end with content creation, that is only part of the process.
Engagement is critical to success.
Once you have published your content, make sure that you go back and like, comment, engage and share, or have your ambassadors work with you on amplifying your content into the broader community. You can read more about content ambassadors here.
THE MISSING LINK – HABITS
The one thing I believe the internet marketers and online programs miss completely is the focus on habits that are required to keep you consistently creating fantastic content so that you become a person of influence.
A content calendar is only as good as the user, if you don’t use it, it’s useless.
It starts with habits.
In fact, I have recently created a guide to help you stand out and be seen for consistent content, one step at a time, you can find out more – Click here, it’s free.
IT’S A WRAP
If nothing else jumps out at you in this article it’s this.
Find a system that works, find a calendar you like.
Dig deep to set it up and then for goodness sake…use it.
There are many people who spend the time to set this stuff up, only to become distracted and lose the priority of consistent content.
It takes good habits, and these may not come to you naturally, especially when the last thing you feel like doing is posting on social media.
After more than 25 years in marketing, what I know is that those who show up consistently, who engage with their followers are the winners.
Have a great week.