At Mäd, one of the ways we strive to add value to our clients is through content creation, in other words, providing free content. However, there's a lot we need to consider, especially with the rise of content creation in recent decades that has made the field more saturated than ever.
The bar for content creators has been raised significantly. Although still very important, it's no longer enough to provide content for free. It has to be well-researched, relevant and valuable.
On top of this, it also needs to be pushed out consistently too.
All these factors can definitely make or break your website or social media page's ranking. To stand out from the crowd, we must account for all these factors synergistically through strategic planning.
This is where content calendar comes in.
A content calendar is essentially a written schedule of what, when and where you plan to publish your content.
- What. The message that you want to put out. It could be a new case study on a recent project or a post to alert your consumers to your new promotions.
- When. The timing. Are you planning to post daily, twice a week or once a week? And at what time?
- Where. The platform that you plan to post your message to. This could be to your website, your Instagram account, your Facebook page, or even all of your platforms.
Aside from the 3 W's (what, when and where), a scheduling tool is necessary.
- Tool. A content calendar comes in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the complexity of the features you may need, a content calendar could even be as basic as an Excel spreadsheet or as advanced as a Kanban board.
By having the 3 W's defined and planned in a tool that best suits us, we're able to keep ourselves organised, track on going progress, collaborate and brainstorm. This leaves no room for mistake or procrastination.
Choosing the right tool.
As the importance of regular content continues in relevance, and brands look for outlets for their voice to be heard - and part of the conversation - tools, to organize the planning of such content, have exploded in numbers. With so many options and suggestions for content planning, it's understandable that marketing departments can get sometimes muddled or misaligned with an ill-fitted (but well marketed) tool for their needs. Finding the right tool is key.
As there are many options, put yourself, your team and your brand in the driving seat.
Imagine the next month, and the content you expect your brand to communicate. Try to picture a digestible way to organize your content, so that you could quickly showcase the plan to your team and have everyone fully aligned with how you'll be utilizing your content with attention to the three W's.
We advise keeping it simple, don't reinvent the wheel, consider what software and presentation styles your team already use and work back from there. For example, Google Sheets is a great collaborative solution that is extremely accessible to most organizations due to it's ease and intuitive interface. This is a great option for displaying and working on content behind the scenes as you can embed photos, attach copy, and note the time, date and platform for your work to be published.
Increasing efficiency, there are powerful tools such as Hootsuite, that let you build up your content in one centralized platform, and have it scheduled to multiple platforms. This option saves an extra step, allowing you to create and schedule/publish in a singular place, rather than jumping between platforms and software to copy messages and increase the chance of human error.
At Mäd, we use Bloo.
Speaking about tools, we have to mention Bloo–the ultimate project management tool that keeps us on our toes. Although our initial use for Bloo is for project management, its structure as a Kanban board makes it a versatile tool and a perfect fit for a content calendar.
What makes Bloo such an effective tool for us is its different 'view' accessibilities: a calendar view, a board view or a list view.
Again, a key factor here is alignment. As all our team members and clients use Bloo, it means that the UX/UI becomes familiar, allowing everyone to quickly process the information presented and have instant understanding of the calendar's plan. Organizing should make life easier, and Bloo does this beautifully.
Bird's Eye View vs Tunnel Vision.
Although a content calendar comes in all shapes and sizes, a calendar view is the most common form. A calendar view allows for a bird's eye view of what we have planned in a full month. We can easily visualise what's coming next and what needs to be prioritised, something that would otherwise require tremendous effort without the help of such mental model. The overall experience with using the calendar view is the feeling that everything is manageable.
In contrast to the bird's eye view, people talk about a tunnel vision like it's the worst thing ever. However, we recognise and acknowledge that there is a time and place for everything and there is a time and place for having a tunnel vision, albeit temporarily. We like to make use of the board view to keep track of on-going progresses and to identify areas that we may be stuck on. For days when we need to focus on completing an urgent task at hand, the 'In Progress" column does the job.
Foster Collaboration & Brainstorming.
Although we like to work alone, together. We can't deny that sometimes some of our best ideas are ones that are bounced around and sculpted from one team member to another. We help refine each other's ideas, so it's crucial to keep each other in the know. Through features that let us comment new ideas as we go and develop on those ideas, the work we produce is something we can be proud of.
Over the last couple of months, we have been putting a lot of effort in pushing out consistent, well-researched, relevant and valuable content that are showcased as insights and case studies on our website.
We've definitely been reaping the benefits from our investment in the form of increased traffic that converts into proposal request and into project wins and ultimately long-term client relations.
We wouldn't have been able to push out content consistently and regularly in a collaborative manner across the team if we hadn't utilized content calendar as part of our strategic planning.