How was 2017 for you? Good? Bad? A bit, meh? You might be thinking it’s premature evaluating your various life choices and goals at this juncture of the year, never mind your content marketing efforts. But, as you’ve guessed, now’s the time to get your thinking caps on and start planning your 2018 editorial calendar.
According to research by Curata, at least 77% of cunning content marketers now use some sort of plan – and it’s like this trend has been inspired by industry leaders making the decision to think more like publishers, and less like salesmen (as lovely as they are). The rest that have vetoed the whole editorial calendar malarkey have probably spent the last few months using lovely, shiny content to communicate with their customers or employees. And good for them. But without a calendar, it’s like playing the lottery and winning a quid every ten goes or so; pointless, inefficient and well, a waste of time and energy.
Does that sound like you? Hopefully not.
Plus, there’s that also the matter of needing a snapshot of your content efforts to assess what’s working in light of your strategic marketing goals. Let’s remember that popular adage: if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail – so let’s go forth and strategise, shall we? Here are four steps to make the most of your head start:
Make a note of the key events, trends and seasons your industry
For next year’s editorial calendar, you’ll want to have a good think about all of the timely and seasonal events you can map your content to. Christmas, Halloween, bank holidays, Blue Monday, your company’s anniversary, your business milestones, the Queen’s birthday. Everything. If you can get your content to tie-in with an event, you’ll be well placed to ride its coattails.
This is, in essence, the framework for your content marketing strategy – a plan that’s aligned to your business goals and always has your audiences in mind.
Brainstorm suitable content that fits your brand persona
We’ve had a few things to say about creating effective marketing personas and why you should be using them. Get reacquainted with those profiles to come up with suitable and targeted ideas – then plot those inspired nuggets into your calendar, mapping them to key events and seasons. And if you need a bit of creative inspiration, fail-safe content formats include how-tos, case studies, weekly news, stats-based press releases and downloadable guides.
Consider experimenting with different content types
New year, new you. 2018 could be the opportunity to dabble in webinars, amp up your Instagram output, commission a series of infographics, or finally delve into video (everyone’s doing it). Of course, it’s important to stick to your bread and butter content that you know performs well, but try out a wide berth of content across each month and year to keep things fresh. There’s no harm in testing things out; if it’s not working after a few months, switch it up.
Use Southerly’s super handy 2018 editorial calendar template
Download this simple pre-filled spreadsheet to get an idea of how you might use a content calendar. It includes columns for deadlines, a section for your team members, and another for your potential audience. Most importantly, it’ll ensure you stay on top of all your content marketing gold in the new year.
Liked this? Check out Your content calendar: How to manage multiple messages.
Or, if you work in internal communications, download our internal comms content calendar here.