Why Your Social Media Marketing Is a Mess Without a Content Plan

They say that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is not only a valuable life lesson; this also applies when you are creating your social media marketing strategy. If you do not exert any effort to consider all the possible outcomes, you would not be able to prepare a solution for any possible issues on the way.

When it comes to content marketing, it is best that you see the big picture and plan each milestone accordingly. The best way to organize your steps and goals is to put them on a well-planned content calendar.

It is easier when you can view everything in one place. Keep your entire social media marketing strategy planned out in one calendar! You would be able to stay organised, focus on deadlines, and be more productive in general.

We are right in the middle of 2018; a new year is just around the corner, which means it is about time for you to think about a new strategy. You would find yourself in one of these situations:

  •         You are brainstorming for a new mind-blowing content marketing strategy for the coming year. You want to get ahead so you are working in advance.
  •         You have decided that it is time for you to get more organized so you can get more work done. You are looking for the perfect content plan template that you can use to track your productiveness.
  •         Or, you are freaking out on how confused, frustrated and lost you are with your progress this year, and you can’t even begin to understand how you are going to start the coming year.

In any of these cases, the key to an organized social media marketing strategy is a content plan template or a content calendar.

Major publishers opt to use editorial calendars to plan their content throughout the year, and they are doing so for a good reason. Content marketers should learn from these publishers and follow their lead.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned content marketer who just wants to get through the year in one piece, we will show you how to build a good content plan template to get you through the remaining months of 2018.

 

What Is A Content Plan Template?

There is more than one type of content plan templates out there and they go by many names. You may search it as a content calendar, social media calendar, or an editorial calendar. No matter how you call them, their basic purpose remains the same.

Basically, a content plan template can be anything you can use to plot out a plan, create a schedule, and organize content and other marketing projects.

There are three common types of content calendars:

  •         Printed Calendars- These are the non-digital type of content calendars. It is the traditional hard copy solution to your organizing needs.
  •         Spreadsheets- If you need a cost-effective tool for creating a marketing calendar, you can always use Excel or Google Sheets. Excel is readily available on most computers and/or desktops and Google Sheets is accessible to you if you have a Gmail account.
  •         Applications- If you have a bit of budget and you are willing to spend on premium planning tools, consider investing in premium content planning tools.

Example of an Effective Content Plan Template

Different layouts, tools, and methods work for different people, but here are the most common tools, options or features that you may want to consider ensuring that the application that you have chosen can make your life as a content creator easier when working with a content plan template.

  • Colour-coding– Since we are visual creatures, it would help you significantly if you can assign a colour for every type of content and projects that you have on your calendar. The colours should be consistent throughout the calendar. You can do this for blog posts, e-mail newsletters, webinars, social media campaigns, and the likes. Each category should have their corresponding colours.
  • Marketing Folders- If you are working on big long-term projects, you may want to have the option to create individual folders for each one of them so you would be able to place multiple related parts into one place. This can avoid your projects from being all over the place. If it is possible with your tool, you can also colour code the folders that you have created per project.
  • Filters– This is a very handy tool when creating your social media marketing strategy. Since you would be planning for the whole year, it helps when you have the tool to filter your content on the calendar by type, team member, tag, colour label, keywords and more.

Why Should I Use A Content Plan Template?

To put it simply, guessing your way out of the year is not a smart plan. If you do not have a solid plan, you would end up wasting time that you could have been spending on being productive. Being organized plays a big part in success.

A content plan template can make it easier for you to see the big picture when you are planning out your content marketing strategy. Not only that, it also helps you see any possible issues that you may encounter on the way, this allows you to come up with a solution before the problem even comes.

It is completely up to you if you want to plan for a week, a month or even a year! Once you have your content plan template ready, you could easily:

  • Meet your deadlines and be proud of yourself for getting work done.
  • View your entire task list in one place. This will prevent you from driving yourself crazy while trying to remember if you missed anything.
  • Plan a strategy for creating your content. For instance, instead of procrastinating until the last minute to create some materials for a holiday, you can plan ahead and create in advance.

 

You would be able to work more effectively and efficiently with less pressure from the stress.

How To Plan Your Content Marketing With A Content Plan Template

Now, that we have the basic information about an effective content calendar, let’s get a more in-depth view on how to plan your strategy with a content plan template.

To start planning your calendar, begin with two week’s worth of content first. This way you would have enough to work with, but not to the point that you would be overwhelmed.

You can plan as far ahead as you can, but make sure that your plans are reasonable and that you have considered enough space for holidays, seasonal events, and the likes.

Defining your What, When, Where, and Why

You should try and figure out which content channels and types you are considering to work on for the year. This is important when you are working on your social media marketing strategy.

 

This may include the following:

  • A blog or website content that needs to be updated regularly. This is probably a big chunk of your content marketing strategy.
  • Social media platforms. You need to determine which networks you will be using to promote your content so you can prepare the right kind of materials.
  • Email Templates. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing is 40 times more effective than social media for leads generation or customer acquisition.
  • Video Marketing. The popularity of video marketing is gradually increasing, adapt with the times and use your content calendar to plan every shoot.
  • Magazines, brochures, or newsletters. We are slowly transitioning to a digital world, but prints are not going away anytime soon.

How To Keep Your Content Plan Template Full the Whole Year

Your work starts when you begin filling out your content calendar. At this point, you would already be needing a lot of ideas so you can plan around them right away.

Here are the three simple steps on how you can brainstorm for ideas:

  • It is important that you write down any idea that would pop in your head for the next 10 minutes. You don’t have to worry if they’re good or not at this point. Any idea counts while you are at the brainstorming part of planning.

 

  • Once you have listed all your ideas, you can now spend some time rating them. You should decide whether they are great ideas that you can add on to your content plan template and work with, or are they ideas that need more refinement, or maybe they are ideas that would not really help you attract any audience. It is okay if you end up with more of the bad ideas, you can always add more possible topics or revise.

 

  • After rating your ideas, choose which ones would you like to add on to your calendar or not.

 

You can brainstorm once a month so you will always have plenty of ideas to keep you busy for the whole year.

How to Implement a Consistent Colour-Coding Scheme

A colour-coding scheme can help you quickly identify content categories on your content plan template.

You can personalize the colour-code on your calendar in any way you like, but, a successful scheme should consider the following elements:

  • Everyone who would be using the content plan template should have agreed on the colours to be used. Everyone should know which colours refer to which types of content.
  • The colour codes should be consistent throughout the calendar. If you assign the coluor blue for Twitter posts, Twitter posts should always be highlighted in blue. If your graphic designer’s tasks are highlighted in red, it’s important to keep it that way. Otherwise, you can run into some confusion and miss your deadlines.
  • Your colour scheme should be simple. Try to use only a few different colours as your team needs.

There are several ways on how you can assign your colour code, here are a few ideas:

  • Code by campaign. If you are working on creating campaigns that span multiple channels, then colour-coding each piece of that campaign can make it easier to see which piece needs to be prioritized and which piece is scheduled to be published.
  • Code by theme. This is similar to colour-coding by campaign, if you’re working on creating content on different channels around a theme, it will be helpful to see each piece that belongs to that theme in one glance.
  • Code by team member. If certain team members have content or tasks they’re responsible for; this can help them see everything they need to get done.
  • Code by channel. You can also colour-code your content based on which channel you intend to post it on (for example: You can have all the Facebook posts in blue, all YouTube videos in red, all blog posts in orange, etc.).

 

These are just the basic or common ways of creating a colour coding scheme, but you can always create your own scheme that would match your social media marketing strategy.

 

Regardless of which tool or application you use, deciding to get organized is the first step to having a more productive year. You will find yourself being able to work better once you have a solid game plan laid out in front of you.

Digital Marketing Strategy 2018: Why Graphic Design is a Must

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Is timing really everything? Is having all the right materials enough to be successful? Are all your materials really right?

Some people believe that there is a right time for everything, but if you want to get ahead and stand out, anytime is the right time. Blending in with the times can only get you so far, but blending in can also make your disappear. This may be the case, but do not rush to launch your content just yet.

 

You might think that you are ready to slay with your content marketing once you have created an elaborate definition of your audience, planned out an intricate editorial calendar and dedicated countless of hours on researching and developing a faultless content, but you are not quite there yet.

The marketing industry is extremely fast-paced, in turn; content marketing is getting more competitive by the hour. Most marketers opt for content marketing for their strategy which means that there would be more competition when it comes to getting the attention of your audience. You would need more than just good writing to be able to stand out.

You should start to consider integrating graphic design, infographics and other visual storytelling materials into your marketing strategy. This way you would be able to tell your content apart from your competition.

Benefits of Graphic Design in Your Marketing Strategy

Over the years, we have developed a visual culture, which means people respond better to content with visual elements. Your audience will be able to process the message that you are trying to get across more efficiently when you present the information through graphics. Shapes and colours can help your viewers remember your brand better.

In general, people respond better to visual information rather than just simple texts. You would also notice that more page visits are received by social posts with images versus the posts without visual designs. Your business would more likely be noticed if you market with graphic designs and infographics.

They say that to see is to believe, so let’s discuss the ways on how to include visual elements into your content marketing strategy. See the difference between plain text content against a content reinforced by dynamic graphic designs and visuals.

How Much is Enough?

Putting in the right amount of images also plays a part in making your content effective. Putting too much can make your post cluttered and aesthetically unattractive, on the contrary, putting too little can make the content look dull and unreliable. Fortunately, you no longer have to try and fail to get the ratio right.

Goldilocks had to try three chairs, three bowls of porridge and three beds to know which one is “just right”, but BuzzSumo has your work cut out for you. Based on the data collected by BuzzSumo through a number of blog posts, the right amount of visual material is one image for every 75-100 words:

“In a study of over one million articles, BuzzSumo looked at how many blog posts with images were shared. Then they looked at how many images, per how many words, got the best results. What they found was articles with an image once every 75 -100 words got double the amount of shares of articles with fewer images.”

You have to plan the placement of your graphic materials carefully so you can ensure maximum effectiveness of the visual material.

Working with Original Designs

 

Using stock images is good, but it is even better if you utilize custom graphic designs that are specially made for your content. Since stock images are not exclusively yours, this may affect your percentage of standing out. Statistic says that content with relevant images has 94% more views than content without relevant images. Aside from the ratio of the quantity of the images in your content, relevance also plays a part in ensuring effectiveness.

The best approach when you are planning to use custom graphic design is to write the content first before reaching out to a graphic designer. An effective graphic designer can use the existing post to immediately understand the designs that you need. The content will help the graphic designer create a relevant visual element for your post.

Tell your Story Through Infographics

Infographics have become a preferred form of content marketing because they are able to pack together the content into something more shareable, especially on social media. They have a good amount of information which is incorporated with visuals that makes it an amazing tool for marketing.

You can choose to create an original content from scratch, but one of the most efficient ways of using infographics is to reuse an existing blog post. This is effective in the sense that you already know how this content performs in attracting your audience, if it is a success then you can double the results and if it did not perform as well as expected, you get another chance to boost that content through visuals. Also, since the content is already outlined in the existing blog post, most of the work will just fall on to your designer who can start on converting information into graphics.

How to Boost Activities on your Content Marketing Materials

Turning every post into an infographic may sound tempting considering its many benefits as a marketing material, but let’s face it; you can’t turn every post into an infographic. You can get a similar effect if you create social media related content marketing materials to promote your content. For example, on Twitter, tweets with images received 150% more retweets than tweets without images.

Your audience might get tired of your content if you keep on reposting the same featured image over and over again. You can avoid this issue by creating a series of distinct graphic designs that is custom made for your blog posts only. Since the images are unique to your brand, you can re-share your content multiple times without worrying about repetition for your audience.

There are 3 common, but effective forms of original social media images that you can use to improve the traffic in your content:

  •         Quotes- On Twitter, tweets with quotes get a 19% boost in retweets. This is also true for Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and other social media platforms. To utilize this content, you can convert a quote into a graphic design or add it on to an image.
  •         Screengrabs- You can take a screenshot of the blog post that you want to share, this allows you to share enough content to give your audience a sneak peak of your post. This also allows your audience to see your content in a different format
  •         Visual How-Tos- If you plan on creating a DIY guide, you may want to have the steps illustrated. This allows your audience to have a better understanding of the project since the illustration serves as a visual aid. The illustrations also encourage your audience to read more of your post.

Sharing Your Content

Once you have fortified your content with good graphic design and compelling visual storytelling, your content is ready to be shared. This content marketing strategy does not only improve the performance of your content on Twitter and Facebook, but also on all the other visual-centric social media platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and many more. Including visuals to your content allows you to have more distribution channels.

 

Adding visuals to your contents allows you to connect with a new set of audience for the first time. Graphic elements can expand your audience reach in many ways. It helps in gaining likes, shares and other forms of traffic on different platforms.

Different visual assets perform differently from one another; when you are sharing your content, remember to consider these differences so you can ensure that you are utilizing them the best way possible.

 

Knowing which visual element works best can help you prioritize your materials as well. You can easily evaluate the materials that you are using through social metrics like shares and link clicks; you can also get a good idea of which kind of visual element contributed the most on your content post through web metrics like new visitors and page clicks.

 

You do not only have to work hard, you also have to work smart to get ahead and get the best return on your investments.

Consistency is one of the keys to success. Consistently use good graphic designs and visual storytelling to help you lift up your content and build a good reputation with your audience. Use effective images to be able to communicate your message to your audience more efficiently, show them that you care about their needs and that you want them to understand what you have to offer.

 

Of course, you also have to set your content in front of more potential customers, using the right tools and materials can help you get there. At this point, you could understand that effective visuals are vital content marketing tools that you simply cannot ignore.