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.