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ContentCal compared to Google Sheets

Kirsty
8th February 2021

When it comes to content marketing, planning is paramount to success. But planning in itself can be a full time job - without the right resources. As a minimum, most marketers will have dabbled with Google Sheets for planning purpose, as it’s free and simple to use.

Switching your content planning away from Google Sheets to a purpose built alternative, can seem expensive and time consuming - but it doesn't have to be. let’s take a look at a popular option for freelancers, agencies, and in-house teams; ContentCal, that is both cost effective and efficient, to see how it stacks up against Google Sheets.

About Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a spreadsheet program included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs suite offered. Google suite services also include Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Drawings, Google Forms, and more.

It’s free-to-use and only requires a Gmail account to sign up.

About ContentCal

ContentCal was launched in 2014 by a social media marketing agency, designed to improve marketing strategies, workflows, and overall social media management for freelancers, agencies, and businesses. Relaunched in 2016, ContentCal as we now know it, was taken to market to helps teams plan, create and publish marketing content.

A great Google sheets alternative, users can choose from a selection of plans: Pro, Company, Premium, and Enterprise, starting from $17 per month. A 14-day free trial is also available.

Main features - Google Sheets

Google Sheets is easy to use as a content planning tool, with the ability to use a template to create a Google Sheets calendar or create the content planning spreadsheet that suits you best.

It's quick and easy to share work with teammates or clients, and access can be restricted to ensure no changes are made accidentally, or without permission.

Google Sheets saves changes automatically and allows you to revisit a previous version of the sheet at any time. This is creates a helpful audit trail for collaborative projects.

Up to 100 people can work in Google Sheets at one time, so it’s great for teams and agencies.

You can access Google Sheets anywhere, anytime without clogging up your computer’s memory, plus use the mobile app to make changes on the go.

Google Sheets image

Main features - ContentCal - Google Sheets alternative

ContentCal is a platform aimed at professionals who want to streamline their workflows, schedule content, and improve their content marketing offerings. You’re able to plan out social media posts, schedule them to a variety of accounts and store marketing materials, all in the one place.

The layout is a visual calendar format, which, unlike Google Sheets, lets you see all of your content clearly, along with any marketing campaigns you have running. Adding accounts, users and assigning permissions is simple, and the onboarding team is there to help throughout, as well as providing a variety of easy-to-read help center guides.

With ContentCal, you can organize your whole marketing team’s activity in one central location. Thousands of apps can be connected via Zapier integration, such as Google Sheets, Trello, and Slack, so if you’re currently working within any of these apps, you can easily integrate them into your content marketing workflow.

You can publish to most social media networks with ContentCal’s content calendar plan, where you’ll select your profiles, add images, category tags, publish times and dates and hashtags (which can be saved and re-used) before sending the posts for approval if required. What’s more, you can re-use evergreen content in just a few clicks and create templates. It’s a drag and drop, color-coded content marketing tool, to help maximize the output of your content marketing.

The Content Hub is a library where all of your content will be stored, such as previous posts, media, and ideas for later. You can filter easily through everything to find what you need, removing the need for multiple drives or shared folders.

In addition to storing and scheduling content, ContentCal's Engage feature means all of your social inboxes will be in one place, ready for you to tackle messages and comments, as well as building and managing your online communities.

The Analytics tool highlights your top-performing content, shows relevant metrics and allows you to use these learning to create better content.

If your team manages long-form content, alongside social media, the Articles feature can store your blog posts, newsletters, press releases and more.

If you’d like your whole company to share the marketing action, the Contributions feature is great fo collaboration. It lets employees contribute ideas, making them feel valued, listened to and enthusiastic about the content being produced.

Calendar

Platform Pros - Google Sheets

It’s free

One of the biggest pros of Google Sheets is that it’s free, requiring only a Gmail account to access it.

Exceedingly easy to use

If you’ve ever used an Excel spreadsheet, then you’ll feel right at home with Google Sheets. It’s really simple to use, and the learning curve is very shallow. Plus, templates for a Google spreadsheet content calendar are easy to come by.

Tracked changes

Keep track of edits and get ideas from your previous Google Sheets calendar by using the version history tool. This is also useful to see who’s edited what and ensure no mistakes are made.

Multi-user collaboration

Regardless of how large or small your team is, you’ll never run out of space for people to collaborate on one document.

Mobile app

The mobile app allows you to edit your Sheets on the go, which is great for those working in social media.

Platform Cons - Google Sheets

Lack of support

As Google Sheets is free, there isn't a dedicated team waiting to help you.

Very basic software

Google Sheets is very basic, with much of the work being manual. You’ll still need to access all of your social accounts to copy over your captions, which doesn’t really streamline the process. Plus, time will be needed to design your Google Sheets calendar and keep it up to date.

Tailored to data capture

Google Sheets is great for generating reports, tracking data, and creating tables, but for marketers, the only things you can do are store copy and images.

No built-in reporting features

You’ll need to use the analytics features of the social media platforms you’re using to keeps tabs on your progress and generate reports manually.

Platform Pros - ContentCal

Ease of use

ContentCal is remarkably simple to use and its visual format is very, and it’s already set up for you.

Designed for marketing teams

Marketing teams are always very busy, with lots of turning cogs and numerous touchpoints. ContentCal is designed with marketing in mind and purpose built to streamline your day-to-day work, increase communication, and keep on top of all projects. The Contributions feature is especially great in allowing your wider team to submit content ideas and inspiration.

Ideal for all business sizes

The pricing structure is simple and you don’t have to be tied into an annual contract, which makes it perfect for freelancers, agencies, and small businesses. There are options for larger companies, too, which will give you customizable calendars, VIP support, and more.

Response tool

With a single inbox to work from, you’ll always be on top of your social media interaction game.

Single marketing hub

If shared calendars, Dropboxes, and Google Drives give you a headache, then ContentCal is the antidote. ContentCal enables you to work on shared Calendars, store content, plan campaigns, and collaborate with the wider business.

Automatic Instagram posting

ContentCal can auto-publish all single-image and single-video feed posts directly to Instagram. In addition to all of the other main-stream social media channels. Multi-image posts and Stories can be published using the mobile app.

Long-form content

Long-form content, such as blog posts, newsletters, and press releases can be created with the Articles feature.

Endless integration

As ContentCal uses Zapier, you can connect pretty much integrate with anything your team currently uses to make life easier - we’re talking thousands of apps.

Get others involved

Find out what people outside of your team would love to see from your social media content calendar plan and marketing with the Contributions feature.

Availability of support

Receive a response within minutes during the working day, allowing you to get back to what’s important.

Easy-to-use analytics

The Analytics tab features easy-to-read reports, date range capability, and insights on how to optimize your content to perform at its best.

Contributions

Platform Cons - ContentCal

Some training needed

Unlike Google Sheets, or Excel, which will be second nature to some, a little more time may be needed to get to grips with everything ContentCal has to offer. However, it is a very intuative platform.

Mobile app

Like many platforms in the field, the mobile app could be more user friendly. However, the team is currently working on this - lookout for updates on the Roadmap.

Conclusion

Google Sheets is the most accessible and basic way to create a content planning spreadsheet, but is it enough? Will it make life easier, or just add more steps into your process? With limited capabilities to streamline your work, it’s really just a starting point for most marketers.

If you’re searching for a Google Sheets alternative that not only lets you plan content, but schedule, respond, track and publish from one place, you’ll love ContentCal. Whether you’re a freelancer, agency, or part of an in-house team, there’s a plan to suit you.


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