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How ContentCal’s Custom Planning Channels turn your calendar into a complete content marketing hub

Sophie Thompson
15th December 2020

According to a Hubspot survey, the average marketer spends 16 hours a week doing routine tasks. That’s a lot of time. And if you’ve ever found yourself in that scenario, you’ll definitely be able to relate to switching between a number of apps, spreadsheets, and approval emails just to get your social media content off the ground.

It’s also likely that your planning and creation process looks a little like this:

  • Plan your content for the month in an Excel spreadsheet (one for each channel, of course)
  • Email it across for approval
  • Get too many edits to count
  • Create your content
  • Individually schedule each piece of content across your platforms
  • Once it’s posted, lose the content forever

Frankly, too much work goes into marketing for us to just put out our content and then never hear from it again - and that’s exactly why we created ContentCal with that in mind.

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Planning Channels

If you’re a regular ContentCal user, you’ll probably already be familiar with our custom planning channels - and they’re one of the main reasons our customers love us so much.

They’re such a simple concept, but setting up a dedicated space for each of your channels (now including blogs, press releases and newsletters thanks to Articles), makes life not only more simple, but adds so much more functionality to planning content.

ArticlesPlanningChannels

By using Planning Channels, you have a much more visual look at your content marketing plan. You can clearly see any key events coming up that day that you may need to tailor your content around (e.g. Christmas or a national day, download our 2021 key dates calendar if you haven’t got these in already), and you can see what content is already in there, or how you may need to tailor your messaging to reflect this. Time to say goodbye to those Excel spreadsheets!

Planning Channels, hence the name, are also a great place to drop in notes, ideas, or draft thoughts you may have about a particular day or campaign and come back to at a later date.

If you’re running the same piece of content across multiple channels, it’s also super easy to select some or all of them at once. So there’s no switching apps or copying and pasting involved.

Even if you're not quite ready to go into the nitty-gritty details of your upcoming content, it's definitely worth creating an 'ideas' Planing Channel to keep any notes or updates on a project you're working on.

It also makes it easier for the person responsible for signing content off. Once you’ve submitted for approval, they’ll also be one click away from approving your content, which can then be auto-published if you’ve already set up a go-live date and time.

Another method that’s commonly used by marketers to plan content is with the humble pen and paper.

A more old-school approach to marketing, the pen and paper is still used far more commonly than you might think.

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Scribbled notes, hand-drawn calendars and missing pieces aplenty, it’s almost a miracle that this is still a functional way of planning your content.

If having a calendar to hand is your thing, however, ContentCal’s visual approach to planning means that your account does complete with its own social media calendar, integrated with your planning channels.

Now, with a pen and paper you can't add imagery, videos, or make any detailed approach to your content, so is it really that sensible?

With ContentCal, you can drag and drop content you’ve stored in your library, or create ad-hoc. Either way, you’ll still be afforded the same approvals process, and saving yourself an awful lot of time.

How to create a Custom Planning Channel

Custom planning channels

You can create a Planning Channel by visiting the Setup area from within the 'Publish' section.

Scroll down to the Custom Planning Channel area and select '+ New Channel'. Select an icon and icon color for this channel. This is how you will recognize the channel within your Calendar.

You will also need to choose a text-editor for your Custom Planning Channel. You can choose between the 'Simple' text-editor (this is the text-editor you would use for social posts) or the 'Rich Text' text-editor (best for long-form content that needs text formatting, like blogs or emails).

Your chosen text-editor type will apply to every post within this channel. If you select the 'Simple' text-editor, you may switch this channel to the 'Rich Text' text-editor later on. If you select the 'Rich Text' text-editor, note that you can’t go back.

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Your content will continue to stay in your interface once it’s been published, which means you have easy access should you want to re-use it or come back to it at a later date.

And it’s not just social media that we specialize in. Now with our new feature, Articles, you can plan and create all of your long-form content from one place. That includes emails, press releases, and blog posts.

The great thing about using Articles, even just for planning or drafting any upcoming pieces you might have, is that there’s full collaboration available with the rest of your team. Just like with your social media content, you can set permission levels, allowing other users to edit, comment, or have read-only versions of your work.

Once you’ve got it off the ground, you can then leave it as a draft, or integrate it with your usual calendar ready for distribution to the world.

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