5 Steps to ContentCal Mastery: Step 1 - Creating the Perfect Content Plan
Welcome to step one of our five part series to ContentCal mastery. In this guide, we cover how to create the perfect content plan using ContentCal, including an overview of all of the available features and how you can use them to create that perfect content plan.
Let's begin with the main content calendar interface. Here, you can map out all of your content, and not just across your social media channels - it works across all of your content channels from emails and blogs to newsletters and everything else.
You can create as many of these as you need using the custom planning channels (which you can create in the setup section). This is a really important step because it helps to ensure that all your narratives are aligned, not just across social media but across all of your relevant channels.
When it comes to thinking of the narratives, a really important step in the process involves using category tags. Category tags help make sure that all your objectives and narratives are aligned across each of your channels, using colour codes as a really simple reference guide. The colour code system helps you better see what you have happening this week and what’s happening across all of your content channels.
There’s also a second colour code structure as well. As you can see from our example, you’ll have some in blue, and some in green.
Anything with a blue line at the top denotes that it's a draft. Drafts are really powerful because if you know the date and time you want to get something out but you don't quite know what you want to say, you can use these drafts as placeholders in the content calendar so you can start to create the perfect high level content plan, even when you haven't yet defined exactly what you're going to say.
Drafts can be sent through the approval workflow simply by pressing the blue arrow seen below. Approval workflows can be defined by going into the Members & Approvals section, where you will find a hierarchy relating to who can sign off content and in which order.
These approval processes are optional but it does really help to get additional eyes on your content - that's the thing that fosters collaboration and ensures great content.
Any post that you've created can be commented on, which again encourages collaboration and communication between your team. By clicking on one of your posts, you'll see a comment thread section for internal discussions where you can mention/tag your colleagues and bring them into the conversation. Let's face it, the best content is always created together.
Up until this point we’ve focused on the content calendar and thought about content in a very channel specific way, but at times you'll want to create a content plan that does a bit more than that.
Channel notes live just above the main content calendar and the main channels. They are a really nice way to define your daily objectives (that could be a certain product launch, or a national day that you want to link your business into). This feature helps you define those daily objectives that are independent of the channel.
For example, you may have a social media roundup happening and you want to make sure it’s happening across all of your social channels as well as your email channels. You can use these notes as a way to define what's happening across all of your channels, so it’s more high-level than the channel specific content that we previously discussed.
While that feature is useful for a day or a moment in time, quite often you'll want to think about your long-term strategies which is where the campaign section comes into play. Here, you can set up your more traditional campaigns (i.e, activities that span a defined period of time).
Looking at this COVID-19 response plan here, we’re introduced to the objectives and the tone-of-voice guidelines that everyone in the team needs to be aware of. This can be really powerful over a period of time and can give you complete clarity around what needs to be done.
At the absolute highest level, you may want to think about overall strategies and long-term goals, and the content calendar note section is ideal for this. This function lives right at the top, and with it, you can link a strategy document or maybe details of your specific objectives or goals.
The content calendar note section is independent of any timeframe at all so is best suited to the highest of high-level objectives.
These tools within ContentCal are incredibly useful for bringing the perfect content plan to life, but quite often you're going to need to utilize research from other tools as well to help inform this content plan - here we have highlighted four of the best tools to support your content plan.
Let's start with Answer The Public. This tool is useful to look at the context of your customers’ searches and understand what they are interested in and what most importantly they are specifically searching for.
You put in a search term relevant to your brand and it brings back all of the queries being entered online around that term. It’s incredibly powerful - all you do is pop in a keyword and you’ll get a whole range of related terms that people have been searching for information around. The best bit is you can easily export your results to excel and upload it into one of the ContentCal campaign folders.
You can also use the campaign folders as a kind of ‘content ideas bucket’. You could store a year's worth of inspiration that you can always go back to for inspiration and to create new content further down the line.
Ubersuggest is a fantastic tool for carrying out keyword research. It looks at search volumes around a term as well as which keywords may work best for you.
Ubersuggest is great for content idea inspiration. With it, you can view the most popular articles for a specific keyword, find inspiration to create your own piece of content and also look at the post itself which we are going to do now.
One of the best ways to get the most out of Ubersuggest is using the ContentCal Chrome extension we call Web Clipper (which you can download from Google Chrome for free). By selecting that Google Chrome extension you can send your findings from Ubersuggest - as well as any other online content you find inspiring - straight to the content hub.
This serves as a great segue into the content hub, a fantastic tool for content planning.
This is a great tool for research, and whereas the other tools are great for pulling in ideas as well as supporting the ideation process, this tool ensures that your ideas get the best amount of reach as possible.
A way of achieving this is with solid hashtag research. On displaypurposes.com, what you can do is put in your search terms (pull them from Answer The Public for maximum results) and the tool will pull back all of the most relevant and popular hashtags around those terms which you can simply send to your library using the brilliant Web Clipper function.
Buzzsumo can be used for all kinds of keyword research, and it’s also good for looking at a search’s most popular articles (a bit like Ubersuggest). Not only that, it’s especially useful if you want to understand the influences of your audience.
Buzzsumo is great when you’re looking at a single term and the follower counts of those who talk about it. Once you’ve found some social profiles that either influence or form part of your audience, you can save them to your library.
This is a great way to form collaborative relationships using social media rather than it just being an open medium.
You can use the hashtags found earlier with displaypurposes.com and tag those individual profiles found with Buzzsumo. You can also use the category tags in ContentCal to make sure that you’re sending out the right content theme.
Up until now we've spoken about everything that exists within the content calendar and the different ways that you can start to build that content plan.
However, quite often you have lots of ideas from your team and that inspiration needs to live somewhere. It makes so much sense to have a central repository for all of those ideas to be organized in, and that's what the content hub is for.
Specifically the library section of the content hub is really useful for that. It’s a place to store content inspiration and you can put in your own ideas too.
You've now gone through the full cycle of doing research and then building out the perfect content plan using all of the features and functions that exist within ContentCal to pull everything together.
Now the final step, and as with most things in life, we’re all about results. By using the analytics tool within ContentCal, you can start to look at how your channels have been impacted by the content you've put out. Review what has gone well, and tweak the things that could’ve done better.
One of the best things about ContentCal is how you can reshare content for future posting. Of course, we don't advocate you resharing the same content again and again, but we do advocate you learning from your previous successes!
So, there you have it: the perfect content plan for your business. Want to put your skills into action? Join ContentCal Academy, our new, FREE learning space packed courses on all areas of content marketing. Sign up now!Social media strategy examples form your favorite brands
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