5 tips for creating the perfect content calendar
Whether we like it or not, our daily activities rely on a system of time. What, where, and how we spend each day depends on how much time we schedule for ourselves. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that timing is an important, if not crucial factor in driving citizen engagement. When and how often your agency produces and shares content is critical to achieving measurable results.
Like most public sector communicators, you probably have lots of content to coordinate and many different tools and channels to manage. So it’s important to make sure you have an editorial calendar that accurately reflects your agency’s communication goals.
But how do you design the perfect content calendar? The answer varies from agency to agency. And while every organization has a unique vision when it comes to how to best drive engagement, all public sector communicators share a common goal: to get the word out and encourage citizens to take action. Here are a few tips for building a content calendar that will help you get there:
- Identify a Content Theme
Whether it’s a social media post, blog entry, or email message, every piece of content you release must have a theme. Ask yourself: What is my goal for this piece of content? Maybe you want to craft a holiday themed post on social media to spark audience interest in a specific topic. Or perhaps you want to send a welcome message to new subscribers and a reengagement message to existing subscribers. No matter which medium you use to promote your content, it’s important to understand how your efforts fit into your agency’s overall communication strategy.
- Know Your Target Audience
Once you have identified a theme for each piece of content, it’s time to establish a target audience. Think about the impact you want your content to have. Which audiences need to see it in order to make that impact a reality? When you produce a piece of content, make sure you include language that speaks to your target audience. For example, if you are crafting a welcome message for new subscribers, you will want to design a subject line, headline, and email copy that aligns with your new audience’s interests. Remember that even the most creative and well-written content is only effective if it’s delivered to the right audience. By establishing a target audience right off the bat, you will be able to effectively measure the success of your communication.
- Choose a Date and Time
Whoever coined the term “Timing is everything” was onto something. In fact, many digital marketers argue that when and how often you post content is just as important as the content itself. That’s why when you create your content calendar, it is helpful to outline dates and times for all proposed communication. This will not only allow you to draw from engagement trends and best practices, it will also provide you with the opportunity to test which days and times your specific audience prefers to engage.
- Establish a Call to Action
In order to drive your audience to take a desired action, you will need to establish a specific call to action for each piece of content. When designing your calls to action, think about your end goal. What is the ultimate action you want your audience to take? Once you identify your ultimate call to action, you can begin to map out smaller calls to action that will help you reach your goal. For example, let’s assume you decide to create a campaign to promote an event. Ultimately, you want to drive people to attend this event. But in order to reach your end goal, you can create content that drives minimal actions. These smaller calls to action may include asking your audience to share event information on social media, register for the event online, or find out more information by reading about the event on your blog or website. By outlining your various calls to action at the beginning of each campaign, you will be well on your way to reaching your end goal.
- Determine Your Channels
Your content calendar is not complete until you have a clear sense of which channels you plan to use. After you establish a content goal and a target audience, you need to develop a media strategy. The way you write and promote your content depends heavily on which channels you have within your reach. For example, an email message will often contain different content than a social media post, and a tweet will read differently than a LinkedIn update. However, these different channels can also complement one another. Maybe you want to promote your social media channels in an email message. Or perhaps you decide to feature a blog in a Facebook post or tweet. Your communication channels play a vital role in your overall success, so it’s important to determine how you plan to incorporate them from the very beginning.
If you keep these tips in the back of your mind when you create your content calendar, you will be on the right track to increasing engagement and driving action. However, it’s important to realize that your content calendar is subject to change. After all, working in government requires an ability to adapt. Policies and initiatives are constantly revised and deadlines are often adjusted. But with a detailed content calendar to guide your communication efforts, you will have no problem navigating any and all changes that come your way!