Content planning strategies are long-term timelines for creating, publishing, and managing content. As you build an overarching plan for your brand — whether it’s a boutique clothing line or an innovative startup — you’ll need to plot out a crafty campaign for future blog posts, social media updates, and shareable videos.

Creating and sharing compelling content is the best way to establish a web presence. Where, when, and how you share this content makes a big difference in how customers receive your brand. Below we’ve outlined four basic streps for designing a smart content plan that captures an audience and engages them with original work.

Identify Holidays for Marketing Potential

mountain village with hot air balloon vector
Image by theromb

Themed content is successful because it provides a narrative blueprint for your messaging. Keep holidays in mind when drafting a content plan: Holidays are one of the greatest sources of themed content because they come packaged with distinct symbols and narratives that are recognized across many audiences. Don’t stop your scheduling at the big holidays, like Christmas — there are 365 days in a year, and every single one has some kind of holiday, quirky celebration, or commemorative event attached to it. Even better, these holidays often trend on Twitter and other social platforms, where brands and individuals alike take advantage of the collective experience. The change in seasons is another collective experience to create content around.

For holiday marketing inspiration, look no further than Coca-Cola, the master of holiday branding. Their iconic and sentimental cartoons about polar bears at the North Pole have been running for over 20 years, creating a permanent link between Coke and Christmas.

Look at Previous Content Wins

man working with data vector
Image by theromb

Any content you plot on a long-term timeline should be designed for your target audience, with a few finely honed categories, topics, and keywords that strike at the heart of your mission.

Analyze past successes to see which elements are worth including in future efforts. The metrics that determine a successful piece of content depend on the content goals. Social shares are a strong indicator of brand awareness, but do nothing for revenue, for example. These goals would be measured better by purchases from an online store or free trial signups.

Looking at previous wins is not about duplicating content, but rather about discovering overarching trends and ideating unique content based on these trends. For instance, If you’re an energy drink company, it’s wise to invest in extreme sports content if your audience goes crazy over a video of professional surfers riding waves in Malibu. By looking back at your popular content, you can understand your audience better, allowing you to confidently create content that satisfies.

Put Promotion in Place

search seo data vector
Image by theromb

Your content strategy is incomplete without a promotion plan of attack. Separate from content creation, promotion is a method that drives initial traffic and helps to create viral results.

Keywords are your best friend when it comes to promotion. First, you’ll need to select a keyword phrase that best reflects the content and also has the highest number of monthly searches — use Google’s Keyword Planner to research monthly search volume. While there’s no official keyword formula, there are some tried and true methods: Include the phrase in the headline and the first and last paragraphs, as well as in your title, alt tags, and meta descriptions. Be sure not to saturate the article with your chosen keyword — this can actually hurt your SEO ranking.

Before posting the content, optimize your page for sharing with strategically placed social media buttons and images that drive an authentic, meaningful customer experience.

Finally, it’s important to post new content at the right time of day, as every audience’s web-surfing habits are different, and each social media platform has its own traffic characteristics. Twitter is exploding with content in the morning and afternoon, whereas Tumblr’s nocturnal feed is somewhat quiet until evening hours roll around.

Create a Content Calendar

colorful blocks abstract vector
Image by theromb

Identifying holidays, analyzing past content, and scheduling according to platform traffic insights are all key steps in creating a content calendar.  A content calendar will be your greatest organizational asset, as it gives you a daily, weekly, and monthly view of your content schedule. Staying ahead of your calendar and scheduling one or two months in advance will help you monitor your workflow and avoid overlap, while also uncovering opportunities for larger campaigns.

Your calendar can also be shared company-wide so that other departments can see upcoming content — maybe there’s something they want to contribute to or piggyback off of. Consider syncing up with your sales team to understand their sales cycle and adapt your calendar accordingly. Find out how often they reach out to repeat customers so you can tailor the weekly content schedule.

Every market is different, so we recommend crafting your own blend of blogs, videos, infographics, and social media posts. After a few months of calendar planning, you’ll have a much better handle on not only your audience’s needs and personality quirks, but also on your own internal workflow and productivity.

Top image by theromb