Content Calendar Strategy
Roger Federer and a tennis racket. Ryan Lochte and a speedo. Content creators and a content calendar. If we had to pick a single tool critical to our game, it would definitely be a clear road map for our business blog over the weeks and months ahead. 86% of US consumers now consider blogs a reliable resource for medical advice, so it's a pretty good bet that the door is wide open to educate and persuade people using the web to research any industry. In order to stay organized and provide your readers with value and variety, we recommend that small businesses get started planning and organizing before drafting and publishing. Here are 13 epic ideas to make your content calendar explode with ingenious ideas:
1. Customer Questions
Why do people land on your business blog in the first place? To access information regarding a need they have for a product or service, of course. The concept of customer questions is really more of a litmus test for every piece of content you produce. Ask yourself if an idea has the potential to provide value. Make a habit of filling your content calendar with the help of your sales or customer service staff. Front-line employees often have the best insight into the pain points and objections that drive initial conversations with leads.
2. News Items
So, here's the thing with newsjacking: unless you're among the very first to cover a current event. you need to add some value to the dialogue. Add a unique take or intelligent analysis that can increase the opportunity for sharing, even if the reader has already read the basics from a news source. Our content on Twitter founders new social media network Medium wasn't even close to the first coverage when the site went live, but it got loads of traffic and social media shares because argued the network has the potential to be more democratic than elitist, unlike some other bloggers and journalists.
Content needs to have value to your market in order to generate social media shares or inbound links, and tutorials are a direct way to instruct your customers. Pick a topic that's small enough to be covered well in a single piece of content and figure out how to showcase the process creatively. How to Use Hashtags on Twitter? How to Make Organic Applesauce? Feel free to have fun with tutorials and make it easy to digest- balance text with screen shots, create a basic infographic or film a short video clip.
4. Customer Stories
Has your product really helped a customer out? Ask them if they're willing to be featured in content on your blog sharing their story. Customer stories and showcasing testimonials is one of the most likeable ways to be self-promotional.
5. Interviews With Experts
Expand your network and fill your content calendar by scheduling time to showcase the thoughts of some real experts, which could include the founders of an all-new social media network, small business owners, consultants or more. For extra points, record the interview via Skype or Go to Meeting, edit and distribute simultaneously via YouTube or Vimeo.
6. Video Content
Are videos the new infographics? Business writer Jim Kukral passionately argued for this idea in a recent Huffington Post piece that's gained a lot of steam in the inbound marketing community, and we're inclined to agree with him. Here's why: videos can comprehensively demonstrate and teach in a way that infographics can't. Consumers view YouTube as a source of education, which is why it's become the 2nd-largest search engine worldwide. Companies are learning quickly video can play a powerful role in an inbound marketing strategy - 79% of Fortune 100 companies have a branded YouTube channel, which is a 40% increase over 2011.
People love their content in a visual format, and infographics are easy to share and reference. In fact, infographics tend to generate 178% more inbound links that text articles. Feeling a little nervous about getting started producing infographics? They don't have to be especially complex - try something minimalist like a single photo explaining the difference between common frosting techniques. The following example is via food blog Our Best Bites.
Depending on your line of work, there's a really good chance that pricing will play a major role in customer purchase decisions. If information on produce or service costs isn't readily available to website visitors, they might bounce in favor of a competitors web page. You don't have to get too specific and you actually probably shouldn't in order to write something with evergreen value. Give ranges, ideas and knowledge about the financial aspect of your company's product.
9. Editorials and Controversial Content
Feeling a little steamed about trends, current events or changes in your industry? We don't recommend completely letting loose, but an intelligent, polite rant every once in a while will likely help visibility more than hurt your reputation. Our cranky content from early July titled Top Secret: Google+ Seriously Sucks is still being read and shared.
Marketing mastermind Marcus Sheridan once gave his suffering fiberglass pool business a serious boost in the midst of economic recession by writing about his competitors. With an awards post, he showcased best pool design and features in blog content. How did his competitors respond? They shared the content on social media and provided inbound links to Sheridan's blog on their own websites. The approach was controversial and nothing less than bold, but Sheridan claims web traffic to the content contributed is responsible for around $150,000.00 in sales.
Networking with other bloggers is a key towards gaining traction, social media exposure and opportunity for guest posts. Give some link love in weekly round-up posts and there's a chance you might receive some in return. As an extra bonus, if you make a habit of content curation by saving and annotating your favorites from your RSS feeds each day, drafting a weekly round-up post may be one of the quickest pieces of content you write all week.
12. A Description Of Your Awesome New TOFU
Have you recently written a free, special offer? Why not dedicate an entire piece of blog content to talking about the contents of the eBook and how they can provide value to the reader? It's totally easy, too - write a short introduction, pull out a list of bullet-points or a few really awesome tips from the TOFU and insert an eye-catching CTA. Voila!
13. How You Wrote Your Awesome New TOFU
If your business involves content marketing, share the wealth and explain exactly what worked for you and didn't work quite so well while you were pulling together the 3,000 word document and design. Writing a 600-800 word piece of content that generates inbound links a few times a week is one thing, but writing an eBook that's good enough to be socially shared, be talked about offline and increase your bottom line is entirely another.
What are some creative content ideas you've used in your content calendar recently?