How do I develop a cohesive content calendar?

Developing cohesion in your message, across a variety of platforms, is key to driving customer engagement. From blogging to your social media marketing, make sure your message is on target by following these easy steps.

Decide what to be known for

First, start with your brand and the image you want to portray. Is it funny, happy, inspiring? Choose how you want your brand to be described and what you want it to stand for.

For Island Traders Clothing, the brand is fun, youthful, and beachy. The brand should be known for it's ease of style, wear-ability, and travel-ability. The content I look for falls into several categories that align with these adjectives, including boho, travel, beaches, and plus size.

If you're looking to re-invent what your brand is known for, think about something very specific you want it to mean. Overreaching your brand image by being associated with too many things can turn its image into one that doesn't stand for anything.

Know where are your target customers

Know who is your market and decide what ways are you going to reach them. Start by having an idea of who is on the top social media platforms. By starting here, you can eliminate using channels that don't make sense.

For example, I would not advertise or promote a primarily female brand or product on Google Plus since it is primarily a male audience. If you have plenty of time and resources, you may feel inclined to add more channels, but think about what type of investment you are willing to make in each one and the likely return. By focusing on the channels that your core audience already engages with, it will be easier to gain followers and engagement.

Big Idea

What is the big idea that holds all of your content together? It may take some time to brainstorm but the big idea is an important part of the process because it helps formalize your content buckets into a specific message. If the message is going to be uniform across channels, it's important to define the big idea up front.

For Nike, it's the idea that anyone can be an athlete or "Just do it." The idea informs every piece of collateral they create, from commercials to billboards. If you're looking for inspiration, check out Ad Age's top campaigns of the century.

Develop and curate content

Mix your channels with found and created content. Created content can support your brand and the image you want it to have in the market. Curated content will help people use your channel as a resource. According to a social media study from Rutgers, informers (people that provide information) outperform meformers (people mostly posting about themselves) on social media.

While it differs per social media platform, think about having around a 50/50 split of information promoting yourself and related information that your audience cares about. By creating a resource, instead of a shout-out page for your brand, people are likely to find more value in the channel you manage and engage with it more.

All of the content chosen, from articles or posts from others on social media, should still reinforce your brand image.

Clever captioning

Use all of your character space wisely. Your captions should be memorable and reinforce the overall message behind your brand. Using this space to your advantage will drive engagement, especially if you don't forget a call to action.

Each segment and platform is unique, so tailor each post to a social media channel rather than mass posting. Also, take advantage of hashtags on the relevant platforms. They can help your message sound more interesting and allow people to find your content.

Scheduling posts and content

Study your target audience and know what generally works best for each channel. You can start with a general schedule recommendation, like later at night for Instagram, while you build an audience. As the customers and people engaging with your brand grows, you can customize the schedule of posts per channel to best suit your desired audience.

A content calendar for each of your channels will help ensure that your communications are completed on the necessary channels and can help plan out timing. This way, your content reaches your audience when they need to hear about it, and in the ways they want.

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