A content calendar, sometimes called an editorial calendar, is a key resource that marketers use to organize, schedule, and stay on top of content plans. Calendaring helps teams identify the right content for the right time, distribute it to the right channels, and share it with the right audience. In essence, it’s a visual representation of what content will be created and when.
A well designed and maintained content calendar helps your team brainstorm and execute projects more effectively and easily, while also giving stakeholders, cross-functional teams, and external partners clear visibility into your marketing roadmap.
What is a content calendar?
Think of your content calendar as your marketing source of truth. It helps you organize your team’s time, resources, and priorities around the production of assets, copy, and creative, and keep tabs on the final publication schedule.
Your calendar should include any type of content that you plan to publish, such as social media posts, promotional emails, announcements, partnerships, webinars, and evergreen content like blog posts and how-to guides.
What are the benefits of a content calendar?
If you’re new to content publishing, a full-blown content calendar might feel like overkill. But it’s important to build a marketing process and organization foundation early.
A content calendar is simple to set up and its benefits are enormous. It’ll help you collaborate, give visibility into team-wide strategy and planning, and provide a clear overview of schedules and activations across your entire marketing stack. Additional benefits include:
- Improved coordination and collaboration between teammates
A content calendar gives each collaborator and stakeholder visibility into what’s happening and when. It enables teammates to easily understand what work they’re responsible for, as well as review content that's going live, provide feedback, and make last minute changes.
- Easy identification of content opportunities… and prevention of content collisions
A visual calendar helps you see the bigger picture. Rather than seeing each channel in its own silo (a social media calendar, for example, can be limiting in this way), you can make connections between different mediums to get more out of your content. For example, would your social campaign also make for a great email? Can we repurpose this blog series into a sequence of Twitter threads? Should we syndicate this entire campaign to our influencer community?
On the flip side, seeing your content plan visually also helps prevent content collisions, e.g. too many emails being sent for vastly different reasons might confuse and frustrate your subscribers.
- Increased efficiency
Instead of creating weekly or monthly presentations (for creative review, approval, etc.), a visual calendar dynamically updates when new content is added or changed. This reduces operational and communication overhead and leaves more time and headspace for the important work—the actual creative.
How to build an effective content calendar
There are a variety of tools available to power your content calendar: small teams can get started with a simple Google Sheet template, while larger teams would benefit from a more robust planning and collaboration platform like Plot. Here are a few important things to consider when building your calendar:
- Consistency and structure
What attributes are important for you to track across each piece of content in your calendar? Having a clear system and repeatable structure sets the best foundation for ongoing maintenance. For example:
Date and time
Copy and design assets
Links or hashtags
Goals and KPIs
- Process and permissions
Who can contribute to and edit the calendar? How do requests from other teams get triaged and added to the calendar? Who needs to approve creative before it goes live?
Any tool is only useful if the entire team commits to it, so it’s important to establish a process for keeping your calendar organized and up to date. A content calendar is your team’s single source of truth—it will quickly lose prominence if tasks are missing, incomplete, or out of date. Consider implementing a weekly or biweekly "cleaning" session for teams to review their schedules and make necessary updates.
Content calendars are powerful tools that help marketers like you plan, organize, and schedule content. With the right structure in place, they'll help your team collaborate, gain visibility into each other's planning, reduce operational overhead, and much more.
If you're looking for a tool to help your team get organized, give Plot a try. Our predesigned planning canvases and calendaring platform help you:
- Collaborate sync or async with your team (comment on threads, type together in real time, and tag teammates with questions)
- Visualize every channel together in one shared calendar
- Plan across different activation types, from lifecycle flows to brand campaigns
- Preview creative and messaging with true-to-life prototypes
- Store creative assets, images, videos, and more
- Get real-time feedback from stakeholders and collaborators
- Eliminate silos to ensure a consistent brand narrative