By: Caleb Gremmer
I’m a content creator that’s never gone viral. It may sound shocking to some, but it’s actually very common. Would I love to go viral? Of course! I don’t care what the content is, either, I just want to be able to say I’ve gone viral. In order to do so, it takes a lot of planning.
As a content creator, admitting this is an unrealistic desire might sound dangerous. But, it really speaks to what seems to be a common misconception about content marketing: Content and social media marketing programs are driven by widely viewed and shared posts.
In reality, few things truly go viral – a term which causes me, and I’m sure others, physical pain. For that to happen, a perfect combination of content, audience, timing and availability has to come together. It does happen, but it is rare.
The truth is, content marketing isn’t hitting home runs; it’s getting base hits. It isn’t playing the lottery; it is maxing out your 401k. It isn’t starving yourself to lose weight; it is sticking with grilled chicken and vegetables.
Like each of those comparisons, content and social media marketing require consistency to work especially since these marketing programs are driven by widely viewed and shared posts. Releasing one great piece of content to the world every few months and hoping for miraculous results will do basically nothing to build an audience. It will also do very little for brand awareness – if that’s what your more interested in – since your name is only getting out there sparingly. And, even if you do start to get traction but enter your busy season and forget to keep up with it, all that progress will be lost.
So how do you plan and make sure you’re on the right track of becoming viral? Create a content calendar.
Why is a calendar important?
A side effect of working without a plan is wearing people out. Quality content takes time. If you’re randomly releasing substandard content, your burning out your readers. It also puts stress on your content creation team. Deciding last minute that something must be released today forces those in charge of developing it to release something that might be just good enough, instead of great.
Once you have the system in place, however, you can evolve your content creation and distribution process. Instead of developing content and blasting it out whenever it’s ready, you can start working ahead. This should greatly improve the quality of your content. It should also allow you, your content team and your followers to breathe a little.
How is a calendar created?
Building a calendar will help you start to deliver quality content consistently. It will make your posts premeditated and allow you to do some analytic testing, if you’d like. And, getting started is as easy as finding a system that works for you.
If you’re not up to paying for a tool, utilizing Google Calendar is a great option. You can create a separate calendar with alerts to remind you when it is time to post. With Google Calendar, you can also quickly compare your social calendar with dates of holidays and other events important to your business.
Whichever path you choose, set down a plan and stick to it.
How is a calendar manager?
Organizing your calendar by social media outlet is a great way to make sure you are properly distributing across all channels. With that said, they are not equal. What plays on one will frustrate users of another. Luckily, there are a few standard suggestions for what and how much you should be posting on each network.
A while back Constant Contact put together a great infographic for this exact topic and it can serve as a guideline for you calendar. Though, every industry is different and you may find different things work for you. They suggest:
Facebook is obviously the standard at this point. Its posting algorithms change frequently (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-algorithm-changes-up-your-news-feed-again/) but sticking to this post amount will help keep you out in front of your desired audience without overwhelming them.
Twitter is essentially a free-for-all still. Users there are accustomed to people they follow posting consistently and often with an uncapped quantity. Quality is always important but if ever there was a place where quantity can take over for a while, it is Twitter.
LinkedIn wasn’t always a significant player in the content game but it has been gaining ground. The professional tone usually means the content will be less conversational and more informative but that doesn’t mean it has to be overly heavy. Since it is a place where less sharing happens, it can be easy to overrun users.
While Google’s answer to Facebook never really took off the way they were hoping, it is still a valuable tool for content creators. They’ve made some nice style updates and it is easy to entice readers with their clean layout. As an added bonus, saying active on Google+ can help boost some SEO for company’s site.
Pinterest’s format allows users to quickly scroll and consume images and information. While this is great for users, it means you have to be diligent in your posting to be noticed. Keep your post volume high to make sure you cut through the clutter.
Remember, posts can be fun and conversational, but they should all have intent. Pull people in from different departments and brainstorm. Capture a wide range of ideas and then turn them into compelling content.
That’s it – it really is that simple. With the tips provided, you’ll be on your way to the best content calendar yet! Keep at it and maybe one of your postings- will go viral! If not, trust that your content calendar is working to keep your message fresh and consistent.
Caleb is a communications graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington, with a focus on journalism. Caleb has worked in a variety of fields including journalism, geographical information systems and marketing.