Social media can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark for local business owners - believe us, we know. Although content marketing sometimes feels overwhelming, it is one of the most accessible tools for local businesses to promote products and services to an online audience.
Nowadays, people are more likely than ever before to find your business through social media channels. So, before they even see your website, they’re experiencing your brand on social media. Think of your content marketing as a virtual storefront for your business, giving your customers an online experience of your local storefront.
But in addition to running a business, the upkeep of a virtual storefront can be just as exhausting. The time, resources, mental willpower, to do content marketing can take up a big portion of your day, every day. But wait… There is a solution!
Developing a content calendar to implement your content strategy will completely revolutionize your approach to online marketing.
What Is a Content Calendar?
Your content includes anything from images, videos, stories, emails, blogs, and ads that you share online to build your virtual storefront. A content calendar takes all these essential elements of your engagement and transforms them into a calendar that tells you what to share, when to share it and where you will share it for your business.
A typical content calendar will assess a two to six-month overview of your content and develop a strategic implementation of the content to make your life easier. A content calendar will become a central tool in your marketing tool kit when it's done right.
Attracting customers is essential to successfully operating any local business, whether you run a restaurant, pet shop, or novelty comic bookstore. A content calendar can revolutionize your content marketing, saving you time, effort, money, and willpower.
Now, a content calendar may sound like a lot of time and effort that you don’t have to invest at this moment. But it actually makes creating content more straightforward while increasing the effectiveness of your outreach.
Why Should Every Local Business Be Using a Content Calendar?
There are, of course, many benefits to local businesses creating and using content plans, so let’s find out more.
- Square Up Your Marketing. Keeping track of your marketing strategy can be exhausting on top of your day-to-day job. Emails, blogs, social media posts, and more must be cohesive to achieve positive results for your business. Creating an entire overview with a content calendar means a few things for your business.
- Content that is more consistent in quality and easier to produce.
- It is simpler to develop content that overlaps, saving you time and guesswork on effective strategies.
Struggling to brainstorm ideas? Use SEMrush to spy on your competitors. The tool offers a wealth of other content-generating ideas, but sometimes it's easiest to garner inspiration from other businesses in your niche.
Of course, don’t go and steal their content word for word. But when you’re struggling for ideas on ways you can engage the same audience there’s nothing wrong with using the same strategies if they work.
- Get Organized and Save Time. Set aside one to two days to plan your content marketing content in bulk for the next 2-6 months. Once it’s planned out, the rest of the time you just have to make sure you’re following the same strategy making tweaks here & there when needed. A content calendar gives you a better perspective on the overall strategy you have for your business and helps you implement it with an organized approach.
- Automate Everything. With content creation out of the way, you can use any automation tool to schedule when your social media should be posted and where it should be posted. Automation is a saving grace for a local business, which can’t happen when you're trying to film a random reel every day to post at the last minute.
With a good content calendar that has thought out every detail beforehand, it is so much easier to consistently post good content because the thinking is already done for you. In a small business, you’re likely acting as the HR manager, the face of the business, the IT guy, and the marketing guru every single day. Having one less job to do on a daily basis is a massive plus in making a local business thrive.
There are a number of automation tools. Hootsuite is one of these useful marketing tools that can automate across several platforms. And it also comes with a built-in monitoring feature that enables you to monitor stats across platforms. Social Pilot, ContentStudio and BuzzSumo are other great tools to consider using to automate your content planner.
- Stay Consistent. You could be posting the most engaging and wow-worthy social media posts and content. But posting irregularly with great content lacks the impact your online marketing needs to be effective. Content marketing is most impactful when there is reliable engagement from a local business’s audience. Irregular posts create an out-of-sight, out-of-mind feeling for your audience, which ultimately crashes the effectiveness of content, even if it is good. A content calendar can change this.
- Track the Data. While it may not always be the first priority, using a content calendar allows you to easily track your data. Content should continuously improve on itself, and when you can clearly see what resonates with your audience, you can easily make tweaks to your strategy. Information and numbers remove the guesswork from content marketing and social media while you see results in your business.
What Does A Content Calendar Include?
Now that you know the what, let’s jump into the how of creating a content calendar. Here’s a general guideline for figuring out what works the best for your business.
First things first, give your content a once over and audit everything. You can see your audience, what campaigns and posts are your best performers, and where there are gaps in your content strategy.
Your next step is to define goals from the information you gathered. Do you want to produce new leads? Direct readers to your website? Grow your number of Facebook followers? Setting out with a goal to work backward from will help you brainstorm better content more efficiently and quickly.
Next, you are going to create a template for your content calendar. Google Sheets is a free and straightforward tool to use. You’re going to decide on blog posts, social media platforms, and other forms of engagement that work well for your local business.
Don’t like the idea of using Google Sheets? HubSpot offers a free downloadable template for excel that will make planning your content planner smooth and breezy. Trello is a content planning platform that offers a free option to help you content plan like the boss you are.
It can be easier to develop a content calendar for one to two months to work out any bugs and keep on improving. With the important dates penciled in, fill in the gaps with a mixture of content that creates consistency for your small business.
Feeling a bit stretched thin to fill in all the gaps? Schedule in evergreen and prior content that is still relevant to your business. Unleash your creativity and invest some time into building your virtual storefront.
Facebook’s (now Meta) resources section has free and accessible resources that lay out all the aspects of planning and setting up a great content calendar in spectacular details. Go check it out!
By utilizing some of the strategies and resources mentioned in this article you will save time, money, and effort by developing a content calendar that works for your local business. This will be a game-changer for local business owners who are doing content marketing in-house.
So, what are you waiting for? Instead of just shooting from the hip each week on social media, it's time to implement a content calendar to ensure you’re reaching and engaging with as much of your audience as you can.
By Tabitha Jean Naylor
Keywords: Business Strategy, Management, Marketing