You need a better content calendar

We have a content publishing problem

photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/robellisphotography/
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/robellisphotography/

Hey you there.  The one with the combination of WordPress, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Twitter, Buffer, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Slideshare, Excel, Word, and a Google Docs mishmash of information ending in Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Apptentive and others. You and I have the same problem. We want to be better at what we love – publishing valuable content for audiences that appreciate it – and we want to measure it. We also want to know which content published by which person at which time was effective. And we need to do this without the compendium of technical knowledge and project management skill that it takes today to get this done.

Consider this exchange and you’ll get the idea of why this is difficult.

a conversation among community manager types on Facebook
a conversation among community manager types on Facebook

There has to be a better way

You need a better content calendar (and so do I.) You’d like to have the ability to make a campaign, syndicate information to multiple channels and to track analytics in the same place. You need to schedule this content for days or weeks or months in advance. You’ll need to do this for multiple authors and also have a big red STOP button to make this information cease when bad things happen in the world.

I send apologies in advance to those people think that content calendars and scheduled publishing is bad. I think that it’s better to publish live than schedule, and I also feel that it’s better to set ideas in advance and follow through on those ideas when you are trying to drive sustained, measurable success. So perhaps these two goals are at odds, and perhaps not. In the meanwhile, we all need a better content calendar than just dumping everything in a Google Spreadsheet.

There are good signs – when I asked this question on Twitter – I heard from Meshfire, Relaborate and Brightpod. I also asked a group of about 5400 community manager types and got some great answers. And I also got the feeling that there are few people out there who are managing the publishing of multiple content authors in multiple channels in multiple campaigns having a simple workflow for approval with the precision and information that they are using to manage their email marketing campaigns.

What does this mean overall? Two words: Market Opportunity. Someone needs to build a content calendar and management service for normal people that is as easy as managing your blog posts in WordPress. That service needs to handle scheduling, analytics, and content funnel management for multiple people and campaigns across multiple channels. If this service already exists, I’d love to know about it so that I can use it.

Content Marketing is really Product Love

photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntie/
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntie/

You’ve probably been to your competitor’s web site recently and reviewed the content they are sharing for first-time and seasoned customers. And have you been to your own Support Site recently to do the same? There are a few things that you can do to make that support experience better for customers, starting with making the content they read better. You can also did a little deeper and seek to understand the searches they make that currently get no results. And you can also think more purposefully about what it means to make a product that people really love (not a product that people like and tolerate.)

Start By Making the Content Better

Ok, so you’ve heard this part before. Find the top ten articles that people actually use (Google Analytics is a great way to find this out, or the stats over the last 90-180 days on your blog if you don’t have a more advanced option) and make a list out of them. Now, read them with a new eye while asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Why would someone use this article?
  • What would they hope to learn after they had finished reading the article?
  • Are there any statements here that are out of date or just plain wrong?

Now that you’ve read the top ten articles that people are using, you should rewrite them. Consider this a freshening of your content calendar and something you should strive to do quarterly. More frequent updates are probably not relevant, and if you’re not checking what people are reading in your content every quarter, you should be checking more often.

What if I don’t want to rewrite content that’s already there?

It’s a fair point to say that you’d rather not reinvent the wheel. When you wrote this content, it seemed like it made sense, and now it’s still mostly right. Fine – now write the content that your visitors are searching for and can’t find. Again, Google Analytics can help with this, or a simple review of the search traffic against your site.

Imagine that you can write content that beautifully answers the question your customer (or visitor) is asking even before they arrive at your destination. Wouldn’t that be … awesome? If you can make the unwritten article that answers your question one of your top ten most visited pieces of content, you probably plugged a major hole in your content, marketing, or sales funnel. So what’s not there (yet) that people are looking to learn from your product or service (or from you)?

photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/90155419@N00/
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/90155419@N00/

All you need is love.

Well, not the Lennon and McCartney kind – though that is pretty catchy – rather, the kind of instant realization and definition of what it means to love your product. Whatever that is, you should do more of that. You can write this definition by answering more questions like:

  • What do people like to do with your product or service?
  • What are the things that make them say, “Wow, that’s perfect”?
  • And how can you do more of that?

If no one says awesome things about your product, maybe you should rethink your product. The core of creating an amazing experience for a customer is providing a solution for the problem they don’t even know they have yet, and nailing the pain points that solve the problems they already know that they have. If you can do that in a way that also is friendly, concise, and accurate, you might have a home run.

You can find 47 other ways to improve the customer experience here.

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