Have you ever found yourself aimlessly creating content without a clear direction or purpose?
It’s time to take a step back and create a content plan. A content plan is essential in ensuring that your content is aligned with specific goals and objectives, helping you stay on track.
In this blog post, we will cover everything you need to know about creating a successful content plan, including why you need one, what information it should include, and the difference between a content strategy and a content plan.
We will also provide step-by-step guidance on how to customize your content plan based on your needs.
Additionally, we have included three types of sample scenarios of content plans for brand visibility, keyword rankings, and conversion-focused plans.
Lastly, we will provide some tips for executing your content plan successfully so that it aligns perfectly with your overall marketing goals.
What is a Content Plan?
A content plan is like a roadmap for your marketing efforts. It’s a document that lays out all the content and things you need for your social media strategy to work, including stuff like blogs, social media posts, research for making your website show up in search engines, and detailed papers on certain topics.
It’s like a guide to make sure you cover all the bases in your marketing journey, including increasing brand awareness through email marketing, social media marketing, newsletters, and other channels with the help of the marketing team.
What is a Social Media Content Plan?
The content planning process, also known as a social media content plan or social media content calendar, is what connects those big-picture documents to the day-to-day marketing work your team does, helping to meet your business goals.
The plan is designed to match up with the different steps in your marketing process, like making people aware of your product, getting them to think about it, convincing them to buy, and then keeping them as loyal customers.
Why Do You Need a Content Plan?
Having a content plan is crucial because content is a big deal in marketing.
When you have a plan, it makes it way easier for your team to work together on creating and putting out this content.
A good plan is like a crystal ball that helps you see ahead – it lets you figure out how to use your resources in the future. This way, you can avoid wasting time and money on things that aren’t needed. It’s like having a roadmap to keep everything on track.
What Information is Included in a Content Plan?
A content plan is like a guidebook for your content creators. It should give them all the info they need to make great content.
Here’s what it should include:
- Who it’s for: Your content needs an audience. The plan should clearly say who your content is for and how to make it interesting for them.
- How it will be delivered: Is it a blog post, an ad, a podcast, or something else? Different ways of sharing need different types of content.
- What problem it solves: Your audience has a problem, and your content should help solve it. The plan should show how your content fixes the issue and gets people to take action.
- How it will be created: Who’s making it? Is it someone on your team, or are you hiring a freelancer? Knowing this helps with budgets and getting things done.
- Any costs involved: Your plan should give a rough idea of how much it might cost. This could be payments to people working on it or fees for things like web development or research.
Depending on what you need, you might also include details like the tone of the content, how it should look, word limits, categories, and web addresses. It’s like giving your content creators a roadmap with all the details they need to make something awesome.
Different Types Of Content to Include
We talked about how each piece of content should fit into a certain part of your marketing plan.
Now, let’s break down each part and chat about the kinds of content that work well for each one.
This kind of content is for the beginning part of your marketing journey.
It’s all about letting people know you’re here and telling them what makes you special. This content should be easy for people to understand and share.
Some usual types of starting-out content are:
- Posts on social media.
- Content with lots of keywords to pop up in searches.
- Ads you pay for when people search for things.
- Blog posts that aren’t pushing sales too hard.
In the next step of the marketing journey, you’re taking care of potential customers, getting to know them, and making them trust you. Now, your content needs to be detailed and show proof that you have solutions.
Good types of content for this step are:
- Blogs that show you’re an expert.
- Comparisons between different things.
- Online sessions called webinars.
Now that you’ve got the person interested, it’s time to seal the deal and make the sale. The content here should explain why customers should pick your brand.
Some helpful types of content for this part are:
- Sales, promos, and coupons.
- Offers for consultations.
- Stories, articles, and detailed reports about successful cases.
Content Strategy Vs. Content Plan: What’s The Difference?
So even though people mix them up a lot, a content plan and a content strategy are not the same, but you need both for a successful marketing game.
Here’s the deal:
- Content Strategy: This is the big picture. It’s like the master plan that says how and why you’re going to use content in your marketing. It’s the ‘what and why‘ guide.
- Content Plan: Now, this is the nitty-gritty stuff. It’s about deciding ‘what, when, and where‘ you’re going to use different things like blogs, outreach, reports, etc. This is what you use to hit the goals you set in your content strategy. It’s like the detailed action plan.
So, your content strategy is the big idea, and your content plan is the step-by-step plan to make that big idea happen. Start with the strategy, then dive into the details with the plan. Both are crucial!
Creating Your Own Content Plan
Here is an example template of a monthly content plan during winters for a fitness brand:
Content Plan – January 2024
- Main theme/topic focus: Winter activities
- Secondary themes: New Year’s resolutions, healthy eating
- Blog Posts (2)
- Social Media Posts (12)
- Email Newsletter (1)
- YouTube Videos (1)
- Instagram Reels (2)
Week 1 (Jan 1 – Jan 7):
- Blog Post: “5 Winter Fitness Activities to Try This Season” (publish Jan 2)
- IG Reels: “My 2024 New Year’s Resolutions” (publish Jan 1)
- Email Newsletter: “New Year, New You” (send Jan 5)
Week 2 (Jan 8 – Jan 14):
- YouTube: “Winter Morning Routine” (film and publish Jan 10)
- IG Posts: share winter activity photos, quotes etc (3 posts)
Week 3 (Jan 15 – Jan 21):
- Blog Post: “10 Healthy Comfort Foods for Winter” (publish Jan 17)
- IG Reels: “Healthy Winter Meals” (publish Jan 19)
- IG Posts: share recipes, food photos etc (3 posts)
Week 4 (Jan 22 – Jan 31):
- IG Posts: share more winter photos, quotes, ideas (3 posts)
Customizing Your Content Plan
1. Determine Which Goal Each Piece Is Trying To Achieve
Trying to do everything for everyone is not a good plan. Think about the saying, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.”
This is extra true for marketing content.
Every piece of content you plan and make should have a clear goal.
As you’re working on your content plan, remember what you want to achieve with each piece. Make sure each bit of content fits into a specific part of your marketing plan.
2. Identify Where The Target Audience is
First, decide who you want to reach, and then find the best way to connect with them. After that, think about where to put each piece of content to make the biggest impact.
Remember, some types of content work better on certain platforms.
For instance, if you’re making a professional eBook, it’s likely to get more attention on LinkedIn than on Facebook. Consider where your content fits best!
3. Take Your Budget Into Account
When deciding when to make and share specific content, think about your budget.
For instance, if you have a big tradeshow in August that needs a lot of time and money, it might not be the best idea to take on expensive content projects in June and July.
The good thing about a content plan is it shows you what’s going on now and what’s coming up. Use that info wisely!
4. Determine A Cadence
Building trust and getting more people interested in what you do means regularly sharing new stuff.
But there’s no set number for how often you should do this – it’s up to you and what your audience likes.
Look at your schedule and see how much time you can spend on making and sharing content.
Think about what your audience wants – how often would they like to hear from you?
Also, think about your goals. If you’re trying to get more people interested, you might need to share more often than if you’re just trying to keep your current customers happy.
5. Create A Flow
You should have a clear way of making content.
This plan should say who does what, who’s part of each step, and how things move from one person or group to the next.
Lots of groups find it helpful to use colors to organize things at this point.
Types of content plans with sample scenarios
Now, let’s check out three kinds of content plans and see some examples depending on how much money you have to spend.
For Brand Visibility
When you want more people to know about your brand, there’s a smart plan that uses three main strategies: blogging, social media, and guest blogging.
- Blogging: This is key for making your brand look like a reliable source of info in your field.
- Social Media: Since a lot of folks spend time on social platforms, it’s smart for brands to be there too. It helps your target audience find you easily.
- Guest Blogging: This is like teaming up with other websites to get your brand out there. It brings more people to your website through links from those sites. It’s a cool way to boost your brand’s visibility and authority.
Scenario: You’re a new startup clothing brand trying to get more awareness. You create blog posts about your design philosophy and manufacturing process. You share posts on Instagram showcasing your new collections. You write guest posts for fashion blogs about emerging brands.
For Keyword Rankings
Talking about those helpful backlinks, the guest posts you make can really boost where your website shows up in online searches.
Google and other search engines look at the links that point to a page to decide if it’s good enough to show up in search results. The more good-quality links you have, the higher your chances of showing up.
And for a successful SEO content plan, you need to do a few things:
- Keyword Research: Figure out the words people use when they search.
- Content Optimization: Make sure your content is set up to be found easily.
- Link Building: Get those good backlinks.
- Analytics: Keep an eye on how things are going.
In an SEO-focused content plan, each piece of content is made with your website’s structure in mind.
Many folks do this by creating a topic cluster, which is a bunch of connected posts about smaller topics, all linked together through one main post that talks about the bigger topic.
It’s like making a web of useful information that Google likes for search engine optimization and social channels. Make sure all the social content you create aligns with your brand voice, values, and personality.
This way, you can present a uniform business perception on all marketing channels and optimize your social strategy for organic traffic and distribution channels.
Scenario: You have an online shop selling hiking gear. You do keyword research and find terms like “best hiking backpack” have high search volume. You create a “best hiking backpacks” guide optimized for those keywords. You build links to it from relevant outdoor sites. You track search rankings weekly.
When you’re making a plan to get people to buy your stuff, look really closely at how customers go through the whole buying process.
Think of it like a journey they take. There are different parts of this journey, like when they first know about your thing (awareness), when they start really thinking about it (interest), when they’re deciding if they want it (consideration), and finally, when they actually get it (action).
In your plan, make sure you give them the right kind of info for each part:
- Awareness: Stuff like curated content, blog posts, social media, and what’s on your website.
- Interest: Things like real stories, product comparisons, how-to guides, and what other people say about your stuff.
- Consideration: This is where you might have special pages on your website, surveys, things to download, emails, and online sessions.
- Action: When they’re ready to buy, show them demos, offer free trials, and give special deals.
Scenario: You sell project management software. You create an ebook about productivity tips for awareness. You have webinars comparing features of top PM tools for interest. You offer a free trial with explainer videos for consideration. You provide coupon codes for first purchase for action.
Remember, this is just one way to plan it. In real life, this plan might be more complicated with different types of customers, different reasons they want your stuff, and different ways they find out about it.
What questions should you ask when executing a content plan to fulfill a content strategy?
Your content plan can be as complicated or simple as you want. The important thing is to hit your content goals.
To help you figure out how to make your plan, here are some questions to think about:
What are your Goals?
Think about why you want a content plan.
Are you trying to get more people interested, or do you just want more folks to know about your brand? Maybe you’re aiming to sell a lot more?
Knowing your goals for your content strategy helps you figure out how to make your content plan.
Your goals guide you on what kinds of content to make, where to share it, and how to get more people to see it.
How does SEO factor into the greater picture?
You likely have a list of the main words and phrases you want your website to show up for. Great!
But when you’re making a content plan, it’s time to get more detailed. Each piece of content needs to be set up just right for online searches and the kind of questions people have.
Consider what questions people might have about your product or service. Is your content answering those questions well?
Think about the words folks use when they’re searching for what you offer, and make sure your content uses those words. It’s like making sure your content is speaking the same language as your potential customers.
Does your content plan fit your current needs?
Every six months to a year, check the words on your website to keep up with what’s popular and how people are engaging with content.
Ever thought about adding trendy words that let you connect with a specific group of people?
And have you looked at what words your competitors are using?
By keeping an eye on this regularly, you make sure your content plan matches up with what you want to achieve. It’s like making sure your words stay fresh and relevant.
How are you approaching on-site and off-site content?
Just posting on your company blog isn’t all there is to it.
Make content for other websites linked to your company, those connected to your main parent company, or for top-notch publications in your industry that are super popular on search engines.
To boost your visibility on other websites and get more people clicking to your site, make sure you’re getting your name out there with articles and mentions beyond just your own website. It’s like expanding your reach and getting more people to notice you.
Is the content segmented in a way that aligns with your strategy?
Think about what your readers are going through when you’re thinking of what to write about. Some things work better at different times in their journey.
For instance, how-to guides and news articles are great when people are just getting to know your stuff. But when they’re deciding if they want it, things like real stories, reviews, and what others say can really help.
And don’t forget to tell your content writers who your ideal customer is. That way, what they create matches up with what you’re trying to do. It’s like making sure your content fits right into your plan.
Some Other Content Planning Tips
Now that you have your content plan template and made it fit your needs, it’s almost time to start planning and making your content—almost.
But before you dive in and start figuring out every single thing you’re going to use in the next year, here are a few last things to keep in mind:
In spreadsheets, you can use colors to quickly see info about each piece of content.
You should be able to easily tell where a piece is in the making, which platforms it’s for, and how it fits into your marketing plan. It’s like giving each piece of content a quick visual tag.
Don’t Forget About SEO
Many people will find you online, so it’s super important to help them discover your stuff. When you create things like blogs or videos online, always think about how to make them show up easily in searches.
Check out what words people use when they search, and try to use those words in your content. Make sure your content matches what people are looking for and adds something valuable.
Feel free to get ideas from pages that are already doing well in searches for the words you want. But remember, get inspired, don’t copy. Your content should always be your own original work.
Consider Each Channel Separately
Every place you share your content has its own goals. Always think about these goals when deciding where to put your stuff.
But, keep an eye out for chances to use the same thing in different places. If sharing a link to a blog post on four different social media sites gets people interested, go for it!
Keep An Idea File
Good content ideas can pop up anywhere, even when you’re not thinking about them. Try adding a new section to your content plan where you can jot down ideas for later.
Start with keywords to get your ideas flowing. Check out what other brands are doing – maybe you can try something similar?
Even if you have a funny or not-so-serious idea, put it down. It might spark something cool for someone else.
Remember, the idea file is all about getting lots of ideas, so there’s no wrong ones. Just let the creativity flow!
In conclusion, a well-crafted content plan is vital for the success of your content strategy.
It helps you stay organized, align your goals, and deliver valuable content to your target audience at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Whether you’re aiming for brand visibility, keyword rankings, or conversions, a customized content plan can guide you towards achieving your objectives effectively.
Remember to ask yourself important questions about your goals, SEO, current needs, on-site and off-site content, and content segmentation when executing your content plan.
Additionally, consider color coding and treating each channel separately to ensure consistency and maximize your reach.
With a strategic content plan in place, you’ll be well-equipped to create and distribute valuable content that resonates with your audience and drives results.