How to build a digital content calendar for your nonprofit
Content is still king, but a content calendar is queen. So,what is a digital content calendar?
A digital content calendar is a tool used to plan topics, organize themes and explore ideas for content for all digital channels, in order to:
- Plan around key events and important dates
- Identify any gaps that may exist in the overall content strategy
- Make sure all digital content is ready with plenty of time to publish
- Provide a place to generate and record ideas
- Help staff visualize content strategy in a way that’s easy to understand
A digital content calendar usually spans 30-90 days but can be used on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. In general, the further ahead you plan your digital content, the better positioned you are to produce a consistent flow of content.
Digital content may include: web content, electronic newsletters/e-communications, blog posts, news releases and social media messaging on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, etc.
Five steps to building a digital content calendar:
1. Use a template
There are lots of free templates for digital content calendars that you can download online, but ultimately it’s best to customize the tool to suite your organization’s individual needs. A good place to start is to work off a vertical calendar, with specific dates descending down the left side. You can then add columns for each relevant digital platform – for example I find it useful to include separate columns for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, E-Communications, Web and News Releases. That way at a glace you can see how different content will be expressed on various platforms.
2. Identify your audience
Different platforms cater to different audiences, it’s important that you take this into consideration when determining a rollout strategy for new content. For example, more visual, fun posts are generally successfull on Facebook, whereas Twitter is seen as more news-driven with a definite limitation on content length.
3. Take stock of content assets
It’s important to think strategically about topics, themes and content ideas while planning out your digital content calendar. Find out what theme days or holidays are coming up and incorporate them into your messaging, if (and when) appropriate. Think long-term about your goals for a specific campaign, and build in ways to engage with your audiences at multiple points throughout the time period to increase engagement.
4. Schedule, publish and promote content
Even great content can get lost in the digital media landscape if not executed at the right time. It’s important to share content with various audiences at many touch points across a period of time. Feel free to share the same content across multiple platforms, but be sure to adapt the content to best suit each target audience. And remember, audiences use platforms differently: peak time on Twitter is usually between 10:00am-1:00pm, whereas Facebook sees most of it’s traffic the late afternoon.
5. Track content
Be sure to measure success through analytics to see what’s working, and what can be improved. There’s lots of analytics software available, including free options like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Topsy, etc. that can help you gain intelligences about the content being shared. Remember – it’s okay to change you digital content calendar based on feedback, it may take several tries to get it right!
Tip: Just because you have content scheduled in advance, doesn’t mean you can’t be mindful of current topics and trends. The digital landscape is always changing, and it’s important that you listen, adapt and tweak content when necessary.