Winner Winner Chicken DinnerIf your business doesn’t have a ‘living’ content calendar, you’re spinning your wheels. The fact is, most businesses don’t have the time or the skill to maintain a ‘traditional’ content calendar involving spreadsheets, story ideas, approval processes, etc. They are not equipped to run an editorial desk. It is overwhelming, and when things are hard we don’t do them. Management is not screaming for a better calendar. They want ROI from your social efforts.

Creating and publishing great content should not be a lot of work. If it is, you are doing it wrong.  Conventional wisdom advises creating a plan, a template, or a calendar to make available all information to all the relevant stakeholders in one place. It takes in all your channels and resources and organizes them in a way that makes it easy to access information you need when you need it. This sounds great. In reality, you will never do this. And if you do take the several months to put the program together, your peers will never use it.

Traditional content strategy and calendars are a waste of time. Yes you need a strategy. But it must be so simple that anyone can repeat it off the top of their heads. Do you know what your three levels of content are?

  1. Evergreen. What is core to the business.
  2. Emerging. What adjacent topics are people typing in the search box?
  3. Frontier. What are the ideas, conversations and people driving the next innovation?

This is all you need in a content calendar. It organizes the way you curate and create content, and is your editorial strategy. It cuts all the superfluous time out of your content marketing planning so you’re free to actually do some work that helps you keep your job.

Executing a living content strategy is the difference between being in social media and getting social leads. Instead of looking at a spreadsheet, look at what you are sharing on social channels. Find great content from other people that matches your 3-level strategy and share it generously! Then, watch and see which of these stories actually had some clicks. Those are the stories that you should use as inspiration for creating original content! It’s that easy.

  1. Have your 3-level strategy in your ‘head’
  2. Use it to guide your curation
  3. Use the engagement from that to drive your content creation

This helps you avoid making bad content decisions. Every time a piece of shared content has good engagement, assign it to your writer. Not only does he or she get an idea with ‘social proof’, you have provided the first phase of research. SImple. This saves you countless hours every week trying to ‘predict’ what your audience might want. Instead, spend that time looking at Google Analytics for unique pageviews, number of clicks, and referral source. Figure out which posts get readers, and are generating leads. Then optimize your conversion flow on your site, or look for engagement that might show you sales prospects. That’s time well spent.