How to build the ultimate content calendar for your schoolJanuary 8, 2020
If your school marketing team is feeling under the pump, it's no wonder! You’re likely expected to be pushing out daily social media posts, regularly blogging, updating your school website, and keeping an eye out for photos, videos, and content to keep your community engaged. Whew!
With all of that publishing going on, there’s a perfect chance you’re feeling overwhelmed, and there’s potential for things to start slipping. Thankfully, there’s one incredible tool that you can put to work today that will help you stay on top of your school content management: the content calendar.
If you’ve ever found yourself scrambling for ideas for what to post on social media, or feeling like your well-researched marketing plan is falling apart, then a handy content calendar is here to save the day. This post will explore precisely why you should be creating your calendar and how to get started. But first...
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar, much like a social media calendar, is an editable schedule that you and your team share to:
- keep track of every piece of content you have coming up
- keep a historical record of every piece of content you’ve ever published
- assign tasks associated with content publishing
- track your team’s progress on getting each piece completed.
In many marketing teams, each team member is responsible for a channel or a specific type of content that gets published. However, there are usually multiple people that will be involved in its creation. For example, if you are creating staff interview videos, the person conducting the interview might own the responsibility for the entire piece of content. They will then assign the task of filming to another team member (for example, a videographer), and the graphics will be given to a member of your design team. If you provide a written transcript, they will assign that to another team member, outsource the work, and then assign a proofreader to check it for any errors.
As you can see, creating a single piece of content can be a lot of work, which is why teams need visibility across the entire project to prevent a mad scramble on the day of publishing. A content calendar allows each team member to see what they have coming up to plan their work accordingly and ensure their part of the project is completed in plenty of time.
Creating a school content management calendar
If you’re convinced your marketing team needs a tool to manage your school content (and hopefully, by now, you are!), here’s how you can get started.
1. Map out all your content types
Open up an Excel document or a Google sheet and start listing all your content channels and ideas about the types of content you publish. This step not only gives you visibility about how much work you're doing every month, but it can also help you to spot some helpful content that you can repurpose.
Your key marketing channels might include:
- your blog
- social media channels
- your website
- YouTube or Vimeo
- email marketing
- downloadable resources
- your school newsletter.
Once you’ve mapped out all of the different channels you use, you’ll need to decide which channels are the most valuable to your strategy. This will affect your posting frequency (which we’ll get to in just a moment). You can find out which channels are receiving the most engagement by checking your web analytics for statistics such as views, clicks, time on page, and bounce rate.
2. Set your posting goals
Once you have an informed overview of all your marketing channels, you’ll need to know how frequently you’d like to post on each. Each piece of content should work towards a goal that is outlined in your overall marketing plan. A marketing plan is a document that shows the activities that your team will undertake to work towards your team's overall objectives, and it should undoubtedly include content.
You must have this in place before you begin to create your content calendar, as it will help guide the types of content you should be posting and your frequency of publishing. For example, suppose you’ve determined that your Facebook page has an engaged audience and many of your followers are prospective parents. In that case, you’ll likely be posting more frequently there than another social account that has less engagement and doesn’t include your target audience.
In your content calendar, start planning how many times per week you will be looking to publish on each channel. You must be realistic with this goal! You may wish to publish a blog post every day and a video every week, but if you don't have the capability in your team, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Our recommendation? Start small, and build up your frequency each quarter.
3. Pick your content publishing tools
Now it's time to get to work building your content calendar. There is a range of tools that you can use to map out your content, and different devices will work better for other teams. A good old-fashioned spreadsheet will be just the ticket for some schools, particularly if you have a few channels and a smaller team.
- give various team members and managers more visibility across your marketing channels
- break up each piece of content into smaller tasks
- assign clear deadlines to team members.
4. Start scheduling
By now, you should have your channels, goals and your calendar tool sorted. It’s time to start trialling your content schedule to see how it works for your team. Create your projects and start assigning your tasks to various team members for the upcoming months.
One thing you’ll want to take into account is repurposing past content. This is a great way to save your marketing team’s time while also drawing attention to content that your audience may have overlooked previously. When you schedule the initial content publication into your schedule, make a note to give it a refresh six months, a year or even two years in the future by creating a project in your calendar.
There will likely be a few teething problems with any new process, so give it a few months and then reassess to see whether your schedule is working for you. If you find that many deadlines are missed, you may need to scale back your content publishing. On the other hand, if you find your team can complete work faster than you can schedule it, you've got a different problem! This is where you might look at diversifying your channels and posting more regularly in other places.
Resources to help you on your scheduling journey
Once you start planning and scheduling your content in advance, you’ll never return to publishing ad-hoc pieces again. Here are a few resources to check out when you're planning your content schedule:
- 20 blog post ideas your school community will actually want to read
- What is a content vision, and why does my school need one?
- Content audits: a simple guide for schools.
At Digistorm, we believe that content (especially planned content) is one of the most critical parts of a successful marketing strategy. It helps you attract new visitors to your website, engage your existing community, and convert prospective families into enrollment. This process is known as inbound marketing, and it’s an incredibly valuable concept for schools to take advantage of. You can find out more about what inbound marketing can do for your school by downloading our handy guide.