A handy guide to content planning in 2018


This year is coming to an end which means it’s time to start planning ahead for 2018.  But is content planning really that important?

In a nutshell…yes!

Scrabbling around for things to post can be both time consuming and stressful. A clear plan and content calendar will help keep your channels coherent, your production efficient and provide a clear overview which can be the key to strategic success. If you know what your business goals are, your content plan will help you get there.

However, filling in a content plan for the upcoming year – starting with twelve empty months – can seem like a daunting task.

To help make it a little bit easier to get started, we’ve outlined our 9 top tips for content planning success in 2018 including a handy pdf download of key dates for 2018 and a free Content Calendar Excel template.

Merry Christmas, from us to you!

Our 9 top tips for content planning

  1. Start with your key dates: sale periods, openings, launches, announcements, anniversaries. Always line up with wider marketing and PR plans on this – the more aligned your content is (especially with PR; press and social media can be the best of friends) the more successful it will be. Block these in first to give yourself a framework to build on.
  2. Think about your objectives for the year. Is it to drive traffic? Grow brand awareness? Achieve record levels of engagement? Get more fans? Plan different content to fulfil each goal – one size doesn’t fit all. Choosing a set of themes and creating content around these can be a really useful way of keeping your ideas tied closely to your objectives.
  3. Be authentic and credible. Just because something might be trending doesn’t mean you need to find something to post about it. #NationalAvocadoDay isn’t right for everyone. Instead, check out Google Trends for inspiration. Look at search volumes of your brand’s keywords throughout the year, as well as the site searches on your website, to make your content useful, relevant and credible.
  4. Think about who you want to talk to. Look at the social media analytics on the channels you use to get an idea of the demographics and geographical locations of your audience. Are there any surprises? How does this match up to your customer base? Your desired customer base? At Realise we use an audience profiling software called Global Web Index that helps us understand an audience’s behaviour online, and provide insight into how best to reach them.
  5. Plan ahead, but always be topical when you can. Keep an eye on what’s happening on the internet, in the world, in the news, with the weather and in new social media formats for opportunities to be reactive. 80% planned and 20% reactive is a good basis to work on.
  6. Think ‘customer first’ to hit the right balance between what your company wants to say and what your consumer wants to see. Always question: who cares? If the answer is “ummm…?” it’s time to have a rethink. How can you reframe the message to make it more interesting for your audience?
  7. Don’t assume the people seeing your content know everything (or anything!) about your brand. It should work as a stand-alone piece of content, not just alongside all your other posts.
  8. When it comes to creating your content, avoid posting the same thing on every platform – you want to give your audience a reason to follow you on each platform you’re choosing to use. Consider different formats and look to your social media insights and analytics for reach and engagement metrics to see what works best for you on your key channels. Use this to inform how you plan your content for the year ahead.
  9. Finally - test and learn. If you’re struggling with organic reach, setting up a series of tests can help you get a feel for what works well on what channels. If you’ve been doing things the same way for the last couple of years, make 2018 the year you shake things up! Video length and aspect ratio, copy variations, increasing or decreasing the number of times you post in a day or a week, multiple ad sets of different audiences… these are just a handful of ideas that could give you some insight into your audience behaviour in the new year.

Key dates for 2018

Content calendar fear subsiding? Brimming with ideas and inspiration?

The next step is to get cracking at creating and filling in a content calendar. There’s no need to invest in a fancy calendar tool; we’ve created a handy one-page pdf with key dates and holidays that will help with your planning - download it here. 

Free Content Calendar template

Our extra useful 2018 Realise Content Calendar Excel template is prepopulated with the key 2018 dates plus space for you to plot your pieces of content throughout the year.

You can also add in additional rows for other channels, whether that’s a blog, website, offers or CRM. Altogether, this template will keep your editorial planning in check by having the content for all your channels in one place!

To get your hands on our Content Calendar Excel template for free, just drop us an email at calendar@realise.com  

Fancy a chat about content?

Need a hand with content planning and strategy, understanding your audience, making sense of analytics and reporting, social media strategy, ideas or creation? We can help!

Realise is a digital agency with 20 years’ experience working with a whole variety of brands and campaigns, including:

Feel free to check out more of our work or, if you’re ready to chat, send us a message below. We look forward to hearing from you, but until then:

Happy planning!

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Madi Woodstock