5 Content Planning Tools You Should Be Using Right Now
Let’s talk about planning. Rather, let’s talk about good planning and how crucial it is to delivering quality content to your audience.
Proper planning allows you to provide Google, and other search engines, with quality content that ensures your content marketing efforts are not simply wasted. When executed properly you’ll not only save time, the quality of content will also improve.
Here are five content planning tools you really should be using right now.
1. Editorial Calendar
All good content planning starts with an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar helps maintain long-term strategic content planning and implementation for websites, social media platforms, in addition to any other in-house marketing material you need to create. In companies where several people are involved in the publication of content, an editorial calendar provides an essential overview. But even when just one person is responsible for controlling content, it offers a documented guideline that also provides internal confirmation of the scheduled publication of content.
A well-organized content calendar is an important feature of any content strategy and answers one particularly important question: When will what content by which author be published and on which channel?
Once this part of your content planning has been created, your strategic document must be regularly maintained and updated. The topic scheduling and development of the editorial calendar is therefore one of the content manager’s most important tasks. Editorial plans can vary quite considerably, but the key requirement is they must reflect the needs of the company.
An editorial calendar should at least cover these issues:
- Planned publication date
- Content theme(s)
- Content type (e.g. technical article, interview, infographic, video, etc.)
- Publication channel(s) (e.g. blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, guest blog, etc.)
2. Editorial Calendar Templates
There are tons of digital templates to choose from. The trick is to find one that works best for you.
Some companies use a simple Excel document whereas a Google Drive spreadsheet offers the added advantage that several people can work on it simultaneously. Instead of homespun Excel solutions, Word or SharePoint offers several templates that can be customized to meet specific company requirements.
This Excel-based template has a rudimentary design, but it works well for beginners. It contains columns for scheduled blog posts, topic, author, calls-to-action, and related keywords, and in addition, there is space for article ideas and notes.
This Google Docs calendar has a simple but workable layout. With columns such as author, subject, audience, keywords, publication channels, and results/conclusions, the structure provides a good framework for a content plan.
3. WordPress Content Planning Tools
Do you use WordPress to manage your blog? There are several plugins for editorial calendars that can be easily integrated into this popular content management system to allow editorial content for blogs to be easily organized within WordPress.
This free calendar plugin provides a simple overview of when each post is to be published. You can move posts via drag and drop and edit them directly in the calendar. Scheduled and published posts are categorized according to their status, and content without a fixed release date can be identified and grouped via the “unscheduled drafts” function. This simple and clear editorial calendar is ideal for beginners and single-author blogs.
This free WordPress plugin can also be used to create and manage an editorial calendar. It offers a simple calendar interface and can be operated intuitively via drag and drop. Because it includes a comment function, Edit Flow is also suitable for multiple-author blogs. It is possible to sync calendars with iCal or Google calendar, so you can also track proposed and published content outside WordPress.
CoSchedule is a paid-for WordPress plugin that primarily facilitates the sharing of content on social media. Thus, in this calendar, an appropriate social-media teaser for each blog article can be pre-planned and created. Then, when a blog post is published, the associated social-media teaser can be released automatically. The number of associated social media channels and profiles is unlimited, and certain tasks, such as edit post and post release, can be assigned to other team members. CoSchedule is well-suited to large blogs with multiple stakeholders, and at $10 a month per blog, the costs are still quite manageable.
An editorial calendar helps to achieve content objectives
Which form of an editorial calendar is best for each company primarily depends on the nature of the published content and the respective channels employed. In some companies, for example, guest blogs may play an important role in addition to social media.
No matter which template a company chooses, there will be a benefit because an editorial plan helps to ensure a certain publication frequency, which in turn helps to realize content-strategy objectives.
Just remember that you can’t plan everything, so an editorial calendar must never be set in stone, and unforeseen events will often require a departure from the current plan. When it comes to content, it is important to go with the flow and continuously check, adapt and develop your editorial planning accordingly.
If your content planning is embedded in a team concept, you may want to consider investing in Asana. Asana is an app that helps teams organize, track and manage their work. Another benefit of the tool is you can create a calendar within the app.
It’s fairly straightforward to you as you can opt for a plug-and-play, and select one of their templates, or import an existing spreadsheet you’re already using. You can then make changes, and it feeds through to create deadlines.
Often called the “Pinterest of Project Management” too, Trello is a visual representation of your content planning, project management, and all related assignments. Trello works by organizing different work projects into individual boards. You can then see what your team is working on, who is responsible for what, and how close to completion different projects are. You can have your own personal boards or share them with a team.
Before you run off to integrate one or several of these tools, here’s one more to consider. Google Docs is a powerful, and free tool that allows seamless content planning. Work is stored in the “cloud,”–which means files can be accessed with your regular Google account.
And because these Docs are stored online, you can share them with multiple collaborators while keeping an accurate track of versions and comments.
Happy content planning!