Rethinking the content calendar

An effective content calendar is the backbone of any successful content marketing strategy. It keeps your content output on track and gives you a roadmap for coordinating your content activities. Your calendar ensures a steady flow of relevant content that caters to your target group’s interests.

But what’s relevant today may not be relevant forever. And your target group’s interests may rapidly change. The cultural shift that we’re all experiencing right now is a prime example. At the beginning of 2020, who would have guessed that 88% of organizations worldwide would be encouraging their employees to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic? Certainly no one could have predicted the 1,900% increase in Zoom usage compared to this time last year. 

If there’s one lesson we can all learn from the current situation, it’s the importance of adaptability. When rapid changes occur, your content calendar needs to quickly shift gears too. That’s what the agile content calendar is all about. It means building a content calendar that is solid enough to meet your content marketing goals, while also flexible enough to quickly adjust to changes in your market and industry.

Here are seven tips for going agile with your content marketing calendar.


1. Communicate with consistency

Let’s start with dispelling one common misconception about agile content creation. Going agile does not mean throwing your brand’s consistent messaging out the window. It’s about finding ways to connect your brand’s message with relevant topics. That means keeping things fresh, while staying true to the things that matter most to your brand and its (potential) fans.

This takes some soul-searching. What does your brand have to offer people during times of change? Why is your brand still relevant, perhaps even more relevant now than ever? Set these topics high on your content calendar now. 

Just be careful not to overpromise. Especially in times of change, consumers are hungry for authenticity and consistency. Your brand should remember this evergreen “date night” advice: just be yourself.


2. Set SMART goals

If your marketing team hasn’t embraced the SMART method for setting goals, there’s no better time than the present. This method is fully compatible with the spirit of agile working. It means formulating targets that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

By applying these criteria, you identify whether the items on your content calendar are actually worthwhile. This method helps you bringing in big ideas so you can make them more tangible and useful. It also helps you set your content priorities. Pay particular attention to how “relevant” your content calendar activities are now.


3. Follow the data

Forget about “going with the flow.” This is a crisis, not Coachella. You need solid data analysis to help guide content-related decision-making now. The best metrics for you to follow will depend entirely on your content marketing goals. Still, here are some solid metrics for tracking the success of any content marketing activity: 

  • Traffic (how many users, pageviews and unique pageviews are you seeing?)
  • Keywords (which keywords are really creating a buzz online now?)
  • Social metrics (are users liking and sharing your social media posts?)
  • Conversion rate (are users clicking through to initiate a transaction?)
  • SEO (is your content climbing the ranks on Google?)
  • Engagement (are users engaging with your content by commenting or sharing?)

These metrics are a constant gauge for tracking your content’s performance. Follow them closely and let them guide you when setting your agile content calendar’s priorities.


4. Use flexible media

When you need to rapidly adjust your content strategy, it helps to have a range of flexible media platforms in your arsenal. If you rely entirely on one medium (like a newsletter or monthly ebook), then you’ll struggle to keep pace with rapid changes. Increasing the frequency of a newsletter may have a negative effect, and you may not have the time and resources to scale up your ebook output. 

Use a mix of media, including social media, blog posts, mailers and other content types that are relevant to your audiences. Set placeholders in your agile content calendar for each of these content types. The actual topics should be filled in on a rolling basis (once a week, for example), based on where your data analytics lead you.


5. Establish lean workflows

To keep the ball rolling, the ball needs to be lightweight. If you rely on lengthy editorial processes for every piece of content you produce, you won’t be able to keep up with a fast-paced content calendar. Likewise, if you don’t have the staff to produce the content you need right now, you’ll run into bottlenecks. 

Lean workflows use smart technologies to streamline the content creation process and keep your content calendar on track. The Contentoo platform is a good example. It instantly connects your company with a highly qualified, available freelance content creators. The platform facilitates the entire process, keeping you supplied with high-quality content on demand.


6. Scale up and down quickly

When things get weird in the market, your target group becomes hungry for information and strong messaging. That’s an opportunity for you to scale up your content output with an agile outsourcing model. 

If you rely on in-house content creation, you’re going to run into problems scaling up rapidly. Have a strong pool of freelance talent at your disposal. Freelancers scale up your content output on short notice, supplying the content you need. This helps you tick items off your content calendar, even during busy periods. And when your output returns to normal, simply scale back down.


7. Reality check

Your company does not exist inside a bubble, and neither should your content calendar. Follow your competitors’ content output closely. See what your target groups are talking about and viewing online. Look for ways to adapt your content output to play into these trends. 

Remember: it’s not about twisting your brand’s message to cater to people’s interests. Agile content is about finding the missing link between your brand’s message and what is really going on in the world today. Keep it real.


Agile from now on

An agile calendar gives you a strong competitive advantage. By quickly shifting the focus of your content, you remain at the forefront of your market.

As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” For all of us, it is necessary to be agile today to overcome the challenges we face. The crisis is shaking things up now, but it isn’t going to last forever. Take this opportunity to adopt an agile content calendar and you’ll position yourself for more effective content output in the long term.