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How to write a content plan: useful tips for beginners

Everyone who works with an online audience is faced with the need to create materials for information platforms: blogs, social networks, etc.

How to write a content plan: useful tips for beginners

Some form publications chaotically: when they find inspiration or there is an urgent need to post some information in order to stir up the interest of the audience.

Such an approach to publications is extremely inefficient, since such materials are not only irregular, but often do not meet the needs of users at all, and therefore are unable to attract and retain people's attention.

To solve this problem, marketers have long come up with an effective approach to communicating with the target audience to promote a product - creating a content plan that allows you to optimize the costs of developing publications and make them really useful.

From this article you will learn:

  • what is content, what are its types and types;
  • what is a content plan, who needs it and why;
  • how to make a really working content plan (example and specific recommendations for development).

Let's start with a brief description of what content is.

Concept, types and types of content

Content is any information that is contained on an online platform (blog, social network, website, etc.). There are many different variations of content. Traditionally, classification is made on two grounds: by purpose and format.

Types of content (depending on the purpose):

  • Helpful . Aimed at demonstrating expertise in a niche. This is the information that can benefit the user, i.e. solve his problems or close his pains. This includes instructions, life hacks, tips, compilations, answers to common questions, etc.
  • Selling (advertising). Directly sells the product, presenting special offers, promotions, company discounts.
  • reputational . Contributes to the formation of a positive brand and increases audience loyalty. This type of content includes working out objections and negatives, information about the benefits, about the company and its products, reviews, news, success stories, etc.
  • Engaging . Such content stimulates the active actions of users: discussions, comments. Engaging content includes various games, contests, sweepstakes, polls, opening direct discussions, collecting feedback, etc.
  • Entertaining . Allows you to relax the user and give him positive emotions. This is information that is simply easy and pleasant to perceive: fascinating stories, comics, memes, funny pictures, funny and “sticky” videos, riddles and puzzles, various collections of pleasant music and films, etc.

Content types (depending on the format):

  • Text - articles, interviews, reviews, cases, etc.
  • Graphic - photographs, drawings, pictures, schemes, charts, graphs, mind maps, infographics, gifs, presentations, posters, memes, demotivators, etc.
  • Audio content – ​​podcasts, audiobooks, audiobooks, songs, music, etc.
  • Video content - various entertaining and useful videos, webinars, video courses, video reviews, video interviews, etc.
  • Game content - quizzes (game tests), crossword puzzles, games, tasks, puzzles, etc.
  • User-generated content is any content that is created by users themselves.
It is important to note that any publication should contribute to the conversion, i.e. Ultimately, any content should encourage the user to perform some targeted action (visiting the company's website, subscribing to the newsletter, making an appointment for a consultation, buying a product, etc.), otherwise blogging, etc. will be useless.

Now we will tell you what a content plan is and why you need it at all.

All about the content plan

A content plan is a marketing tool that allows you to optimize your work with publications and promotes a product or brand within a particular information platform (personal or commercial blog, social networks, instant messengers). Therefore, it is necessary for everyone who works with the audience (companies, bloggers, etc.)

A content plan is a document where all publications are organized into a single system, with which you can easily optimize the process of working on content. It allows you to build relationships with users, study their interests and competently use all the opportunities to attract and retain them so that the sites really lead to the implementation of targeted actions, and do not represent a set of chaotic and useless publications.

The content plan helps to solve the following tasks:

  • Reduce publication time. Preliminary planning of the material allows you to optimize the publication process. This facilitates both the work of the editor himself and the work of ordinary employees (designers, copywriters, video makers, etc.) who are responsible for creating content. They just need to open a content plan and get a specific task, and not spend time searching and generating ideas.
  • Properly approach the release of materials. Make only useful, interesting to the reader, effective in terms of promotion, regular and timely publications.
  • Save ideas. To blog on a website or in social networks, you need to have a huge stock of topics. A content plan allows you to remember all the ideas and not miss anything.
  • Optimize released content. Analysis of the effectiveness of publications according to various metrics allows you to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the released content and form a promotion strategy that will bring real benefits and benefits.
  • Increase audience reach and increase its engagement. The right content can not only attract an audience, but also keep it, as well as expand it. This directly contributes to an increase in the efficiency of the company or blogger.
It is important to note that a content plan is not something that needs to be strictly followed, but something like a guideline. In today's world, everything changes at a rapid pace, so some topics may become completely irrelevant when the time is right for them to be published. In addition, completely new, important topics may appear that users simply need to talk about. Therefore, a content plan is usually created for a month or a quarter.

Step by step guide to creating a content plan

We have prepared a useful step-by-step guide on how to create a content plan, based on which you can make your product promotion as effective as possible. Take charge and use!

Determine the target audience of the product and analyze its needs

Any content is created for users, so first of all it should be focused on their needs, tastes and interests. One of the most famous ways to identify and analyze the needs of the target audience is the method of characters.

To create characters, you need to describe in detail the portraits of your target customers. You can do this by answering the following questions:

  • Who is your buyer? What is his gender and age, appearance, hobbies, lifestyle, field of activity, income level, interests, problems, fears and pains?
  • What are his needs?
  • What is his motivation and barrier to buying?
  • How does he make a decision ? Emotional or rational? Fast or long? On your own or in consultation with someone?
  • Who does he listen to? Who and what can influence his decision to buy this or that product?
  • Etc.
To get answers to these questions, you can independently analyze the behavior of your potential consumers, or you can run an online survey or conduct a custom interview .

The answers you receive will help you understand the mindset and motivation of your target audience, which will allow you to create materials that will be able to attract and retain potential customers.

Decide on the types of content you will create

After determining the information needs of the target audience, you need to understand what opportunities you personally have to meet them.

Marketers recommend using all types of content for promotion, so if you do not have the resources to do this, it is recommended to at least occasionally involve third-party specialists to create the missing content formats.

I would like to note that in fact, almost any content can be learned to do it yourself or teach your employees to do it in a fairly short period of time. The benefits you will get from this will far exceed the costs of training.

Choose the platforms you will work with

Each target audience has its own “habitat”, and each information platform has its own characteristics. Analyze them and compare them with your capabilities and goals in order to choose those platforms through which promotion will give the maximum effect in your particular case.

Marketers recommend drawing up an individual content plan for each site. If you do not have enough resources for this, simply adapt the same material for each specific promotion channel.

Let's briefly talk about the needs and preferences of the main audience of the main social networks:

  • The Instagram audience is aimed primarily at getting inspiration and aesthetic pleasure, so the content should not only be interesting and useful, but also easy and enjoyable to learn. Users of this social network want to see beautiful images and videos, willingly take part in games and sweepstakes, and look for practical benefits, sincerity and motivation from textual information. It is on the basis of these data that you need to create a content plan for Instagram. An example of how it might look, we will give a little later.
  • Facebook users prefer videos that are 3-5 minutes long, they are willing to talk about political and social topics, they are more interested in their personal brand and success stories than corporate ones.
  • The VKontakte audience is also more focused on entertainment content – ​​memes, pictures, videos, as well as searching and listening to music [ T. Kotova, 2017 ].
As a rule, it is necessary to focus on one or two social networks, where the concentration of potential customers of the product reaches its maximum.

To determine the "habitat" of your users, you need to return to the analysis of the target audience. You can also turn to competitors: in which social networks they maintain accounts, what is the audience coverage (the number of subscribers) and its activity. You can also find out the answer to this question from the advertising account of social networks, which displays statistics.

Determine the optimal periodicity and time for the release of publications

Experts recommend releasing at least 1 post per day, maximum 3. The main thing is to remember that quality is more important than quantity, but it is also not recommended to be overly intrusive or disappear from the field of view of users [ A. Edakin, 2020 ].

If you are just starting to work with the platform, you need to prepare about 7 different posts in advance in order to present your content to the target audience.

It is also important to note that the intervals between publications should be the same so as not to confuse users and lose them as a result.

The timing for release of publications should also be clear. It is necessary to post materials not only regularly, but also at the same time. This approach will allow your readers to know when to expect the next post and not miss its release. If you post several materials a day, there should be an interval of about 5 hours between them in order to reach the audience that comes at different times of the day as much as possible.

Define categories and generate specific topics for publications

Working with topics takes place on the principle “from general to particular”: each idea can be detailed: expanded, clarified, generalized, compared, which allows generating an infinite amount of materials .

In general, the theme development process can be represented as the implementation of four successive stages:

  • Create rubrics.
  • Idea generation .
  • Idea filtering.
  • Sort selected topics.
Let's look at each of them in more detail.

Creating rubrics

The development of topics for publications begins with headings - the definition of the most "global" or general topics with which you will work.

For example, if you work in the field of sales, the headings can be: “Marketing”, “Sales”, “Human Resources”, “Useful Services”, etc.

Once the rubrics are defined, you can move on to creating more and more specific topics, i.e. detail each section.

Generation of ideas

To create a content plan for a month, you need to come up with a lot of ideas. Therefore, you first need to collect them in all sorts of ways. At this stage, there is no need to evaluate ideas in any way, it is only necessary to find as many of them as possible. Those. you do not need to think about the effectiveness (relevance, relevance, etc.) of the topics, edit or remove anything - you will deal with this later.

Ideas can be peeped from competitors, in thematic resources, analyzing search queries and trends, discussions on social networks, user questions on sites or to the support service, conducting online surveys using the brainstorming method , etc.

If you have already made publications on any sites, analyze their effectiveness: how many comments, likes, shares and other actions they brought. Based on this, you can conclude which topics, types and types of content are most interesting to your audience. Most content can be reused - if some topics resonate, they can always be updated.

It is important to note that the process of searching for ideas should never stop: even after drawing up a content plan, it is necessary to constantly replenish the list of topics in all possible ways.
Idea filtering

After you generate a lot of all kinds of ideas, you need to choose from them those that best satisfy the needs of your target audience. This is extremely important: your personal opinion about the effectiveness of themes may not coincide with the opinion of potential consumers. You should release content that will appeal to your users, not to you personally or someone in your leadership.

To assess the view of your target audience on a particular topic, you can analyze the demand for similar posts, make direct contact with its representatives.

Only focusing on the end user, getting feedback, analytics of indicators and continuous improvement of materials will help you learn how to create content that will really be useful and interesting to your target audience.

When you have decided which topics will be in demand, correlate them with your personal capabilities regarding their disclosure: can you reveal them in an interesting, useful and complete way?

As a result, only those topics that are really needed should remain on your list. Then they need to be sorted, i.e. determine the order in which they are issued.

Sort selected topics

Once you have decided on the topics, sort them: they should look organic on the blog, but at the same time diverse. Again, go from the general to the specific, or from the simple to the complex.

Going back to our example of a content plan for a sales blog: it makes sense if you first talk about what sales are, then move on to sales techniques, then look at each specific technique in detail, compare their effectiveness, etc., and not do the opposite.

You always need to be guided by common sense: if you start talking about the nuances of a technology without explaining its main ideas, your readers will not understand anything and they will have to find another resource where the material is presented consistently, not randomly.

Use different types and types of content to reach the maximum number of users and to consider each topic in all available ways.

Now you need to move on to drawing up the content plan itself - the document with which you will work.

Create your own content plan

To create a content plan, you can use the following services: MS Excel, Google Docs , WordPress Editorial Calendar , CoSchedule , Trello , BrightPod , etc.

The content plan, as a rule, contains the following main columns:

  • Date and time of publication. As a reminder, it is recommended to release content regularly, at the same time and at the same intervals.
  • Post subject. It can be either an idea or a full-fledged title.
  • Notes. This is a brief description, disclosure of the topic. Sketch out the main theses to make it easier to work with the publication later.
  • Kind and type of content. Determine what purpose and what format each specific publication will have. It is recommended to alternate between different types and types of content, while the selling post should occur no more than once every five publications so that the user does not get rejected from direct advertising.
  • Publication readiness status. This column reflects the state of the publication included in the content plan. An example of the characteristics of its state: preparing for development, in it, already ready, published, etc.
Additionally, there may be columns reflecting responsible persons or performers, deadlines, key queries, hashtags, etc.

Here is an example of what a content plan might look like for an Instagram campaign that specializes in sales training:

It would seem that at this stage, work on the content plan ends, but in fact it is just beginning. In order for the content plan to be truly effective, it is necessary to constantly analyze the demand for ready-made publications, and then make changes and additions to it.

Continuously optimize your content plan

To develop the most effective content plan, it is necessary to analyze the reaction of readers to publications already made.

If you understand that some kind, type of content or topic resonates with your audience, focus your work on such content, but do not abuse it. But the release of content that is not interesting to your target audience should be reduced, but it is better to understand what exactly is wrong with it and modify it.

It happens that a topic appears that urgently needs to be published, although it was not planned. In this case, it is imperative to do this in order to please users and satisfy personal motivation to reveal a certain topic, which will definitely affect the work as a whole.

In addition, some topics happen to be developed within the framework of one publication, although it was planned to cover them for several - then other posts on this topic need to be canceled. Other topics may become outdated and irrelevant. You need to respond to all this in a timely manner, changing the content plan so that it always includes only interesting, useful and relevant materials. For the same reason, it is necessary to leave room for maneuver in the content plan.

In conclusion, we want to give you some additional recommendations for working with a content plan:

  • Focus on emotions . Living people cannot do without emotions, and they do not have to be positive. If your publications lead to an emotional response from your target audience, the chance to attract, retain and develop their interest in your company and your product will be much higher.
  • Get inspired . You can draw ideas from anywhere: the more interesting projects you see, the more likely it is that you will be able to come up with something really worthwhile on your own.
  • Don't give up. Any difficulties should only fuel your interest, and not stop it. Even if you can’t come up with original content ideas or implement them for a long time, you should continue to work on publications, and not give up blogging. If you're in a creative block, check out our article Creative Block: 20 Tips to Get Out of It .
  • Be original . Avoid hackneyed topics, do not seek to chase trends and copy the success of others. Look for your personal style of content creation and approach to interacting with your target audience.
  • Be sincere. Your readers are not stupid. If you try to deceive them, sooner or later they will realize this, which will negatively affect your work. Share only verified and reliable information that you understand.
  • Focus on quality content. Even if you identify the most popular topics, this will not guarantee that you will be able to attract the attention of users and grow your blog. Remember that the success of content depends on its quality, so even the best content plan can be ineffective if you cannot implement it correctly. Focus all your efforts on making sure that your content is really high quality.
If you follow all the above recommendations, over time you will definitely be able to create a truly effective content plan that will allow you to achieve success in promotion.

And if you are interested in personal and professional growth and development, be sure to sign up for our online program " Best Self-Education Techniques ", where you will learn the right approach to setting goals, determining ways to achieve them, finding educational materials using the most effective scientific methods, proven in practice.