Planning Your 2016 Content Calendar

Interactive Content Director
Published 12/29/15
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A 12-step plan to setting up a content calendar and plan for all your editorial needs

1. Look over your latest content audit (if it’s more than a year old, do another one) and identify gaps in content. Does your content align with your brand targets? Does it meet your audience’s needs and desires? Hannah Brown takes a thorough look at creating a content audit here.

2. See what users are engaging with. Go into Google Analytics and determine which pages got the highest views and time on page, and the lowest bounce rates. Don’t just pay attention to the topics that are getting the highest engagement – also look at their format. Are more people reading lists? Watching videos?

3. Don’t forget photos (and, even more important, videos). Rich media adds to your storytelling: help set the scene and immerse the user in the destination. And let’s face it – more people look at pictures than actually read. The average human only has the attention span of a goldfish; it’s science.

We recommend a combination of landscape shots and shots with real people showing real emotions. Don’t rely on staged images that your agency is using in advertising, but think blog- or Instagram-style shots.

4. Get social – especially on Instagram (see No. 3 above). In 2015, Instagram gained more monthly active users than Twitter – more than 400 million compared to Twitter’s 307 million. Instagram also has the most engaged community, with 4.21% of brands’ followers engaging with their content. (0.03% and 0.07% of Twitter and Facebook users engage, respectively.) Include social media posts in your content calendar to ensure you’re engaging your followers consistently.

 The next eight tips are from our Content That Travels white paper, just in case you missed it.

5. Make a content plan. Outline specific objectives and clear target audiences. Looking at those as well as the gaps in content you’ve identified, create a plan for the year ahead. (Yes, it’s another spreadsheet you have to create, but it will be well worth it.)

6. Create new content. Tell the story of your destination or business in words, pictures and video. Aim for dedicating between 5 and 20 percent of your budget to content creation. Write using the inverted pyramid style, with the most important information at the top of your story or beginning of your video. Also do your updating and fact-checking at this time.

7. Curate content. Let others tell your story – visitors, locals and those who know your destination well. That can be far more impactful than telling your story yourself. Ideas include establishing and promoting a hashtag that can be used on social media.

8. Optimize content. Make sure search engines can easily find your content: Write clear and concise title tags and meta descriptions, and check your URL structure to make sure it reflects your destination and your content. And for goodness’ sake, make sure your website is mobile-friendly; if it isn’t responsive, have a mobile version in addition to your full website. (Take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to be sure you’re ok.)

9. Share content. Use social media and PR to share your content, and make sure it’s easy for website users and social followers to share. Remember the Rule of Three: Share every piece of content you create at least three times. 

10. Promote content. There are ever more precise and targeted ways to promote content. Start with owned channels like your website and email program, but don’t forget about social (see No. 9 above) and traditional media. You can even distribute your content via advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Google Display Network, among other channels.

11. Monetize content. Consider if there are opportunities to share costs or grow your budget. Partner with another tourism organization, a local business or even a major brand which complements your destination.

12. Measure and refine content. Use analytics to regularly review and update your content plan, and make sure your content is helping you achieve your goals.