Build Your 2024 Content Calendar: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Your content calendar is one of the most important building blocks of your marketing plan. By
creating eye-catching content, you can inform your audience, position your brand as a thought leader, and boost SEO. 

But, you might be wondering how to even get started.

Building a content calendar is easier said than done; we know. When you have the right tools, though, it’s really not as difficult as it sounds. In just a few steps, you can plan content for your full year to ensure that you’re connecting with your audience consistently through blogs, email, social media, and other content-related channels. To get you started, we’re sharing this step-by-step guide to building your 2024 content calendar. 

 

How to Build a Content Calendar in 7 Simple Steps

 
1. Identify the types of content you need. 

Before you begin, identify the different channels that you’ll be writing content for. This might include blogging, social media, email marketing, podcasts, or webinars. Any channel that you need to be posting on consistently will need its own calendar. 

Pro tip: Build your content calendar in a spreadsheet, using a new page for each type of content. For example, the first page might be blogging, the second social media, the third email marketing, so on, and so forth. 

 
2. Set a schedule for each type of content. 

Set a schedule for each type of content so that your content team knows when each topic should go out. This will also help you determine how many topics you need for each type of content. Your different channels will all have a set cadence. Maybe you put out one blog a week, one podcast episode every two weeks, and an email every month. Choose a schedule that works best for your audience and your workflow, and try to stick to that schedule as closely as possible.

 
3. Identify your audience’s pain points. 

Your content really needs to grab the attention of your audience. You have a better chance of doing that if you key into a challenge that they are looking to solve. As an example, your pain point might be that you are ready to build a content calendar but aren’t sure where to begin. That’s how we chose this topic—we know that our audience might struggle at times to map out consistent content. 

 
4. Research your competitors’ content. 

Researching your competitors’ content is not to suggest that you should use the topics that your competitors write about. Rather, you should see the types of content that they share with their audience. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you must be aware of what your competitors are offering to prospects. Create a content calendar that is very much unique to your company; but, always research competing sites to ensure that you aren’t dropping the ball on any major stressors that your audience might face.

 
5. Identify the keywords you’re hoping to rank for. 

Using tools like SEMrush allow you to identify keywords that you want to target, increasing your chances of rising to the top of search engine results. By identifying keywords early in your content planning process, you can implement said keywords into your topic ideas.

 
6. Create topics for each channel. 

Now for the fun part. Begin building your content calendar piece by piece for each channel. We find it most helpful to map out our idea, the description, and target keywords for each topic. With this approach, you can easily delegate these topics to your content experts, and they will understand the direction and purpose of each piece.

 
7. Cross-reference your topics between channels. 

To make the most of your time and efforts, cross-reference your topics to repurpose as much as you can. For example, if you’ve written a blog article topic that would be great for a podcast episode, you can tweak the topic to fit your podcast audience.

Keep in mind that your audience consumes content differently depending on where they’re getting information. If you are writing a blog article about “10 Things to Know About X,” your podcast audience might prefer the topic to be presented in less of a listicle format and more of a thoughtful discussion. 

 

The Importance of Timely Content

Though it’s good practice to begin your year with a content calendar, remember that it isn’t set in stone. There will be events that happen in your industry, or even just out in the world, that will cause you to adjust your calendar accordingly.  A content calendar is a great planning tool, but you should always leave room for change. 

Would you prefer that a content marketing team helped you stay connected to your audience? We can help. Contact Green Apple Strategy today to schedule a consultation.

The New Word of Mouth Marketing: Unleashing the Potential of User-Generated Content

Word of mouth has always been one of the most popular and reliable referral tools. However, in today’s digital age, we can quickly access information about any product or service with a quick online search. What’s the best air fryer for a large family? How should I style my new shoes? What’s the best beach to visit for summer vacation? All the answers are just a search engine query away.

Yet, with all this knowledge at our fingertips, research still shows that we are more likely to make a purchase if it is recommended by a friend, a family member, or another person we trust.

Brands have found a way to create word-of-mouth referrals in an online environment through user-generated content marketing (UGC). The ever-increasing popularity of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, among others, has positioned user-generated content as a pivotal force in the future of social media. Read on to discover why your brand should implement a strategy for finding and sharing user-generated marketing content and how to achieve success.

Benefits of User-Generated Marketing Content

Increase Engagement and Reach

By creating user-generated content—such as unboxing videos, testimonials, or product reviews—real customers can actively engage with a brand rather than just being a spectator on the sidelines. UCG can also work to create a community around the brand as enthusiasts react and comment on the shared authentic content. Brands should also be active participants in the conversation by responding to posts in a meaningful way.

Showcase Authenticity

Today’s consumers are smart. They can tell when content is genuine and when it is fabricated.  93 percent of marketers agree that consumers are more likely to trust content created by customers instead of content created by a brand. Honest content created by real people, like your employees, customers, and brand ambassadors, will become your brand’s modern-day word-of-mouth marketing. 

Save on Costs

User-generated content is much more cost-effective than partnering with an influencer and can have better results! Depending on the influencer, hiring one could cost millions of dollars. However, sourcing and sharing user-generated content is much more cost-effective. For instance, if you run a campaign that offers prizes for creating content about your brand, your time and financial investment will be lessened since the ideation, creation, and execution will be done by your audience. 

Increase Conversions

User-generated content offers a way to get authentic endorsements from real people, which will go a long way, with 50 percent of millennials relying on recommendations from family and friends before making a purchase. The content acts as social proof that your product or service meets or exceeds expectations while allowing potential customers to see their contacts engaging with your brand.

What’s also noteworthy is how seamlessly user-generated content works with social commerce. Social commerce refers to purchases made directly from social media apps. Nearly 80 percent of people say that user-generated content influences their purchase decisions. User-generated content creates a natural funnel for customers to move from viewing favorable reviews to purchasing the product, all without ever leaving their social feed.

Best Practices for User-Generated Marking Content 

Share the Content

One of the best ways to encourage user-generated content is to share it! Uncover UGC by searching hashtags and finding content that mentions your brand. You can also ask your customers to share their experiences with your product or service through a giveaway, contest, or campaign. Some brands even creatively include the request on their packaging.

Whatever way you choose to gather content, be sure to share it! Doing so encourages a sense of community and motivates others to create content, too—opening the door to unlimited, authentic content.

Always Ask Permission

Yes, share the content, but before you do, be sure to get approval from the original creator, letting them know you will give them credit when you share. Usually, customers will be thrilled to be featured, but checking first helps establish a trustworthy relationship. Plus, it keeps you out of hot water with customers who don’t want their content shared. 

Embrace Diversity

Millennials and Gen Z expect the brands they support to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sharing user-generated content on social media allows you to do just that. Employees, customers, and brand ambassadors all come from different backgrounds, races, religions, genders, geographic areas, and experiences. While it could be complex to showcase a vast range of diversity in a traditional marketing campaign, sharing user-generated content makes it feasible for your brand to represent all of its enthusiasts.

Partner with a Marketing Agency

There are many moving parts to developing and implementing a successful social media strategy. It’s an essential aspect of marketing your business, but giving it the proper attention needed for success can be difficult. That’s why our team is here. Green Apple can work alongside you to seamlessly provide the help you need. We’ll strategize and implement, as well as measure results, optimize your ROI, and scale as you grow. Reach out to learn more about how we can help boost your brand.

Touchdown or Fumble? Brand Awareness Lessons from the Most Iconic Super Bowl Ads

The Super Bowl is an event that transcends the sport of football and has become a cultural phenomenon. Over the years, the ads aired during the game have become as anticipated as the showdown on the field. Every year, companies shell out millions for  30 precious seconds of air time, hoping to capture a magical moment of brand awareness that resonates with the audience. Countless campaigns have soared to iconic status, becoming part of our everyday culture. Others have landed with a thud. 

There’s so much to be learned from every marketing or advertising campaign. In this blog post, we’ll dive into some of our favorite “touchdowns” and notorious “fumbles” from past Super Bowl campaigns, extracting valuable insights into effective brand awareness strategies.

Touchdown: Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” Commercial (2014)

As dog lovers, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” campaign definitely made our list. The commercial featured a heartwarming story of a friendship between a puppy and a Clydesdale horse. The ad resonated with viewers emotionally and received widespread praise, becoming one of the most beloved Super Bowl commercials in recent years.

The lesson: Emotional connection is king. People remember stories that make them feel something, and Budweiser masterfully tapped into that with their adorable furry friends.

Fumble: Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” Commercial (2015)

Nationwide’s commercial during Super Bowl XLIX, which featured a young boy lamenting all the life events he would miss due to a preventable accident, sparked controversy and backlash for its dark and somber tone. Many viewers found the ad depressing and inappropriate for a Super Bowl audience.

The lesson: Recognizing when and where your message lands is crucial. While serious messaging can be impactful, understanding the context in which your audience engages with your brand is crucial to avoid alienating them.

Touchdown: Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” Campaign (2007-2016)

For nearly a decade, Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign invited consumers to create their own commercials for the chance to have them aired during the Super Bowl. This crowdsourcing approach generated immense buzz and engagement, with the winning ads consistently ranking among the most popular during the game.

The lesson: Don’t be afraid to empower your audience to be part of your brand story. Sometimes, the best way to promote your brand is to let your fans create their own magic.

Fumble: Mountain Dew’s “PuppyMonkeyBaby” Commercial (2016) 

This bizarre concoction of a puppy, a monkey, and a baby might have aimed for quirky, but it landed squarely in the “annoying” territory. Unhinged marketing can be effective, but only when it resonates with your brand identity and doesn’t alienate your audience. 

The lesson: There’s a fine line between being memorable and being off-putting. That’s why you should exercise caution and ensure that your attempts at creativity align with your brand identity and resonate with your target audience.

Field Goal: Apple’s “1984” Commercial (1984)

Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, aired during Super Bowl XVIII. While now considered iconic, this ad was initially controversial. The dark, dystopian imagery and political undertones went over some viewers’ heads, and it wasn’t immediately clear what product was being advertised. However, the ad’s boldness and originality eventually won over audiences and critics alike.

The lesson: Brand awareness can be a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re playing the long game, ensure your brand narrative is consistent and resonates with your audience over time.

Ready to Make Every Snap Count?

One of the marketing principles we constantly reiterate is that brand awareness is a journey, not a destination. It’s about consistently moving the ball down the field, learning from each play, and adapting your strategy based on the ever-changing game. So, take inspiration from these iconic ads. Celebrate the touchdowns, analyze the fumbles, and remember: the most important element is creating a brand experience that resonates with your audience long after the final whistle blows.

Want to brainstorm some winning brand awareness strategies for your business? Contact Green Apple Strategy today! We’re a team of passionate marketers who can help you tell your brand story and score big with your customers.

How Video Marketing Works to Capture Your Audience’s Attention 

Capturing and keeping your audience’s attention is a constant battle. You pour your heart into crafting compelling messages, but sometimes words just don’t cut it. That’s where video marketing comes in—a potent force that can capture attention and forge a deeper connection with your viewers.

We’re passionate about helping businesses harness the power of video marketing, and we’ve seen how it transforms brands from faceless entities to relatable, engaging forces. Ready to get started? First, let’s look at why video is so valuable.

The Value of Video Marketing

Why is video marketing such a game-changer? The stats speak for themselves:

  • People retain 95% of a message they watch in a video, compared to 10% when reading text. (Source)
  • Incorporating videos on landing pages can result in a staggering 80% boost in conversion rates. (Source)
  • Videos are shared 12 times more often than text and image content combined. (Source)
  • 92% of video marketers in 2023 say video gives them a good ROI. (Source)

These numbers paint a clear picture: video is more engaging, memorable, and effective at driving conversions than traditional marketing tactics. But what makes it tick? Here’s the magic behind the curtain:

  • Emotional connection: Videos tap into our emotions, allowing us to connect with brands on a personal level. A well-crafted video can evoke laughter, tears, or awe, instantly forging a bond with your audience.
  • Storytelling power: Videos let you subtly weave in your brand narrative, showcasing your values, mission, and the people behind the scenes.
  • Visual impact: Let’s face it, words can be dry, and it takes work to read them. Videos bring your brand to life with vibrant visuals, dynamic motion, and engaging design. This multi-sensory experience leaves a lasting impression on viewers.
  • Versatility: There is an incredible range of styles and formats you can pull from: explainer animations, product demos, live streams, and customer testimonials.  The possibilities are endless with video. There’s an approach for every message and every audience.

     

Captivating Video Marketing Ideas to Capture Attention

We’ve successfully filmed and edited many different types of videos to cater to the diverse needs of our clients. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider one of the following videos to jump in and start creating. (And if you need a little more guidance, we’re always here to ideate, plan, and execute a comprehensive video marketing strategy for you!)

Company Overview Videos 

Embedding videos on your website is a game-changer. It allows you to convey information in a visually appealing manner. To understand how, take a look at one of the videos we created for The Gardner School, providing a glimpse into their ethos and environment. 

Client Testimonial Videos

Let your satisfied customers do the talking! A video testimonial builds trust by showcasing real people’s positive experiences with your brand. This video we created for Crain Construction shares clients expressing their satisfaction with the projects they completed with Crain.

Campaign or Brand Videos

Videos for specific campaigns or initiatives can be tailored to add a personalized touch. The video we crafted for United’s Project UNITE initiative is a prime example, effectively conveying a message and generating enthusiasm for their efforts to bridge the digital divide in Middle Tennessee.

Thought Leadership Videos

Videos are a great way to share your knowledge and build credibility. You can establish yourself as an industry expert with video masterclasses, Q&A sessions, or insightful interviews. Our master-class style video for textLIVING positions the brand as an authority in its domain, fostering trust and credibility.

Lights, Camera, Connection: Leverage the Power of Video Marketing

In a world saturated with content, video marketing emerges as a powerful way to capture the hearts of your audience. If you’re seeking a way to stand out and forge meaningful connections, don’t underestimate the power of video—because, after all, it might just be love at first watch for your audience.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level with video? Contact Green Apple Strategy to start creating your marketing masterpiece!

How To Hone Your Social Media Strategy

Social media is a powerful marketing tool, but it can be challenging to plan and execute successfully. Because there are so many different platforms with changing algorithms, it can be a challenge to make content choices that resonate with your audience. Although it may seem complex, the best practices of content creation also apply to social media. In this blog, we wanted to get back to basics, reminding you of the simple but effective way you can cut through the noise and consistently engage your audience. 

 

Define Your Target Audience

If your content doesn’t resonate with your audience, it’s missing the mark. But the best way to determine what might increase follows, clicks, and shares is to have a solid concept of who your audience is. Your target audience is the group of people most likely to be interested in your product or service. Take a moment to clarify who that is. If you’re working with a marketing agency, they should be able to tell you who is most interested in your brand, including demographic features like geographic location, income bracket, and interests. With this information in hand, you can tailor your content more accurately to address the needs of your potential customers. 

 

Figure Out Where Your Audience Is 

Defining your target audience will also help you to know which social media platforms to focus on. If your audience is on TikTok, posting on LinkedIn won’t reach them. Determine the platforms your clients and customers prefer before creating content for them. Defining your target audience will also help you to know which social media platforms to focus on. If you’re feeling a little confused about how to determine this, our recent blog can help you identify which platforms are right for your business.

 

Create Engaging Content 

When it comes to creating engaging content, let your target audience, brand goals, messaging, and brand voice help guide you. Varying content to include infographics, photos, and videos is essential. It can be easy to get carried away, investing in content or formats that don’t resonate with your audience. Remember to engage in self-reflection to accurately assess your approach. What might grab someone’s attention? Don’t be afraid to conduct research on competitors or other accounts your audience is following. Other brands and influencers can give you creative ideas about how to effectively present your content. There are dozens of social media marketing tools that can help you organize ideas, strategize, create images, post content, and measure results. Take a look at this blog to read about the five tools we’ve come to rely on over the years.

 

Identify Your Benchmarks and Goals

Katie Shayotovich, one of Green Apple’s Marketing Strategists, always makes it a priority to research and identify industry benchmarks for each client she manages. 

“Looking up benchmarks for your industry can help you understand if your engagements and impressions are hitting the mark. For example, here are higher education benchmarks for 2023. These benchmarks can help a brand determine what their realistic goals should be and help strategize content ideas.”

It’s important to set goals and strategic pillars for your content, and accurate benchmarks can help you set realistic and achievable social media goals. These goals can then help you assess how content is performing. Part of your goals should also be deciding what you want prospects to do when they interact with your social media presence. Do you want to build brand awareness? Drive them to the website? Fill out a contact form? Share your content and increase your social media reach? What helps you turn a lead into a customer? The answer will be different for every organization.  

 

Review Analytics Monthly 

Take a step back and look at the analytics. Longitudinal data from previous months or years will equip you with meaningful insights that can guide your future content creation. Understand what performed best and adjust your strategy accordingly. 

Determine how often you want to assess your reports for actionable data. We recommend reviewing reports monthly, but you can also check your analytics throughout the month as needed, especially if you notice a large spike or drop in engagement. If you’re brand new to social media reporting, this analytics template is a great starting point. But don’t get too caught up in the granular, shifting details. Instead, take a holistic viewpoint when it comes to assessing data. 

“These days, the follower count doesn’t matter as much. Growing your followers is important, but it doesn’t determine an account’s success. This is a common misconception I run across often. When reviewing analytics, your community and engagement numbers are more important and a better way to determine how engaged your audience is,” Strategist Katie Shayotovich explains.   

She also recommends conducting an in-depth quarterly digital marketing audit to identify opportunities that can keep your brand even further ahead of the curve. 

 

Let Us Help You With Your Social Media Strategy

Honing your social media strategy is an ongoing process that requires adaptability and a deep understanding of your audience.  If you need some guidance and support from marketing and PR experts, we’d love to help you set and reach social media goals that can move the needle on your brand recognition. Reach out any time to start the conversation.