Two people sit at a wooden worktable and look at the open laptop in front of them. The person on the left is a woman with bobbed brown hair; she wears glasses and a red beaded necklace, and she is writing something down on a pad of paper. The person on the right is a man with a thick brown beard; he is wearing a gray T-shirt and pointing at something on the laptop screen. Also on the worktable are a couple of coffee mugs, a large roll of paper, a couple of notebooks, and a poseable wooden drawing model. In the blank-walled room behind the two people at the table are a rack of pastel clothing and a sewing machine on a small table.
Sharing content plan responsibilities with your staff can keep the work from being overwhelming. Assign responsibilities like writing, graphics, and editing to different employees. — Getty Images/Halfpoint Images

Creating a content plan is crucial to the success of any business’s marketing strategy, providing a guide for the type of content you’ll post, along with where and when. With a content plan, businesses can get a holistic view of the tasks to complete and how the content will aid in achieving their marketing goals.

Here is how to create a successful content plan for your business in eight steps.

Define your goals

First, define the goals you want to achieve with your marketing strategy. Determine your motives (or your “why”) behind wanting to create the content, whether you are looking to establish your brand as a knowledgeable resource or find more customers from your local community.

Once you’ve determined what your goals are, the next step is to find ways to align your content with your goals.

Plan themes for your content

Creating a content plan that reflects your goals requires deciding on the type of content you want to share with your audience. Choose themes you want to cover — such as tips, industry updates, behind-the-scenes content, company news, employee spotlights, and product education and updates — then use this to guide your content creation.

Once you’ve decided on your themes, ensure you only share content that pertains to your list. Otherwise, your content will be inconsistent and likely lead to an unsuccessful campaign.

[Read more: How to Build a Small Business Content Strategy]

Brainstorm campaign and post ideas

Next, begin drafting campaigns and post ideas that are in line with your marketing strategy. Start by observing your competition’s blogs, podcasts, or other social media content for inspiration. However, be sure to put an original spin on your content, as copying competitors' work without ingenuity can reflect poorly on your business.

Review analytics from content strategies you’ve tried in the past and look for patterns to determine what resonated with your target audience.

Just as social media is constantly changing, your content strategy will continue to evolve to better suit the needs of your audience.

Decide on the type of content mix you want to create

Generally, your content mix should be about 60% curated and 40% original, and each post should be related to your themes and aligned with your business goals.

For example, a family-owned restaurant may find online success by sharing recipes. However, if a local boutique were to share similar content, its audience would not likely interact.

Decide when you will post

Your content strategy can only be successful if your audience actually sees your content. Strategically decide when and how frequently you’ll post, based on when your audience is most active online.

Identify how often you plan to post, how many posts per day you will make, and what time of day you will share content, and then begin experimenting to see which strategies are yielding the best results from your audience.

[Read more: PR and Content Marketing: 5 Differences You Should Know About]

Assign responsibilities

Publishing content on time is crucial, especially when you're promoting an upcoming event or sale that requires ample preparation. To ensure your content strategy goes off without a hitch, delegate responsibilities to your staff. Designate staff to be in charge of writing content, graphic design, editing, publishing, managing the comments sections and inboxes, and analyzing data.

Ensure that staff are properly trained and provided with reasonable deadlines, factoring in extra time in case of delays.

Write captions and schedule content in advance

Before you write any captions, decide on the tone your business would like to have in its online persona — be it informational, fun, or formal — and determine what hashtags to include. Boost efficiency by creating content in batches and ensuring that it is optimized for cross-platform sharing so you can repurpose it later.

Once content has been drafted and approved, schedule it in advance to streamline your process and see your entire plan laid out before it's published.

Measure your results

Just as social media is constantly changing, your content strategy will continue to evolve to better suit the needs of your audience. Measure your results to determine how your content is aiding in your overall goals by looking at how your audience engages with each piece of content.

Depending on the content you’re measuring, you’ll want to look at follower growth, reach, impressions, bounce rate, page views, downloads, reviews, and backlinks.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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