After a deluge of requests from staff looking for social media profiles and updates, with no clear policy or strategy underpinning our advancement in that area, I spent most of yesterday defining a content vision for our organisation.

The idea of content calendars is a thorny one for many. I’m no editor!, they say. But if you create anything using text, or pictures (moving or static), the truth is you absolutely are.

But help is very much at hand. There are some frankly incredible resources out there to help. You only need to head over to Joe Pulizzi‘s fantastic Content Marketing Institute (CMI) to get everything you need to create a dynamic, relevant and phenomenally effective content calendar and strategy. This is the gateway to an effective inbound marketing plan.

Inbound marketing is the only way to build solid relationships with your customers, uninterrupted or even enhanced by your competitors’ futile efforts.

I confidently predict your competitors to be blowing chunks since, at least here in the UK, there are so few examples of people using inbound marketing effectively and consistently. To them, a raspberry.

To you, the sweetest apple. You have chosen well.

How high do you want to go?

Here are my favourite resources for brainstorming and collating a content calendar – effectively the cornerstone of inbound marketing, creating consistent stream of valuable information to reel in your prospective partners and slowly turn them into clients:

I guarantee that between those three articles, with accompanying spreadsheets, and a PDF, you’ll have everything you need to plan and produce an ever-changing but totally-focused year of inbound marketing taking you and your business to heights you couldn’t even aspire to, today.

What is inbound marketing, really?

The ‘experts’ will spin all kinds of bullcrap in manifest directions. Ultimately it’s the kind of sticky, engaging content produced in-house that will get people tossing and turning in their beds while they struggle to sleep against the incredible inspiration you have generated.

They won’t win if you do your job properly. Red eyes, happy minds. C’est la vie.

Oh, and a corollary – you don’t need to work with any inbound marketing agency to make inbound marketing work for you. You just need to have a goal, some metrics, and always be measuring.

The likes of Infusionsoft and Hubspot will make the journey easier, but they won’t carry you a la that ridiculously cheesy Footprints poem.

What is content?

There are fundamentally three types of content, and a system I cover extensively in my book Sharing Superheroes:

  • Short-term: The Tweet. The Facebook update.
  • Medium-term: The blog post. The news feature. The webinar. The video interview.
  • Long term: The ebook. The case study. The podcast series or video show.

What I did

We’re not active on LinkedIn, or Google+, and we can’t access Pinterest on our network so that’s out.

Right now, since everything is shiny new, all that’s on our plate is the two titans of social networking – Facebook and Twitter.

I rocked over to Hubspot and grabbed their social media publishing spreadsheet (link above and here).

To coach my peers in marketing to regularly brainstorm headline topics to underpin our daily content output, I held a workshop based on, and shared resources featured in, CMI’s 2-step editorial calendar template article.

We haven’t yet moved on to long-term content. That’s for another day. And it will be very important when we turn our focus from our B2C content strategy, to partner prospecting.

What if you’re at the point where thinking about the publishing component of your business is completely new? Let’s circle back to the CMI and look at one of Barbra Gago‘s best-ever articles, Step-by-Step Templates for Mapping your B2B Content.

PS – if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for – you have now. Thanks for everything, @katedreyer!

PPS – I’ll be talking much more about inbound marketing soon. Meantime check out that book I recommended. And since you’ve got this far, a prize: the first two people to email me at [email protected] saying “Sharing Superheroes Whoops Ass! (Even though I haven’t read it yet)” in the subject line get a free copy of the book, if they have a UK postal address.

Enjoyed this lesson for content strategy success? Get in touch on Twitter @davethackeray and let me know your thoughts.