It's really hard work. Contrary to the common belief and discussions I have seen, the exercise is not about being forced or mechanical in your voice and message — it really forces you to focus on what's important.
What's important to do, is important to measure.
Businesses need to make more decisions based upon what's really important, then figure out ways to measure that.
Your plan should also take into account opportunistic communications and conversation. Which will be easier once you define opportunistic.
Websites are stories
I'd like you to indulge me with an exercise.
Go to your Website (or blog), and take a look at all the copy that is there. Is it truly helpful? Does it help answer a topical question you may find on Quora, or Twitter, for example? (see an example of how I did that on Twitter recently in the image above)
Is your copy written in such a way that makes it evergreen? Would someone finding it in a month still use it and consider it relevant? Your editorial calendar needs to address updates and refreshes. The way you can handle that on blogs is by continuing the conversation in a subsequent post.
The biggest question you should ask, though, is: Are you telling a story?
Organizations invest considerable resources online, although in our conversaion from Confab2011, we found that content is still where they try to skim, or pull together at the last minute.
You're doing yourself a disservice if you do that. Content is a business asset. You should treat it as a product you have in the warehouse. That will allow you to figure out how to deliver the best return on investment.
Why search is your friend
Although content aggregators and not creators are cashing in, the answer is not to become a content aggregator. Many business owners also don't understand how to become a hub.
I was in a meeting the other day where someone who should know better suggested that if you post publicly you have basically given others permission to repost it. That's utter garbage, by the way. Your copy is copyrighted, even when you publish under a Creative Commons license.
Search is your friend. You do have all that data that tells you why people come to your site. Use it to write more content that speaks to them.
The bonus for you is that the new tags put in place by Google indicate what content is original to the site. Google will soon prefer the original sources in the display of search results.
This is great for original content creators like you and me. If part of your strategy is being an industry aggregator, you will need to figure out how to add value to get good SEO returns.
Using your archives to be relevant
Going back to the example I show you in the image above. You can meet opportunity with a robust archive by sharing the link to a relevant post or article to be helpful. Relevance takes care of your tone and intent builds your influence.
Another way is to build pages that aggregate articles and posts to show the thought process, highlight patterns, tell stories. In direct marketing we call those landing pages. I recently organized my voluminous archives into a hub.
There is a meta narrative there, which is what informs my methodology and process for marketing that makes business sense. If you drill down into each page, you will see how many disparate content pieces come together for each topic.
In doing this, I answer the question: How are 1,500+ posts relevant to you?
You can do the same with your own Website and social outposts. How does the editorial calendar help? It allows you to plan the narrative — the meta information — and build the patterns and stories as plug ins.