Been thinking a lot about of the work processes around creating content and measuring its against outcomes this week. One idea that came up in my post earlier this week about creating and measuring content, was the concept of an idea dashboard. This post takes it a bit deeper.
Sustaining a content strategy requires establishing a good pipeline of content and engagement across channels. It starts, of course, with identifying your audience and objectives and gets better with measurement. But your content pipeline needs more than an editorial calendar. You need a pipeline which includes ideas for themes or topics you want to create content around. It isn’t just a laundry list of ideas or titles that you might brainstorm during a regular editorial meeting, but it is a place to capture and flesh out the ideas that makes it easy for all those working on content to collaborate. And to ensure that you don’t have to start with scariest thing ever: a blank slate.
That’s where an idea dashboard comes in. An idea dashboard is just another name for a journal!
It might sound like extra work, but it can actually make your content creation process more efficient because you are not starting from scratch. Let’s look at the ideal work flow for an integrated content strategy for an organization is that at the “flying stage” of the Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly Framework.
You set up regular planning time to come up with ideas for content for the week or month. To help you plan, you:
- Review the news prompts in your editorial calendar template
- Review upcoming content for programs, campaigns, and other organizational activities
- Ask: What existing content can be re-purposed for social channels?
- Review ideas in your “Idea Dashboard”
Next, you are ready to organize your content onto your editorial calendar. It helps you think through how to re-purpose existing content for social channels. It helps you keep it aligned with your objectives. It helps you keep it organized. If you are using a social media management tool, you can pre-schedule some of your content. You should also have a spot where you can plugin your key metrics later once content has been published.
Then it is time to create content. Creating from scratch is the most labor intensive – whether you are writing it yourself or cajoling someone on staff to create it. You’ll also want to have content templates handy – for example different formats for how-to pieces, lists, or idea pieces. Sometimes, you are just re-purposing existing content by changing the title or revising the first paragraph. Or maybe you are chopping up content – for example writing a blog piece that includes a visual and use the visual to post on Facebook. Next, you are ready to publish and of course measure. Having your metrics collected along with what you published will be highly useful when you plan for the next month’s editorial calendar.
What goes in an Idea Dashboard?
For the idea dashboard to work, you need to use it regularly and that takes making it habit. Also, you need to be highly selective – it should not become a messy dumping ground.
- List of most popular “Evergreen” content based on your web analytics
- List of ideas that didn’t make onto the editorial calendar
- List of topics that you routinely cover as part of your content strategy
- List of best sources that provide content around topics (blogs, Twitter lists, FB pages)
- Quick outlines of ideas w/ useful curated link
Idea Dashboard: What Type of Tool?
I like using a combination of paper and digital tools. I know this is old school, but I love moleskine notebooks. I use this to capture ideas when I’m offline. I use a Evernote to keep lists, ideas, and outlines online, especially to incorporate curated resources. There are other digital tools, like using an online mindmap.
Are you using an idea dashboard to manage your content creation?