The Must-Have Content Planning Calendar For 2016

You may not have a crystal ball to predict what kind of content will be popular tomorrow, but you can see the future – and it’s recurring events that will pique the interest of audiences and publishers year after year.

Creating content about popular annual events can lead to an uptick in traffic, SEO, brand awareness, and sales. But if you publish about an event before it’s on anyone’s radar or too long after it’s passed, you’ll struggle to attract interest. The key to success with seasonal content is timing publication and promotion to occur while the event is top of mind for your audience.

Our team at Alexa pinpointed the optimal times to publish and promote seasonal content based on which date ranges saw the largest volume of content about major events published during 2015. Using this data, we created a 2016 editorial content calendar that includes recommendations for when to produce, publish, and promote seasonal content.

In this post, we’ll examine planning the month of February to achieve the best content results moving forward in 2016.

For marketers, February is a critical time to start working on top-tier content for the weeks and months ahead.

Mother’s Day – Start Production Now

Looking ahead, Mother’s Day may seem far away, but for marketers, now is time to start planning content. In fact, Feb. 18 is the optimal time to begin creating video and interactive content. Why?

Videos, “why” posts, and list articles are the top-performers for this specific holiday. Videos are especially important – out of the 17 major events analyzed, 70 percent of them had videos as one of the top-performing pieces of content. A prime Mother’s Day example: National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative video netted more than 26,000 shares. Cats plus moms, what’s not to like?

From 2015’s top-performing mom content, we discovered Facebook and Pinterest garner the most social shares. These platforms see an average 760 shares per piece of content.

The best sites for Mother’s Day content regarding the most social shares? Look to:

  • YouTube
  • USA Today
  • GMA Network
  • BuzzFeed
  • Time
  • ABC News
  • Elite Daily

March Madness – Begin Article and Graphics

With March Madness approaching, marketers need to start planning content now to earn a slam dunk in social engagement.

On Jan. 29, marketers should have already started working on any infographics they plan to promote around March Madness; Feb. 22 is the optimal time to begin working on articles and other additional graphics to make March Madness content a success.

Based on last year’s content engagement, Facebook and Twitter were the victors of the most social shares for this event content. Sports sites such as ESPN, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated are obviously the top hubs for social shares on March Madness, but Zimbio, BuzzFeed, and YouTube also made the cut for most-shared pieces of content.

St. Patrick’s Day – Begin Graphic and Article Content

For St. Patrick’s Day, simple lists and “why” and “what” posts do the best for this particular holiday.

For example, last year’s National Geographic post of the 16 Pictures That Transport You to Ireland performed well with more than 160,000 Facebook shares. NPR’s feature on using butter for the best traditional Irish cuisine was a fun look at history and food, and it tied back to St. Patrick’s Day for the ultimate timeliness.

With a relatively low amount of effort and research, these types of simple ideas still do well.

Year after year, St. Patrick’s Day traditions and themes rarely change. This is a fantastic opportunity for marketers to leverage evergreen content that can be built upon each year.

In addition to Facebook, Pinterest is where marketers are also seeing the most social shares for this holiday. Thanks to all of the delicious Irish dishes, it’s no wonder.

Our team at Alexa laid out the year with all of the major holidays and events on a day-by-day basis for the best times to create, produce, and promote seasonal content. See our entire 2016 content calendar here.

Key Takeaways for 2016

  • If your main goal is getting a story picked up by publishers, focus your PR outreach efforts on events that have a longer life cycle in the media.
  • Get more mileage out of events with short publishing cycles, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Memorial Day, by creating evergreen content that can be updated and repurposed year after year (examples: video tutorials, how-to articles, gift guides).
  • Live events, such as the Super Bowl, Summer Olympics, the Academy Awards, and, of course, March Madness also present opportunities for newsjacking and real-time publication (such as releasing content during the event when interest is highest).
  • Be sure your content is optimized for Facebook. When it comes to generating social shares, Facebook is king; it produced the majority of social shares for content around every event.
  • Video content is highly shareable. YouTube is among the top 10 sites with the most social shares for almost every event.
  • Video content is highly shareable. YouTube is among the top 10 sites with the most social shares for almost every event.


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