“Create evergreen content.” We have all heard this sentiment so many times, and we’ve probably read those exact words even more often. Create content that never goes out of date.
Content that’s fresh, useful and compelling all year round. But guess what? This column isn’t about evergreen content. Like the song says, to everything there is a season, and sometimes that’s the case for content too. As the winter holidays approach, this is a good time to talk about seasonal content and why it’s about more than dropping the word “Christmas” or “Holidays” in your copy a few hundred times.
There are basically two kinds of seasonal content: time-based (winter, summer, month-by-month) and event-based (Christmas, National Pancake Day, Thanksgiving). Obviously, sometimes these are tied together, but that doesn’t make them the same thing.
Begin by diving into some trends research. Design your content around multiple waves. A very simple example would be a sporting goods store hoping to promote the World Series. Baseball, as a general term, is popular during the summer. Toward the ends of summer, wild card races start gaining traction, followed by post-season playoffs, and finally, the World Series.
By overlapping these four trends, you can clearly see how you would want to build your baseball-season content calendar. Be creative! Look at the associated keywords for each trend and consider how you could work a fresh, seasonally-related angle on what might seem like an otherwise stale subject.
Look for related keywords – snow, skiing, coats for winter – to build your content. Keeping on top of the news is a great way to get this kind of inspiration.
Timing Is Everything
You want to hit just before the peak of any given seasonal spike so you’re among the leaders, not following the pack. But don’t jump in too early or you won’t catch the wave of interest.
How soon you want to start publishing your content depends on how steep the rise in interest is. Some topics have gradual spikes, meaning you can begin earlier. Some are very abrupt, so you should position yourself close to the event date. On average, it’s best to publish about two weeks ahead for maximum visibility.
It’s often a very good idea to do “soft” pieces first, to get your current audience thinking about — and sharing — your content. It’s the content equivalent of clearing your throat to catch a room’s attention. Don’t unleash your biggest and best ideas without making sure people are listening.
Anticipation Vs. Procrastination
Many companies are in areas where some times of the year are busier than others. Theatre productions ramp up their productivity right before premiering a new show, retailers look forward to various holiday sales, and even search marketers have busy conference seasons. These are the times when it’s important to anticipate the content you will need and prepare for it.
Identify the slower parts of your year, when you’re looking around for ways to prep for the busy season, and start writing then. Chances are, on April 14th, there’s no one at H&R Block with time enough to think, let alone to write an article on how to file an extension. Writing tax advice articles in November means all that’s required later is pushing the content live.
Pro tip: Because seasonal content is, by definition, only of temporary interest, social media campaigns that can move quickly and capitalize on rising trends are ideal for promotion.
Turn, Turn, Turn
Though you may not be able to take advantage of your content year-round, you can make your content perennially popular by not adding time bombs. Time bombs in your content are references to current events, popular celebrities, or other non-repeating trends that will quickly make any piece sound dated.
The World Series and the Oscars come around once a year, but the specific people associated with those events change. While your thoughtful and well-researched article about how the Red Sox are going to crush the Yankees and go on to win the World Series would have looked prophetic in September 2004, by December that was old news, and in 2012, it’s ancient history.
This doesn’t mean you can never reference current events. Sometimes jumping on a big news story is a great idea. But look for ways to create content that will continue to be useful time and time again. If done right, you’ll be able to gain traffic, followers, and sales from the same piece of content year after year.
How do you come up with ideas for seasonal content? What’s the best way you’ve found to spot recurring trends? Sound off in the comments!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.