Sonora Birnie

The social media content creation world is vast, and so are the ways to plan out your content. Because you’re the leader of your internet adventure team, introducing new and beautiful social media posts to hungry eyes, it’s important that you have a plan of action. One of the best ways to master the art of social media calendar planning is to use a calendar … yes, a calendar. But there are so many options out there — which one is best for you?

What is a Social Media Calendar and Do I Really Need One?

It’s important to think strategically before you whip out your digital and metaphorical social media paintbrush. A social media calendar can help you do that and improve your social media presence. When your calendar is accurate, you actually have more time and energy to be creative. A social media content calendar will describe what posts are coming up and when they will be posted, ensuring your social media activity is well-coordinated and impactful.

Note that content calendars and editorial calendars are different. To learn more, check out our article on the best editorial calendar tools. A brief comparison from the piece says that an editorial calendar only deals with written work, while a content calendar may include “all kinds of digital marketing collateral, including graphics, video content or even audio (such as podcast episodes).” 

Having an eagle-eye view of which social media channel content will be posted is valuable to most teams. For example, this kind of clarity helps editorial and other creative departments understand your schedule and work more efficiently. Additionally, a well-maintained content calendar template ensures that your social media planning is consistent and aligns with your overall marketing campaign goals.

All that sounds nice, but you may be wondering if you and your team actually need a calendar in the first place. The truth is, just like with most art styles, it’s important to find a content strategy that works for you and your business requirements. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How often do I want to make a social media post?
  • What different platforms will I make a social post to?
  • What kind of content will I be posting?

These are just a few examples to get you headed in the right direction, but first you need to really examine what your social media content posting goals are. This will inform what kind of content calendar your team will use, and help you generate content ideas that resonate with your audience on multiple platforms.

How to Structure a Social Media Calendar

There are many ways to structure your social media calendar tool in accordance with your needs. You may see a running theme here … and the variability of the process is an advantage because you can tailor the calendar to your social media requirements. On the other hand, you may be slightly overwhelmed and unsure about how to tackle the structure. Here’s a brief breakdown of what you might need to consider when setting up your calendar:

  1. List the social media platforms: Note the most important social media channel or social platform for your content. Make sure your social media manager thinks about all options, from TikTok and Instagram to LinkedIn and Facebook, and even Google My Business for local SEO benefits.   
  2. Decide what your calendar needs to track: This could include things such as hashtags, images, captions, content type and posting time. 
  3. Stick to a posting schedule: Creating a reliable cadence is not only beneficial to your team but will benefit the post’s performance. Scheduling posts can help maintain a consistent social media presence.
  4. Ensure there is a review process: Before posting, you should make sure the curated content is reviewed thoroughly to make sure that there are no mistakes, and that the message reflects brand guidelines. 
  5. Report the finished product: Don’t just send your art out into the ether and never think about it again. Make sure to track its performance through impressions and other valuable social media KPIs

Advantages of Planning Ahead

Social media calendars aren’t just “nice to have.” They’re a must-have for any social media marketer.

Social media is essential for any marketing strategy — but, with 5.03 billion people using the internet, it can be hard to grab your target audience’s attention. Similar to a blog post content calendar or a production calendar, a social media content calendar can help your team stay ahead of the game. 

When you have a social media plan in place for the future, you avoid wasting time, resources and effort. The more your team knows what to expect, the more streamlined your workflow will be. Perhaps one of the most important benefits is that you can more easily make sure that your social content aligns with the predetermined goal such as brand awareness or website traffic. In addition, your team can reference the calendar to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Consistency is key when it comes to performing well on social media, and a social media content calendar can help make this easier. 

Examples of the Best Content Calendar Templates

Great art comes from references and learning from those that have come before you. Your social media calendar is much the same and you can use social media calendar templates to help you get started. Resources from places like Sprout Social or Google Calendar can be just the boost you need. Here are some great examples of templates that can get the creative juices flowing: 

  1. Hootsuite Social Media Calendar Template.
  2. ManyChat Instagram Posting Calendar Template.
  3. HubSpot Social Media Calendar.

There are tons of social media calendar templates that you can use and adjust according to your specific needs and preferred social network. Here’s one simple schedule that we made using a Google Sheet, which is very similar to the one our professionals at Brafton use. Make a copy of this one and adjust it for your needs; it has all the basic requirements for social media management:

social media calendar planning example

The art of social media strategy requires fine attention to detail and a keen eye, all things a calendar can help with. So what are you waiting for? If social media is your artistic medium, let your creativity fly with a robust content plan and social media calendar content planning.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Dec. 15, 2023.