Creating a social media content calendar on the fly is very stressful, and your posts are far less likely to resonate with your audience.
If you really want to excel in social media, plan ahead! A simple social media calendar will go a long way toward sparking creativity, reaching your target audience, and ensuring that your team members are all on the same page.
Don't worry if you aren't a good planner - you can use a free content calendar template to get your team started.
What is a social media content calendar (and why do I need one?)
A social media calendar is a planning document used to organize and schedule your social media posts for the month (or months) ahead.
It is used to keep track of your social media marketing efforts, including deadlines, team responsibilities, and creative assets while creating the necessary transparency with your stakeholders.
There are several benefits to this approach to social media planning:
- A social media calendar keeps your social media team organized and aligned.
- A social media calendar ensures that your team doesn't miss out on important seasonal trends or events.
- A social media calendar protects your team's bandwidth and ensures that there is adequate capacity at all times.
Of course, this isn't always as easy as it sounds. Your social media calendar has to contain the right elements to ensure all of the important boxes are ticked.
A social media calendar template can provide a good structure that can be adapted according to your needs.
What should your social media calendar template contain?
It's not difficult to find a social media calendar template online, but not all of them will be adequate for your needs.
Social media managers looking for a social media content calendar have to look for templates that contain the following elements:
Social media calendars cannot possibly contain all of the elements you need to convey in great detail, and your marketing team will likely use shorthand and imagery to convey content ideas and plans.
However, your calendar should still be accessible to stakeholders. Include an easy-to-read key that makes it for outside stakeholders to interpret the information in your calendar.
Your UTM parameters and URLs are the best way to track the success of your social media strategy in practice.
Make sure to include the URLs you would like to share from your website (or other sites if you are curating content for a specific social media platform from outside sources).
The UTM parameter is a string of tracking codes that can be analyzed in Google Analytics or a social media management tool.
It shows social media marketing teams which posts are the most successful at driving traffic to their website.
No good calendar template omits the date and time when upcoming social media posts will be published.
Teams need the ability to view the full pipeline and publishing dates in order to plan their workflows and provide status updates to clients.
Are you ready to create an effective social media plan? Get started with our article Best Day And Time To Post On Social Media and unlock the power of the followng social media calendar templates!
When you are planning your social media content well in advance, it's important to include context.
Make sure that you include the messaging surrounding your social posts, including the copy or caption, so that outside parties and internal team members can understand the intent of the post.
Your content calendar template should enable you to track social campaigns from start to finish.
If you are able to create a dropdown list of predetermined campaign names, it's even better. Make sure that campaign names are aligned with UTM parameters for seamless tracking.
Social media is highly visual in nature, which is why you should include images that will be shared and when.
Add a thumbnail image to each post, with the message and the date. This will make it easier for stakeholders to sign off on your marketing campaigns.
Best Free Social Media Calendar Templates
Now that we've covered the basics let's take a look at the best free content calendar templates you can start using today.
Hootsuite is a top social media management tool, but they also offer a free, customizable, ready-to-use calendar template that can be downloaded and used to schedule your content ahead of time.
It's very customizable, and you can tweak it according to the social channels you use most often.
There's also a separate tab where you can keep your evergreen content that can be reused throughout the year.
HubSpot is a well-known marketing platform. You'll find a free social media calendar template to download, including a spreadsheet for scheduling posts, planning your publishing schedule, and setting up updates for various social media platforms, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
There's also a unique content repository to assist you with content planning. You can refer back to this document whenever you need inspiration or relevant content to repost.
3.Social Media Examiner
The Social Media Examiner has made a very simple social media calendar template available in Google Sheets.
It doesn't have the bells and whistles of some of the other calendar templates, but it has all of the details you need to execute your social media strategy.
There's a day-by-day multiplatform view that makes it easy for teams with high volumes of content to post consistently.
4.Small Business Trends
Small Business Trends is an online publication aimed at small businesses based on their own internal content production calendar. It's available for download as a Word Doc, Excel Spreadsheet, or PDF.
Backlinko's free social media calendar template can be opened in Google Sheets or downloaded in Microsoft Excel.
Teams and individuals will find it useful for creating schedules and workflows.
It's highly detailed, with a step-by-step assembly line that will help you keep track of social media deadlines and important events.
Smartsheet is a popular workflow management tool, and its social media content calendar template is perfect for teams that are either already using the tool or need a daily, highly detailed breakdown of their social media efforts.
The template provides space to input posts from Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Instagram, with a section provided for "other" networks.
Each section allows for a posting frequency of six daily posts with predefined time slots. There's also room to add social copy, images, links, data on click engagement, and more.
Asana is an enterprise-grade project management tool, but if you are an individual user, you can use a free version of the tool to plan the month or year ahead.
Asana has a great social media calendar template, as well as plenty of additional functionality and features that put them head and shoulders above the rest.
It's a collaborative project management tool, which means it is perfect for teams.
You can drag and drop tasks into the necessary date slot, add custom fields, and much more.
You can even assign tasks to other team members, e.g., copywriters or graphic designers. Once completed, they can assign a task to you for approval and scheduling.
SocialBee provides weekly social media content calendars for every month of the year, with prebuilt sections for the seven most popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google My Business, and TikTok.
The various sections contain several fields where you and your team can add necessary details about each post, including hashtags, due dates, links to visual elements to accompany your post copy, and more. It's easy to customize the content calendar template.
Vertex42 offers all kinds of exciting free templates, including a social media content calendar template. It's perfect for planning and tracking your tasks and content.
In addition to the standard monthly calendar view, there's a helpful Gantt chart that visually breaks down every post.
We also love that the calendar is pre-populated with some of the biggest US holidays and events, along with helpful hints and content ideas.
Template.net has thousands of editable templates, including a social media content calendar template that can be downloaded in Word, Google Docs, Apple Pages, or PDF format, depending on requirements.
Simply download your template, edit the content and share it with your team or stakeholders.
Have you ever heard the expression, "failing to plan is planning to fail"? Planning your social media posts in advance will ease the pressure of coming up with last-minute ideas and will give your team greater control over their capacity and workflows.
While not everyone can come up with a great system, thankfully, anyone can find and start using a ready-made social media content calendar from the sources we've provided.