Social Media Strategy

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar in 2024 with Free Templates

Building a brand in 2024 requires a strong strategy, a clear vision and a plan to make it happen. If organic social media marketing is a channel you’re looking to explore, you need a social media content calendar in place—and here’s why.

A social media calendar doesn’t just give you structure and accountability: it streamlines the most time-consuming parts of marketing your business to help you reinvest your time where it matters most.

By batching your content creation, identifying time-sensitive opportunities and working weeks (if not months) in advance, you can spend less time crafting content and more time winning clients, forging brand partnerships and growing your team.

Looking to build a content calendar for social media but not sure where to start? In this complete guide, we reveal why you need to build a social media calendar, a step-by-step guide to creating your first calendar and share 12 free social media content calendar templates to get you started.

What Is a Social Media Content Planner?

A social media content schedule displaying posts for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok, organized by times with various images and placeholder text | Social media scheduler | plannthat.com

A social media content calendar is used to plan your social media posting schedule. Usually shown as a monthly calendar, it gives you and your team a birds-eye view of your social media marketing, including what you’ll be posting to what channel (and when).

The goal of a social media calendar is to encourage you to plan your organic social content in advance. By establishing a regular posting cadence and selecting the key channels you’ll be harnessing, this calendar makes it easy to manage multiple social media platforms.

Why Does Your Business Need a Social Media Content Planner?

Imagine this: you’ve realized your business hasn’t posted on Instagram in over a month.

You scroll through your latest posts to see what has been performing well and head to your website to see what content you can repurpose. Then you have to jump into Canva to whip up a carousel, spend hours writing (and rewriting) the perfect caption and struggle to decide which hashtags are worth adding to your post.

By the time you hit publish, you’ve spent close to half a day crafting a single post—with no plan for when you’re going to show up on Instagram next.

This is the key problem with posting on the fly: it’s time-consuming, tedious and reactive. But with a social media content calendar, you can unlock efficiencies in your workflow, plan ahead and fast-track the content creation process to get back to building your business sooner.

1. Save time by batching your social media content creation

A digital interface displaying organized image collections titled "Fall Collection" and "Home Collection" with options to add new collections, sort by favorites, and search within collections, ideal for a social media planner | plannthat.com

A social media content calendar enables you to see the bigger picture and plan out multiple weeks or months of content at the same time.

Did you know it can take 23 minutes to refocus on a task after being distracted? Batching enables you to ditch inefficient multitasking and gives you the ability to focus solely on one thing at a time.

Rather than tackling single posts on an ad hoc basis, batching your content creation allows you to get into the deep work zone, carve out dedicated time to focus solely on content creation and produce multiple posts in one session.

2. Show up consistently on social media

Do you find yourself saying, “I have no idea what to post on social media!”?
You’re not alone. Content ideation is one of the most challenging parts of social media marketing. But by planning your content in advance, you can plan out a month (or more) of post ideas at once.

With a bank of compelling content ideas ready to go, you’ll speed up the process of creating content to enable your brand to build a consistent posting schedule and active online presence.

3. Harness the power of strategic repurposing and cross-posting

A person holding a bouquet of flowers, promoting "The Blooming Bouquet" on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok, encouraging followers to explore a curated gift guide for Mother's Day using a social media planner | plannthat.com

When posting content on the go, it’s nearly impossible to think strategically about how to get the most value out of your content. However, using a content calendar enables you to look ahead and see opportunities to repurpose or cross-post your content across platforms.

Take this example: If you’re planning to produce an evergreen Instagram Reel answering FAQs about your latest product, this short-form video is perfect for cross-posting to other platforms (like TikTok and YouTube Shorts). This means one single piece of content can reach audiences, and potential customers, across three platforms.

4. Boost the quality of your social media content

A person setting automated social media posts for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn on a scheduling platform, with a calendar and laptop in the background | plannthat.com

When posting content on the go, it’s nearly impossible to think strategically about how to get the most value out of your content. However, using a content calendar enables you to look ahead and see opportunities to repurpose or cross-post your content across platforms.

Take this example: If you’re planning to produce an evergreen Instagram Reel answering FAQs about your latest product, this short-form video is perfect for cross-posting to other platforms (like TikTok and YouTube Shorts). This means one single piece of content can reach audiences, and potential customers, across three platforms.

5. Capitalize on time-sensitive content opportunities

From seasonal holidays to industry-specific events and sales periods, a content calendar gives you the big-picture vision to build timely content opportunities into your social media content.

Planning ahead enables you to pick and choose which holidays and seasonal moments matter to your brand and build anticipation in the weeks leading up to important sales, like the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. This is key to never missing a timely opportunity again!

How To Create a Social Media Content Calendar

The best social media calendars are easy to use, tailored to your team’s processes and designed to help you produce high-quality content quickly and efficiently. No matter how you build your social media content calendar, there are a few crucial elements to consider, including:

  • Platforms
    What social media channels is your brand using, from Instagram to Pinterest and even YouTube, TikTok and LinkedIn?
  • Publishing dates and times
    What date, day and time is each posting going live? Don’t forget to add the time zone you’re publishing content in either!
  • Content pillars
    What key themes are informing your social media content? These should be customized to your brand and linked to clear goals, such as building trust, boosting engagement and driving sales.
  • Format
    What type of content are you using in your posts? Make sure to harness a mix of content formats, from video to carousels to static graphics, to see what resonates best with your ideal audience.
  • Post captions
    Make it easy for your team to review your content by including the caption (and hashtags) for your posts.
  • Assets
    In a similar vein, ensure you include the images, graphics or video content you plan to share in each post. Ideally, this should be presented visually so your team can review your feed holistically.
  • Status + approvals
    From comment threads to status updates, ensure you have a way to track whether each post has been reviewed, needs changes or is ready to schedule.

🔥 Hot tip:

The best content calendars have a regular posting cadence that is realistic for your brand, whether that’s posting three, five or even seven times a week. Plus, make sure to figure out how far in advance you want to plan your content, whether that’s planning each week, fortnight or month.

Wondering how to actually build your social media content calendar? Let’s dive into your options.

Option 1. Using a manual content planner spreadsheet

  • Pros
    Free to set up and use with no limit on the number of users who can collaborate and the ability to completely customize the calendar to suit your workflows.
  • Cons
    It involves a high level of manual setup and ongoing maintenance to keep the calendar up to date, making this calendar clunky and difficult to use (especially with multiple team members).
  • Best For
    Solopreneurs and very early-stage businesses who are willing to dedicate hours each week to keeping this calendar accurate and up-to-date.

Option 2. Using a social media management tool

A social media scheduler interface displaying a calendar view with scheduled posts for Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, along with a mobile preview showing posts and engagement metrics, set against a subtle gradient background | plannthat.com
  • Pros
    The best tools go beyond simply planning your posts, with handy functionality like a visual feed planner, AI-powered caption starters and content prompts, effortless cross-posting tools, and recommended best posting times based on your audience analytics.
  • Cons
    Most tools require some level of investment to access the full suite of features, usually for a small monthly subscription fee.
  • Best For
    Businesses of all sizes who are looking to spend less time on planning social media content and more time strategically growing their business.

One of the best ways to build your social media calendar is to leave it to the experts and harness a social media management tool. These purpose-built platforms allow you to design, drag and drop content into a digital calendar, visually plan your feed and schedule content to auto-post in advance.

Along with building your social strategy and content planning, the best tools offer a suite of features, including new post ideas, access to trending audio, AI-powered caption prompts, in-depth analytics and so much more.

For example, with Plann, you can:

Visually plan your feed and schedule posts weeks, or even months, in advance—and post at your top performing times on auto-pilot.

A smartphone displays an Instagram profile with a grid of blue-themed photos, including landscapes, objects, and abstract images. The username and options like "All" and "Scheduled" are visible at the top, showcasing the use of an Instagram scheduler. | plannthat.com

Speed up your content creation with thousands of handpicked hashtags, free stock image libraries and brand-building blocks to design your own custom social  strategy

Woman in a robe applying face mask with a brush, hands holding a beauty product, text "Beauty" with hashtags like #instabeauty, #beautysalon, #selflove | Social media planner | plannthat.com

Access a complete photo editing suite and our in-built Canva integration to design your content directly within your Plann workspace

Image editing interface featuring a photo of a tea cup with a flower and a laptop on the floor, with options for custom photo sizes and stickers, including opacity and color adjustments. Text: "Monday morning tea break." | Social media scheduler | plannthat.com

Make data-driven decisions with our free analytics tool, revealing detailed performance metrics, the best time to post and even your top color swatches and brand palettes

A dashboard from a social media scheduler showing best performing color palettes, optimal posting times, and engagement metrics. Includes tabs for week, month, 3 months, and lifetime views, with images of a blue car and a window with flowers. | plannthat.com

Collaborate effortlessly with your team, virtual assistant or clients with team chat threads and one-click approvals to get your content approved and posted on scheduled.

Mobile app interface showing scheduled and pending posts with images and videos, user roles like Admin, Editor, and View Only, and a comments section with team discussions on post approvals and tagging | Social media scheduler | plannthat.com

Free Social Media Calendar Templates

Looking for best-in-class social media content calendar examples? You’ve come to the right place.

Here at Plann, we’re passionate about helping entrepreneurs build their audience and grow their businesses by making social media content creation easy. That’s why we release monthly social media content calendars packed with daily post ideas, caption starters, strategic repurposing tips, high-performing hashtags and Canva templates to customize and make your own.

What are you waiting for? Hit download and start planning your social media content like a pro.

Our Favorite Social Media Content Calendar Apps and Tools

Wondering which tools you should be using to plan your social media content? Whether you’re opting for a DIY spreadsheet or ready to explore purpose-built social media scheduling tools, these are our top picks for the best apps to build your social media content calendar.

Best for emerging businesses who are looking to build their very first social media content calendar and are just getting started with social media marketing. 

Like all of the Google Workspace apps, Google Sheets allows you to build a spreadsheet calendar where you can collaborate with your team in real time. This shared, live document is a great starting point for using a social content calendar, with the ability to use drop-down menus and comment threads to manage content review and approval processes.

Best for small teams who are looking to add social media marketing to their existing marketing mix and want to get more strategic about planning ahead. 

While project management tools like Trello aren’t purpose-built for social media marketing, they’re a step in the right direction towards streamlining your content planning processes.

Trello’s boards and calendar views allow you to map out your social media posts across each week and month, with handy comment threads to manage feedback and approvals, too. Just remember that you won’t be able to schedule your content through Trello, meaning this approach adds another layer of complexity to your content creation workflows.

Best for entrepreneurs, content creators and businesses who are looking for an all-in-one social media management suite packed with tools to help them work smarter, not harder.

Obviously, we’re a tad biased, but we reckon Plann is the best social media tool for brands, businesses and content creators to stay consistent online. Our social media suite is packed with all the features you need to go from idea to scheduled posts in minutes.

We make it easy to manage multiple social media networks, build a high-performance social media strategy and fast-track your content creation workflows. From our AI social media caption generator to our campaign blueprints and hashtag manager tool, it’s never been easier to cut through and drive tangible ROI on social media.

Get ready to map out your omnichannel content strategy, design impactful content, reply to comments, build an engaged audience and review results in one place—Plann is your secret weapon to social media success.
What are you waiting for? Our award-winning social media management tools are trusted by 3 million global brands and counting.

Sign up for a 7-day free trial of Plann and create your first post in five minutes or less. If you don’t like it, you can keep using Plann for free too!

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