Your 6 step guide to creating and managing a social media content calendar

Julia Martins contributor headshotJulia MartinsOctober 18th, 20227 min read
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Managing a social media account—or multiple—is no small feat. Between new posts, audience interactions, and internal company amplification, you're likely juggling multiple work streams just to keep your social media accounts active. Luckily, there’s a better way.

Think of a social media content calendar as a cheat sheet. With it, you can plan posts in advance, so you’re maintaining a seemingly-effortless stream of high-quality content. Whether you're planning 30 days or 365 days in advance, a social media content calendar is a great way to bring cohesive messaging and quality content to your viewers.

Don't think it's possible? Learn more about social media content calendars—and how to create your own—in our easy, six-step guide.

What is a social media content calendar?

At its most basic level, a social media content calendar is a calendar of all of your social media posts. By creating and curating a social media content calendar, you're also creating a central source of truth where you can plan upcoming posts, track what’s been posted, and coordinate your efforts with cross-functional teams.

This type of calendar can be especially helpful if you’re managing multiple social media accounts across Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. A social media content calendar can help you post with a unique voice, manage multiple versions of each post, and decide what to post on each account.

Free social calendar template

FAQ: Do I really need a social media content calendar?

Maybe you currently plan all of your posts directly in your social media apps as you go. You might be asking: do I need a calendar? Yes! A content calendar is a must for any social media marketing team. With a content calendar, you have a real-time way to:

  • Plan posts in advance. Get ahead of schedule by visualizing what's next in your content plan.

  • Brainstorm social posts. Work with cross-functional collaborators to brainstorm new potential social media posts and bring new voices into your social media presence.

  • Balance evergreen and timely content. Plan both evergreen and timely posts to delight audiences in the moment while also scheduling perennially relevant posts.

  • Note important upcoming dates. Track relevant company dates, like any new product launches, so you can share prepared content.

  • Stay up to date on the latest hashtags. Keep a running list of relevant hashtags and new ones you could use, depending on the post's content.

  • Schedule and coordinate influencer posts. Working with thought leaders in your space? Track their contributions and your engagement in a central place.

  • Collect any relevant visual assets. Plan visual content in advance to make your posts pop.

  • Report on social media metrics. Track how your posts are doing and keep engagement metrics on-hand so you can set and achieve your goals.

To build an effective, helpful social media content calendar, you need a tool that can help you organize and visualize your posts. If you’re just getting started, try a work management tool that offers a free social media content calendar template, like Asana. With our template, you can get started with example tasks and sections, view your calendar in Calendar View, and report on how previous posts did.

The benefits of a social media content calendar

By creating and managing a social media content calendar, you can unlock new potential for your social media team. With a calendar, you can bring strategy and metrics into your social planning to bring your accounts to new life. Additionally, a social media content calendar can help you:

Maintain a consistent posting schedule

Without a centralized social media calendar, it can be hard to accurately visualize when you're posting on each of your accounts. To easily make sure each account is getting the right amount of love and attention, you need a calendar of every upcoming and past post. Plus, by visualizing your posts ahead of time, you can ensure there are no upcoming coverage gaps, or plan for new posts in those windows if need be.

Read: How to align your team with a work schedule template (with examples)

Nail the timing for every post

A lot of work and thought goes into each social post. But without the best plan in place to share and amplify those posts, they can easily get lost in the newsfeed—and your audience won't get to see the amazing content you've created just for them. With a social calendar, you can organize all of your posts in advance, and plan when to best post them to snag your audience's attention.

Centralize content planning

Depending on where and what you're posting, you're likely planning to include an image, link to a blog post, share a new video, or potentially include a customer quote. A social media content calendar can help you decide what you need and source these materials from across your marketing team—not to mention make sure they're properly organized and attached to the correct post.

Read: The complete guide to writing creative briefs

Prevent big mistakes

Make sure everything you post is copyedited and error-free. View all upcoming posts to avoid spelling mistakes, make sure you're always using the right links and images, and prevent big mistakes before they happen.

Increase cross-functional visibility

Not all team members have access to your social planning and posting tool, so without a centralized source of truth, cross-functional team members don't have a good sense of what you're posting when. By maintaining a social content calendar plan, in a tool everyone can use and has access to, you can make it easy for your team members to re-share, like, and amplify your posts. That way, you're not only keeping track of your social posts for yourself—you're also providing an easy source of truth for any interested team members.

Get started with social media analytics

In order to improve your social media strategy, you need to be able to look back on what you did. What worked? What didn't? What posts got the most engagement? But digging through individual Instagram or LinkedIn posts is not the way to do that. Instead, look for a tool that makes it easy to look back on past posts.

6 tips to create and manage a social media content calendar

Ok: you're ready to get started. But how do you actually go about building your calendar? We recommend getting started with a work management platform like Asana, using our free social media content calendar template. With it, you can track processes, report on past post cadence and publishing schedules, provide visibility, and align with your team.

Free social calendar template

But no matter where you're building your social media calendar, follow this six-step guide to get started:

1. Identify your social media channels

This might seem like an obvious first step, but it's one of the most important steps you can take—and it often gets overlooked. Before you start homing in on individual social posts and channel-specific strategies, take a step back with your social media team to answer the question: Which social media platforms should we be on?

Is there a platform that's less relevant for your audience? Conversely, is there a platform that's popular with your demographic that you haven't started to build out yet? Are there forgotten social media accounts for your company that have started gathering dust?

Knowing where your audience is can help you narrow your platforms, which is the first step towards creating platform-specific content strategies—and truly creating content that shines for your audience.

2. Conduct an audit of your social platforms

One of the advantages of creating a social media content calendar is reporting on progress, so it's helpful to have a baseline of where you started. As you audit your current social profiles, note:

  • Your most successful post by channel

  • What types of posts get the most engagement

  • When your audience is most active

  • How different types of posts do (e.g. compare and contrast image vs. video content, company blog vs. external posts, etc.)

  • Popularity of evergreen vs. timely content

  • Audience demographic across social media platforms

  • Where each social platform is now

If you conduct a social media audit, only to find you're not really clear on what's working—that’s ok! Your calendar will also have a way for you to report and track data, so you can continuously improve your process moving forward.

3. Decide what you want to track with your social media content calendar

Now that you have a plan for which channels to focus on, and you know how your posts are currently doing, it's time to build out your social media content calendar. If you started with our free template, you likely already have a pretty good baseline for tracking the essentials. To take things a step further, use metadata in your social media calendar tool to track additional details—like which hashtags you're using, which channels you're posting on, the specific time the posts will go live, target audience, relevant @-mentions, and more.

4. Plan your posting cadence

As you're building out your posts, decide how frequently you'll post, and how far in advance you want to write your posts. Knowing your cadence will also help you figure out your capacity, and optimize your content creation process.

If you haven't already, now is also the time to build out your asset library. Do you frequently post images and videos, and if so—where do those images come from? If you have a design team, organizing your posting cadence can help you send requests in advance to avoid overloading them. Alternatively, if you use stock footage, creating an asset library can make it easier to source images and videos.

5. Build out a review schedule

At this stage, take some time to brainstorm and align on review cadence with your social team. Who should review posts, and when? Do your posts need any approval from brand or legal teams? Your social calendar is there to help you build out processes. It's also a great way to keep track of all of your content reviews in one central place.

6. Track and report on published content

If you're using a calendar to track your posts, you already have a central source of truth for all past posts. Use this as a chance to look back on trends and add social media analytics data to those past posts—how many likes and impressions did the post get in the first hour, for example. Were there any notable audience engagement metrics? Use this as an opportunity to track what works, and continue to hone and refine your social media campaigns.

Social media content calendar example

Every social media content calendar is slightly different, based on the channels your team is posting on, how frequently you post, what information you're tracking, and what workflows are most important to your team. Here's an example of what a general social media content calendar might look like:

[Old Product UI] Social Media Content Calendar in Asana (Calendar View)

Use this as a starting point to create your own social calendar—fill it with relevant types of content, add your social networks, and use it to track your social marketing strategy.

Free social calendar template

How do I come up with new content ideas?

Deciding what to post on social media can be a tricky game—that's why your team has dedicated you, the social media manager, to work on this. It’s your job to post timely content that your customers like and your audience wants to engage with. And that is no easy feat!

A social media content calendar not only helps you schedule posts—it can also help you plan them. For example, if you're managing a food-focused Instagram account, and you hear about how National Pancake Day is coming up, you can plan a post for that day with ample time to be creative, proofread the copy, and source great images—instead of scrambling to get a post out the door when you see your competitors posting about pancakes.

Your social media content calendar will also make it easier than ever for you to report on past posts and track what's working. So if you don't know what you should post, that's ok! Your calendar can help you decide what's working for your audience, and you can craft a message in line with your top metrics.

New notification: Everybody likes your social media content calendar

Being organized, planning your posts, and tracking what works is the best way to optimize your social media strategy. A social media content calendar can help you curate evergreen content and share high-quality posts on relevant and important dates. Next step: going viral.

Free social calendar template

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