How to Create a Social Media Calendar in 5 Easy Steps (with Template)

A social media calendar is an essential organizational tool for any marketer.

Posting as soon as an idea strikes can be tricky. You’re more likely to make mistakes and typos. Plus, you’ll miss out on opportunities to collaborate with other teams.

Social media calendars are the perfect solution. They provide social media marketers with dedicated time to create, edit, collaborate on, and schedule posts.

And you’ll never miss posting about obscure holidays like National Pizza Day again.

In this post, we’ll show you how to build an effective calendar filled with content that engages audiences on all of your platforms.

What Is a Social Media Content Calendar?

A social media content calendar is a spreadsheet or app used to plan, organize, and track social media posts. 

Like a traditional calendar, a social media calendar provides a big-picture view of the coming weeks and months. It helps you coordinate content so you don’t miss big events or deadlines. 

A good social media calendar tells you the following about each scheduled post:

  • The time and date you plan to publish
  • The social media platform and account you will share it on
  • Post format (in-feed post, story, etc.)
  • Content materials (e.g., copy, photos, or video)
  • Hashtags and links to use

You can create a social content calendar with many tools. Or use a simple spreadsheet, like our free template:

content calendar in a spreadsheet

Download our free social media content calendar template below and follow along to learn how to fill it out.

Think of a social media content calendar as an editorial tool that helps you:

  • Plan new content around your business needs (like product launches, holidays, and seasonal events)
  • Stay ahead of schedule by visualizing what’s coming up in your content plan
  • Inform social media teams when you publish content
  • Maintain a consistent social media posting schedule
  • Ensure content is free of typos and mistakes
  • Improve your social media strategy by tracking which content performs best and recreating it for different topics 

You’ll work more efficiently if you plan ahead. And you won’t be scrambling for something to share to encourage audience engagement. 

You’ll also have more time to react to breaking news or current industry events in real time.

For many small businesses, posting regularly on social media can be a chore. A little upfront preparation can help you connect with your community and market your business while giving you back time to focus on other important tasks. 

Let’s look at the building blocks of a social media content calendar so you can get started. 

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar

An effective calendar maps out the what, where, when, and why for each post. 

This way, your audience always sees relevant content that encourages them to take the right action (e.g., read, share, sign-up, make a purchase, etc.). 

Here are five steps to create a comprehensive social media calendar:

Step 1: Analyze Social Media Platforms to Learn Where to Post

The first step in creating a social media content planner is deciding which social networks to post on. 

If you already use social media for your business, you’ll probably know which platforms you want to include. But it’s a good idea to take a step back and decide where to prioritize your resources. 

Start by running a social media audit of your current platforms to clarify the good and flag the not so good. Look at your current channels and ask:

  • Which platforms perform best?
  • What type of content do your followers most enjoy?
  • Does content resonate with the expected audience? Or do you interact with groups outside your target (e.g., people in different age groups, different locations, etc.)?

If you’re successful on a particular platform (people engage with your posts), it’s a safe bet for your calendar. But is every platform performing as well as you’d like?

If a platform isn’t important to your business or lacks audience interaction, it’s better to shelf it rather than risk spreading yourself too thin. 

If results have been positive, but maintaining the account is a struggle, a calendar will help you manage a more consistent content schedule. 

Prioritizing successful accounts will free up space to explore new platforms and audiences (e.g., reducing time on LinkedIn and exploring TikTok). 

Planning content in advance also makes it easier to manage additional channels—something that quickly becomes overwhelming if you’re working on the fly. 

Want to try posting on new platforms? Analyze your competitors to see where they’re successful.

An easy way to find out is to enter your competitors’ names into Semrush’s Social Tracker. Semrush will search for their social profiles and add the pages it finds. 

First, add the companies you want to track (including your own). For your own site, you can click “Connect Facebook,” “Connect Twitter,” etc. to connect your social accounts to the tool.

add companies to track

After you click “Start tracking companies,” the tool generates a report with relevant information.

Within the “Overview” tab, scroll down to find the “Comparison with Competitors” report.

Comparison with competitors report

Click on the “Audience” tab to learn more about your competitors’ social following. Compare their numbers with yours. And find out which of their platforms have the largest followings.

competitors audience

But keep in mind that having tons of followers doesn’t automatically yield high engagement. It’s better to have a smaller number of highly engaged followers than it is to have thousands of followers who scroll past your content. 

Click the “Engagement” tab to reveal how each competitor fares by platform:

competitors engagement

Comparing engagement with audience size will help you decide which channels your business might perform best on. If there’s an audience for your direct competition, there’s an audience for you.

Use filters if you don’t need data for all the social media sites.. You’ll find checkboxes for each social media site above the chart. Uncheck the platforms you don’t want to see.

filer by social media sites

Use this information to see who your top competitors are. Then, look at their posts to see if there are any successful strategies you could replicate.

Step 2: Decide What Kind of Content to Post

Deciding what mix of content to post is an important part of building a social content planner.

When shaping your social media content strategy, remember: social media is not a sales channel. 

Rather, it’s a place to create an engaged community. Use social media to build awareness, trust, and a loyal following. 

Maintain the right balance by following popular content mix strategies like the 80/20 rule or the rule of thirds:

The 80/20 rule: 80% of your content informs, entertains or educates your audience. The remaining 20% promotes your products or services. 

The rule of thirds: Dedicate one-third of content to each of the following:

  • Content you curate from followers (reviews, posts that tag your business, etc.)
  • Interaction with followers
  • Promotion of products and services

Note: Your mix of content will vary depending on your brand and industry. But either of these rules is a good starting point.

Scheduling curated content and user-generated content helps to increase engagement and reach with followers. It also eases the pressure on you to come up with new ideas constantly. 

Take Passion Planner. They create posts about their products: 

Passion Planner own posts on instagram

But they also publish user-generated content:

Passion Planner user-generated post on instagram

And educational content:

Passion Planner educational post on instagram

And relatable quotes from their CEO:

Passion Planner ceo quote post on instagram

They cover a wide content mix to engage their following.

When deciding on what content you want to share, think strategically. What can you share to keep people coming back? 

Experiment with a wide range of content:

  • Video
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Text-based posts
  • Blog posts
  • Testimonials
  • User-generated content (e.g., sharing follower photos, videos, reviews, etc.)
  • Live streams

But ensure what you share fits with how people like to consume content on their preferred channels. 

For example, sharing a summary of a blog post might work better on LinkedIn than it would on Instagram or TikTok.

Let’s look at our competitors again to see types of content they’re successful with. 

Return to Semrush’s Social Tracker. At the top of the Overview report, click on a set competitor from the drop-down menu.

You’ll get an overview of their best-performing content from the last 30 days.

social tracker tool

You can also pull platform-specific data using the different tabs found in the Social Tracker tool.

If you click “Instagram,” for example, you’ll see your selected competitor’s top Instagram posts. Along with engagement data.

The image below shows that the selected competitor’s top posts are all educational.

tool found competitor’s top posts to be educational

Use this insight to inspire your content marketing strategy

For example, you might experiment with your own educational posts. Or you might want to stand out with quotes and images from everyday users.

You can also find content ideas by browsing the hashtags brands use. Hashtag data is available for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in the Social Tracker tool.

Click on the “Hashtags” tab. Then select “All profiles” to observe yours and your competitors’ popular hashtags.

find popular hashtags

In the above example, competitors use branded a hashtag most often. Knowing this, you might populate your calendar with content that builds awareness around your own hashtag.

Step 3: Determine What to Include in Your Content Calendar

Start with basic details for each post:

  • Social media platform
  • Date and time (including time zone)
  • Copy and visuals
  • Links to assets (blog post, landing page, product page, etc.)
  • Link to post (once it’s published)

This information will help you share the right content to the right platform at the right time. These basics will be sufficient for a small marketing team to plan and schedule content for the weeks and months ahead. 

Here’s an example of what that could look like in our free social media content calendar template:

content calendar

As your team grows and you add more users to your calendar, you could include additional detais, like the following

  • Social media campaign (e.g., product launch, brand awareness, etc.)
  • Status (e.g., in progress, scheduled, or live)
  • Deadlines for creation, scheduling, and/or publishing
  • Assigned user (the person creating, scheduling, and tracking the content)
  • Links to tracking tools (e.g., Social Analytics, Google Ads, etc.)

Use color-coding and categorization to make all of this information easy to digest. 

Here’s how we color-coded content types in our content calendar template: 

color-coded content types

Color-coding lets you quickly identify what kind of content you’re posting the most. And which formats could use a little more attention. 

You can also use color-coding to establish status (for instance, red for “in progress,” orange for “scheduled,” and green for “live”). 

If you’re using a social media calendar app or online content planner, visual indicators are often standard features to help you process information. 

Semrush’s Social Poster, for example, uses social icons for each platform and green check marks to show live posts.

Semrush’s Social Poster icons

Step 4: Plan the Best Days and Times To Post

When starting out, pick a sustainable posting frequency. The best cadence is the one that you can maintain consistently. 

But keep in mind that it’s beneficial to post most days if you can. HubSpot’s 2022 State of Marketing Report shows that brands post at least 4-6 times a week on nearly every popular platform:

use social media most days

Industry research can help you determine when people are most active on different platforms. 

According to an analysis of more than 35 million posts, these are the best times to post (in your core audience’s time zone):

  • Instagram: 9 a.m., 8 a.m., and 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Friday, and Tuesday
  • Facebook: 9 a.m., 7 a.m., and 10 a.m. on Friday, Wednesday, and Monday
  • Twitter: 10 a.m., 9 a.m., and 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, and Thursday
  • LinkedIn: 11 a.m., 10 a.m., and 12 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Wednesday
  • Pinterest: 9 p.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m. on Friday, Tuesday, and Thursday

For TikTok, HubSpot research shows that the best times for B2B brands to post for maximum engagement are the following time ranges on Saturdays and Thursdays:

  • 6-9 p.m.
  • 3-6 p.m.
  • 12-3 p.m. 

Pro tip: Use Social Analytics in the Social Media toolkit to find out when your audience is active on different platforms.

Social Analytics

It’s also helpful to know when your competitors are most active. This way, you can post when you know people interested in your niche are online. 

Head to the Social Tracker and choose which social platform you want data from. The tool gathers activity data for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

choose which social platform you want data from

Select a competitor from the drop-down menu and click on the “Activity” tab. This will show you publishing trends and how those trends correspond to performance.

Select a competitor

The below screenshot shows that your competitor posted on Instagram on 16 of the last 30 days:

filtered overview

If you scroll through the report, you’ll also find a chart containing your competitor’s publishing trends. It shows what type of content your competitor posted on which days:

competitor’s publishing trends

Use this data to see which days deliver the most engagement. You can then tweak your publishing schedule to best reach your audience.

To maintain a consistent cadence, use automation tools that let you schedule content in advance.

Automation is a huge timesaver. It means you don’t have to jump between channels simultaneously at peak times. It also lets you share content outside of your work hours without signing on.

Use a tool like Semrush’s Social Poster to draft and schedule posts for multiple social channels.

Semrush’s Social Poster

From the monthly calendar view, hover over the day that you want to schedule your post for. A plus sign should appear in the upper right corner of the square. Click it.

monthly calendar view

The posting widget will appear. From there, select which social media platforms you want to publish your post on. The options shown depend on which social media accounts you connected during setup.

For this walkthrough, we chose LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

select social media platforms

Copy and paste content from your social media content calendar into the tool. And add your visuals and links as needed.

add your content to calendar

Finally, set the time and date that you want your post to go live. Or use the “Post Now” option if you want to post immediately.


Now that you’re done, look at the post preview on the right side of your screen. And hit the “Schedule” button when you’re happy. 

schedule your posts

Tip: For more information, check out our guide on how to plan your posts in an interactive calendar using the Social Poster. 

While it’s helpful to schedule posts in advance, don’t rely solely on automation to drive engagement. Spend some time each day interacting with followers, replying to comments, and engaging in conversations. 

The guitar brand Fender, for example, regularly responds to Twitter replies and mentions.

Fender using twitter replies and mentions

Showing a human side to your business is critical to building relationships.

Step 5: Analyze Social Media Results to Improve Your Social Strategy

Your social media content calendar is as much a tool for tracking and measuring as it is for planning. 

Due to constantly changing trends and algorithms, social media marketing will always be somewhat trial and error. 

But analyzing your content helps you find out what is or isn’t working. So you can create content your audience enjoys.

Use the Social Analytics tool to assess how your posts are performing across different channels. 

The “Overview” section shows data from your social channels in a single view. This provides insight into how many people are seeing and engaging with your posts. 

track how your posts are performing across different channels

Use this report to spot positive and negative changes. 

Say post interactions are up in the past 30 days on Instagram. Look at your calendar to see which kinds of content you’ve posted. How does it differ from previous content? And how can you replicate this success?

Similarly, if interactions are down, analyze your post’s copy, visuals, or format to find out what might be missing the mark. 

Also use Social Analytics to review data about your audience, likes, engagement, posts, stories, and more (depending on the platform).

Note: Read our Social Analytics guide to see how reports differ by platform. 

We’ll use Facebook for this example.

Audience: Does the audience match your target demographic? Are followers online when you schedule your posts? If not, tweak your content and/or posting schedule.

Social Analytics overview

Page Likes: How are people finding you and why are they unliking your page? A recent jump in likes or unlikes is a sign your content is or isn’t working. 

page likes in Social Analytics

Engagement: Are people who see your posts engaging with them? If engagement is low, experiment with different content formats (for example, add video to text-only posts).

engagement in Social Analytics

Posts: How can you replicate top-performing posts? And are there common factors among posts that got a negative response?

posts in Social Analytics

Monitor social media performance weekly and before you create a new batch of content for your calendar. This will ensure you’re able to keep up with trends and changes to algorithms. 

When you’re ready to fill out your calendar, you’ll need a reliable tool. Here are four of our favorite beginner-friendly options:

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a free alternative to Microsoft Excel. And it provides a simple way to build a social media content calendar for small businesses

Sheets sync across multiple devices and allow sharing so team members can easily collaborate on content.

You can create a custom calendar using our free template.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets will help you plan ahead and ensure each platform has a good spread of content. But it won’t post for you. 

To upload content to socials, you’ll need to copy and paste your posts to a social media scheduling tool (like Social Poster).

Semrush Social Media Toolkit

The Semrush Social Media Toolkit is a free suite of tools that helps you plan, create, and post content.

We’ve already covered some specific use cases for the individual tools above. But here’s a brief overview of what you can do with them:

Social Poster

  • Create and save post drafts
  • Schedule and automatically post content on specific dates and times
  • Find content ideas from your favorite blogs or websites

Social Tracker

  • Track your competitors’ social media accounts
  • See how your accounts stand up to competitors’ accounts
  • Find top-performing content to understand what topics your audience cares about

Social Analytics:

  • Review content performance
  • Understand your audience demographics
  • Find out when your audience is most active
  • Learn which content followers like and dislike

Tip: Learn how to use the Social Media Toolkit for every platform.


Canva is a free, beginner-friendly online design tool that lets you create professional-level graphics for your social media channels. 

Its Pro plan (from $12.99 /month) lets you create, plan, and schedule social media posts from a simple calendar interface.

canva content planner

Canva lets you schedule posts for optimal times and provides a zoomed-out look at the weeks ahead.

The calendar also features popular social media dates from around the world to help you plan posts for potentially viral events. 

Each post includes basic insights to track impressions, reach, likes, and comments:

impressions, reach, likes, and comments

If you rely primarily on visual content, Canva’s content planner is a simple way to make the most of a social content calendar.


Trello is a project management tool that enables team collaboration. Trello boards let you use drag-and-drop “cards” to set up lists for each platform you use. 

Alternatively, you can create individual boards (up to 10 on the free plan) for each social network.
Here’s how Girl Knows Tech uses Trello as an Instagram content calendar: 

trello board

Use cards to upload social content and set deadlines for different stages (e.g., content creation, scheduling, and posting). Add color-coded labels to highlight content types. 

Trello helps you stay organized and streamline your workflow. But like Google Sheets, it lacks the ability to automate sharing or to measure performance. This solution works best as a planner when paired with scheduling and analytics tools. 

Download Our Free Social Media Content Calendar Template

Using a content calendar for social media planning keeps you organized. Plus, it frees up time you can spend on engaging with your followers.

There’s no need to start from scratch—download our free social media calendar template today. Use the default formatting or customize it to your liking.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Experiment with new formats and posting times, then analyze content performance to see what works best.

Download your social media content calendar template to get started right away.

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