Social media calendar: how to create one and a free template

Need to build a social media calendar? Here’s how to do it and a free template to download
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Transform how you manage, plan, and organise your brand’s social media marketing in one central space.

A social media calendar is an invaluable tool for your brand. A well-designed calendar will get your social media flying, and it will help you to collaborate with other people on your team (as well as in other teams), organise your schedule more efficiently, and get immediate visibility into your activity. 

Because your social media calendar will help you stay on track of your publishing schedule and the type of content you publish, it will minimise the risk of duplicate posting or being too repetitive. It helps you plan, stay ahead of deadlines, and add zest and sparkle to your content. 

What is a social media calendar?

There are different types of social media calendars available. Most people are either a spreadsheet person or a tech person and there are calendars available for both. 

Whatever version you choose, your social media calendar gives you a day-to-day breakdown of your social media posts across the platforms of your choice and will serve as a framework to help you plan and track your campaign.

It provides you with a one-stop-spot to assess your social media across multiple accounts and campaigns and means that elements of your posts can be kept in one place, from videos and photographs through to hashtags and the names of any other brands you want to tag. It can be used by agencies that need to run numerous social media accounts, or by in-house marketing teams – the value lies in how accessible it makes your information so that you can make decisions quickly. 

ipad with calendar

How to create a social media calendar

You can download free social media calendar templates online (scroll down for Vamp’s free template), or create your own to fit your brand and needs. Whether you go for a Notion calendar, a Google Doc or just a good old spreadsheet, your social media calendar should include the following elements: 

  • An agenda of upcoming posts
  • A planned timeline for post scheduling
  • Important events highlighted for easy tracking and management, along with clear deadlines
  • An overview of campaigns and projects
  • The names of your social media platforms and your post formats – i.e. a reel for Instagram, a short for YouTube
  • Links to your visuals
  • All your hashtags and location tags
  • Target audiences
  • Social media copy and alt text

How to create a social media editorial calendar

Along with your social media calendar, it’s a good idea to use an editorial calendar to plan out all the individual content assets that you’re going to be promoting via your social media, such as blog posts, articles of interest, any new research etc. 

Here’s a free template from Hootsuite, which you can use to plan your content  – download it and use a new tab for each month. 

Hootsuite’s editorial calendar has the following columns:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Topic
  • Deadline
  • Published
  • Time
  • Notes

As no two social media campaigns are ever the same, you might want to add some columns of your own, such as keywords and/or hashtags. 

How to plan a social media calendar 

If the thought of planning your social media calendar feels overwhelming, don’t panic. The best approach is a step-by-step one and once everything is in place, managing it will be a piece of cake going forwards.

Follow this simple guide to planning your social media calendar:

  1. Decide what type of content you’re going to use. Ideally, you should adopt a mix of content such as articles, GIFs, images, videos, and reposts, and use different formats depending on the platforms you’re using, such as reels, polls, carousels, live videos, and slideshows. 
  2. Mark down any holidays or days of interest that are relevant to your business, for example, Christmas Day, Easter, National Spaghetti Day etc
  3. Note any events that work with your brand, such as sporting events, national and/or local events
  4. Add in any product launches, events or key brand moments that you want to shout about. You can build up excitement on social media with a lead up and then a big reveal
  5. If you plan on giving discounts to tie in with sales events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, factor these into your social media calendar 
  6. Add brand news into your calendar if there’s anything you want to share with your audience
  7. Include other features like Q&As and a weekly round up
  8. Take a look at your calendar to see if there are any gaps. A good social media calendar will highlight all the key moments that are important for your brand; it will be varied, and momentum should continue throughout the year

What to post on social media

According to Hootsuite, a good social media calendar will stick to the rule of thirds. 

This means that:

  • A third of your social media posts should be promoting your brand
  • A third of your posts should be curated content or reposts from leaders in your chosen field
  • A third of your social media posts should involve direct interaction between you and your followers

Alternatively, you could opt for the 80/20 rule, which suggests:

  • 80 percent of your posts are created in order to inform, educate or entertain
  • 20 percent of your posts are intended to promote your brand

It’s always a good idea to find brands similar to yours for inspiration. However, remember that the tone and messaging of your social media should be in-line with all your other marketing efforts, i.e. your website, brand messaging, PR campaign, brand direction etc. 

How to manage a social media calendar

Once you’ve created your social media calendar, you’ll need to decide how to post. Using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite and Buffer means you don’t have to post live, which makes it a lot easier to post consistently. It also means you can take a holiday! 

Scheduling your posts in advance will also give you an overview of what’s coming up in your social media calendar. You and your team can fact check and edit posts while they’re in the queue waiting to be posted – you’re much more likely to spot typos and other errors this way. It’s so easy to make a mistake when you’re posting on the hoof.

You can also use analytics tools to find your best performing posts. Use this knowledge to refine your social media calendar by including similar content that you know has a decent chance of performing well. 

We have plenty of resources to help you with choosing social media management tools, boosting your Instagram posts, and running Instagram Reels ads. We’re also official TikTok partners. 

Do you really need a social media content calendar? 

The short answer is yes. A social media content calendar will save you time, help you to post regularly, make it easier to remember important dates and enable you to optimise your social media content – posts that are repetitive and samey will leave your audience cold. 

You might not get it right the first time, but using a social media content calendar as a planning tool means you can improve your campaigns as you go along. The more you post, the better idea you’ll have of what works and what doesn’t, and you can plan accordingly. 

How often should you post on social media?  

According to Planable, these are the recommended number of posts you should schedule for each social media platform in each week:

  • Instagram    3 –5 
  • Instagram Reels   5–7 
  • Instagram Stories   7–15
  • Facebook   3–5
  • Twitter 10–20
  • LinkedIn  3–5
  • TikTok  5–7

That said, not all social media platforms may be relevant for your brand, and it’s usually better to focus on quality rather than quantity. There’s little point posting content daily if you don’t have time to interact with followers. 

Social media calendar template 

To get started, download Vamp’s social media calendar template for free. 

Examples of great social media posts

Fancy learning from brands that have nailed their social media campaigns? Take inspiration from our case studies

Hootsuite also has eight examples of clever social media scheduling over on their website. One of them is Thrive Market, which capitalised on Teacher Appreciation Week by running a giveaway just for teachers. They also used the post to highlight that Thrive Market offers free membership for teachers all year around.

A well-thought out social media campaign can attract a lot of attention.  WWF ran social media posts challenging big brands to mark World Wildlife day by removing nature from their logos. The social media campaign attracted a lot of attention and Greta Thunberg got involved. 

Ready to start your social media campaign? 

Get started on your social media campaign with Vamp. Our pricing is transparent and there is a FREE option. Check out why Vamp is perfect for businesses who want to take their social media campaigns to the next level.


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