How to Create a Social Media Posting Schedule [+10 Free Templates]

By Joe Weller | June 28, 2017 (updated April 21, 2023)

Engaging with social media audiences is a key part of online marketing for any business. Every company that wants to compete in the digital world — whether it be a contractor, healthcare provider, or owner of a bagel shop — needs to maintain a consistent social media posting schedule.

Posting engaging content regularly will help you land more customers and increase your sales. Even if you regularly use social media in your personal life, you may not know how to leverage the types of content and posting cadences that produce results for a business. 

In this article, we’ll explain the importance of a social media posting schedule, how to create one, the types of content to produce, and when to post so you can optimize your social media across all major platforms. Plus, we’ve included 10 free calendar templates that are easy to use, customizable, and designed for efficiency.

Why Have a Social Media Posting Schedule?

Posting regularly on your social media accounts is a necessary part of marketing your business, but the amount of time and organization it takes to generate effective content on a daily basis can be stressful.

By creating a social media posting schedule, you can batch the effort of creating content for your social channels and save a ton of time and stress. Plus, having a schedule allows you to generate a backlog of content that is ready to go, rather than worrying about what you're going to post each day. In turn, this will boost productivity

Additionally, with a social media posting schedule, you can do the following:

  • Keep your campaigns organized across multiple channels.
  • Improve planning for important sales events, holidays, and product launches.
  • Double-check that your posting is consistent across all platforms.
  • Ensure a mix of content types and posting times.

If you’re tracking metrics, measuring performance, and adjusting your social media approach accordingly, a schedule can help you boost the effectiveness of your posts even further.

You can increase the number of followers on your brand's social media accounts by posting regularly, demonstrating your commitment, and encouraging your audience to anticipate and interact with fresh content.

The benefits of a posting schedule include consistency and organization.


How to Create a Social Media Posting Schedule

If you are already posting on social media but aren’t getting the results you want, a review of your current posting strategy may be in order. If you are currently not posting on social media, these steps can help you get going.

Step One: Ensure that all key stakeholders are included in the process in order to end up with a well-designed strategy. Take stock of your current strategy by doing the following: 

  • Perform an audit of your current content. 
  • Review past results for each social media network.
  • Analyze your competitors’ presence.

Step Two: Research the demographics of the social media networks you want to use and the audience you want to reach. 

Step Three: Create measurable goals for engagement and results you want. Some examples could include an increase in brand awareness or social media conversions. 

Step Four: Determine if you want to post from multiple profiles or from a single profile for each network.

Step Five: Create a content repository. (This can be done in tools like Smartsheet, Excel, Google Sheets, Evernote, or any number of tools, but make sure it’s on the cloud or a shared drive.)

Step Six: Determine your desired content ratio.

Step Seven: Create a posting schedule that specifies each network, what will be posted, and the time frame for each. An automated tool like Hootsuite will make keeping to the schedule easier. Make sure to add non-scheduled content in response to events for other posts.

Step Eight: Measure results and adjust the strategy as needed.

What to Post on Social Media

Social media plays a major role in your company’s inbound marketing strategy, so you’ll want to create posts that are impactful and engaging without coming off as irrelevant or too self-promotional. 

While Twitter memes and TikTok trends may get you a lot of views or followers, you probably won’t sell as effectively as possible using only these methods. On the other hand, if you’re constantly pushing advertisements of your product, people won’t stick around very long.

Instead, you’ll need to find a good balance between the two approaches. When considering what to post on your social media, there are some standard approaches you can use to get started, such as the rule of thirds and the 80/20 rule.

Consider using the rule of thirds or the 80/20 rule to achieve a mix of content.

Mix of Content Using the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds holds that you should break down your content calendar evenly into three categories:

  • Content that promotes your business or generates leads 
  • Content that comes from outside sources and aligns with your business needs (e.g., retweets and shares of other people’s content)
  • Content that directly engages with your followers (e.g., answers to questions, responses to comments, and requests for user-generated content)

Mix of Content Using the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule divides your content into two categories:

  • Content meant to engage, educate, inform, and entertain your audience, such as interaction with followers, retweets, and shares (80 percent)
  • Content meant to drive conversions and sell your product (20 percent)

So, when following this content mix, only 20 percent of your posts will directly promote your brand. 

Vary your content to help keep followers engaged. The following types of content are ideas you can incorporate in your social media posts using this rule.

Call-to-Action Posts

Call-to-action posts are used to get followers to do something. They should do one or more of the following:

  • Sell the value that will be received (e.g., why reading a linked blog post or curated article will be worth the time it will take).
  • Ask a question that may change beliefs (e.g., offer a better solution to a problem by providing statistics or facts).
  • Make followers feel like they will be missing out if they don’t act quickly (e.g., a limited-time special offer).
    Call-to-action posts are meant to encourage action from your followers.

Question Posts

Question posts are used to get your followers to interact or provide responses. They are a great way to help boost engagement while getting valuable customer insights at the same time. 

Asking closed-ended questions typically get more click-throughs. For example, if you’re a fashion retailer, you could run a “This or That” poll on Instagram to let your followers choose which clothing items they like best from your most recent clothing launch. 

Additionally, you can ask open-ended questions that can lead to more engagement through responses and discussion. For instance, if you run a health clinic, you might post a tweet asking your followers what their #SelfCareSunday routine looks like.

Question posts are used to encourage interaction and responses.

Controversy Posts

A controversy post is used to drive engagement by challenging common knowledge or questioning the status quo. Some controversial posts are even made for the sole reason of shock value, which gets people talking about your brand. However, it’s best to tread lightly doing this, as you may alienate some followers.

If you opt to do a controversy post, make sure your intent is clear and you provide data to back up your claims. Additionally, avoid politics or sensitive social topics if they aren’t relevant to your industry. 

Controversy posts drive engagement by challenging common beliefs.

User-Generated Posts

User-generated posts are made using content that followers contribute or that they interact with. These posts are used to encourage more interaction and fandom from your followers. Some examples of user-generated content include unboxing videos, product hauls, or praise-filled posts from your customers.

User-generated content is created by followers about a company or product.

How Often Should You Post on Social Media?

While you may be looking for a straightforward answer, there are many factors that play into posting frequency. It depends on which platforms you’re using, the industry your business is in, and when your audience is typically online. 

To help you get started, you can use a digital marketing tool like Hootsuite, which allows you to see what days and times your followers are most active. 

However, you also have to factor in the algorithm for each social media platform, which is basically a fancy word for a set of rules used by social media platforms to determine what content users want to see and what to show them.

One of the key factors algorithms use to evaluate and disseminate your material is how frequently you post. While you still need to take into account your industry and audience activity, we’ve listed the average number of times you should post for the following popular platforms:

  • Facebook: 1-2 posts per day 
  • Instagram: 3-7 posts per week 
  • Instagram Stories: 2-5 stories per day 
  • Twitter: 1-5 tweets per day 
  • LinkedIn: 1-5 posts per day 
  • Pinterest: 5-30 pins per day 
  • TikTok: 1-4 videos per day 

Use these times as a baseline for each social platform and monitor for engagement. If you aren’t seeing the results you want, see which days and times earn you the most engagement and adjust your posting frequency accordingly.

10 Social Media Calendar Templates

Social media templates are a great way to help you stay organized and on top of your marketing efforts. Below, you’ll find a variety of templates to help you plan and execute an effective social media strategy, including a social media content calendar template, a scheduling template, blogging calendar templates, and even a social media image sizing chart. While these are compatible with Excel and Smartsheet, you check out more free social media templates for Google Sheets here.

1. Social Media Content Calendar Template

Plan content for multiple platforms with a social media content calendar template.

Download a Social Media Content Calendar Template for
Excel | Smartsheet

This content calendar offers a simple format with sections for multiple social media platforms. By using the template’s daily view, you can establish a thorough publishing schedule with posting times for each piece of content.

2. Social Media Editorial Calendar Template

Detailed monthly spreadsheets in a social media editorial calendar template increase comprehensive planning.

Download a Social Media Editorial Calendar Template for
Excel | Smartsheet

If you need a comprehensive social media planning calendar, this template provides monthly and quarterly overviews as well as detailed spreadsheets for each month. You can list goals, track important events and holidays, collect measurable metrics, and align your social media campaigns with other marketing efforts. You can use this template for planning and scheduling any editorial project.

3. Social Media Calendar with Dashboard

Visualize your calendar by using a social media calendar with dashboard template.

Download a Social Media Calendar with Dashboard for Excel

Get a visual picture of your social media calendar with this dashboard template. The graphical display makes it easy to see what, when, and where you are posting. Keep track of basic metrics and view your upcoming schedule at a glance.

4. Annual Content Calendar Template

Annual content calendar template with monthly and yearly overviews.

Download s Annual Content Calendar Template for
Excel | Smartsheet

This annual content calendar includes sheets for planning by month as well as a yearly overview, an archive for tracking previous posts, and a section for brainstorming new content. Collect all of your social media calendar ideas in one place for easy reference. This template is a comprehensive tool for planning, scheduling, and storing content.

5. Blogging Calendar Template

Blogging calendar templates strategically focus on one type of content.

Download a Blogging Calendar Template for
Excel | Adobe PDF

Creating a separate blogging calendar can help keep your workflow organized and allow you to focus strategically on one area of content. This template mimics the annual content calendar but with a focus on blogging. Keep track of former blog posts, brainstorm new ideas, and create a detailed calendar for each month. You can also check out these free blog calendar templates.

6. Social Media Schedule Template

Social media schedule templates provide basic calendar options.

Download a Social Media Schedule Template for
Excel | Adobe PDF

This template offers a basic social media calendar example for those who want a PDF file for scheduling posts. List publishing dates, the status of each post, content descriptions, and the corresponding social network. You can edit the template to add or change column headings.

7. Social Media Strategy Plan Template

Identify and define audience and mission with a social media strategy plan template.

Download a Social Media Strategy Plan Template for Excel

Use this strategy plan template to identify your target audience, define your mission and vision, develop your messaging, and create a strategic action plan to meet your objectives. The template includes a section for analyzing your competition and finding potential roadblocks to address. Having a solid social media strategy will give you a foundation to build on and refer to when issues arise.

8. Social Media Audit Template

Social media audit templates track metrics across social media platforms.

Download a Social Media Audit Template for
Excel | Smartsheet

This template tracks various metrics across all of your social media channels. Conduct an audit by comparing current results to previous time periods as well as the goals you are working toward. Auditing your social media efforts can help you assess progress and find weak areas that may need attention.

9. Social Media Report Template - Excel

Track KPIs in a visual social media report template.

Download a Social Media Report Template for
Excel | Smartsheet

Compile your key performance indicators into a visually compelling report that is easy to use. This template is a useful tool for social media managers to track important data and communicate with team members. Identify your top posts, engagement numbers, and other data on a weekly basis. If you use Excel, check out more marketing calendar templates in Excel and Excel project timeline templates.

10. Social Media Image Size Chart

Track the maximum image and video sizes for platforms with a social media image size chart.

Download a Social Media Image Size Chart for
Excel | Adobe PDF

This reference chart shows the maximum image and video sizes for popular social media networks, including Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, as well as the messaging app Snapchat. Refer to this chart to make sure you have the correct sizes for each platform.

Improve Social Media Calendar Planning with Smartsheet Marketing

The best marketing teams know the importance of effective campaign management, consistent creative operations, and powerful event logistics -- and Smartsheet helps you deliver on all three so you can be more effective and achieve more. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed.

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time. Try Smartsheet for free, today.


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