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Every social media calendar tool we could find [with free templates]

Blog Post Author – Alan
Alan8th May 2020

There are a huge range of social media calendar tools to choose from.

Because you absolutely need one, we dive into all the different tools and templates out there to help you choose the right one for your business.

Why is a social media calendar important?

If your business takes organic marketing seriously, you should be taking an organized and strategic approach to content. At its core, this involves getting your content published and shared in a predictable way.

A social media Calendar can provide the easiest framework to build your campaigns around because they allow you to work towards known deadlines and stay consistent.

You should be posting at the right times, and on the right days, in order to get the maximum engagement for all your content creation efforts.

And let’s face it, creating great content can take a long, long time.

Plus, using a content calendar means that your entire content marketing team can work collaboratively, and understand how their roles become part of the process.

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What is a social media calendar?

At its most basic form, a social media calendar is simply a framework which you populate with post types and channels.

For example, it could show that on every Wednesday you post a new video to Facebook, on the last Friday of the month comes a new white paper, and every day there are two new Twitter posts.

Some social media calendars are more complex, but their basic framework is the same.

They may also allow you to store and compile content within the calendar itself or automate scheduling to your different channels. More complex calendars allow you to see how the content moves along the approvals flow.

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The benefits of using a social media content calendar

However sophisticated you choose to go, there are several key benefits to using a content calendar to get the most out of your social media plan.

  1. Focus:

It’s easy to lose focus when you’re busy putting content together. With different campaigns, objectives, and several parts of the business involved, it’s easy to prioritize the wrong thing.

Working towards a clear goal should be a key part of your content strategy. A calendar can bring the focus you need, keeping things on track.

  1. Organization:

Content can become an organizational headache, especially when you are trying to distribute content across multiple social media platforms.

Content calendars help you stay on top of deadlines, by displaying what’s happening in a clear and easy way.

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  1. Consistency:

Your audience wants you to be interesting, informative and consistent. From your brand voice, through to the content you create, consistency should run through everything you do.

We like to think that you’re only as good as your last post. A social media content calendar ensures that you’re consistent across multiple channels, as well as within individual campaigns.

  1. Collaboration and Responsibility:

Multiple members of your team will be contributing to your content. There’s writers, photographers, illustrators, videographers, editors, SEO specialists and more, all contributing to content creation. Therefore a social media management tool is critical for collaboration.

Managing collaboration and responsibility within this can become complicated. Where does everyone chip in?

With an interactive calendar, everyone can see where their responsibilities lie, allowing everyone to work together to make your campaigns a success.

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  1. Analysis

Only with clear insight is it possible to follow up on the success of a campaign. The social media marketing calendar can be used to retrospectively see what has worked and what hasn’t. This information is then useful for shaping future goals.

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Examples of social media calendar tools

There are so many social media calendar tools out there. Here we take a look at those we’ve found and tell you what they do, and showcase them in action to help with your social media marketing plan.

ContentCal

What is it?

ContentCal is a visual content management and social media publishing tool with simple processes to help you create and publish content.

How does it work?

ContentCal allows collaboration between teams involved in content creation, with a calendar view that users publish from directly, after a clear approvals process.

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Color coordination and easy-to-edit campaign and post types mean that everyone can see the right information in the right way, and take action where needed.

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Meanwhile, ContentCal’s Content Hub provides a library for all things content. From briefs to images, to finished post, it’s a great place to search, manage and filter content.

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Collaboration is at the heart of ContentCal, with teams able to see and action relevant approvals. This approvals flow encourages development as it’s pushed through the calendar, keeping it on track and ready to meet publishing deadlines.

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ContentCal Content Calendar Template

What is it?

We’ve created a free-to-download content calendar template that you can download yourself.

How does it work?

It’s a user-friendly spreadsheet, you can populate the calendar with placeholders for different content types.

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The Calendar Template is straightforward to use, and a great first choice if you’re new to content planning.

You start to use the calendar by answering four questions about your objectives for content marketing plans. This begins to accurately populate your calendar.

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As you enter information about your content goals, this starts to populate fields on the right.

You answer the following:

  1. What are your content goals?
  2. What are the five main channels you post to?
  3. What different types of content do you plan to post?
  4. How many times do you expect to post each content type / month?

This populates cells at the top of the calendar, which tells you how many times you need to post per channel, and what the different types of post are.

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Then you copy and paste the different colours, representing each post type, into the calendar. You’ll know when you’ve added all your required post types for the month (e.g. 3 videos posted in January) because all the cells at the top go green, meaning you’ve planned to meet your objectives.

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There are full instructions available to guide you through how to use the free template.

Agorapulse

What is it?

Agorapulse is a social media management tool, covering every element of social media planning, content creation and analysis.

How does it work?

It works using a dashboard view, allowing you to drill into social media plans and actions, as well as monitor the success of different campaigns. The calendar on Agorapulse is powered by the dashboard.

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Agorapulse has many functionalities, as well as the calendar element. To begin with you’ll need to start by investing some time creating dashboards.

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Once you’ve done this, Agorapulse can be used as a publisher, starting by uploading the different content into the calendar.

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You can then create a calendar view publishing queue, color-coordinated so that you can see what’s going on.

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Within the calendar, you can select to view how posts will look on different social media platforms.

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You can also send content for approval within the calendar.

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Asana

What is Asana?

Asana is a team collaboration app, helping groups to organize and track work.

How does it work?

Within Asana, you can create a content calendar using either their calendar tool or their Excel template.

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Asana has a highly visual calendar where you can drag and drop information.

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Using pre-existing templates, it’s possible to create posts for different types of content.

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The relevant brief can be created and stored within the app, making it highly visible, and keeping content on track.

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There is an approvals process built into the app too.

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Using color and clear dashboards, you can see if there are any delays developing with different pieces of content. This helps to tackle them quickly.

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Buffer

What is it?

Buffer is a social media scheduling software. It can be used for team collaboration, as well as content creation and publishing.

How does it work?

Teams can plan and publish all of their campaign content for different social media platforms, and within it is a social media calendar.

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The social media calendar allows you to see, at a glance, what posts are scheduled:

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Changes can be added straight into the calendar:

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Notion

What is it?

Notion is a team-working app and within it there is a social media calendar tool which you can use.

How does it work?

Notion isn’t primarily a content calendar - it’s an overall workflow management and notes tool, a bit like Asana.

Product tour

Notion is easy to use, and once you’ve got your basic set up, its auto-predict and keyboard shortcuts help you use it quickly.

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Within the different views, you’re able to see the different levels of approvals. This is slightly clumsy, because each level of approvals requires a different view, however you are able to message people directly within the app.

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Editing is really simple from this point. You can set the channels, dates, hashtags, captions, and anything else you think you might need.

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The downside is that you can’t yet publish directly to your different social media accounts, unlike ContentCal, AgoraPulse, Buffer and some of the other channels.

DivvyHQ

What is it?

DivvyHQ is a content marketing platform used by large businesses such as Red Bull and McDonalds.

How does it work?

DivvyHQ combines four core elements: content management, team collaboration, project management and analytics.

Product tour

DivvyHQ starts by encouraging you to set some overall strategic parameters for your content planning efforts.

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These steps help create a custom onboarding experience, which makes it easier to use your calendar.

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Content workflows are really clear, allowing for different team members to see how content is progressing.

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You can track each individual piece of content through its approvals flows, and different team members can easily come together to create great content.

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Trello

What is it?

Trello is popular as a project collaboration tool. Within it you can use ‘boards’ in a calendar style.

How does it work?

In Trello, different work projects are organized on different boards. A project, perhaps a campaign or individual piece of content, moves across the board’s column stages as it progresses to completion.

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The Kanban-style dashboard, using cards to represent each piece of content, makes it easy to follow a piece of content from conceptualization through to publishing.

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Starting with the Information column, team members can get an idea of the project at a glance.

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Team members can then contribute different ideas, starting to create a content pipeline.

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Once a piece of content is ready to progress, it can move on to the ‘Writing’ stage. Color coordination here helps to visualize the content.

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Following writing, there are then two stages of editing and approvals.

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It’s worth noting that throughout the team’s use of Trello, there is really clear tracking, so you can see when and how changes have been made.

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Once all the approvals are in place, then the content can be moved to the ‘Ready to Upload’ column.

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From here, the post moves to ‘Scheduled’. This step is vital because it involves someone actively scheduling the different posts with the different social media platforms and then confirming it back in Trello.

Unlike some of the other tools, you can’t post directly to your social channels.

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MeetEdgar

What is it?

MeetEdgar is a social media tool created to automate your social media planning and scheduling.

How does it work?

You can plan and schedule social media content in a similar way to social schedulers like ContentCal. However, it also automates some posts, for example by picking out a popular quote from a previous post.

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You can create different content for different channels with MeetEdgar, and save it to your content library.

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You can then schedule posts from your library, color-coding each to make it easier to use.

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Color coordination is used throughout, to make it easier to visualize complex content plans.

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Google Sheets

What is it?

Google Sheets is one of the most popular ways to create cloud-based spreadsheets which can then be shared. It is familiar to many and can be adapted to use as a content calendar.

How does it work?

Much like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets can be used to create a customized social media content calendar.

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To get the most from Google Sheets, you’ll need to dedicate some time to customizing a worksheet to your specific parameters.

If you’re new to using Google Sheets as a content calendar, or want to cut out some of the hard work, then the framework created by Megan Minns is an excellent starting point.

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With this Google Sheet template, you begin by entering all the key information that’s relevant to your business.

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From here you consider each element of your campaign, such as the topics you plan to post about and add as well as the individual channels you’ll post to.

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The process continues, using various rules to fully populate the calendar. Much like some of the other free tools on the list, you’re not able to post directly to your social media channels from this calendar.

Hootsuite

What is it?

Hootsuite is a platform created to find, schedule, manage and report on social media content.

How does it work?

Using the Hootsuite’s social media calendar, you can plan which content to publish, and when. The calendar integrates with other elements of Hootsuite, such as content curation, so all other information shared or added to other aspects of Hootsuite are reflected there too.

Product tour

Hootsuite will use your pre-prepared content calendar, but it can also automate some of the process for you, e.g. choosing the best time to make a post live.

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Using CSV format, you can upload multiple posts to Hootsuite which it will then use to populate your schedule.

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Content is then stored within the calendar. You can move it around using drag-and-drop.

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If you come across things you want to post on the web, you can use the Hootlet extension to put these into the calendar automatically.

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Google Calendar

What is it?

Google Calendar is a calendar app which can be shared with your team. That works well for teams that are focused on time management, or have several

How does it work?

In its raw form, Google Calendar is designed to work like a diary. However, it can be used as a content calendar by using the features cleverly. You can also import a Google Sheet into Google Calendar, making it particularly useful if you’ve created your content calendar in Google Sheets.

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Even if you’re already using Google Calendar to manage your day, you’ll want to create a new calendar.

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From here, you can then easily import the CSV or XLS file. This video explains it clearly. Everything from the spreadsheet will then be visible within the calendar which you can then populate with all of the individual pieces of content for the year ahead.

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The content itself will need to be created separately, away from the calendar. However, to assign different elements of the project as a task to someone, you can add them as a guest. The piece of content is effectively the ‘event’.

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HopperHQ

What is it?

HopperHQ is a social media planning tool for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It is used for scheduling, planning and analytics.

How does it work?

Using a content calendar overview, posts can be planned and then scheduled.

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The content calendar overview helps everyone in the content management team know what is happening with a campaign.

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You can drag and drop the posts into different positions within the posting queue, according to the aim of the campaign.

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Posts can be created within HopperHQ itself, allowing you to save drafts as you go.

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Different team members are given relevant rights, making it possible to use HopperHQ with a clearly defined approval process.

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CoSchedule

What is it?

CoSchedule provides a suite of different marketing tools which can be used to help you plan your social media campaign and post to different channels.

How does it work?

ContentCal’s editorial calendar works well as a social media calendar because you can schedule posts directly to your social accounts.

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The editorial calendar view is central to team collaboration, and uses colour to see what’s happening across the content plan.

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With a different view, it’s possible to see individual social media posts.

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Kapost

What is it?

Kapost describes itself as a content operations platform.

How does it work?

Using Kapost, you can plan content before collaborating to make up the different elements of that content. You can then schedule and distribute the content, before moving on to analyzing how successful it has been.

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Kapost gives you a birds-eye view of your content, allowing you to see what content is due to go out when.

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You can then drill down within the calendar to plan individual pieces of content.

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The individual items of content can be stored and worked on within Kapost. When they’re ready, they are then scheduled ready to be published.

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Wrike

What is it?

Wrike is a project management software, and within it there is an editorial calendar.

How does it work?

The editorial calendar can be used to plan and diarise content.

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Start off by launching an editorial calendar within Wrike.

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You then gradually populate the different tabs, as content is developed. You can easily see when content is published and when it needs more work.

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The dashboard view allows different team members to see where their input is needed. It also helps to create clear accountability for each piece of content and its progress.

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Widgets allow you to then organize the content in a calendar format.

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You’ll then need to manually publish the content when it has been assigned a schedule date.

Loomly

What is it?

Loomly describes itself as a brand success platform, and aims to enable marketers to collaborate, publish and measure their performance.

How does it work?

Loomly has a Master Calendar which you can drill into to schedule and plan social media activity.

Product tour

Like other content calendars, Loomly has a clear diary-style format, and colors are used to simplify the view.

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You can also choose to view content in a list view, making it easier to see progress and approvals.

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New posts can be created and worked on directly by teams within the platform:

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19. Wordpress Editorial Calendar

What is it?

Wordpress Editorial Calendar is a content management system (CMS) which can be downloaded for free as an extension.

How does it work?

The Wordpress Editorial Calendar helps to organize your posts, from idea to publishing, by dragging and dropping these posts across your calendar, and clicking into the posts to edit them quickly.

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The Editorial Calendar sits alongside the other functions you regularly use Wordpress for.

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You can click through to each post and edit it them with ease.

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Compared to dedicated social media content calendar tools, the Wordpress tool is more restrictive, but it is useful if you are familiar with Wordpress. You’re also able to schedule posts to be published directly to your Wordpress site or blog.

This isn’t really a social media calendar tool, but we wanted to add it in because it’s well worth knowing about if you use Wordpress.

20. Percolate

What is it?

Percolate is a content marketing platform with an inbuilt calendar tool.

How does it work?

As an entire content marketing platform, you should be able to manage everything from one place, including planning, editing and analyzing content.

Product tour

Using the main dashboard, content can be planned within the framework of a campaign.

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You can also manage it within a calendar view, helping you to push content towards publishing.

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You can easily see whether different elements of the campaign are under control and are likely to meet their deadline.

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Like with Trello, Kanban boards help you see the progress of content as it’s developed.

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21. HubSpot Editorial Calendar Templates

What is it?

Hubspot is offering a few editorial calendar templates that you can use for free. You could always repurpose these as social media calendars.

How does it work?

You choose which template suits your business best and then edit it to fit your needs.

Product tour

There are a few different calendars, and they’re all pretty simple to use, so just take your time to look through and choose whichever works best for you.

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From the spreadsheet view above through to the more traditional calendar view below, you’ll find a basic calendar to suit your needs.

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22. Hallam

What is it?

Team Hallam has a download of a customizable content calendar which you can use for free.

How does it work?

It’s a simple spreadsheet, and you populate the fields to create your own overview calendar.

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Download the template and fill out the relevant fields. There’s not much more to it than that!

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23. Sprout Social

What is it?

Sprout Social is a social media management platform that incorporates a content calendar.

How does it work?

As part of the overall platform, content can be planned that feeds through to a clear and detailed calendar.

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There is a calendar within the Sprout Publishing option. Here you can create posts linked directly to the calendar.

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These can then be easily seen in the calendar view.

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Approvals and comments can also be added within Sprout itself.

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24. HeyOrca

What is it?

HeyOrca is a dedicated social media content calendar and scheduler designed for digital agencies to manage the social media campaigns of their clients.

How does it work?

It’s an interactive calendar that uses a simple drag-and-drop functionality to populate.

Product tour

The color coordination, combined with the ease of drag-and-drop, makes the HeyOrca calendar work well for an overview of content.

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25. Socialbakers

What is it?

Socialbakers is a social media marketing platform.

How does it work?

The Socialbakers calendar is designed to create a scheduling workflow for social media campaigns, centralizing social media management.

Product tour

Approvals are a core part of the platform.

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Then everything can be seen clearly within the calendar itself, with post detail and clear status updates.

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Summary

It takes some effort to choose the right social media content calendar for your business.

For most, it is worth choosing a dedicated social media marketing platform which incorporates a calendar. This way you can centralize all content and ensure that workflows are streamlined, making social media tools key.

However, for freelancers or those just getting started with their first social media calendar tool, a free template may be the way to go.


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