Tools to Organize and Automate Your Social Media Content: FREE Instagram Calendar

Social media is a huge commitment. Marketing yourself and your business online is insanely time consuming and, once you gain momentum, it can be TOUGH to keep up…especially when a holiday weekend is on the horizon! It’s because of this that planning and preparation are critical. When you just start out, it’s easy to post when it’s convenient, but once you start generating followers, you are going to need a structured game plan so you can stay in control of your content.

Without a productive process, you won’t experience growth,  you’ll experience burnout. Don’t worry! There are actually several simple ways you can organize and automate your social media content so that, when the time comes, you can spend the bulk of your efforts growing your business and not Facebooking.

Organize, Organize, Organize.

Once you know where you need to be on social media, you’ve been posting consistently and can pinpoint when your audience is most active, you will need a plan to stay organized and keep up. Outlining content in advance for your channels helps you stay organized and on schedule. I maintain a digital content calendar in the form of a tabbed Google Drive spreadsheet that details posts for 7-10 days – maybe more if I know I’m going to be on the road. Each tab houses a social media channel that is then organized by day, time, topic, copy, media, hashtags, and status. Organizing and planning doesn’t require anything fancy. You’re the only one who is going to see and use your calendar, so efficiency is key. Keep it simple. I love using Google Drive because I can update my documents from any device, no matter where I am. I highly recommend using GDrive as a project management tool for your business. Having a visual to work from significantly increases productivity and helps me stay on track.

You can access one of my content calendar templates and save the outline to use for your own content. Just click the image below. Take it for a spin and let me know what you think!

Automate, Automate, Automate.

Once you draft out content in advance and know what’s coming, you can start automating – yay! There are so many FREE tools out there that allow users to schedule and auto publish content for various social media networks. I automate my content for The Big Four (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest) and it saves me SO much time. This doesn’t mean that I schedule content and completely ignore my channels. Automation simply helps me to better manage them so I can spend my time making real connections with my audience and not trying to engage everywhere all at once.

Check out my favorite tools for automation:

FOR INSTAGRAM: Planoly is my favorite service for scheduling my Instagram content. Since Instagram doesn’t allow any third parties to auto-publish content, this one gets you where you need to be prior to posting. The interface is clean and super easy to navigate. I schedule all of my weekly Instagram posts using this app and then, when it comes time to publish, Planoly notifies me. I click a button and my content is automatically loaded into Instagram – all I have to do is hit publish! Planoly also allows me to analyze my posts to see which photos performed best.

FOR FACEBOOK: Facebook! There is way to draft and schedule your posts within this network directly. It’s a time saver for me but, since Facebook isn’t my major focal point right now, I tend to use the “Share to Facebook” feature on my Instagram profile instead of scheduling separate content to Facebook. Whenever I publish an Instagram post, I use that as a time to share that same post to my Facebook page. Know what efforts you can double up on your channels!


FOR TWITTER: Buffer is the bees knees if you’re tweeting more than 5 times a day. I have a stockpile of Twitter lists and bookmarked resources from Pinterest that I use to create tweets in advance. Then, I plop them into Buffer and they publish at the times I’ve selected.


FOR PINTEREST: BoardBooster is new to me but, after a month of use, I’ve really come to see its value. Pinterest, while not really a social media network (but more of a search engine), requires a lot of activity in order for it to work to your benefit. I pin 15-30 times per day and BoardBooster helps me so I’m not stuck pinning for hours. While BoardBooster automates pins, I still spend roughly 30-50 minutes a week manually pinning other pieces of my own content and conducting research.

 

Remember, everyone has their own process. I prefer to keep automation separate for all of my channels but there are ways to combine a few of these, if you wish. Popular multi-channel social media management tools that I’ve used (and know work GREAT) are Hootsuite and Sprout Social. Buffer (listed above) also works for automation with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram combined. I’ve experimented with all of these services in many different ways and have come to find that I like using different services for different channels.

Social media is a big beast but don’t let it scare you. With proper organization, planning and preparation, it is manageable (and fun!). There is a lot that goes into developing a process and finding a system that suits you, which is why it never hurts to explore your options before taking the plunge. There are various avenues for automation and, once you experiment, you’ll come to find which works best for you and your business. Take your time to experiment. Then, circle back with me and share your progress.

Happy posting!

 

3 thoughts on “Tools to Organize and Automate Your Social Media Content: FREE Instagram Calendar

    1. Hi Ashley! I’ve dabbled with many of these services, including this one, and found that all of them tend to mirror one another. At the end of the day, none of them can autopost to Instagram (by law) so it comes down to personal preference for interface and analytical capabilities. I’m extremely minimalist and love the simplicity of Planoly from the interface it provides, all the way through to the data reporting. However, I’m only using it to manage one biz account at this time. Other services may provide more groupings, filters, etc. but, for me, Planoly is perfect. Is Schedugram your personal favorite? I always love to hear from readers about what tools help them kick butt in their industry. Thanks for stopping by!

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