Instagram is still one of the top social media platforms for business marketing and connecting with your audience. As a marketing tool, there are many different things you can do through content, and using an Instagram content calendar can be a big help.
In addition to building brand awareness and growing your Instagram following, you can get people excited about your products and services through high-quality, consistent content that is easy to manage with an Instagram content calendar.
Post consistency is a big deal on Instagram, which is what you first need to determine. What is consistency for your personal account? This is something you can establish when crafting your Instagram strategy.
It’s recommended that brands and businesses post at least once per day, and if that’s doable for you, awesome! If you feel that once per day isn’t viable for you, it’s possible that you could consider scaling it back to about 3x/week, or whatever seems manageable in terms of commitment.
When you create an Instagram content calendar in advance, you can plan out all of your content beforehand, which gives you a better idea of what type of content you’ll be posting, when it should come out, and how to stay organized. When you plan your posts in bulk, you’ll be able to take advantage of all of your time and be active and engaged on Instagram.
Why Create an Instagram Content Calendar
An Instagram content calendar is basically a blueprint of all of the content that you’re going to be posting within a given time frame. You’ll be more in control of your content strategy and also be better prepared to post noteworthy content.
You’ll be able to organize your content in better ways to reflect your brand image as well, avoiding the need to post random content on a whim. If your content on Instagram is thoughtful and well-tailored, you’ll be more likely to see success.
At the end of the day, an Instagram content calendar will save you time through better content management; you can even set up auto-posting so that you don’t have to spend too much time getting your content ready to go live.
You won’t have to miss out on your optimal posting times due to other obligations; for instance, if you know your Instagram audience is most active at 12pm, but you’re in meetings, you’ll be able to bypass that conflict and have your posts go live automatically.
Another benefit to having your own Instagram content calendar is that you can have a better overall picture of what content is going out and when, as well as the opportunity to double-check everything before it goes live.
After all, people really don’t want to see Instagram captions riddled with typos or content that doesn’t mesh well together. Before scheduling your content to post automatically, you can check out your content and make sure that it’s correct and looks perfect before it goes onto your account.
How Do You Make a Content Calendar on Instagram?
While it may seem overwhelming to create an Instagram content calendar, it’s actually easier than you might think. The first thing you need to do is decide how far in advance you want to plan out your Instagram calendar.
There are truly infinite options when it comes to this; some brands plan out their content for a quarter at a time, while others prefer to plan them for a week or a month in advance. There are even those who like to set out a content plan for the whole year and then fill in Instagram posts as time passes.
Any of these options are completely valid when you are setting up an Instagram content calendar, but it’s definitely where you want to begin.
When you’ve decided on the time frame your Instagram content calendar will cover, you can set it up by following the subsequent 5 steps.
1. Determine Your Social Media Strategy
You’ll need to have a general understanding of your social media strategy before you can create your Instagram content calendar. If you don’t, you’ll feel lost and confused when trying to put it together. You’ll only need to do this once, unless you are actively changing your Instagram strategy.
To help you fully comprehend and define your Instagram strategy, asking yourself the following six questions should help:
- What is the overall purpose of my Instagram account?
- Who will be in charge of creating and scheduling posts for this account?
- How frequently do I want to post daily/weekly?
- What time of day is best for my timezone and/or niche?
- Does my account have or follow a theme or aesthetic?
- What kind of content do I want to post?
2. Run an Instagram Audit
If you’ve already got live Instagram posts, you should perform an Instagram audit on your content before you begin making your Instagram content calendar. Doing an audit of your Instagram account will help you identify what content performs well and what adjustments you need to make.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to perform an Instagram audit, and the information you can obtain from one can make your overall Instagram content strategy more effective as well as streamlining your Instagram content calendar planning.
Below you’ll find the 6 must-do elements of an Instagram audit.
Establish Your Goals
When starting your Instagram audit, you’ll need to determine which content is working well with your audience and which content isn’t doing so well and should be adjusted. You don’t want to plan a bunch of low-performing content into your Instagram content calendar, after all.
You may also want to set a goal for your content. It could be related to getting more followers, boosting engagement, signing people up for your newsletter, or anything else you want to gain from your Instagram account.
If your goal is to get more Instagram followers, Growthoid is a great partner for you. Organic Instagram growth is the best way to boost your follower count, and with your new Instagram content calendar, you’ll be readier than ever to get more followers through Growthoid and your expanded reach.
Determine your goal and look for metrics that support that goal. Also, set a time frame to determine when you should reach this goal.
Conduct a Follower Audit
One thing you should also do when auditing your Instagram account is to check out your followers and make sure that they are actually real, active Instagram followers. It’s not uncommon for up to 10% of a user’s followers to be fake, which may actually be skewing your analytics and lowering your engagement rate based on follower count.
If you don’t have a large number of followers, you might find it possible to go through your followers manually and see which ones are real or not. If you don’t want to do that tedious work, you can work with a follower checker like FakeCheck.co or Social Audit Pro to determine your follower quality and remove those that are fakes or bots.
Audit Your Content
Your content audit is the most important step before you begin creating your Instagram content calendar. You need to completely review the content that you’ve created and uploaded to your Instagram to note what you’ve already done, and see how it performed.
Check out Instagram insights to see all of the different analytics like reach, impressions, likes, shares, saves, comments, etc. You can also get in-depth analytics through a company like Iconosquare or Sprout Social to dig a little deeper.
Also, take a look at your hashtags and captions to verify which caption strategies worked best; make sure that your language is engaging and that you use a call-to-action to prompt your followers to take action after seeing your posts.
If you need hashtag help, you can check out Task Ant, which is the leading hashtag search tool for Instagram. You can find the best-performing hashtags in your niche based on real Instagram API data, use search filters and customization options, as well as save them into sets for easy use in the future.
Analyze Your Profile
Do not skip this step! You absolutely need to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with your Instagram profile and the overall look and feel of it. When someone lands on your Instagram profile, you only have a few seconds to capture their attention and get them to sign on as a follower.
Things like your Instagram username, profile picture, title, Instagram bio, link in bio, Instagram story highlights, and call-to-action buttons are all current and reflective of your brand/business.
Also evaluate the overall look and feel of your content so that you can ensure it has a cohesive look and showcases your brand image. When your profile is cohesive and coherent, it will be more attractive to those that land on your profile, getting you more followers and engagement.
Check Your Engagement
Instagram thrives on engagement because that’s how the Instagram algorithm determines which posts to show to what users. When a post has more engagement, it’s marked as more valuable by the algorithm and will get more reach.
You should take a look at your Instagram engagement during your audit. Think about your engagement as well as your audience’s. Are you engaging with your audience? Are you responding to comments and DMs? Do you leave comments on your followers’ posts? Do you engage with influencers or use influencer marketing?
You can typically get more visibility for your own account by engaging with other accounts first; it also helps you to build a relationship with your followers and even new users.
Evaluate Your Posting Times
Finally, think about when you’ve been posting your content. Are you posting at the right time for your niche or industry? There are, in fact, proper posting times for each industry. While you’re able to post whenever you want (of course), you should post content when the majority of your target audience is online.
This will help your Instagram content calendar to be more effective in getting your content seen by your target audience, and you can get your content scheduled at the right time as well. When you use an Instagram scheduler (more on that later), they’ll likely make some suggestions, but you should have a good understanding of your audience and their habits.
On Instagram insights, you can see some information about when your followers are most active on Instagram, so that’s a good starting point.
You can do an Instagram audit at any time; it’s good to do every now and then because you’ll be able to have firsthand knowledge about your Instagram strategy and what type of results it’s producing. If you have no idea what’s going on, it’ll be a lot harder to do things that work.
It may be a good idea to do an Instagram audit after each Instagram content calendar gets completed; if your content calendar is monthly, for example, you can analyze all of the content and engagements for that month and know how to plan ahead for the next month.
Some may find it more manageable to do it on a weekly basis, but it’s up to you. After the first time, it will become easier and you’ll find your flow.
3. Content Storage
While this isn’t the first thing that probably comes to mind when you think of an Instagram content calendar, creating a process for content storage is actually very important and can prove to be incredibly useful.
Each IG account is different and has their different operational strategies. Some users prefer to create their captions and hashtags first, and then create content that matches the captions. Some take a bunch of photos and then select them, creating a caption after the fact.
No matter what you do, you want to have an easy, go-to access point for all of your content so that it doesn’t take you a ton of searching when it’s time to get it ready to publish. It will make things much easier and you don’t have to have the headache of trying to find a bunch of content, especially if you didn’t shoot it all at the same time.
Regardless of preference, you should set up a content storage system that is accessible by all the proper collaborators. If it’s just you, and you shoot on iPhone or Android, it may be as simple as setting up an album.
If you need bigger options, you may want to create a Dropbox or Google Drive so that you can organize all of your content into folders for each of your Instagram content calendar periods. For instance if your content calendar is weekly, you can create weekly folders and you’ll be able to easily use the content for posting and also check back on it if you ever need it again.
4. Find a Content Calendar Template for Instagram and Plan Your Content
Now that we’ve got the administrative stuff out of the way, now we’re almost ready to get to planning your content! Now what you need to do is to find the right Instagram content calendar template so that you can have an easy and straightforward system for planning your Instagram content.
We’re going to give you some options; we’ve got 5 of the top Instagram content calendar template options out there right now so you can take your pick, plus some tips on using Google sheets if you so choose.
Trello is a Kanban-style (board-based) virtual organizing tool that will help you to create a flawless Instagram content planner. You’ll be able to use it in a column view with lists, or you can also boost your view that will change it into a calendar.
Trello makes use of “cards” to organize all of your tasks, and you can add links, images, and make comments on the cards, among other things. You’ll be able to put those cards on the calendar due date, which should be the day you want the item to be published.
In addition, Trello has drag-and-drop functionality which is incredibly convenient, and it’s able to be synced with iCalendar if you use iOS. All of your information will be in one place with Trello and you can get a visual of what your plan will be.
Pros: Nice drag-and-drop functionality and a lot of ability for collaboration.
Cons: Need to get used to it if you haven’t tried it before.
Monday is a collaborative task management tool, which means that it’s a great option for your Instagram content planner. The great news is that Monday already has a template for your Instagram content calendar, which makes it incredibly easy to use and fill in.
Monday is similar to a spreadsheet but is more intuitive and colorful, so you can easily organize your content plan by week or day; you can even use cross-platform planning with Monday because their content calendar template has a Channel column.
Of course, if you’re only planning for IG, you can simply remove that column. The template is completely customizable so you can use it just as you like.
Monday is ideal for collaboration as well because you can assign the posts to different users, leave comments, update when ready for review or posting, and mark as done when it’s live. Monday is a pro option.
Pros: excellent user interface that reflects a spreadsheet style; easy to use and great for collaboration.
Cons: may need to get used to it at first. Can’t add images to the tasks.
Hubspot offers a free Instagram content calendar template that you can download for free, which is great because it’s usually a paid service. Hubspot is essentially a combo of Trello and the next option on our list, Hootsuite. The spreadsheet is designed to look like a calendar for easy understanding.
The document is an excel sheet that you’ll download; there are many different sheets in this Excel document, and each social platform has its own sheet, which means you can plan multiple channels on this one sheet.
You’ll also get a calendar overview for the month to make sure you have all of your bases covered.
Pros: convenient, free, most people are familiar with sheets.
Cons: can be tedious to deal with multiple sheets and a lot of information or features.
Like we just mentioned with Hubspot, Hootsuite also offers you a free Instagram content calendar template for your planning needs. It’s very similar to the one that you’ll find from Hubspot, and in order to download it, you’ll have to provide some information to Hootsuite like your first and last name, email address, and some information about your business (industry, # employees, etc).
Unlike Hubspot, Hootsuite will provide you with one that’s a Google Sheets document. The first page offers you instructions on how to make a copy of the doc and the second page is the template.
The template is organized by weeks, and you’ll see sections for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They also offer you content type suggestions, a place to fill in your copy (caption or text) and add any relevant links.
Pros: simple and easy to use
Cons: spreadsheets without a calendar view can be tough to visualize and manage for some.
Our final option, Evernote, offers you a simple and straightforward social media calendar that has up to 5 weeks of content planning available. The template offers columns for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but you can easily adjust the title to make it an Instagram content planner.
There’s also a box for the copy for any captions, hashtags, and other notes that you need to put there.
Pros: simple and no-fuss.
Cons: spreadsheet view only, not very intuitive or easy for collaboration.
Google Sheets: Create Your Own
If you don’t like any of the options that you saw above and prefer to do it all on your own, you can use Google Sheets (or Excel) to create your Instagram content calendar. You can color-coordinate and plan out your Instagram posts for Instagram using the tool.
You can create columns with tiles like: date, topic, link, and status, then using different fill colors for the status boxes (ex. red for not started, yellow for working, and green for posted). You can also incorporate Google calendar to see your content planning at-a-glance as well.
Pros: Google Suite is easy for collaboration and you can customize it as you like
Cons: you have to do it yourself and may run into issues if you’re not apt in using Google sheets
After you make the decision for you on the best Instagram content calendar template, you can set it up and get ready to plan out your content. Make sure that you add any major holidays, important days for your business or personal life (where relevant), and think about your content and promotion plan.
That will help you to get ideas for your content and get it all filled into your calendar. If you’re not feeling inspired, one thing that can help you is first decide what type of content you’re going to be posting: is it an IG story? In-feed post? Shoppable post? IGTV? Etc.
Then, think about the topic and other content you’ve got scheduled to find the best complement. If you’re still stuck, we’ve got 100 content ideas for you coming up at the end of our article, so don’t worry!
5. Use an Instagram Scheduler
Now that you’re all set up with your Instagram content calendar and content plan, you’ll be able to schedule the posts to publish automatically. Wouldn’t it be great to have all of your Instagram content ready to go in advance instead of having to do it one by one right before it goes live?
That’s what you’ll achieve with an Instagram scheduler, since you can’t set posts to publish automatically from directly within Instagram. There are a number of excellent third-party Instagram scheduling tools that can help you, so take a look at our recommendations below.
Later describes itself as an Instagram marketing platform due to the fact that it has tons of awesome features to help you create the best Instagram strategy possible. It allows you to plan, analyze, and publish your content in just a few clicks, saving you time and optimizing your strategy.
What we truly love about Later is the beautiful user interface and the seamless visual nature of the platform. It helps you see exactly how your Instagram content is going to look before your posts go live to help you optimize your Instagram profile’s overall aesthetic.
You can use their drag-and-drop calendar, hashtag tools, personalized insights, and editing tools to make sure that your content is ready to go live. You can schedule your content for auto-posting.
Later can’t auto-post Instagram stories or carousel posts, but they make it easy for you to do it immediately when the time comes, and they send it directly to your phone to help you.
All in all, Later is one of the best Instagram schedulers out there and it has a lot of excellent features that will take your Instagram content strategy to the next level.
You can easily schedule posts that you planned on your Instagram content calendar using Sprout Social. They offer you a central hub that makes it convenient to organize all of your upcoming content into a calendar format, helping you to make sure it matches your Instagram content calendar perfectly.
You can also build your library, track results, and publish your posts at prime time; they’ll give you all of the recommended times for your post scheduling.
Sprout Social also offers different features like listening, analytics, and much more. They are a full suite of tools to help your Instagram management depending on what your needs are.
Loomly is an Instagram brand success platform that helps you to collaborate, publish, and measure your analytics from a central location. There are integrations for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and so many more in addition to Instagram.
The cool thing about Loomly is that you can manage all of your content calendars in one place as you schedule things out, so if you use multiple social networks, you’ll see everything all in one place. They also offer post ideas and post and ad mockups so you can get some ideas and see them before they go live.
Some other notable features include content library, optimization tips, automated publishing, approval workflow, ads manager, interactions, and advanced analytics.
An all-in-one Instagram tool, Sked Social is “the only Instagram scheduler you’ll need,” according to your website. With Sked, you can automatically publish posts not only on Instagram but also on other social networks, include product tags and hashtags in your scheduled posts, visually plan your Instagram feed, incorporate a chrome extension for user-generated content, as well as gain social media analytics.
Their user interface is intuitive and easy to read, so even if you’re new to Instagram content calendar creation and post scheduling, it’s a small learning curve to get used to how it works.
Sked Social also claims to be able to post Instagram stories automatically, which can be a great feature if you find that your content strategy relies heavily on Instagram stories.
Hootsuite offers the free Instagram content calendar template, but their services go far beyond that. Their suite of tools for Instagram and other social networks also offers automatic posting and much more.
You can collaborate with other members of your team and create excellent content seamlessly from directly within the Hootsuite platform. It’s available via desktop, mobile, or any other device you’d like to use.
You can check out their mobile app to check on performance and see analytics. Even if your content wasn’t preplanned in your Instagram post calendar, you can source content from other platforms and/or publishers, making it very useful if you need something on the fly.
Another win for the collaborators, Agorapulse gives you a shared calendar that promotes collaboration across your team members. You’re able to draft your Instagram content calendar directly within the platform as well; you can put them through the approval workflow and when they’re approved, they can be scheduled and then published.
You’ll get other features like content management, editing, client reports (mostly for Instagram managers), analytics, and so much more.
Last but not least, Planoly is a popular option for a visual Instagram planner and you can use it to input and schedule content from your Instagram content calendar. You’ll also have the option to plan your stories in advance.
Planoly offers you analytics and also has smart features for those accounts that are geared around shopping and e-commerce, hoping to help you make a bit more revenue.
Their drag-and-drop feature will also help you to preview your Instagram feed visually to make sure it looks good and maintains a cohesive image.
100 Instagram Post Ideas to Fill in Your Calendar
Congrats! You know now how to create an Instagram content calendar! You can follow the five steps on repeat to continuously keep your IG content planned, organized, and ready to go.
It’s recommended that you shoot your content at the same time to optimize your workflow even further; shooting in bulk can save you time and help you get ahead of the game. If that’s not viable, you can still shoot on a needs basis, but it may take some additional planning and scheduling.
Stuck on what to post to fill your Instagram content calendar? If you’re looking for some ideas to help you diversify your Instagram content, check out the following topics or post ideas so that you can spice things up and add value to your followers’ news feed.
Create different post types that are relevant to your business and integrate them into your Instagram content calendar to give people an inside look at your company, what you stand for, how you got started, and more.
- A day in the life
- About the business
- Benefits of your products/services
- The origin story
- Reviews of your products/services
- User-generated content or real-world examples
- Talk about a new product
- Tease events or a big sale
- Introduce your team
- Promote your newest blog/podcast/video/etc.
You can keep your professionalism up by giving updates for your industry. It depends on what industry you’re in, but here are a couple suggestions:
- Marketing: algorithm changes + info on that
- Healthcare: information on COVID-19 or other news
- Education: distance learning / strategies
- Fashion: trends and style changes
- Business coaches / mentors: important business milestones, tax day, other relevant topics
People always love holidays, so find a way to fuse these popular holidays with brand-relevant content.
- New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
- Valentine’s Day
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Veteran’s Day
- Labor Day
- Independence Day
Popular TV Show-Themed Posts
Staying relevant with what’s going on in the entertainment world, including TV show premieres, finales, new seasons, and more can help to keep your Instagram delivering fun and interesting content. Here are some suggestions on popular TV shows that often make it into Instagram content.
- The Office
- Parks and Rec
- This is Us
- The Bachelor/Bachelorette
- Dancing with the Stars
- America’s Got Talent
- The Voice
- Grey’s Anatomy
- Schitt’s Creek
- MTV Video Awards
- American Music Awards
- Tony Awards
- Emmy Awards
- Golden Globes
- British Academy Film & Television Awards
- Global Film Festivals (Cannes, etc.)
- Election day
- Global politics and news
- Social issues
- New laws or policies
Beginning, Middle, and End of Seasons
Seasons have energies, and you can infuse your Instagram with that energy at the beginning, throughout, and when the season ends!
- March Madness
- FIFA World Cup
- Kentucky Derby
- Super Bowl
- World Series
- Stanley Cup Finals
- The Masters
- Nascar and Formula 1
- NBA Playoffs and Finals
Unofficial Holidays or “National ____ Day”
There are tons of different unofficial holidays, or “national something day” throughout the year, and you should take advantage of those! People love to celebrate, and there may be ones that are really relevant to your brand.
- Fun at work day (Jan 31)
- Love your pet day (Feb 20)
- National margarita day (Feb 22)
- Day of happiness (March 20)
- World book day (April 23)
- National travel and tourism week (US, May 1-7)
- Pizza party day (May 17)
- National hamburger day (May 28)
- Social media day (June 30)
- World chocolate day (July 7)
- Get to know your customers day (July 16)
- National book lovers day (August 9)
- Tell a joke day (August 16)
- Working parents day (Sept 16)
- National coffee day (Sept 29)
- Dessert day (October 14)
- Boss’s day (Oct 16)
- National stress awareness day (Nov 4)
- Small business Saturday / Black Friday
- No interruptions day (Dec 27)
Quotes and Motivation
People sometimes need a pick-me-up on Instagram, and throwing in a great quote now and then can also be a great way to connect with your audience. Here are a couple suggestions, but feel free to dig deep and share the quotes that you love.
- “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James
- “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill
- “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” – Helen Keller
- “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt
- “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” -Dr. Seuss
- “Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.” -Jim Rohn
- “The best way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney
If you’re a small business, influencer, lifestyle blogger, or a personality, you’ll be able to implement personal stories into your content. Even if you’re a business, sharing an employee or team member’s personal story is a great way to connect with your audience. These types of posts typically generate a lot of engagement, especially when done with the right captioning.
- A childhood story
- A personal triumph
- Biggest lesson in your business
- Things you don’t leave the house without
- What you must keep on your desk
- Early bird or night owl?
- Best books you’ve ever read
- Coffee or food preferences
- Embarrassing moments
- Asking / giving advice on something
Bonus Tip: User Generated Content and Features
Always keep your eye open for user-generated content (UGC); create a branded hashtag and encourage your followers to tag their posts with it. You can feature other users’ content on your profile or in your stories, which gives you a great connection to your community and encourages other people to participate.
UGC is known to get higher levels of engagement as well.
Final Thoughts: Instagram Content Calendar
So, hopefully now you’ve got an idea on how to create your Instagram content calendar, schedule your posts, and also some new ideas for content along the way!
You’ll be able to save time and optimize your Instagram content strategy with your planning skills, which will help your overall Instagram performance and reputation.
Looking to give your content reach and follower count an extra boost? Let Growthoid help! Try us out today.