A quick Google search for social media calendar will tell you that when it comes to managing the content you plan to put on your channels, you have options. There are printables and templates, and the same apps you use to schedule social updates—like Sprout, Hootsuite, and Buffer—also offer solutions. But for planning content, you also have an alternative option that’s separate from your scheduling platform of choice, and it’s simple and free.

Social Media Calendar

Your basic Google calendar or spreadsheet is not only free, but it’s incredibly simple. When you’re just starting to implement social media for your brand, trust me, there will be plenty to confuse you—no need to start with a calendar. Or if you’re as busy (and admittedly often trying to ten too many tasks) as we are, having something simple, yet detailed is a lifesaver in not letting important posts fall through the cracks.

Google Calendar vs. Spreadsheet

As far as a social media content calendar goes, you really can’t get more simple than Google calendar. It’s your closest digital thing to a wall calendar, with the added perks of reminders, ample space for notes, and ability to sync up to your phone. If you go this route, be sure to keep clear, simple titles, accurate time lines, and utilize the notes section for details and drafts. Even though we schedule most social posts, this is helpful in not letting things go live without our knowledge, and of course if we need to post something in real time. If social is all you’re using this particular calendar for, it’s easy to color code based on account type (Facebook, twitter, etc.), client project, or which member of your team a project is assigned to.

Spreadsheets don’t have exactly all those functions, like reminder popups and an automatic place to schedule the length of time of something (you’d have to write that in), but they can be much more detailed, which is helpful for a few reasons. One, if you’re managing a team, you see everyone’s progress and drafts (either by initialing or color)—making it easy to review, edit, or relay feedback. You can also choose to have more extensive notes and embed links (handy when syncing up to editorial calendars), making it not only a calendar but a place to draft the copy, which then can be reviewed before uploading to a scheduler or posting in real time.

Both are free, no frills, and 100% effective ways of managing the social media plans for your brand or clients. Give it a try and revel in your newly found organization!