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Blog Instagram Content Planner: Your Key to Social Media Success

Instagram Content Planner: Your Key to Social Media Success

With around two billion global users, Instagram is the second most popular social channel and a must-have for brands. But publishing high-quality content consistently can feel like running up a hill.

Out of breath? An Instagram content planner can be the fuel you need to keep moving, especially when managing multiple Instagram accounts. It streamlines content creation, feedback, approvals, and scheduling while leaving room for creativity.

If you’re not already using an Instagram planner to improve your digital performance or if you want to update your existing one, keep reading. I’ll go over best practices, Instagram planning apps, and resources to keep ideas fresh and the feed blooming like a spring garden.

What is an Instagram content planner?

An Instagram content planner is a tool that helps you organize Instagram posts in advance. Digital marketers and agencies use it to plan their Instagram content strategy, including captions, images, hashtags, and posting times, ensuring a consistent and cohesive presence on the platform. An Instagram planner typically leverages a shared system that allows feedback and scheduling, streamlining publishing efforts.

Statista 2024's bar chart showing the percentage of respondents using social media platforms: Facebook 89%, Instagram 80%, LinkedIn 64%, YouTube 54%, Twitter 44%, TikTok 26%.

Source: Statista

How to create an Instagram content plan

Just like a runner needs consistency when training for a long race, so does a digital marketer need a plan for going the distance on Instagram.

I’ll be your coach for the next few minutes and show you the steps to take to translate your marketing strategy into an Instagram content plan that delivers results.

Step 1. Define goals and research audience

Start by identifying what you want to achieve with Instagram. Is it to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or boost engagement? If so, by how much? If the business is trying to accelerate lead acquisition, for example, your Instagram plan should support that.

Setting clear goals helps create relevant content for your audience and establish an appropriate publishing cadence.

Also, make sure you know who you’re addressing. Research audience behaviors and preferences on Instagram and consider them in the next steps.

Step 2. Plan your content mix

Brainstorm content ideas that align with your goals and resonate with your audience. Variety is important to keep people entertained. Plan for a mix of content types, such as photos, Stories, and Reels, to keep your feed dynamic.

Use tools like Planable to collaborate with your team and other stakeholders so that you improve transparency and get fresh perspectives. You can then use Planable to map out your Instagram grid. The calendar view is especially useful to see the bigger picture and identify if anything’s missing or if there’s maybe too much of something else.

For any other type of content, you can use Planable’s Universal Content feature to brainstorm, plan, and approve everything just as easily.

Step 3. Create an Instagram content calendar

A dedicated planner can help ease your mental workload and works wonders for consistency no matter if we’re talking about your Instagram content plan or training for a marathon. With a visual planner, you’re free to focus on performance.

An Instagram planning tool allows you to efficiently schedule content and have a clear view of what’s coming for weeks or even months. Organize Instagram posts strategically, taking into account peak engagement times and relevant events or holidays.

Planable lets you create a visually appealing Instagram calendar to ensure a steady stream of content, identify gaps, and maintain a cohesive presence.

Social media content calendar in Planable displaying scheduled posts of different platforms with images of fruit drinks and promotions

Social media content planning in Planable’s calendar

Switch to the Instagram grid view to get a real sense of your presence and make adjustments whenever something feels off.

Instagram grid view in Planable with stories and posts featuring colorful fruit drinks and fresh fruits arranged artistically

Instagram grid view in Planable

Planable’s content calendar helps you stay organized, ensure goal achievement, and have the energy to innovate.

Step 4. Leverage user-generated content (UGC)

Add UGC to your Instagram grid, whether from your followers or from influencer collaborations, for a boost in authenticity and trust.

Encourage your community to create content related to your brand and products. Share it to strengthen your relationship with followers and let your brand personality shine through your audience’s voice.

Step 5. Repurpose successful content

A mistake that drains the resources of digital marketing teams is thinking they always need to come up with new content. Think of how much content you’ve already created.

High-performing posts can be adapted into different formats, like Instagram Stories or Reels, to maximize their reach. With Planable, you can recycle or repost evergreen content to give your team breathing time to work on fresh ideas without the constant pressure of deadlines.

Social media post recycling feature in Planable showing a calendar with a daily post setup from June 15 to June 19.

Social media post recycling in Planable

Reasons to use a content planning tool over the traditional spreadsheet

But I already plan my Instagram posts in a shared document”, you might say. “Do I need more?

The answer depends on the type of business you run, but most digital marketers and brands benefit from a more automated content planning tool. Here’s why:

  • Efficiency in scheduling and automation

Content planning tools offer scheduling capabilities, allowing users to plan and automate posts in advance, saving time and the effort of switching between platforms.

  • Collaboration features and feedback integration

These tools make collaboration so much easier than traditional spreadsheets. Planning tools allow you to create content, edit it, and set up flows for feedback and approvals. No more bottlenecks that typically lead to delays and inconsistencies.

  • User-friendly workflows

While helpful for many use cases, spreadsheets are a one-size-fits-all solution. In contrast, Instagram planning tools offer intuitive interfaces designed for social media management. If you were never a fan of formulas and constant field customization, you’ll love a tool that simplifies the content planning experience.

  • Real-time updates and notifications

Content planning tools provide real-time updates and notifications, keeping users informed about upcoming posts, changes in scheduling, or new feedback. This helps teams stay organized and on track.

  • Better analytics and insights

Track key metrics like reach, engagement, and follower growth to measure success and tailor your strategy. Specialized tools typically go beyond basic spreadsheet formulas and offer detailed and visually appealing reports, which you can use to communicate results to stakeholders.

  • Multiple-platform integration

Content planning tools such as Planable integrate with multiple social media platforms, allowing you to manage content for all your social channels from a single hub. Say goodbye to several spreadsheets for different platforms.

5 best Instagram content planning tools

1. Planable: the best content planning tool for Instagram

Planable is one of the most powerful Instagram planning apps and can also act as a comprehensive content management platform designed to streamline workflows and help you shine on social media and beyond.

Create, plan, and approve all types of content for your marketing channels. Planable’s Universal Content feature lets you collaborate on briefs, social media posts, blog articles, newsletters, and more — all within a single workspace and organized in an intuitive visual planner.

Social media posts featuring fruit-themed drink images and promotional content spread across Planable's calendar view.

Social media calendar view in Planable

In Planable, team members and stakeholders can draft content together and provide feedback in real-time. This improves collaboration and streamlines workflows.

IG post draft of Jusco Soda's new orange flavor, with comments and team collaboration tools visible.

Social media content collaboration in Planable

If you’re ever stuck on writing the caption for an Instagram post, you can use Planable’s AI writing assistant to get inspiration or create engaging texts from scratch.

Social media post in Planable displaying a draft announcement for a new Jusco juice flavor, with AI-assisted writing tool for rewriting and editing the message.

Planable AI for rewriting captions

Once your content is ready, use Planable to schedule approved posts, Stories, and Reels on Instagram and other social media platforms, including Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Key features

These features make Planable a great tool for content planning and publishing:

  • Universal Content – a central hub for all content creation needs
  • Advanced collaboration features, including comments, real-time feedback, version control, and different access layers for seamless teamwork
  • Visually appealing and intuitive content calendar that lets you schedule posts directly on social media platforms
  • Approval workflows to remove bottlenecks and speed up marketing execution

Planable for Instagram feed planning

Planable features tools specifically designed to support and streamline Instagram planning and publishing. Use this Instagram planning tool to:

  • Schedule the first comment on posts
Scheduled social media post featuring an image of a strawberry mocktail, approved for posting with a caption describing its fresh and elegant flavors.

First comment scheduling on Instagram posts in Planable

  • Schedule Instagram Stories and Reels directly from Planable
  • Plan the perfect Instagram grid layout
  • Add location to posts to increase discoverability
  • Tag relevant accounts in images to boost engagement
  • Manage multiple Instagram accounts from the same platform

Once you schedule posts, Planable’s content calendar gives you different views to see what’s coming, spot inconsistencies, and optimize your content plan.

What’s more, you can track content performance and generate analytics reports — all from a unified dashboard.

Drawbacks: Planable does not offer social media listening features.

Pricing: Planable offers a free plan for up to 50 posts. The Basic Plan starts at $11 per month/user and offers unlimited posts, several pages per workspace, and different views and types of approval.

2. Hootsuite: the best for enterprise needs

Hootsuite is a popular platform designed to help businesses manage their social media presence across various channels, including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Screenshot of the Hootsuite website homepage with a heading 'save time and get real results on social media'.

It’s a powerful solution for managing social media at scale, providing valuable data and insights alongside content management features.

Key features

One of the oldest platforms in the social media management game, Hootsuite has continually added features to meet marketers’ needs, such as:

  • Content scheduling and publishing on various social media platforms
  • Detailed social media analytics
  • AI support for content creation
  • Social listening features for a competitive edge
  • Employee advocacy features to transform employees into brand advocates

Drawbacks: Some users complain about the platform’s lack of customization for Stories and Reels and the inability to tag Instagram accounts within Hootsuite. Instagram features are also limited for personal plans, requiring an upgrade to the pro plan, which can be pricey for small operations.

Pricing: Hootsuite offers a free 30-day trial, after which pricing starts at $99 per month for one user and 10 social media accounts (when paid annually).

3. Later: the best for social media engagement

Later is a social media marketing platform that helps businesses, creators, and agencies manage social media strategies in one centralized location.

The platform was designed to support Instagram publishing, though it later added integrations with platforms such as Facebook, X (Twitter), Pinterest, and others.

Screenshot of the Later website homepage with a heading 'social media management made easy'.

Through a partnership with Mavrck, Later has recently added an influencer marketing component to its offering, making it easier for brands to find relevant collaborations and create engaging content.

Key features

Here are the features digital marketers find useful:

  • Scheduling posts across various social media platforms, including Instagram Stories and Reels
  • Hashtag suggestions
  • Recommendations for optimal posting times
  • Tools for creating shoppable posts with custom links
  • Access to social media analytics

Drawbacks: Besides some scheduling issues reported by a limited number of users, the main drawbacks are the price point and plan limitations for individual users who would like to access more of the tools’ features at a lower cost.

Pricing: Later’s Starter plan costs $16.67 per month/user when paid annually and includes one social set, 30 posts per profile, and limited analytics and collaboration features. Several other plans are available for brands and agencies.

4. HubSpot: the best for business growth management

HubSpot is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed to help businesses improve efficiency and plan for growth. Widely used by global marketing teams, the tool also includes content and social media management capabilities.

Screenshot of the Hubspot website homepage with a heading 'grow better with Hubspot'.

The HubSpot Marketing Hub is specifically designed to connect all marketing tools and data in one place, integrating with various popular social media channels and content systems.

Key features

HubSpot offers a comprehensive set of features, including:

  • Contact management, which helps teams log sales activities
  • Campaign management, including building, managing, and collaborating on various marketing activities
  • Marketing automation, including lead scoring, lead nurturing, and setting up campaign workflows
  • Access to analytics and advanced marketing reporting

Drawback: HubSpot comes with a learning curve and can be too complex for small teams or freelancers looking to streamline content planning and social media management.

Pricing: HubSpot offers free access to a set of limited features for no more than five users. Small teams can choose the Starter plan for €15 per month/seat when paid annually. The Professional plan starts at €792 per month and includes three seats.

5. Sprout Social: the best for social media reporting

Sprout Social is a social media management platform designed to help businesses manage their social media presence. Its features aim to improve collaboration, streamline publishing, and inform strategic social media decision-making.

Like most competitors, the tool integrates with all major social media channels.

Screenshot of the Sprout Social website homepage with a heading 'a powerful solution for social media management'.

According to users, Sprout Social stands out through its reporting capabilities. “I know social media managers who found the reports so visually appealing that they would download and send them to their managers or clients without editing them,” says Kirsti Land, Content Writer at Buffer.

Key features

Sprout Social offers a wide range of features that help brands solidify their online presence:

  • Planning, creation, and management of social media content
  • Access to analytics and customized data and reports
  • Social listening to uncover trends and insights from social conversations
  • Influencer marketing capabilities to manage partnerships with creators
  • Employee advocacy to encourage employees to spread the brand message

Drawbacks: Some users report problems with Instagram-related features such as thumbnail customization, availability of stickers and polls, or scheduling Reels and Stories directly from the platform.

Pricing: Sprout Social offers a free 30-day trial. The Standard package starts at $199/seat per month (when paid annually) and includes five social profiles. The Professional package costs $299/seat per month and offers unlimited social profiles.

Instagram content planner template

User-friendliness and a visually appealing interface are essential to helping you plan your content. After all, Instagram has become popular as the visual platform. But don’t dismiss another crucial feature: seamless collaboration.

While several of the IG tools listed above offer comprehensive calendar templates and integrate with most social media channels, not all are a breeze to use.

Choose an Instagram content planner template that prioritizes straightforward workflows and feedback over feature complexity, especially if you’re part of a smaller team or flying solo.

Make sure the calendar template is scalable to accommodate growing needs without overburdening you when all you want is to optimize your Instagram feed.

Social media content calendar template in Planable with scheduled posts including images of orange juice and a quirky human face, marked for various campaign activities.

Instagram content planner template in Planable.

Wrapping up: enhancing your strategy with an Instagram planning tool

By now, you know the five main steps to create an Instagram content plan, are armed with industry best practices, and can confidently choose the best tool for your needs. The metaphorical hill doesn’t look so steep after all, does it?

Try Planable for free to get a leg up in the digital race. Leverage an efficient Instagram feed planner that seamlessly integrates into your activity and makes you a strong social media competitor.

Sabina Varga

Sabina Varga

Sabina is a freelance writer with 15+ years of experience in the MarCom industry. Her to-do list includes helping people write better and businesses sell more through content. She is the host of Zest, a podcast that brings writing within listeners’ reach.

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