Why Planning is Good for Social Media Activities
Social media has grown big. So big that it has become a job in and of itself. So how can a social media manager/content creator/social media content wizard optimize their success in an ever changing digital world? Create a plan.
In this post, we break down why planning is important, the pitfalls to avoid when planning, as well as a basic social media checklist you can use to kick-start your planning.
To Plan or Not to Plan
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “in preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. In other words, success does not come from the plan itself - rather from its ability to offer guidance within flexible parameters.
Put into the context of today’s evolving digital environment, with analytic tools constantly changing their metrics, planning out months of social media content may seem futile. Yet results are rarely made through random posts; It’s why laying out a plan, even if not strictly adhered to, will ultimately benefit anyone’s social media activities.
Positives of Planning
Planning is essentially a guide for action. While a plan doesn’t guarantee that your desired outcome will be reached, plans can still help direct specific actions towards your goals - especially if they are coordinated and focused.
Coordination and focus leads to an improved use of resources. If a content creator can effectively plan out one or more months of content instead of fragmented day-by-day posting, they will save time in the long run, freeing up hours and giving themselves the time and space to create higher quality content. This content may be more diverse and better researched, offering a thorougher understanding of the subject and its audience.
A plan also translates to commitment. It is easy for a content creator to lack motivation or inspiration when a task feels too overwhelming, big, or unclear. Planning can help reduce some of this uncertainty by focusing in on what a content creator is expected to accomplish. As a general rule, people are more likely to work steadily towards a goal they understand and feel is achievable.
This is how planning is used to help set performance standards. Planning defines outcomes and progress milestones, so if something is missed, it becomes much easier to look back and asses where things went wrong, how they are really progressing, and where they need realignment.
Ultimately, although it may seem counterintuitive, planning allows for flexibility. That is because through the goal-setting process, content creators learn to recognize the factors that need to be prioritized and monitored. If a change does occur, whether through a measurement metric, the need of a client, or the direction of a brand, they will be more prepared to respond accordingly based on the support of the structure already in place.
Once a plan is made, it can be difficult to break. That is why content creators must be aware of inhibited creativity. Remember: success comes from innovation as well as planning, so be sure to asses if your plan feels heavy, preventing your creativity from flowing.
Perhaps the biggest pitfall to avoid when planning is the error of complacency. If a plan has been set up well, there could be months of content ready for publishing. However, the information that influenced the original plan may change. If this is not kept in mind, many content creators will forget to monitor their plan’s progress, or look for changes in engagement. As we discussed earlier, planning is not a one-time process - it must be continually adjusted over time.
A good example of how sticking to a plan can go wrong is with General Motors. In the 1990s, they had EV-1 car prototypes designed and produced. However, after just a few years, GM believed that electric cars would be unprofitable and hard to source, so they took them off the market. To many, GM missed the huge opportunity to become the first American automaker to mass-produce electric cars, all because they were more committed to the current plan, rather than assessing their long-term goals and the market’s long-term needs.
Ultimately, although planning can be a guide for action, if done for too long, it can also be a way to prevent action. Try to remember that there is no such thing as perfection. At some point the plan must be put into action, providing the creator with both positive and negative feedback that can be used for further adjusting.
Building a Social Media Strategy
A social media strategy will help you outline your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them, and the metrics you will track to measure your progress. Here are five tips to keep in mind when planning your next phase of social media activities:
1. Set SMART goals. Choose social media marketing goals that align to business objectives - most notably ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
2. Track meaningful metrics. Metrics, like number of followers and likes, are easy to track, but it’s hard to prove their real value. Instead, focus on things like engagement, click-through and conversion rates.
3. Learn your audience. Knowing who your audience is and what they want to see on social media is key. That way you can create content that will foster trust, brand loyalty, and turn viewers into customers.
4. Know your competition. Learn from your competitors! There isn’t anything wrong with taking from the best, as long as you make it your own. Let them inspire you, but not define you!
5. Do a social media audit. Take stock of your efforts and ask yourself, “What’s working and what’s not? Who is engaging? How do I compare to the competition?”
A Final Note
Before you set out to create a SoMe strategy, be sure to have a solid understanding of your brand and it’s values. For some words on this topic, check out our blog post on Branding.