Should I plan my social media or can I wing it?

Is social media planning really worth it? Or should I just wing it? Unfortunately, the answer to winging it is a no, especially if you’re looking to market something. Ironically, many of the successful and viral social media videos that seem so authentic and accidental actually have a whole marketing strategy behind them.

First things first, you need to work out which channels can add value to your business and how you can use them to achieve what you want. That means deciding which are the right platforms for you to invest in, then coming up with a logical and achievable plan as to the content you’ll put out. The aim is to land on a focused, measurable plan of action that gives you a consistent presence – and you’ll need to be able to track whether that plan is having the effect you want.

According to data from audience targeting company GWI, social media users aren’t just increasing, but the hours we spend online are also growing longer.

Many customers check social media profiles before making a purchase (54% according to GWI) and study after study points to their importance in creating brand perception. Your social profiles aren’t just a megaphone for your business – nor is managing them something to hand off to the youngest person in the team while you hope for the best.

Different social media platforms have different personalities and different senses of community. For some businesses and creative, it is worth adopting as many as possible and tailoring your brand to these platforms. For example, a music artist will attract visual attention via Instagram, soundbites and authenticity via TikTok and niche community and fellow music geeks via Twitter and its web spaces. However for other brands, adopting all social media platforms isn’t necessary and focusing on just one or two will do the job.

The narrow goals you set should have clear metrics that will be easily trackable on each platform. So, if you’re trying to increase brand awareness, you might look at post reach; if you’ve got a sales goal, it might be on website traffic or click-through rate. Don’t get distracted by vanity metrics like follower count – followers are only useful if they engage with your business.

If you’re unsure as to which platforms are best for your business to target, this study from Forrester shows the key types of social media users your customer base is made up of – and how much they actually want to engage with a business online. Adjust your posting frequency accordingly, and always go for quality over quantity when it comes to putting out content.

Finally, a successful social media presence is one that finds a blend between trends and individuality. While you need to broadly be aware of what’s happening, your plan should always be led by where your customers spend their time and what platforms are relevant for your business and specific aims.

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