Set it and forget it
“Planning” and “vacation” have gone together since the very wise Emily Post first advised homemakers to schedule their vacations and soirees months in advance, which is to say a long, long time. Just like most of us plan in detail for vacation, a social media plan that includes automation can also create a rest from the daily social media grind. (Her major treatise, Etiquette, was published in 1922.)
While Ms. Post could not have envisioned the social media explosion we connect to today, she would have been thrilled by the myriad of tools we have available for managing our social marketing activities. More on those in a minute.
Questions to Consider
First, when to post (sorry, Emily), on which platform, and how often, are questions that have been the subject of dozens of marketing studies, many of which are still ongoing as the online landscape continues to evolve. Do open rates for tweets and snaps mirror those of emails, which perform best on weekends and mid-day early in the week? Should the same message be repeated? If so, how often, and how different should each iteration be? How much content? How many links? How many images? Good questions all. If there were actually hard and fast proven rules, well, you likely wouldn’t need to be reading this article right now. But one person’s magic formula is another person’s waste of time. Any marketer worth his or her salt will tell you that testing is the only real solution to this dilemma. How and when your particular audience responds most favorably is for you to discover by studying your analytics.
Where to Begin
The best place to begin is with your best chance of success, as recorded by other marketers, and by your past efforts. From there you can experiment to your heart’s content, always trying to beat your last campaign with a little tweak here and a little tweak there.
Back to the email comparison for a moment. Consumers prefer to hear from vendors no more than once per week. Go over that and you’re taking your chances they may disengage. Of course if your content is valuable information in a B2B space, that once-a-week thing goes out the window. Is it the same for social? This is where your overall social media strategy takes over. What’s that you say? You don’t have a strategic plan for social? Social media is a lot like exercising. Just Do It. Start by cataloguing your past successes and failures. Did your last campaign meet its stated objectives? Compare it to one with the opposite results and determine what you did differently.
What to Aim For
Decide what you want to accomplish with social going forward. Break it down by month, by week, by day if you have to, beginning with broad goals such as number of followers, and then drilling down to seasonal objectives such as selling raincoats in the spring, swimsuits in summer. Then break down how to implement your plan. If you know you’re going to release a campaign about a certain topic the first week in September, and it takes you three weeks to create your content for X, Y and Z social media sites, and another week to get management approval, you’d better be cranking on it by early August. Next, plan to analyze and report on your results. Every time. Measure your results against your stated goals and objectives.
It’s starting to sound like all of these items are lending themselves to being planned according to some sort of timeline, doesn’t it? Something like… a calendar!