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Step 1: The importance of planning

A good social media plan covers audiences identification, channel selection, target-setting measurable objectives.

Have a plan - you're not working strategically without one

In some ways, communications has become easier in the past decade, in terms of the number of engagement channels and opportunities available to us. But at the same time communicating effectively has also become more difficult, with resources for many organisations decreasing, expectations and demands increasing, and an ever-growing list of channels and platforms for the communicator to understand and decide to use. Against this backdrop it's never been more important to have great plans. And this is just as true for social media as it is for all other aspects of the communications mix.

A good plan in terms of social media will include identifying your audiences, carefully selecting your channels, target-setting for your social media platforms and having measurable objectives for your accounts.

Just as you would use a template to map your wider communications work the same principles should apply to the way you now use social media. Having a plan pushes you to focus on the outputs and outcomes you need to achieve. In turn you'll need to do your research in order to make these objectives meaningful and deliverable.

Choose a planning template which suits you

When approaching a new social media campaign follow the same principles you would if you were developing a wider communications campaign. From ROSIE to OASIS, there are plenty of comms planning templates out there to choose from. Choose something you trust in, which is simple to use and which will move you swiftly from planning to delivery to evaluation in easy steps.

An example 10-point plan you could adopt for your next social media activity or campaign:

10 step social media planner
10 step social media planner

The choice of template you use for your comms planning may also vary depending upon whether it's a small project (for example one you'll facilitate, live, in a meeting with colleagues) through to a more in-depth plan with medium to long-term lifecycles. Either way you need to consider all of the key elements incorporated in this 10-point planner.

Following this planned approach to social media will provide a framework, and the discipline, to use insight to generate clear priorities and identified outcomes. Without these, it can be hard to decide whether your efforts have worked, and even more difficult to answer the chief executive's "So what?" question.