To Plan, or Not to Plan, That is the Question.
Over the last few weeks I’ve talked a lot about planning, and in particular planning your social media.
Truth talk: I plan because I’m lazy.
Sounds counterintuitive right? But seriously. I plan ahead so that I don’t have to think of #allthethings in the moment any more than necessary.
Having a thought-through plan allows me to create consistently without having to worry about what I’m going to work on and when. I don’t have to worry that I’m going to forget hashtags or key points. No fighting through writer’s block because what I’m going to write about is already decided. And the best part? No more fighting through a creativity slump or case of the “don’t wannas.” As long as I’m on or ahead of plan, I can ride the slump and/or “I don’t wannas” wave if necessary.
While this works well for me, I also understand that planning can feel stifling for some.
Recently I read a blog post from a digital marketing expert saying that "overplanning kills the magic" and planning “more than a couple of days of Insta posts is painful.”
They stated that they don’t know what their industry or audience will want in a couple of weeks, etc etc. They shared multiple ideas of what to post when you don't know what to post, then finished out by saying that failing to plan isn't bad.
True, planning isn’t necessarily. And not having a plan doesn’t make you a bad person or marketer.
However, it also won’t facilitate consistency, and consistency is the key to creating marketing success.
Not for nothin’, but having a coterie of ideas to fall back on when you’re unsure is still a plan. A really loose one, but a plan nonetheless. #justsayin
Is planning ahead right for you? How about a good, old fashioned pros and cons list!
Planning creates peace of mind that it’s done.
It removes doubt and decisions-making pressure in the future.
It makes it easier to execute the marketing strategy when you have a step-by-step action plan.
Having a plan can feel stifling.
Creating the plan can feel time consuming in the moment. (Although it saves you time later.)
Having a too rigid plan feels like it doesn’t allow for creativity or spontaneity.
The planning solution I recommend and practice myself?
Good planning, loosely held.
A little structure. A little flow. Like a dance.
How does this look in action?
Plan things out, but allow it to shift and include new things if something more timely or important comes along.
Pro tip: I find this easiest to do in a paper calendar. Being able to see an entire month at once helps ensure flow and cohesiveness across content. Simply write what you'll post about in each square!
My personal plan:
Plan the content calendar quarterly. (And in pencil,)
Write, design and schedule posts weekly.
This gives me both the structure and the flexibility I need mentally to ensure consistency with ease.
Pro tip: Need help determining what to share on your social media channels? This post will help you production promotions and this post will help you with what to share in the between times.
It’s like rehearsals vs. performance.
Rehearsals give us our foundation, but in performance, things can change or go awry. We must be able to fix on the fly.
"I love having maids and butlers in shows. If things go wrong, I can send them out to fix it." - one of my fave stage managers.
The plan is our marketing foundation. However, things may come up and it’s OK to alter the plan. Get some inspiration or something timely comes up that needs to be addressed? Do it and then adjust the plan accordingly. No harm, no foul.
Can it suck to feel tied down to something? Sure.
So don’t allow your plan to feel like it’s tying you down. Think of it like the framework to hold onto when you’re not sure what to do.
It’s like running scales, barre, or any other performance warm-ups, while you work out what you’re going to practice. Sometimes you know what you’re going to practice, in which case you stick to the plan. Sometimes a new opportunity arises and you have to switch gears to prepare for that.
Plans are fabulous. Plans are good. Embrace the planning. However, don't hold on so tightly that you miss opportunities, nor should you plan so little that you can’t create consistently or worse...do nothing.
Find what works best for you. Play with it. Tweak it until it feels natural and you can make it a solid habit...just like practicing and rehearsals.