Top tips for planning social for an uncertain 2021

Without a doubt next year is going to be bumpy. We’re not over the pandemic yet; the UK faces Brexit; and a recession is on the cards. Whether your industry is flying or picking itself back up again, you will need a plan for next year.

This year marketing has been a bit like being the ball in a pinball machine. We’ve rattled between government edicts, erratic audiences and budgets yo-yoing. We’ve made it to the end of the year – well all bar the mince pies. But the price paid has been a derailing of our objectives and an impact on mental health.

So let’s make it better in 2021. Planning for uncertainty will give us, well, certainty. Here are some top tips to help:

  1. Go long

Plan for long term goals. Help keep your social marketing on track and focus in on objectives that will deliver value to the business and build trust with audiences. As I discussed in our recent podcast on planning for uncertainty, these will be two essentials for next year.

  1. Turn and face the change

The pandemic has accelerated some changes. Sustainability issues, ethical business, use of social and online shopping have all dramatically increased this year and are likely to stay. Use these mega trends and signals in cultural shifts to lay the foundations of your planning.

  1. Pick out the gems

Review last years activity. Do a deep dive into performance. Ask yourself not only what worked, but why. Let the past inform your plans and optimise your goals.

  1. Lurk and listen

Audience behaviours are unpredictable right now. I don’t know if you remember, but at the beginning of lockdown, everyone was talking about Houseparty. Now none mentions it anymore. It’s all TikTok!

You need to be watching your audiences more than ever. Get a monitoring tool. Know what data you want to collect and then review weekly and monthly.

  1. Scenario like never before

Set out your priorities and then scenario plan. It will give you a task force mentality when the change happens. Everyone will know in advance what to do and when – you just have to give the ok. For instance, think about what will you do when the commute is back on, how will you manage if Easter is cancelled, what happens when consumers get back to demanding plastic free? You get the gist.

  1. Make people your powerhouse

To be better at being agile, you’ll want to plan for a team that can flex. Start with a core resource and consider how you can fly in support, expertise and extra hands. You want to be ready to jump on the opportunities.

  1. Get used to flipping

You are going to have to expect change. So expect it. Plan for it. Change operationally to meet it. Schedule regular huddles where you look at performance and audience data. You will quickly see what you can flip into the feed, and what you need to bin. Monthly meets at minimum with the data at your fingertips and the decision makers in the room.

  1. Innovate, test, learn

Attention is going to be hard won in 2021. So learn from it. Run test campaigns. Go out with brave creative, push the formats to the limit, trial new messages and push the budget on paid to get a new audience segment.

This is the best year to learn. Uncertainty breeds innovation. Be at the forefront.

There you have it. Eight ways to push your planning into 2021 and give you peace of mind. Of course planning also needs you to understand your latest SWOT, redefine your audience personas and so much more. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. You can always talk to us if you need help.

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