Plan Like a Pro to Get More Out of Social Media

social media

At this point you probably don’t need another blog about the value of social media for building your customer base and brand. Your members and prospective members are using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and so should you.

Like any media, though, social media has unique strengths you only benefit from if you leverage them correctly as part of a plan. In the case of social media, those strengths are immediacy and action. When I see your post it’s part of my “right now,” my plans with my friends, the latest news, updates on my teams, clubs and other social connections. It needs to feel relevant and actionable in that context.

Sometimes that happens spontaneously. Something great happens at your Box, someone shoots a crazy photo, you see something on the news, or repost some content that pops up on your own feed, and you have the start of a little social media frenzy.

But if you’re going to make social media a foundation of your brand, you need to have a plan. After all, even a modest post requires some words, the right photo and a “call to action,” the link to your site, a special promotion, or the event you want to promote.

The problem is that most of us base our assumptions on what’s involved on the times when everything goes perfectly, but when you have to do it on a regular basis it doesn’t always work that way. The offer on your website needs to be updated, you don’t have the right photo or you simply want time to kick around the idea with a few other folks on your team.

That’s where the plan comes in.

The best plan is simply a list of the dates you want to post, minus two working days. So say for instance you decide you want to post every two weeks on Tuesday evenings, you need to mark your calendar for the previous Friday so you have time to think about it and pull everything together without going crazy.

Next, add the special dates where you know you’re going to want to have targeted content – your in-house events, the local and regional competitions, and any other promotions you plan to host.

In general, assume any event that makes it to your calendar deserves at least three posts – one in anticipation, one on the day of the event, and one “thank-you” or follow-up post. Those go on your calendar with the same lead times for preparation. Even if you don’t know exactly what the outcome will be for a given event, you know that you’ll want certain photos, the correct spelling of people’s names and towns, plus logos, hashtags and other info from the event. It’s amazing how easy it can be with all of the excitement of a busy day to forget this stuff, and then you don’t have a post.

Finally, don’t miss the chance to have a little fun and create opportunities around more prosaic dates or events. Every gym posts something about New Year’s resolutions and working off holiday indulgences, but why stop there?

Spend a few minutes with your calendar to identify other dates you can have some fun with. Use Groundhog Day to remind people about getting in bathing-suit shape for the coming spring and summer. Use the first day of school to target moms who now have their mornings to themselves. And don’t overlook the offbeat observances. Sometimes a whimsical post around Adopt-a-Cat Month, Shark Week or the anniversary of the first Rocky movie can generate as much interest as your best straight content.

You can get ideas by checking out any of the online “holidays and observances” calendars. Look them up, find your dates and before you know it you’ll have yourself a real social media plan.

Michael McLinden earns his road rash as a serial entrepreneur, and consultant to health, wellness and fitness related companies in the U.S. and Europe with a focus on market analysis, branding and value creation. He has held executive management and strategic planning responsibilities in a number of regional and global advertising and marketing firms, including Mc|K Healthcare, which he co-founded and ran until 2014. He holds an MS from Purdue University and an MBA from TIAS Nimbas business school in the Netherlands. Email him at