There was a time when you could choose to work with a platform simply because it has the largest scale of your target audience, and you would probably have based your selection on the platform’s unique proposition to leverage its strengths.

These are important considerations in the planning process, but as social continues to expand and evolve, new layers and adaptations are being added to the planning process.

Four key changes in social that affect the way we plan

  1. The range of marketing objectives – and the solutions available to meet them – have steadily increased over time. Though their features vary, most solutions can deliver the same outcomes – albeit at different levels of performance. It’s important to consider each solution at a granular level and determine how to leverage them effectively.
  2. Algorithmic automation, where AI is entrusted with automating and optimizing marketing activities using techniques such as dynamic testing, has heralded a new era of performance marketing.

The onus is on us as marketers to understand a brand’s challenges and dictate the strategy for AI, setting the right parameters and continually adapting.

  • As social platforms and their communities continue to expand, there is great value from a wider range of opportunities that can deliver scale and incrementality and, therefore can generate real impact for the advertiser. Note that these ‘communities’ also expect highly relevant experiences to match their needs and behaviors.
  • Brand Safety parameters are now fundamental for any social platform to protect advertisers, as well as an increasing focus on media responsibility issues to align with consumer expectations in the protection from harm, inclusivity, privacy, and sustainability.

Whilst platforms are taking steps towards these goals, the solutions and progress are currently inconsistent.

Planning without much consideration for the changes in the evolving landscape means having a more limited view and missing out on a range of opportunities that may be more appropriate and effective for your media campaign.

Take a broader perspective and lay the foundation for high performance.

Taking the following steps into account can enable more holistic social planning:

  1. Establish the key objective and outcome
  2. Determine the right experiences
  3. Review the related solutions for the audience
  4. Quantify the opportunity
  5. Choose the social platform
  6. Budget distribution

Determine the right experiences

It’s important to then take a step back, review the current user journey, and consider how to make improvements.

From a social perspective, this means thinking beyond the channel level and considering the experiences that the user needs to be exposed to along their journey.

Below are some of the experiences in a social environment:

  • Takeovers – High impact and scaled reach at the upper funnel.
  • Content Feeds – Build and sustain reach and frequency with flexibility.
  • In-Stream – Capture an audience that is leaned-in to the content they’re consuming.
  • Immersive – High engagement, involvement, and consumption time.
  • Personal – Hyper relevance. One-to-one experience.

These experiences will require certain infrastructure to enable a complete and seamless user journey, like the right partnerships for influencer activity or having ‘social shops’ in operation if there is a commerce layer.

This approach ensures these key considerations are introduced early enough to start collaborating with relevant parties. By thinking about how to best connect with the audience, the campaign gets a head start.

Review the related solutions for the audience

At this stage, there is still freedom to review the various platforms that can most effectively provide these experiences. Mapping the solution for each of these social experiences will help to identify where they can be most effective.

Consider the audiences to be targeted and how the solutions can be leveraged specifically for those audiences. This will spark tactical ideas, creative executions and possible innovation opportunities, which may also need collaboration with other parties.

Quantify the opportunity

Now we can assess how effective the solution would be at delivering the outcome. Calculations may be carried out for each individual solution or based on a group of solutions that will leverage algorithmic optimizations within a platform.

Delivering the best efficiency is key, but it also needs to be scalable and will therefore need to incorporate the audience sizing data into the planning process.

Note that the highest audience size is not necessarily the most effective. Planning priority will be given to the most efficient solutions that can deliver scale. However, the next set of considerations may affect your weighting.

Choose the social platform

With a better understanding of what can drive performance, we can start to narrow things down and choose options based on a number of additional factors:

  • The platform or product USP is a useful dimension to help to determine where delivery could be most appropriate and resonate well with the audience, it can be powerful if leveraged well.
  • Pay attention to consumer shifts and trends in the landscape, as this can determine focus areas and weighting.
  • Account for experimentation and priorities within the advertiser’s test and development roadmap.

There may be short-term compromises to consider in the media plan, but testing will generate data and insight that provide significant value in the long term.

Budget distribution

Finally, the social media plan is complete, built from a broader perspective and making decisions based on data. Choosing an agency partner to aid with the various planning considerations and budget distributions in your media plan is a challenge, so be sure to enquire about their AI capabilities in planning and attribution.


Social marketing has increased in complexity and social media planning has had to adapt to this.

A more strategic approach that considers the user journey and experience sets the campaign up for success and provides the freedom to plan in a holistic way, allowing you to work with a wider range of relevant opportunities, whilst also adding more precision in planning.