Planning for the Unplannable on Social Media

No matter how much time you spend thinking about every conceivable scenario that might play out on social media, it is impossible to think of them all.

Opportunities arise, competitors emerge, trolls attack, sites go down, preferences change, and sometimes, pigs fly.

This is the nature of social media and the world in which we live and our businesses operate. Things change fast. Really fast.

And this dynamism sometimes makes stakeholders, colleagues, management, clients and coworkers uneasy – all of this unpredictability. Sometimes it can even make those managing and overseeing social media marketing uneasy.

The good news is that there are ways to plan and prepare for those events that can seem impossible to prepare for.

With a little forethought, you can be ready to tackle uncertainty with confidence and great effect.

Following are a few ideas for how to plan for the unplannable:

Have a social media leadership team in place

When the unplannable happens – be it positive or negative – you’re going to need to react smartly and swiftly. Having a team in place with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for addressing these types of scenarios is of critical importance. You can’t afford the time of organizing a team when opportunity or crisis occurs, and you can’t afford indecision. For this reason, ensure you’ve got at least one member of your organization’s senior leadership team on board and available to make tough decisions, provide top level insight, and grant approvals when you need them.

Define a process for the unplannable

While there is no way for you to know the exact nature of the opportunities and challenges that will present themselves, there are some constants that you can build process around. For instance, you know that there will be opportunities and challenges (obviously). You know that creative and divergent thinking will be required to address those opportunities and challenges. You know that you’ll need approvals, potentially from senior leadership, legal, or regulatory bodies. You know that content will need to be created, or that responses will need to be crafted. These are all things that can be planned and that can be incorporated into a process to ensure your team will have a plan of attack when duty calls.

Believe in yourself, your brand, your audience and objectives

Having a firm belief in yourself, your brand, your audience and objectives can help you to think clearly and act with confidence. Without this firm understanding and belief, opportunities will be missed or not fully capitalized on, and challenges will hit you with greater impact than they should.

Avoid complacency and never think of social media as being ‘done’

Embracing the fact that changing market conditions, global events, pop-culture, and any number of events can, and will, throw your social media marketing efforts for a loop will help to keep you ready and prepared to deal with uncertainty. Continue iterating on your processes, strategies, tactics and tool sets. Never stop thinking about how things can be managed and executed with greater efficiency, or to address changing conditions. If you can work this into the culture of your social media team, you’ll be better equipped and educated on dealing with change, even when it is abrupt.

Sometimes the unplannable is only so because not enough thought has gone into it

Plain and simple, sometimes the things that catch us off guard only do because we haven’t spent enough time thinking about things from every possible angle. Thinking about, and planning for, opportunities and challenges is a worthwhile endeavor and shouldn’t be overlooked because of a lack of immediate return. All of the planning, preparation and thinking that you put into these types of scenarios will pay dividends when they need to be acted upon.


How have you planned for the unplannable on social media?

When has your preparation for opportunity or crisis paid off?

What types of scenarios have you planned and prepared for?

Have you ever been caught off guard, completely unprepared?

It would be great to chat with you about your answers to these questions, and discuss any additional thoughts you have in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial

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