As a marketer and PR of more years than I want to think about, I’m often asked by people for advice on how they should structure and manage their social media.

My instinctive reaction to these questions is always “I’m not an expert but I can put you in touch with someone who is.” I do, though, feel there’s a carefully developed “smoke and mirrors” attempt by certain individuals to wrap the whole social media management up into some sort of mystery of scientific proportions. It’s really not. The clues are, after all, in the title.

Of course, you may need help with analytics and evaluation but, as with any communications strategy, it’s about planning, structuring, messaging and – most importantly – content and engagement. Get these wrong and evaluating what you do is pretty useless.

Any fool can litter their social media feeds with “stuff” of little meaning or value; it takes creativity, organisational skills and a willingness to invest the time in truly connecting with your “audiences” to be really successful – and to be a presence to which people are drawn…and stay.

If you’re going to engage with social media for your business, product, service or expertise you must truly commit – if it’s something you think about only in the light of a rare breathing space, forget it. You’re almost better to have no presence at all than one that is half-hearted and in which you’re visible to your audience every third Tuesday.

This is where dedicated help can be a huge bonus and it doesn’t have to be a “techie”. If it’s not you then it needs to be someone (and there are plenty of terrific, inexpensive people around) who can work with you to devise a strategy, develop a timetable, make suggestions and offer valuable input.

It needs to be someone with great organisational skills – like a top-notch social media PA who is there to take the onus off you (assuming you don’t have the time yourself). This really isn’t rocket science, despite what it suits some to have us believe.

So what about content? It goes without saying this must be aligned to your business development or brand/personality building objectives. Too often, though, you view content and instantly know it’s probably there with little thought because it hasn’t been planned and because people said to themselves “Shit, I’ve not posted anything for ages”.

Also, and this is where you can make your life easier: good, valuable content takes thought, time and effort to create so make it work for you – and work across multiple channels.

If you’ve written a blog, posted a vlog, taken a photo, issued a press release or contributed to a magazine, newspaper, tv or radio show you have content there – use it to its full. Again, this really is common sense but the number of people who’ve looked at me vaguely in the past when I’ve asked them how they maximise their content?!

That leads me to “engagement”. Find great people who do this really well and pay attention. There are many excellent examples across numerous sectors and walks of life using social media brilliantly to build a community and benefit their work (whatever that may be).

Two of my passions are fitness and music and two of the most impressive people I know who utilise it superbly are Alex Crockford and Gretchen Peters. They constantly engage with their followers and clearly put considerable effort into so doing.

Make no mistake, this takes precious time out of any busy schedule – but it truly sets them apart. Even if you don’t share these interests give them a follow if you’d like a masterclass in social media.