So much content is produced about social media managers that it’s easy to forget that social media is now often the domain of teams. Where large enterprises might have a handful of people working on social media full-time, even a small business with limited resources frequently have multiple people within the company contributing to their social presence.
There are many factors to consider as you build your business’ social media team. You have to think about whether to bring in a specialist or simply train existing staff on how to use social networks. You should think about who will be able to communicate the tone and voice of your brand online. You need to consider what roles within your company could be complemented by social media. And for many small businesses, the choice is whether to have a team at all, or simply leave social media in the hands of one competent individual.
Whatever stage you find yourself in, there are specific qualities that will make your social media team more efficient and effective.
An average Facebook user might have 1,500 posts eligible to appear in their feed on a daily basis. There are over 500 million Tweets sent every day. Instagram sees an average of 70 million new photos uploaded every day. This is an unbelievable amount of volume, and brands are forced to find ways to stand out from the pack. This isn’t a bad thing, because it forces businesses to get creative, which has led to truly amazing branded content over the past few years. As Jason Silva, the Emmy-nominated host of the Emmy-nominated show Brain Games on NatGeo, told Entrepreneur, “No matter what your product is, no matter what your business is selling, all companies are now, by default, content companies.
A social media team needs to be creative at its heart if they are to be successful. You could post very direct messages and still get a few link clicks and followers, but creative posts will leave a lasting impact. You should be looking at the content you produce and striving to find creative ways to share it and shape it for social media. To some, this might feel like a chore. Creative team members will look at it as an opportunity to flex those muscles and produce something with broader appeal, something that is begging to be shared.
The creative demands of a social media team can be eased by having a team that approaches every challenge with a collaborative mindset. Collaboration will help you come up with better social media content, faster. But collaboration is important for social media teams for several other reasons:
- Social media staff will need to collaborate with other teams within your business to address customer service issues
- Social media staff will collaborate with other marketers for campaign support and engagement
- A great social media team will collaborate with its online community for user-generated content
- Collaborating with other businesses and influencers on social media will provide your business with opportunities to reach new audiences
Too many businesses silo social media within marketing, or put control of all social activities in the hands of one individual. The truth is, collaboration will lead to faster problem-solving, more effective social promotion and wider social reach. Don’t ignore that potential, build a team that will harness it.
Where traditional mediums like television and radio put brands in control of what people watched, social media reverses that power structure. Now the public drives the conversation, and if you’re not producing and sharing content that your audience wants to see, they’ll simply ignore you. With that in mind, a great social media team needs to be flexible.
Being flexible means letting your following and your target following dictate how you approach social media. You will be the one to set your social media goals, but you can’t let these goals guide you away from your audience. You need to constantly be testing your social media activities and adapting your goals and strategies to the trends exhibited by your followers. You need to keep up with industry leaders and competitors on social media, and be flexible enough to recognize where they’re beating you and what you can do to compete.
Closely tied to flexibility is agility. Social media happens in real-time, and your business should be prepared to adjust and respond to events as they happen. This will help you stay relevant and interesting, hopefully to stand out from the absolute flood of content that is being produced and shared on social networks every minute of every day.
An agile social media team still has a social media plan, but they’re willing to veer of that path to capitalize on a new opportunity or respond to a situation that has arisen. Agile social media teams can reap the benefits of real-time marketing and news jacking, both terms which describe capitalizing on trends for marketing purposes, often to raise brand awareness.
The classic example is the Oreo “dunk in the dark” Tweet that blew up during the Super Bowl power outage a few years ago.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
That success was the result of a conscious effort to operate as an agile team. During a 100 day period, Oreo released a social media image that related to some culturally relevant news of the day. This exercise cemented the brand as one of the most creative on social media. Following Oreo’s lead, brands have work to stay on top of news and popular events and prepare themselves should any interesting moment spark social media conversation. This agility is one of the most effective ways to connect with a consumer base that is constantly moving on to the next big story on social media. An agile team is needed if you’re to be a part of that story.
Were you an early adopter of Meerkat or Periscope? Did you know what all the controversy was around #thedress. Do you have any idea what the next big app is? Social media is always changing and only a passionate and curious team will be able to keep up. If being agile is the key to addressing online trends, being curious is the means by which you find them.
Curiosity is important for learning, and we’re all still learning when it comes to social media. As new tools, techniques and technologies emerge, we all start at square one. The curious will put in the extra work and extra research to learn how to use social media advertising, or find businesses that have been succeeding with a new app. It’s essential for you to be on Facebook and Twitter, but being an early adopter of the next big social network could prove even more beneficial. Some of the most popular brands on Instagram or Vine are the brands that were the first to dip their toes in these untested waters.
A curious team will also always be listening and always be measuring, wanting to know what’s popular, what’s performing well and why. In this way, curiosity will make your team far more efficient and ensure your continued progress on social channels.
When you’re pumping out a dozen Tweets a day, it’s easy to fall into a trap of being formulaic. You write messages which generally fit into a mold of what you hope will succeed on your social networks. You repeat the same process every day, and maybe you even see stable growth over time. This works, but only if you’re okay with the status quo. If you really want to separate yourself from the noise, you need a social media team that focuses in on the details.
Do your social media followers use slang? Using the same terms in a few of your messages could make a big impression, and show them that you are really paying attention. Has one of your most engaged community members changed their profile picture? Maybe they’ve landed a new job? Noticing these tiny details and using them to engage your followers on a more personal level can turn a simple follower into a brand advocate.
A detail-oriented team will also help you to avoid common errors associated with social media:
- A detail-oriented team will catch the typos before they go out.
- They’ll see that their funny Facebook post might offend someone, before it actually gets posted.
- They’ll make the extra effort to ensure that corporate accounts are secure.
- They’ll monitor conversations closely, to catch any potential brand issue before it blows up on social media
A detail-oriented team will make you a more powerful social media brand, and a more secure one.
Believe it or not, this isn’t a given. Many businesses on social media are anything but social. They use the tools for broadcasting and public relations, but ignore any sort of engagement from regular users. Traditional marketing channels like television or radio might have been a one-way conversation, but social media is all about two-way interaction.
You need to be social and engage your followers and prospects. You need to address all feedback, be it positive or negative, and keep in these conversations until they’re over. A really great social media team will also voluntarily seek out conversations in which they can positively contribute. Maybe it means finding Twitter chats for your industry, or tracking keywords which allow you to find relevant users to chat with.
Being social doesn’t mean being unprofessional by any means. It simply means recognizing that, on social media, you and your followers are on the same playing field. Treat social media like it was a party you were at, rather than a conference you were hosting. Your followers will appreciate it.
Sense of humor
Put simply, humor works on social media. Your team would greatly benefit from having a funny side, since content that makes people laugh is more likely to get shared. Humor is also a gateway for businesses which might not otherwise appeal to the average social media user. If you can get someone to laugh at your post and follow you, they may end up learning about your company or product.
A photo posted by Jaime Stein (@jaimestein) on
Having a sense of humor is also important from a customer engagement standpoint. People will talk badly about you and your brand. You need to take that in stride. You can’t try and defend yourself against every naysayer. You need to have a sense of humor, and move on from the trolls to any genuine feedback.
A note on generalists vs. specialists
This list of qualities might seem overwhelming to a small business who only has one person working on social media. It’s important to remember that this list is an ideal, or a mark for your team to strive for.
Big brands on social media, or businesses with big social media teams, have the luxury of turning to social media specialists. Their teams might include video producers, social media advertising specialists or brand journalists. Each of these roles will help a social media team embody many of the qualities discussed above.
For small brands, social media so often falls into the hands of one or two people. It might be unrealistic to expect them to embody every quality of a kick-ass social media team, but these companies should still be striving to find generalists—people who are comfortable doing a lot of different tasks in a lot of different situations.
Hone in on the things that matter the most to your and your business when it comes to social media. Try and match those goals to the qualities you feel best embody them. Then you can feel more comfortable finding a social media employee who meets these more realistic expectations. Plus, as you scale your social media team, you can look for employees who can fill the gaps, that embody the qualities your existing team might be lacking.
Did we miss any important traits of great social media teams? Let us know in the comments below.