The principles of social media are fairly simple, the execution takes manpower to monitor multiple sites, engage with users in creative ways, and respond to their posts. You can’t do it all by yourself. You need a team to make your social media soar to new heights.
In this article, I go over what your team is responsible for: strategy, execution, and owning social media within your company. Let’s go over the details on how to make the best team for your business.
Putting Together a Social Media Team
One of the very first things you need to consider is who will own social media within your organization. By own, I mean who will ultimately be responsible for when things go right – and when things don’t go as planned. In many organizations, the website is owned by the marketing department and supported by the information technology (IT) department. If you have a small business, these “departments” probably have only one person in them. If you only have one person on staff, yon need to train that person to have a wide knowledge of the organization’s products/services and clear communication skills, and give them the authority to speak on behalf your business.
If you have a larger company, I recommend creating a cross-disciplinary team to manage your social media. Why? Social media affects many departments and a large trained team can best utilize the management of it.
Why You Need a Team
Thanks to Facebook and other social media platforms, customers now expect open, ongoing communication between the business and the customer. This isn’t going to change anytime soon. So that means not only do you have to get used to this new level of customer engagement, you also have to plan for it and embrace it.
If you only have one person in the office who manages your social marketing, it’s not scalable and can’t grow at all. In fact, it may stunt the growth. You need a team to help. And that team needs to be peopled with the right employees and empowered to make decisions and communicate freely.
Your team’s internal objective should entail the following:
- Working across departments within your company to make sure any Facebook posts that require others’ input gets the right answer.
- The employee who is managing your Facebook account’s main goal is to ensure customer satisfaction.
You need to make sure that everyone on the team is on board with your Facebook communications strategy, plan, and implementation. How do you do that? The best way to get – and keep – everyone on board is by having weekly meetings so that departments can share the following types of information:
- What is working?
- What are the challenges people are facing?
- What can be done to improve the current system?
The stakeholders of the social media team should include a member of the executive team as a sponsor, and leaders from each of the departments involved.
In your organization, this might look like a member from the following departments:
- Public Relations
- Customer Service
- Product Development
- Information Technology
It’s not often that you see information technology departments on a team for social media, but I recommend doing so for a number of reasons.
First, there are often bottlenecks within an organization to get staff access to social networking websites, tools to manage the social sites, and sites used to support your social campaigns. Second, you might need to install software to build and manage your social media presence.
And finally, if you plan on video hosting or bringing in large amounts of traffic to your site, the information technology team needs to be aware of the potential growth and have plans to support this traffic.
Having IT staff on board enables them to let you know what’s technologically feasible and what isn’t. Additionally, if IT staff knows what you are hoping to get out of your social media, they will be in a better position to help you achieve those goals.
Choosing the Right People
What skill sets should people on the social media team have?
Although it would be great if they were all social media and Facebook ninjas, it’s unlikely that this will be the case. Communication skills are the obvious answer. You are going to be picking leaders from each department, so here is a set of qualities I recommend:
- Well-Versed In All Company Products/Services: You want people in a company who have been there for a while and understand the culture and know what it is the company sells.
- Positive Attitude: A positive attitude goes a long way in keeping customers happy.
- Keen Listener: Great listening skills are necessary to be able to discern and then deliver what customers really want.
- Problem Solver: Every social media team player is going to have to tackle difficult issues. It’s the nature of customer interaction.
- High Integrity: Because these people are going to be working on the front line with customers, they must be very trustworthy.
- Tactful: We all say things that come out wrong at one time or another. When employees have tact, it just comes out friendlier, and they are able to appease even the most troubled.
Establishing Team Roles
After you’ve identified your teammates, it’s time to give them jobs. All of the jobs break down into three categories, as follows:
Engagers: These are the “front end” employees who communicate with customers on an ongoing basis. They post information on Facebook and other social media websites. They start conversations and build relationships, ultimately being the connection to building friends and fans and closing deals.
Idea Generators: These “back end” folks write the posts and come up with the contests. They also listen to the chatter that’s going on around the internet. If people are making positive or negative comments about your company or its brands, products, or services, they route them to the engagers to deal with on the company site.
Strategizers: These are the folks who oversee the workflow of the team, analyze what is going on, and identify areas for improvement. Your IT team may also fit into this team so they can support you.
Dividing and Conquering
So how many people do you need on the front end to really conquer social media? You need at least 25 people.
I am kidding. Most businesses use one to five people. The more people you can place on your team, the better and more efficient it will become.
As you begin to work as a team in the social space, building a schedule of the times to listen, engage, analyze, and hold group meetings will become very important.
You should post news on your Facebook Wall on a weekly basis. Some fans will comment on your posts and some won’t. Don’t discount the individuals who don’t post on your Wall. You’ve got to give people time to warm up. And some posts will resonate with some people and not others. When you first start winning fans, you will get engagement simply by asking for it. Use action words like Visit, Click, Share, Post, Like, Watch, and Tell Us. Action words motivate fans to engage. They help make your message stand out from among the thousands of messages people see each day.
Most people engage on Facebook before work (7 AM), right after work (5 PM), and late at night (11 PM). If you can reach them when they’re online, you have a better chance of getting them to speak their mind. That’s when the engagers should plan to engage with them. Also, make sure to schedule activity on Saturdays. During non-business hours, you can divide the task of replying to posts among employees.
We’ve moved into an era in which everything is fast and furious and people need answers right away. That’s part of the social media landscape and what you are getting yourself into as you embrace social media. The downside is that you need to be covered around the clock. The upside is that you are now connected to your customers around the clock.
It won’t take you long to figure out what scheduling system works best for your company. Starting out with a 24/7/365 social media monitoring system off the cuff might not be right for your business.
Setting up Workflow
So how should the multiple people on your team work together and in what order? They will still maintain their current company positions but they should work with their managers to identify time each week to work on their social media tasks. The most important parts to social media workflow are accuracy and delivery.
Your engagers will have most of the daily work, which might look like this:
- Respond (Draft, Approval)
The engagers also have a second duty, which is to listen for conversations on a daily basis. This means that they monitor the company Facebook page at many points throughout the day and respond to requests as needed.
The idea generators have less of a daily schedule and more of a weekly process that looks like this:
- Write (Draft, Approval)
- Create artwork (Draft, Approval)
- Build out documentation for engagers
The strategizers may meet on a weekly or monthly basis. Their role dictates that they get reports from the engagers on a monthly basis to see what is and isn’t working on your Facebook campaigns. Then they review, evaluate and make any changes to your marketing approach.
Writing a Social Media Policy
A social media policy outlines corporate guidelines and principles for communicating on Facebook and other social websites. Its purpose is to protect the company and the employees.
It goes beyond confidentiality agreements. Is it restrictive? It can be. But it can also mitigate risk in a very open internet today where people talk about not only their personal lives, but their opinions of work.
Here are some tips when writing your own social media policy.
- List what is acceptable.
- List what is not acceptable, including postings that disclose any confidential or proprietary company or partner company information.
- Require that people read it and sign it in front of another employee. This is a serious contract and you need to share with them how serious your company is about its purpose.
- Mention that the policy applies to all social networking sites current and future: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, blogs, wikis, and so on.
- Require that all employees use a disclaimer when making comments on behalf of the business. The disclaimer should read “… views expressed here are mine alone and do not reflect the views of my company ….”
- Indicate that the company reserves the right to request that specific topics are avoided, withdrawn, and/or removed.
These are not the end all, be all, of a social media policy but it will get you started. I recommend getting an attorney to finalize your policy to ensure it is binding.
In Case of Emergency
So what happens when there are negative posts on your Facebook page? Negative posts might take any of the following forms:
- A complaint about a product or service
- A threat to your business or an employee
- A business disaster in the making
What should you do as a social media manager?
First off, don’t panic. You’re in a public forum and people will be people. Some are positive, and some are negative. In some rare instances, they can actually offer constructive criticism all by themselves. If not, it’s your job to make a negative comment more constructive. You can do this by asking probing questions.
Here are some guidelines when you first get a negative comment:
- Read it and all surrounding comments for the context.
- If it’s a high-level complaint, let management know. If it’s low, deal with this yourself.
- If the comment is derogatory and has inappropriate language in it, remove it.
- If it is just a little critical, let it stand for a while. Your fans might just do a great deed and calm the Wall with some defending rebuttal.
Make sure you put guidelines for handling negative comments into your social media procedures and train your team on how to handle them. The worst thing to do is to just delete all negative posts, or to start an argument.
When you delete a comment, you have to remember that all of your fans had the opportunity to see that negative post, and if it was something they agreed with and you didn’t address it, you will have lost their trust. Similarly, if you get into an argument with your fans, it reflects very poorly on your company.
The Least You Need to Know
- Good social media takes manpower to monitor multiple sites, engage, and respond.
- It’s essential that you build a team even if you are a small organization.
- Don’t go overboard and start a 24/7/365 social media monitoring system off the cuff – that may not be right for your business.
- It is your job to transform negative comments into constructive exchanges.
- What if you run a small organization that doesn’t have a marketing department? If you’re in an organization with fewer than 10 people, you still need to separate out the functions needed for the smaller team. As you grow, it will be easier to separate the duties. In today’s social media environment, you have no idea how quickly your business might explode.
- If you aren’t the CEO, it’s a good idea to get upper management to support your social media strategy. While they may not be involved in the day-to-day activity, they need to know why it’s important and how it can affect the bottom line.
- In some cases, there was so much traffic that the website that was supposed to be a lead generation tool crashed. Oops. That’s too bad because the strategy was effective in getting people to the site, but couldn’t deliver the site itself. This is why it’s so important to have multiple departments and skill sets represented on your team.
- As you begin to dive into your new social campaigns, make sure you have one person online at a time per account. You don’t want to step on each others toes as you answer people. This is why scheduling is so important in your planning.
- Make sure all of your employees sign social media management agreements. An agreement might entail that the Facebook page he manages is on behalf of the company, and not under control of the employee himself. Additionally, it should stipulate that when he leaves the company, he must give control back to the company. Protect yourself by training employees on his seriousness, and have them sign these legal documents.
- In case there is ever an extreme issue like threats, make sure to seek legal assistance. They can contact the social media sites to have something removed that you don’t have access to.
Image Credits – shutterstock.com