Managing a social media account as an individual has its perks: consistent voice, simplified task management, and minimal confusion over who’s doing what. But as companies and networks grow the job can quickly become too big for one person to manage.
Adding contributors calls for a community management strategy pivot that addresses several questions:
- How do you break out and manage the work among team members?
- Are customer service inquiries being handled in a timely manner?
- Is the brand’s voice consistent across shifts and platforms?
I talked with several community managers to get a better understanding of how they manage larger social media teams. Some of these recommendations contradict one another, but that reflects the various work styles of our contributors. That being said, look at this not as a list of commandments, but as a choose-your-own adventure guide to managing social platforms as a team.
Delegating Social Media Tasks
When the workload becomes too much for one person, other team members can step in to lighten the load. With countless ways to distribute tasks, the right solution really depends on your team’s personality. Here are serveral social media workflows recommended by our contributors.
Work in shifts
It’s impossible for one person to be “on” at all times, so consider implementing a shift system to ensure that the social media post is always covered. “Shifts really help, so everyone’s clear about ‘who’s on right now’ and where responsibilities lie,” says Jonathan Brewer, Director of Awesome at BTC Revolutions. This system can be especially helpful for ensuring coverage on nights and weekends.
Educate the entire team on FAQs
Stacey Acevero, Community Manager for Vocus and PRWeb, notes that while delegating account management duties saves time, it’s also important for the entire team to be familiar with important brand information. “When it comes to customer service, we each know the FAQs and answer those quickly. If one of us is unable to help in a timely manner, someone else on the team can answer the social inquiry if it seems urgent, and then notify the social media manager that it was taken care of in order to prevent overlap.”
Appoint a social media manager with support staff
If it’s vital for your team to keep one person in the management role, you can always amplify their efforts with support staff. Jessica Durivage, Founder of Where Is My Guru, says her team “utilizes one ‘main’ person who becomes the voice of [the] brand. Our Director of Social Media handles 85% of the messaging we share. The other 15% are spread out between other members of the company – and our relationship to social media then becomes task specific.”
Utilize personal accounts of support staff
Taylor Aldredge, Ambassador of Buzz for Grasshopper, also recommends maintaining one primary agent for social media outlets, and then supplementing that voice with content from the personal accounts of supporting staff. “Utilizing personal profiles in combination with the brand profile helps customers learn about the network of people involved at the organization,” says Aldredge. “This allows us to tackle more as a team and help each other out in the overall social media strategy.”
Highlight individual skills
Another way to delegate tasks is based on what each individual does best. Chris Rodriguez, Director of User Acquisition at Tykoon, uses this strategy within his social media team. “I work on mostly strategy and opportunity discovery, as well as LinkedIn work, while [my coworker] spends her days posting, listening, and responding across our channels.” Playing to each staffer’s unique abilities is a great way to maximize both efficiency and creativity.
Delegate ownership of new platforms
New platforms pop up each and every day, so it’s important to utilize your team’s manpower to keep up. Stacey Acevero of Vocus says her team assigns new platforms to individuals, letting them learn the intricacies of interaction in that space. “Each of us have chosen to explore and build content for a ‘new’ social media platform,” Acevero says. “For example, one of us has chosen Google Plus, one has chosen Pinterest, and the other chose Instagram.”
Managing Social Media Team Communication
Staying on-message is one of the primary challenges of running a multi-person social media team. Our contributors recommended several strategies for keeping everyone on the same page.
Communicate both online and offline
Jonathan Brewer of BTC Revolutions recommends communicating both on and offline. His team schedules weekly team calls because when it comes down to it, “actually talking with someone is huge.” For more intricate details, Brewer and his team turn to online discussions, listing “anything we have to watch out for – PR stuff, blanket statements, etc.” Brewer recommends having each community manager contribute to this list at the end of their shift, as they hand off the platform to a teammate. “This allows the team to share a brain, plus gives some historical info.”
Create voice guidelines
To ensure that social accounts portray consistent tone and language, create and familiarize your team with a series of voice guidelines. Eileen Bernardo, Communication Manager at Viralheat, says that her team consistently refers to a style guide that “includes words, phrases, and slang that is appropriate and representative of [our] company. Admins, especially in training, can learn the tone of voice for the social media presence this way.”
Set expectations for quantity & timing
In addition to consistency of voice, audiences also expect a steady level of timing from brands – including both post frequency and response time. Eileen Bernardo of Viralheat recommends establishing these levels early on by documenting “how many posts are expected a week, plus response times to customer service inquiries.”
Adding Tools for Efficiency
A well-organized team will help manage your brand’s social presence, but the right community management tools can maximize efficiency. Here are some of the tools our contributors rely on to stay organized.
Jonathan Brewer recommends holding weekly team discussions using task management software Basecamp. It’s a nice way to document important details without getting caught up in lengthy email chains.
Rachel Yeomans, VP of Marketing at Astek Consulting, recommends Workstack, a team management tool that “works directly with Basecamp so you can see the hours and days your team allots to the Basecamp projects.” With several people working on one account, tracking where the hours go can eliminate waste and maximize team efficiency.
Sherrie Rohde, User Experience Manager at Sweet Tooth, relies on Commun.it, which provides an overview of Twitter conversations. To avoid disparate communication patterns, it’s important for each community manager to get the whole story rather than viewing snippets of conversations that already happened.
What tools and strategies do you use to manage social media platforms as a team?