Social media teams can take a variety of forms depending on your marketing budget, company size, sales and branding goals, the importance of social media to your overall marketing strategy, consumer or audience profiles, the number of staff members with social media roles, among other things.
In the environments where I’ve played a role in creating the social media strategy, I’ve distilled some ideas for team structures that have worked well. I’ve also drawn on lessons talking with recruiters in the digital space at major advertising agencies and large corporations.
The army of one.
For some small companies, like start-ups or non-profits, social media might be just one tool in the Marketing Director’s toolkit, and they are likely the only one assigned to it. Here, the team structure seems easy: it’s an army of one. But it would be a mistake to assume that. Even if the Marketing Director is the only one with social media in their job description, it’s often ideal t0 leverage co-workers to help amplify marketing goals via social media channels.
For instance, the Marketing Director could be the hub: everyone sends content ideas to the MD, and they in turn are responsible for how it gets published on various networks. That could work out well depending on how engaged the co-workers get (and stay) in the social media strategy of your company. Co-workers can also be the content producers. Maybe they draft white papers, blog posts, etc. and it’s the MD’s job to spread that content. So never think one person is alone in the social media space — always look for ways to involve others.
In a resource-strapped start-up or nonprofit, it could also be advisable to hire an intern (or a volunteer) to help. Typically, I don’t recommend allowing interns to take responsibility for actually posting content or interacting on your behalf — it’s a very public role and it’s hard to retract errors — but interns can be a great source of creativity. Have them suggest content for you, gather photos, draft poll questions, and otherwise queue up content for your review. This will save you a lot of time when it comes to executing your strategy.
For companies that are a little bigger, it’s likely you have room to hire a full-time social media coordinator to execute your marketing strategy online, and provide guidance to your marketing team on all things social media. This is a great start, but chances are, it can still feel totally overwhelming for the person in the social media role because the expectations get that much higher. So let’s look at a couple ways you can structure a team now with a few more resources.
One way that small marketing teams can organize social media engagement is to divide and conquer. a full-time social media coordinator could be responsible for documenting the strategy, scheduling evaluation time, and really keeping everyone on track in terms of execution and follow through — providing ideas, suggestions and input. Others on your team could each take ownership of a particular network. Often the person with the most time to dedicate should take Facebook since it is the largest and typically most vital network for your plan. But if that’s not the case for your business — perhaps it’s Twitter or YouTube — then make sure the person with the most time take the lead on that network. Others on your team could each take responsibility for secondary networks of choice: Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google Plus, depending on how many people are on your team and which networks you are choosing to focus on. This will all be customized based on how you defined your objectives and where your audience actually engages (afterall you don’t want to waste time on Pinterest if your target market doesn’t hangout there). It’s great to have people specialize in a network because it helps you to have a consistent voice in front of each audience.
Another way small teams can divide up labor is functionally, or through a work flow. You might have a “content producer” that pulls together content for a variety of social networks whether its videos, photos, white papers, etc. You might have someone else who is an “engagement manager or community manager” who responds to inquiries and proactively starts chats and reaches out to your audience to engage in conversation. You could also have an analytics specialist who runs reports and evaluates your metrics across a variety of channels. And these don’t have to be full-time jobs, but they might be one function of your small to mid-sized marketing team.
Scaling for enterprise.
Depending on the type of business you’re in, large company have very different approaches to forming their social media team. Let’s take a look at a few different challenges you might face in building a team at a large company. First, your social media efforts might be segmented between a number of different departments. Your HR team might have their own social media goals and strategy, independent from your sales team or your PR team. So creating a social media strategy for a large organization like this will involve coordinating meetings with a variety of stakeholders and making sure you have a coherent approach for your company. Your HR team may need a separate Facebook and Twitter account just to promote jobs. Your tech support team might want to be involved when you get complaints about your products online – so how will those requests be routed? Accounting for the complexity of your organization will be key well developing your overarching social media strategy and the team you need to have in place to meet your goals.
Large brands and companies might not only have varying functions that segment the social media team, but you may have regional, national, or global offices spread all around the world. You may need a centralized social media strategy that allows you to set policies and provide direction (How should employees refer to the company on Linkedin? Should they be able to chat on Facebook at work?), but also the proper amount of decentralization so that local teams can have autonomy over their specific location’s needs. Striking this balance may take some trial and error and lots of conversations up front and throughout. It’s all going to depend on the nature of your business and what your goals are. If you are on a large team like this, one strategy companies use is to establish a working model in one office, and then transport that structure to other regional, national or global offices and then adapt as needed.
What’s your team look like?
I think it’s so valuable to learn from each other when it comes to building social media teams that work. How does your company handle social media engagement online? Does it work? What isn’t working? What’s the biggest challenge your company faces on social media?