“Our social media person quit, and we’ve been trying to keep up ourselves, but nobody has time to post consistently.”
“The person we hired is good at writing posts, but we don’t have any engagement, and our fan and follower growth is flat.”
“We know we need social media, but nobody on staff has any real experience beyond Facebook.”
Here’s the thing about effective social media outreach and engagement: it’s a big job.
Doing social media well is about more than writing and scheduling posts on Facebook or uploading photos to Instagram and hoping they’ll magically drive business your way. You need to be strategic about how and when and what you post; you need to be consistent, posting and tweeting multiple times per day, every day; you need to understand how to use Facebook advertising to target specific audiences in order to drive fan growth, website clicks, and likes, comments, and shares; you need to monitor all of your channels in real time, in case of negative comments and opportunities to newsjack trending topics; and you have to know how to measure whether you’re getting results — using not only channel insights, but also Google analytics and other tools to track effectiveness.
The truth is most individual practitioners don’t have proficiency in all of the above strategies and skills.
The truth is the social media person you hired can’t keep up with managing multiple channels AND running campaigns AND building creative assets AND reporting AND knowing about the latest changes in algorithms and best practices.
The truth is your social media shouldn’t go on vacation when your practitioner does.
And that’s why, pretty much from when I started WideFoc.us 10 years ago this August, we’ve built and refined a team-based approach to social media planning and execution. It’s the one model that always works, with sufficient division of responsibilities and development of back-ups and content review to keep the wheels on every day, week after week, month after month.
A team-based approach ensures consistency and strategic direction.
At WideFoc.us, we assign a dedicated community manager to each client. They work with our senior strategist and me on competitive analysis and discovery, building out a content calendar and strategic direction. The community managers write and post content across channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even Snapchat, and monitor those channels in real time for opportunities to engage or manage online reputation issues. They are also all up in Twitter and Instagram every day, tweeting and commenting in real-time to build on conversations and trending topics.
The community managers are supported daily by our senior community manager, who reviews all content, our copy editor, who checks scheduled posts and tweets for mechanics and style issues, and me, because I have a visceral reaction to misspellings and faulty syntax.
Our senior strategist works with the community managers to understand client goals and run sophisticated ad and boost campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to drive measurable results.
The community managers are also supported by our office manager, who makes sure they have everything they need to be successful and helps them keep up with deadlines and changes.
Because we’re a cohesive team, the community managers support each other – brainstorming, assisting in development of image and video assets, jumping in when extra help is needed, and filling in when someone gets sick or has a family emergency.
And then there’s me — working with every member of the team to make sure we’re hitting our marks and being strategic and effective, spending time with clients to talk about what we’re up to and where we want to improve, keeping my ears open to new opportunities and developments in the social media world, and meeting with potential clients to bring them on board.
Our team-based approach is effective because we all know our roles, we have strong processes in place, we have plenty of redundancy built into our individual competencies, we cherish open and honest communication with each other, and we love what we do.
Stuff happens, of course. People get offered cool new jobs, or move away, or don’t end up being a good fit. Clients come and go, and our needs change, too. But because every client is supported by a full team, unexpected changes can be handled with minimal fuss, and performance never suffers.
If you’re the lone social media practitioner and feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities, the best thing you can do is build your own internal support team. Recruit other employees to assist you by assigning them specific tasks and deadlines. Maybe the host staff at your restaurant can snap time-lapse videos and fun photos for you to use in your content. Or the cashiers at your retail store can write down good quotes when they overhear customers enjoying their shopping experience. Little gifts of content assistance can help take the pressure off.
But you’ll still need to get training on Facebook/Instagram advertising, because their organic reach is so painfully low. If you’re not boosting posts to targeted custom audiences and running campaigns to increase your fan base, then all of that work isn’t really doing anything.
You’ll also want to find ways to share your successes with the team, to show how your social media efforts are paying off — look at the clicks to the website coming from social channels, an increase in shares and comments, or mentions by influencers, for instance. Reporting back to your company can help others understand the value of what you do.
And of course, we can help, too. Although we generally manage all aspects of social media strategy and implementation for our clients, we also conduct a hybrid approach, where the social media manager is responsible for gathering and creating visual content, like photos and videos, and communicating priorities and upcoming events with our team, while we act as a support system – posting, monitoring, running boosts and ad campaigns, and reporting back. We can help you make a case to your company’s leadership for bringing us on board as your de facto social media team.
Because, if you’re going to do social media that actually delivers results, you can’t do it alone. You need a support system, if only to back you up the next time you get jury duty and the municipal Wi-Fi is down.
—by Eric Elkins
As CEO and Chief Strategist of WideFoc.us, Eric brings nearly two decades of experience to our clients. In his other life, he’s a single dad, an avid eater, and a bourbon aficionado.