In 2018, it feels like a company can live or die by the quality of its social media presence.
That's not too far out. Social media ad spend in 2018 topped US$67,971 million. You can bet the giants are spending megabucks to establish the teams behind their strategy. But what does a successful social media team look like, and how can you imitate their success?
Here are 9 simple steps on structuring an all-star social media team.
As with most things in business, you can't plan when you don't know your budget.
Establishing your budget lets you determine starting points like your team's size and its skill composition. Realistically, most businesses will have to make at least a few concessions on their social media wishlist.
By establishing a budget, you can make these concessions tactically and put your money where it's most needed.
Your budget will act as something of a guide by putting a max limit on the amount you can invest in assembling your team. From there, you can work backwards to come up with a team composition that works for your company.
With your budget established, you'll have some idea of what you can afford.
To make an effective team, you'll need to recruit the best. That doesn't mean the best-in-field - you probably won't have the money for that.
But it does mean recruiting the best people you possibly can. There's no point skimping here because it's a case of false economy: it'll only cost you in the long run when your social media strategy fails to work out.
You'll need to recruit for several key skills, covering all the bases your team will need. For lower budgets, this might mean mixing and matching some job roles. For that, you'll need multi-skilled team members who aren't afraid to wear a few different hats.
While you're recruiting, you'll need to keep in mind the composition of your team. You may have to compromise and combine a few roles, but the basic structure of a social media team follows a three-part formula: strategy, deployment, analytics.
Some of the key roles you'll need in a social media team are as follows:
To maintain your team structure, you need someone who can give the final say on the team's decisions and direction. In smaller teams, social media manager duties will often double up with a role that suits their skill set.
The community manager will interact with customers and control the brand's PR representation through social media. They're the face of the team, so you need a personality that can handle the position.
Whether it's video, blog posts, or funny memes about dogs, content doesn't just happen. Your content creator will understand your brand voice and know how to whip up content that speaks to your audience.
If you don't have any metrics to work by, then you won't know how your campaign is going. An analyst will give you hard facts and figures, giving you the ability to calculate an ROI on your social media strategy.
Remember while you're recruiting that you're building a team. You need personalities who communicate and work well together.
These should carry over through their induction and into their day-to-day tasks. Encourage your team to bond and share responsibility for the team's success.
A successful social media team acts as one unit, so you need people who can strategise and deploy a complex project without miscommunication.
A social media team that can't communicate won't only suffer from poor planning. They'll also confuse customers and even damage the brand. This is the face of your company we're talking about, so you can't afford to overlook this element.
Hiring into roles isn't quite the same as establishing duties. We've all been party to at least one "I thought that was your job" situation in our lifetimes.
Work with your team to bash out the full range of duties you can expect your social media team to handle. Then, one by one, you can go through them to give ownership of each task.
Of course, you might want to build in some redundancy. That ensures the work will still go on if anyone isn't available to do their job. But on the whole, this will lead to smoother operations for your team.
This also creates a sense of responsibility among your team members. When someone knows it's their job to scrub a floor, they'll scrub the heck out of that floor. If it's everyone's job, it'll be a wonder if the floor is ever scrubbed at all.
It's part of the social media game to try and make the whole thing look effortless. In truth, effective business social media demands a workflow capable of supporting the process.
The fast-paced nature of social media is another strong argument for a smooth workflow. You need to deploy like a well-oiled machine and adapt to situations with speed.
This means having a social media strategy that looks at the long-term. You don't want your team going back to the drawing board every month.
A long-term strategy also allows your team to manage their time. Your content creator can create images or video as a single project for multiple months worth of content, for instance.
Automation tools have made creating social media workflow easier than ever. Your team should understand the tools available to them to speed up their daily activities.
Communication is vital for any team, but a social media team that can't communicate is going to be bad at the job on many levels.
We've seen that a social media team brings together multiple disciplines and skillsets. To get those skills (and the people behind them) working together, you need strong lines of communication.
Communication will also strengthen your workflow, allowing your campaigns to go from concept to deployment that much faster. They'll also improve your "post-match" analysis of each campaign, so your team will learn from a project's success or failure.
It's too often the case that the most important decisions find themselves kicked up the chain to the people least qualified.
If you're putting together a social media team, then you're hiring expertise. You're spending money assembling a team with the training, creativity, and confidence to deploy your social media strategy.
So it won't be to your benefit when they lose all agency and your social media execution lands in the hands of someone outside of that team.
Social media teams need to be flexible and dynamic. You need to build in a sense of autonomy if you want to preserve those traits and feel their benefit in your strategy.
Of course, establishing autonomy can be a concern for the higher-ups. With a few social media blunders, your team could make an impression for all the wrong reasons.
You can trust your team with autonomy when you know they understand your brand. They'll get the voice right and stick to your values, which means you won't have to worry about what they're putting out.
Social media is an ever-changing world and audiences are fickle. That's why there's such a focus on analytics in social media.
Your team needs the same ability to review itself, and reshuffle if things aren't working out. That's not to say you should over-correct for every little thing, but taking a step back can help you evolve the team in new ways to meet changing territory.
When restructuring the team, make sure you involve them at every step of the way. A social media team is a melting pot for different disciplines, so you need to understand what each team member brings to the table before you can make changes.
Even shifting a few duties around could make a huge difference to your team's success. Perhaps your manager needs more time to strategise and less time in the trenches, for example.
This kind of project review is one of the reasons it's so important to build a team that communicates.
These 9 tips should help you build a social media team that can get the job done. But don't be afraid to work with them to bring about change. Social media is a dynamic world, and it needs a dynamic team to handle it.
Are you looking for more from your social media strategy? Consider getting some help.