Social media is increasingly touted as a crucial part of the marketing mix, but things can go terribly wrong if campaigns are poorly executed. If you want your company to engage in social media, you need to put together a team of outgoing, passionate people to act as the digital face of your company.
You must choose this team carefully, as it will represent your business. You must make sure they work as a team, as a tight-knit team will always outperform superstars acting as individuals. You must be willing to experiment in order to grow, but you must also make sure that you do not waste company resources on things that don’t work.
So where are you supposed to start?
Before you can start any journey, you have to know where you want to go. The same can be said for any social media activity. The goals and objectives of a social media team should reflect the needs of your company.
What exactly do you want your social media team to do? Social media can introduce your company to potential customers or clients who are high up the sales funnel, or it can drive sales by advertising offers. Shopping website ASOS uses its Twitter and Facebook pages to drive sales by picking out their favourite pieces of clothing or by offering a percentage off if followers purchase selected products during a specific time.
Social media can also act as instant customer service, or it can be a place for your community of customers can discuss your products or services. Dell pushes the utility of Facebook Apps to the next level. On their Facebook page, people can rate Dell products, ask an expert their tech questions and just generally interact with the brand.
Smaller companies like Moonfruit have also seen remarkable results from their social media campaigns. In a similar fashion to Dell they use Twitter and Facebook as customer care channels. Plus, to celebrate their tenth birthday Moonfruit launched a twitter competition giving away 10 Macbook Pros. To enter twitter users had to follow Moonfruit and include #moonfruit in their tweets. As a result Moonfruit topped the trending topics – and received more than 200,000 entries per day.
If ASOS, Dell and Moonfruit didn’t have clear ideas of what they hoped to achieve with their social media activities, they would not be nearly as successful as they are. Once you have decided what you want to get out your social media activity, then you can define your social media policy.
You must define your social media policy before you hand over social media activities to your employees. The most obvious reason for this is to avoid social media-related PR disasters, like when a rogue employee tweets something horribly offensive. But there are many more innocuous reasons to establish a social media policy.
You need to make sure employees know what is and isn’t appropriate to discuss on your social media channels. You will obviously want to ban offensive comments, but you may also want to ban comments on a rival company’s bad fortune or allow your social media team to express their personal thoughts on industry-related topics. You might not want your social media team to discuss their views on political matters, but you may be perfectly happy for them to tweet about the frozen yogurt they are having. You must specify what you do and do not want discussed because there are times when common sense is not enough of a guideline.
You may also want to define the tone of your social media team. One fashion brand might think describing a top as “amaze” or “gorge” is silly, whilst another might think it's hip.
A small company might want to play up the personal service they provide and will therefore allow their social media team members to use their own style of writing to emphasise the individual attention customers get. Whereas a company that wants to keep the tone and messages of their social media campaign consistent would prefer to have a set style of writing. Whatever your view on the issue of tone, it should be addressed in the social media policy to avoid confusion.
There are some great resources, both outlining what should be covered in a social media policy and picking out some real examples of corporate social media policies, which can give you an idea of what your social media policy needs to cover.
As one final note, you must remember that your social media policy should be a living document. It should change when times and technologies require it to change, and you should always make sure it is up to date.
So you’ve now set your goals and created your social media policy – it’s now time to build your team...
Niall Harbison (read the full interview)
"I'd always look for somebody who is social and understands people coupled with a strong focus on being able to understand data and analytics."
The most important thing is that the social media team are passionate about social media and your company. They also need to be able to integrate completely with your current processes, so that the right department can address issues – whether positive or negative – immediately.
Remember that one person may well be able to fulfil more than one of the roles, and whether or not you need all of these roles filled will depend on your objectives and goals. Still, most social media teams include the following:
Lisa Barone (read the full interview)
"I’d also encourage businesses to find the person with the most passion and excitement, not necessarily the most experience or credentials. Because passion is contagious"
The 'Digital Native'
The digital natives at your company are probably the easiest to spot. They participate in many different social networks, they probably blog; and they know how to find and gain followers, how to engage with other users and the opportunities in and limitations to the media. They will be the most enthusiastic to work on the team, since they will be able to enjoy one of their favourite activities in order to help promote the company.
They can come from any department, but they are likely outgoing and keen conversationalists, so they might easily be found in the marketing, PR, tech or online departments.
What you should look for?
- Socially active using mediums like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
- Regular users of social news sites e.g. Digg, Reddit etc
- May already have their own blog
Coordinators need to know how social media activities fit within the company as a whole. They need to be able to forward queries, conversations, leads and issues to the appropriate departments as quickly as possible. Moreover, they need to be able to get those issues and queries in front of the people best placed to answer, not just a generic email address, so they need to know the company inside and out.
Knowing who to forward a query to can be learned, but the person responsible for this should have impeccable organisational skills. They will have to be able to handle issues as they arise, make sure old issues have been resolved and probably engage in some social media activity, all whilst also doing their daily work responsibilities.
What you should look for?
- Someone who knows a variety of people in departments across your business
- ‘Safe hands’ – someone who ensures things get done
- Strong organisational and/or project management skills
The communicator of the team will interact directly with customers and the general public. Whilst everyone on the team will probably chat with a fan or a follower at some point, the communicator will need to know what the company wants to say, when it should be said and how best to phrase it. They will also need to be professional, calm, friendly and open, especially when things get a bit heated.
For this role, you may want to look in the customer care or PR departments for someone who is well practiced at keeping their cool and keeping communication on-message.
What you should look for?
- Great written communication skills
- Someone who really cares about giving great service to your customers
- Someone who keeps calm in a crisis
The Product Expert
The product expert needs to be on the team to quickly and easily answer customer queries or complaints. People often go to a company’s social media sites with these issues, and you do not want a product query sitting unanswered on your profile page for very long. What your company sells should be the one thing your public-facing representatives know inside and out. Still, it is unlikely that every person you hire will know every detail about all your products, so you should have someone on the team who can answer most of those kinds of queries.
If you develop and sell your own products, your product expert should be from the product development team, but otherwise they could be from customer care or other customer-facing function.
What you should look for?
- Someone who knows your products and services inside out
- Excellent problem solving skills
The analyst should be someone who understands tracking, analytics and statistics. They should know what to track to show the ROI of your social media efforts, and they should be able to use web analytics to demonstrate whether or not your social media team are reaching their goals. It is obvious that this person will be essential at first, helping determine baselines and metrics for tracking goals, but their work will continue. It is through the tracking and measurement of metrics that you test the effectiveness of your strategies and approaches, so this person should be as committed to the success of the social media team as anyone else.
Kristy Bolsinger (read the full interview)
"You’re only as good as your data. Having someone that specializes in analytics and measurement helps keep programs focused on the goals at hand as well as proving value of the team’s efforts"
The analyst could be from finance, marketing or other departments that are used to measuring the monetary value of their work.
What you should look for?
- Strong analytical skills
- Someone who is detail oriented
These roles do not require certain people with certain job titles. The people who fill the roles can come from just about any department in your company. Obviously, it is likely that the best person for the job will have other responsibilities that sit well alongside their social media responsibilities, but the responsibilities don’t necessarily have to match the department they work in.
Rand Fishkin (read the full interview)
"A socially savvy individual can often work with a member of a classic PR, content or marketing team to learn the culture while efficiently managing and growing social channels."
Nonetheless, social media affect some departments more than others, and these departments need to directly influence the way your social media team operates. This is best accomplished by having someone from each of the following departments work within the social media team.
Most companies want their social media activity to eventually help boost sales and create a social selling culture in their business. Whether they want social media to be the company’s introduction to potential customers, a demonstration of the company’s expertise or a channel through which fans of the brand talk to each other, companies ultimately want social media to impact sales positively. It simply makes sense that someone from the sales team should be in the social media team.
The person from sales should be made aware, however, that their job is not to tweet ads all the time. Social media is about being social, and no one likes someone who only talks about themselves and how great they are. The person from sales is there to make sure that any sales queries that come via social media are handled appropriately.
Step 5 - Marketing, PR and Customer Service (if applicable)
Social media efforts need to keep followers up to date with what the company is doing and the new products or services it offers, and the efforts also need to ensure that fans and followers feel like they are being taken care of. This should all feel like a seamless social customer experience that fits in with the other marketing, PR and customer service activities your company is engaged in.
Even more than that, social media are often the first channels through which people try to contact a company when they have a customer service issue or when they want to know a company’s position on a particular matter. These things need to be addressed quickly, or the community can begin to feel ignored or even betrayed.
Step 6 - IT
Some social media platforms, like blogs, forums or the more advanced Facebook apps, may require some IT support in order to get the best results or to fix issues. Someone from IT should be on the team so that the right tools for the analysis or implementation of the social media strategy can be selected and set up, so that updates can be done smoothly and so that technical issues can be fixed.
As before, there are many great resources that discuss what to look for in your social media team.