How To Structure a Highly Functional Social Media Team

By on July 2, 2013

With the demands of social media on the rise, managers are expanding their teams to meet the needs of a decent social strategy. If you are looking to improve the functionality of your social media strategy, organizing your team in the right way is important. Today I’m going to talk about teams, how to build them and how they work.

The Social Media Team

A social media team is made up of various talented media individuals who have banded together to improve a particular social strategy. In a business, this can consist of 3 individuals, in a large brand as many as 50 people could be working towards that goal.

When we talk about the social media manager, we are talking about a single person that does ALL the social media of a brand, or someone that manages the team of people that do this. They are definitely not the same thing.

But it is essential for all social media managers to start out managing their own campaigns. This is the only way they learn what works and what doesn’t, and if their team could be doing a better job.

According to Go-Gulf, 65% of social media teams are created by assigning social tasks to people that work in the business, in other positions.

• Only 27% of organizations have a dedicated social media team. Some 5% are split using internal and external teams, and 3% completely outsource all of their strategies.

• It is most common for teams to be made up of between 1-3 people. In the future this number will increase due to rising demand for more content.

Who Makes Up a Social Media Team?

Currently, social media teams are made up of people from different departments. The most preferred are from marketing, public relations, corporate communication, legal, IT, customer service and advertising. I would argue that social media needs to be a WHOLE NEW department on its own, or it needs to be a significant branch of the PR department.

A good social media team is made up of these key people:

The Social Media Manager: Responsibilities include overseeing what other team members are doing, finalizing and implementing overall strategies based on analytics and insights and DIRECT interaction with online customers. (Posts, chats and manages people)

The Content Creator: Responsibilities include creating the copy laid out by the monthly strategy, and consistently improving the content based on an analytics report compiled by the SMM. No direct contact with customers. (Writes platform specific copy)

The Graphic Designer/ Coder: Responsibilities include creating all multimedia content in conjunction with the content creator, according to the monthly strategy. They are also given an analytics brief and told to propose new content based on past feedback. No direct contact with customers. (Creates images, video, podcasts)

The Marketing Person: Responsibilities include constant analysis of current social media strategies, compilation of usable insights based on these analytics that the SMM can use in the new month’s strategy. Split tests and tools included. (Tests, analyzes, inspects, reports)

Why This Construction of Individuals?

Many companies split their social media tasks, giving certain platforms to specific individuals. While this can work (i.e. giving Facebook to Pam, and Twitter to Jake) it also makes for a sporadic, uneven and immeasurable social strategy.

Social strategy is supposed to include all of these core people, so that the strategy is balanced, unified and has a specific voice. While this is not always doable with large companies, I would then suggest adding more people to each category as it stands.

If you need more copy, hire more content creators. If you need more multimedia, add more graphic designers and coders. In the future these experts will be called something different – social media content producer, or multimedia content strategist. Whatever the new titles, these skills are all required to execute a qualified social media strategy.

Remember, at any time you as a social media manager could be managing as many as 30 social media sites, 10 staff members, dozens of analytics reports and thousands of direct customer interactions. This is the reality for social media managers, and it is simply unrealistic to think an intern can manage all of these positions well.

Where Does This Leave The Individual Social Media Manager?

After all that, is it even possible for an individual to be an effective social media manager? The answer is: YES! Luckily, social media – fast paced as it is – is also completely scalable. You can set up a dynamic strategy that would take a team a month to implement, that you can execute successfully in a year.

So there is some time consideration involved, and your strategies will take you a lot longer. But if you focus on learning the necessary skills, you can become an all-in-one social media manager. This person I like to call the “Media Specialist” because they are experts in ALL of the above positions. Believe me, it’s rare.

Even though some social media managers may be brilliant at multimedia and direct posting and management – their copy could be seriously lacking. Or it could be the other way around – they are great at marketing, writing and images and have no idea what to do with analytics. Having a well-rounded education in these areas is key for the future media specialist.

Team Dynamics For Social Brands

Once you have established these positions (as a brand) you will discover that the PROCESS or systematization of your social media strategies, based on your policy document, work smoothly at an incredibly high level.

This is because you have all the skills necessary to keep up with the content demand, or to make a serious impact on your strategy on a month-by-month basis. With a small team like this, one month can results in significant changes to your company’s bottom line.

With one unified goal, your team members will be able to function for the benefit of your company, with your voice, your goals and your brand name at the helm.

Interested in becoming a Certified Social Media Strategist®? Click here to learn more.

Want to learn more about social media teams? Suggest a topic for me below, or leave a question!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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