The Social Media Team Starter Guide Part 4 – Managing Execution
This is the part that everyone wants to jump to. It’s the fun part. It’s also the stressful/overwhelming/exciting/frustrating part that pretty much everyone else thinks is as simple as: Snap, Post, Repeat. Of course, we’re talking about actually executing on the day to day of your social media strategy.
Part 4 of the Starter Guide is all about getting into the weeds — how do great teams get so much done? How do they always seem to have such beautiful content when there’s no way that they have huge budgets? Every great social media team that we’ve worked with has had a few things in common. The purpose of this post is to uncover those common behaviours and help you to apply them regardless of your team size.
Let’s start by breaking down what it really is that social media teams do because, from there, we can start to focus efforts and optimize for performance. Each team will be its own blend of the various functions, so as you follow along, make note of which areas apply more and less to yours:
What Do Social Media People Do All Day?
? retweets and attention
— MoonPie (@MoonPie) August 23, 2017
Without creation, we’re just a bunch of people staring at blank feeds. Content creation takes many forms, including writing, videography, photography, graphic design, and podcasting.
It’s important to distinguish this part of the job from content creation, because good teams don’t just shoot and post ad hoc. For many teams, these two functions are actually two totally separate jobs. The publisher focuses on time of day, posting frequency, and content relevance to what else is going on in the world that day.
- Manage the Community
The term Community Management gets thrown around, and it really means whatever you want it to mean, but for the purpose of this guide, it means conversation discovery, replies, customer service, relationship management, service recovery, surprise & delights, and crisis management. It’s entirely possible that you had never considered Community Management as an entire field of work, but the best teams do — and in some organizations there are entire sub-teams dedicated specifically to this responsibility.
If you read Social Advertising and think Boost Post, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you’ve barely touched what’s possible with social advertising. Budgets of literally all ranges can benefit from a well thought out media plan that makes use of features like retargeting and dynamic content delivery.
That’s why advertising is more than a button that we push after Publish, great social advertising is a practice that involves planning, intelligent execution, deliberate tracking, and then adjustment. The tasks break down into: Media planning, media buying (which may include influencers and native advertising) and optimization.
- Analyze & Report
In one of the most important business books ever written, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker said “What gets measured gets managed”. That was true when it was published in 1966, and is even more important today, when measurement and data are tossed at us so frequently that the numbers can lose all meaning.
A great social team has a few key numbers that it measures, and a regular practice of pulling data using a few tools to help them along. The practice means that they are constantly comparing and looking for improvements, rather than taking irregular samples, and the tools help them to sort through the muck to get to what matters. Regardless of how much you’ve spent on fancy SAAS dashboards, however, analysis still requires human time to consider, combine, and plan actions that will take advantage of that information.
Awesome, so you’ve broken your team’s tasks down into 5 categories. So what? Just like any other system to be improved over time, now you have the building blocks of execution that will make it possible to make improvements and find leaks.
What we’re really solving for here is those times when you feel entirely overwhelmed, working your ass off and still feeling like you’re nowhere closer to catching up than you were yesterday. Managing Execution is about planning ahead, aligning the organization so that there are as few surprises as possible, and then paying attention to where your time and people resources are being spent so that they match up with your categories as closely as possible.
The primary difference between teams that spin their wheels and the ones that make continuous progress is not their talent, or the quality of their creativity, it’s their ability to manage their execution.
Well-managed execution is a recurring set of simple, manageable tasks that can be delegated, outsourced, and planned into a calendar.
I want you to notice something significant in there: The outsourcing part. It can be so tempting to look at this mountain of opportunity and simply cut a cheque to a well-polished agency to run it for you, where your only responsibility will become reviewing the report on their wild success every month.
But that’s not how it works.
Even the best, most creative agency can’t invent your brand for you on its own. It can’t connect with your audience in a meaningful way, and create the kind of brand association that will drive valuable customers.
Outsourced creative is awesome, and some of the best works is done in collaboration between brands and people outside of their walls, and that only happens in a meaningful way when the team has clearly defined for itself what it’s doing, why it’s doing it and how it will be measured.
That’s the outcome that I’m trying to get us all to with this series (and with the work that we do with clients). The goal is not to shut out agencies — just the opposite, in fact. The goal is to equip brands to be powerfully in control of what they’re doing, and able to have meaningful conversations about what’s possible in social. To great agencies, that’s the best type of client. And to the audience it’s even better because it means that it doesn’t matter which photo/video/copy team worked on this campaign – the heart of what they love about the brand is still in there.
So, how do we put this into practice? It’s quite simple, really:
The Surprisingly Simple Social Media Management Practice
- Set Goals
I mean real goals. Not: “Get to 10k followers” goals, but goals that look like “change the way that people look at our brand” type goals. Then, construct a theory about which numbers will help you to get there. The goals inform more than the metrics; however, they’re even more useful for creative briefs, for the tone of your copy, and for choosing your influencers/partnerships.
- Analyze Past Results
There’s so much to learn from your past content. Even if you’re embarrassed of some of it, what did your community love? What were they apathetic about? And more importantly: What’s the story that they’re telling about your brand when they talk about it on their own feeds?
We don’t have to invent any of this stuff ourselves. Find examples, lessons, and inspiration to match your goals from great brands. Don’t limit your research to your industry, but think more about your goals. What did organizations with similar goals do to get to where they are? If you’re a brand with a world-changing mission, look to successful non-profits and startups that have made a significant impact. If you’re in B2B, find out how industry magazines and authors capture attention and deliver value. The answers are out there, we just need to look for them.
- Create Content Buckets
Buckets will change the game for you and your team. Simply put: They are the categories of content that you’ll need to create on a recurring basis.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll need content to publish next week, next month, and next quarter, so plan ahead. What are 4-5 buckets that you’ll be creating every week, or month? That could be beautiful product photography, or stories from the team, or ambassador features, or blog posts about your industry. Identifying those buckets gets you halfway towards well-managed social content.
Buckets applies to ads, influencers, and community too. Identify the work that’s going to need to be done on a regular basis — how many hours per week does each take? How many hours do you and your team have available? The numbers may not line up, but you’d be much better off prioritizing ahead of time than getting to the end of the week and finding out that the most important things just didn’t get done.
- Batch Your Content
The other half of social content management: Now that you’ve defined the buckets of content that you’ll need to create in the future, then just batch them.
In this context, batching means to set aside some time, money — or both — and create a whole batch of content at the same time. The result is a significantly higher quality of content output with a fraction of the input.
If you’re working with outsourced creatives, hand them a brief and a shot list that details every piece in your buckets to be created for the next month. You’ll be shocked at how the per-post cost of content comes down.
If you’re making the stuff in-house, then set aside an afternoon, a day, even a few days to create. You’ll amaze yourself with the increased quality of your content, and how good it feels when you’re working from a full Dropbox of stuff vs. frantically shooting and posting on the fly.
As for ads, influencers, and community, Batching applies just as well. Get stuck into Business Manager, or Twitter replies, or influencer briefs for a few hours at a time and your quality will increase almost as dramatically as the volume that you’re able to get done.
- Measure & Adjust
At least once a week, check in on your goals, measure the metrics, and tweak. Never tip the boat over because of a single week, but learn from what the community is telling you. This applies especially to ads.
Run it like a system – we do cycles like this in every other part of the business, so why not social?
I recommend monthly cycles for the whole system. The result is that no matter how much the industry, the channels, or the competition shift, you’ll never be more than 30 days behind, and your audience will always have content that’s well planned, created, and executed.
The ideal execution plan will be a bit of this, a lot of that, and a custom add-on over there, but I encourage you: If you’ve ever felt like you and your team are just treading water, that you’re not fully in control of your social media execution, then try this system for 2 months. It will take all of the great things that you’re doing and make them predictable, and allow you to intentionally focus your efforts on the areas that have the greatest positive impact.
Part 5 – Managing Execution
If this guide is useful to you, then I’d love to have you on the Social Brief list so that you get the rest. Every Monday I send a piece like this out to our community. To be included, just enter your work email address in the box below. If you know more people who could benefit from this series, send them the link to this post, and if you’d like to talk about how my team and I can help you in your process of setting your organization up for success, shoot me an email: Conner@Junctionyvr.com I look forward to hearing from you.