Social Media Operations: Set up and Maintenance key, Not Sexy

Learning how to operationalize your social media practice is key for long-term success.  Social media operations isn’t the sexy stuff like contests, coupon and clever videos.  It is the stuff that will make or break you, literally.

The life of today’s marketer is very time intensive. Many marketers’ live for the campaigns, creative, photo and video shoots.  But often get frustrated and bogged down with the operations of juggling it all: branding, events, email, social, collateral creation, sales support…It’s a lot.  Plus if you do it right there is always pre, during and post work.  There is measurement and analytics and adjustment.  Here is your moment of validation…IT IS HARD TO DO IT ALL.

But how you set up your social media operations is key for scalability and sanity.

Here are 5 steps to set up a social media practice that scales.

STEP 1: Create a plan. Everything starts with a plan.  

  • What are your goals? Business objectives? Create short term and long term goals.
  • Who is your target audience? Where do they hang out online?
  • What valuable content can you offer?
  • What stage are you in your social media practice? Build, Grow, Nurture…that will help you define your plan and actions.

STEP 2: Create process and policy. More non-sexy stuff….social media operations is all about process and policy–sustainable, repeatable, scaleable.

  •  Establish a “go to” for any social media questions or actions within your organization. Could be an email alias, a person or a team.
  • Create a standard publishing process.  When you produce content for other activities, can you use it in your social media activities? What is the process to do that? Who will actually convert content if necessary and who will actually tweet, update or post?
  • Create an editorial calendar. This will save you.  If you build an editorial calendar that not only establishes topics, but cadence and frequency.  When you are in the trows of actively engaging, you forget about consistent, quality publishing is the key to keeping your audience and building. Reactive behavior on top of reactive behavior will drive you mad, alienate your audience and do more damage than all the previous efforts.
  • Create a social media policy for your company. People in organizations are dying for some direction.  They want to do the right thing; they want to be a champion; they want to help.  By establishing some policies that enable employees to be active members of the social media marketing team it is a win, win and SUPER BONUS for scabelability.
  • Create a triage process and map to who in the organization will respond for inbound mentions, complaints or referrals. This one is hard, especially for big business. Who should respond? Who would be an expert to add to a discussion? How do we identify, notify and activate employees in our organization to join and nurture the conversation? You need work flow for this.
  • Create an CRM integration process for sales. This step is key to showing results for your efforts.  When you harvest product inquiries or pain points that your service/product can help with…that is a lead.  How are you going to activate your sales team to follow up. How can you identify which sales person, pass the lead, and empower the appropriate follow up? This is a process and tool challenge.
  • Create a way to measure your efforts and report your progress and/or adjust your plan based on results. You can report back to the CEO, your manager or your organization the benefits of your efforts without data. You can’t learn what works and what doesn’t with out data.  Based on your plan goals, set up a way to measure your efforts to fuel your next move and your budget.

STEP 3: Get some tools.

  • This one is always the big question.  What tools do I use? What is the right one for me? Can I manage on free tools, do I need to purchase ones?
  • Mashable has a great post on top tools for B2B companies to monitor, publish and measure.
  • You can’t do social without tools…it is too much. Organization and process is the only way to scale in this media.

STEP 4: Recruit and train your fellow employees across the organization.

  • A common challenge for today’s marketers regardless of size of organization is resources.  You can’t just go out an hire an army of people to help you do social.  Just not enough money or talent out there for that.  But you can empower your best champions from within.
  • Employees are your best resource.  They know the company–it’s culture, products/services, and usually experts within.  After you have your policy and process nailed down.  Set up a lunch and learn and explain the plan and their roles.  Get them motivated to be a part of your extended staff. Create a way for them to ask questions and establish that “go to” process so they know who to talk to if they are unsure.
  • Don’t just do communicate once…have a series.  In person or virtual. Create a way to communicate to them about campaigns and calls to action to “amplify.”  Announce key wins in your efforts and recognize employees who have helped the social engagement cause to encourage others to help.

STEP 5: Set your expectations and your stakeholders appropriately.

  •  This is the classic tourtise and the hare fable.  You must set expectations.  Social takes time, just as building relationships. It takes time to build an audience, nurture and capitalize. It takes time to create and enforce policy and process to start those productivity gains and sales gains.  Plus, many people don’t event know what to expect, so if you tell them what to expect…you are way ahead of any disappointment.  You are in the driver seat

Social media operations is hard. It is necessary. It is not always sexy.  But to make it work, to make an impact, you have to do it.

So what do you think? Anyone have tips out there for how to set up a sound social media operations practice? Challenges in process and policies you want to share?



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