Sprout Social digital marketing specialist Michael Patterson shared a checklist for social media managers last July from his colleague, social media manager Darryl Villacorta, but changes in the industry come at lightning speed, so Patterson shared an updated list with SocialTimes:
Whether you’re looking at social media as an organic way to expose your brand to new audiences, a way to drive traffic to your website or just a platform to grow relationships with your current and prospective customers, you’ll need to start by building a strong social presence.
Many new—and sometimes very established—brands simply take to social media to schedule promotional messages jam-packed with hashtags and wait for the sales to flow. While that may have been an effective strategy in the past, social media sites have matured, and so, too, should your approach.
I’ve had the fortune of working with many community managers during my tenure at Sprout Social, and with all of their collective knowledge in mind, I’ve put together this list of social media tasks that, if executed regularly, will help you and your team grow a robust presence across your various social networks and profiles.
Daily social media checklist
Finish any outstanding tasks: Closing any outstanding tasks should be the first thing your team does after grabbing a caffeinated beverage. Tasks are the messages that have spiraled into customer-service tickets or the bugs that have been sent to your product team. Keep these top of mind and work toward closing outstanding tasks before they start to collect dust.
Respond to inbound social messages: Consumers are turning to social media to start conversations with the brands they care about. Whether they’re looking for a place to voice their compliments, complaints or general feedback, customers leverage social sites to do it. In fact, the number of social messages sent to brands requiring responses has risen 28 percent since 2013. Make sure your team responds to every inbound message requiring a response.
Monitor and respond to brand mentions: Not every customer discussing your brand on social will tag your company’s page. Actually, some of those taking to social media to mention your brand will assume you’ll never actually see their message. This presents a fantastic opportunity to surprise and delight unsuspecting customers. See below for an example of an untagged McDonald’s mention. Although McDonald’s wasn’t mentioned directly, its social media team found the conversation and leveraged it to engage with a customer to boost brand loyalty. Use a social media monitoring tool to scan the various social networks for mentions you should be aware of.
Find and engage with potential customers: Outside of brand mentions, people are having conversations about you on social that you should be a part of–you just need to find those conversations. Start by identifying terms or phrases that are adjacent to your brand. Coordinate with your marketing team to find those key phrases and use a social media monitoring tool to look out for messages with them. For example, at Sprout Social, we monitor for people using the phrase “social media tool.” When we see conversations happening around that term, we check to see if they are relevant and jump in to contribute to the discussion.
Create conversations with brand advocates: Brand advocates are the social media users consistently recommending your company to their social communities. Your social team should keep a list of your known brand advocates and continue to build on those relationships to ensure that your products are always top of mind.
Load your social media content calendar: Publishing to social media is an important part of any social marketing strategy. Sharing social content helps boost reach, increase following and establish your brand as a thought-leader. If you have no process in place, check out this webinar on building a social content calendar. When filling up a social media calendar, make sure your team satisfies the content needs of each individual network. Since no two social media audiences are the same, there are no hard-and-fast rules about how often to post. However, there are guidelines out there to use as a jumping off point:
- Post six to nine times to Twitter
- Post one to two times to Facebook
- Post one to two times to Google+
- Post one to three times to Instagram
- Post one to two times to LinkedIn
Stay up-to-date on the social media industry: Social media networks are constantly changing or adding new features. Social media professionals who keep their eyes peeled for changes in the industry learn of the new opportunities earlier, and can utilize that to create a competitive advantage.
Create unique social imagery to share: According to Twitter, tweets that contain images receive an average 35 percent boost in retweets. Lean on your design teams to create enough shareable social media images for each of your networks and profiles.
Check out your competition’s social presence: It’s important to keep tabs on your competition, although you should never let their strategies dictate your own. Look to competitors, as well as the overall industry you’re in, and identify gaps in the marketplace, and then find ways that your brand can fill those holes, either with content or products.
Build content: A solid piece of content takes more than a few hours to put together, so don’t worry about finishing it in one day. Instead, just focus on spending some time creating something—a post for your company page, an external byline or a short video–that will actually engage your social audience. Develop something that advances the conversation and gets them interested in what you have to say.
Think about your brand: Take the time to truly understand your product, brand and voice. That includes talking to people throughout the organization to understand the challenges they’re facing, and learning what may be coming down the pipeline. This will help you answer social questions quickly and with authority. Additionally, it can help you anticipate things that are coming that may require you to develop a more long-term content strategy.
Manage your personal profiles: Just because you’re working on your brand pages doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend a little time on your own networks. Whether you’re the CEO or a social media manager it’s good to put a face behind your profile to humanize your presence.
Weekly social media checklist
Engage with thought leaders: Almost every industry has niche social celebrities considered thought leaders, and these thought leaders tend to have major social media pull. Find these people and start engaging with them by following them, sharing their content and replying to their messages—perhaps even send them a direct mail piece. This will help keep you top-of-mind when they’re looking to make recommendations.
Engage with marketing partners: A lot of companies have relationships with brands in adjacent spaces and will collaborate on things like events, webinars and guides. If you have marketing partners, try to engage with them at least once a week to keep the relationship alive. For example, I recently wrote an article for email marketing company Emma, and Sprout was happy to share it over social.
Discuss tactics with your team: You probably have some very specific goals for what you’d like to see from social media. Speak to the team in charge of social and let them know your expectations. Listen to their questions, comments and concerns and make sure you’re all on the same page before they get to work.
Update your calendar with events: Knowing what events are coming up can help you effectively schedule future content. As new events start to arise—conferences, webinars or holidays—make sure you’re loading them all into your calendar so you remain cognizant of necessary promotional initiatives. Use this approach for your own events, as well as industry events that you can tie into.
Run your social media data: Analyzing your social media analytics can help you make informed decisions on what’s working and what isn’t. At least once a week, you, or someone managing social for you, should be spending time going through social reports and thinking through the pertinent questions:
- What kind of content is getting shared?
- How quickly are you responding to people?
- Which team members are contributing the most?
- Is your audience talking about anything new or exciting that you can tap into?
Encourage sharing with employee advocacy: Employee advocacy is the idea of encouraging your employees to share your content with their social communities. Employee advocacy helps brands take advantage of the massive networks their employees have access to, while also leveraging the power of word-of-mouth-marketing. Employee advocacy tools out there like Bambu can help facilitate this process.
Attend a Twitter chat: Twitter chats are a great way to build your social community while learning the newest trends in your industry. Twitter chats are essentially large, public question-and-answer sessions where moderators use a specific hashtag to ask questions and attendees use the same hashtag to share their answer. Twitter chats are a great way to tap into an engaged audience to grow your brand awareness and develop strong relationships organically. If you’re interested in attending some, check out this list of Twitter chats to find groups relevant to your industry.
Monthly social media checklist
Run a social media audit: Auditing a social media presence consists of pulling every piece of data available in order to figure out what is and what is not working. While pulling your social media analytics gives you a higher-level view of what’s happening on social, an audit is a deep dive into each social media profile, page and network. You can then utilize those insights to help guide your social media strategy moving forward.
Attend local social media events: Events pose amazing opportunities to create in-person experiences from online relationships, and since community managers are such social beings, there are always events to attend. Look into social-media-related events in your area and reach out to the hosts to score an invite. If there aren’t any events in your area—or if you’d like have more control over the topic of an event—then consider planning your own. Just make sure you have enough interest before you create the event.
Step away from social media: If this checklist teaches you one thing, let it be that the job of a community manager is not an easy one. It’s important to make sure whoever is in charge of your social media efforts is taking time away from their screen. This pause will help them gain perspective. Just make sure you have someone else to cover your accounts while they’re out.
Collaborate with other departments: There’s a place for almost every department on social media. Your sales team may find some success engaging with customers, your human resources team may use social to source job applicants and your research and development department may look to social to figure out what products your customers need. Coordinate with all of the departments that would like to leverage social media and figure out how best to approach it.
Quarterly social media checklist
Pull performance reports: Most business functions report their performance on a quarterly basis, and there’s no reason why social media shouldn’t follow that same method. Every three months, pull robust social media reports to see what your team accomplished over that timeframe. When delving into the data, think through some critical questions about growth:
- Were your followers more engaged?
- How frequently was your brand mentioned?
- How much site traffic was driven from your efforts?
One key report is to look at who your actual audience is. Dig into the demographic data—gender, age, location—to figure out exactly who follows you on your social media. Use that information to dictate your content and overall social media strategy. For instance, if you find that your Twitter audience most closely aligns with your actual target market, you may want to spend more time on the site.
Report to your stakeholders: Once you have your reports pulled and ready to go, arrange some time to present your findings to other company stakeholders. This will give you an opportunity to show them the value of social media as a marketing channel.
Adjust your goals: As social media is an ever-changing medium, it’s important to adjust your goals and pivot your strategy accordingly. Spend some time reconciling the goals you may have set for yourself. If you exceeded your own expectations, then set new goal that are both challenging and attainable. If you fell short, then figure out what went wrong and decide if you need to lower your goals or continue to challenge yourself.
Assess key performance indicators: Your KPIs are what prove whether or not you’re hitting your social media goals. If you change your goals, you’ll have to change your KPIs accordingly. For instance, if your new goal is to drive site traffic instead of boosting branding and awareness, you may change your KPIs from “reach” to “clicks.”
Gauge team capacity and needs: Based on the success of your quarter, or lack thereof, and the new goals that you’ve set for yourself, seriously consider whether or not you need to bring someone else onto the team to back you up.
Re-evaluate your social crisis plan: There are dozens of horror stories online of social media marketing gone awry. Whether your account was hacked, or you inadvertently sent an inappropriate tweet, it’s important to know how your team can recover from those situations. If the idea of a social crisis plan is new to you, check out this post on recovering from a negative social media update.
Print this checklist to keep track of your to-dos: This infographic should make it a bit easier for you to keep track of your to-dos. You can either bookmark it or print it out to help you stay on top of your social media tasks. Although this checklist is daunting, there are tools out there that can help make social media more manageable. A tool like Sprout Social can help you manage your entire social media presence.
Michael Patterson is a digital marketing specialist at Sprout Social, a social media management platform for business.
Image of to-do list courtesy of Shutterstock.