Building a Successful Social Media Team

A social media team needs to have both feet in, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year

Building a productive social media team remains a challenge for contemporary organizations. Problems arise when employees are not sourced properly, traditional hours are imposed and oft-derided millennials are not managed effectively.

Where are they coming from?

Many organizations decide that social media is just another form of marketing and instead of hiring new employees to build a team, they move marketing or sales employees to handle the responsibilities. In some cases, they have social media tasks piled on top of their current jobs.

Outside of social media increasingly becoming more similar to a programming or production team rather than a marketing team, this isn’t fair to the employees moved over or to aspiring social media professionals.

Your organization needs employees fully focused on the evolving demands of the platforms, which need to be populated day-to-day. A social media team needs to have both feet in, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, and it cannot be bogged down with extraneous responsibilities. Somebody who has worked in marketing or sales for years, to no fault of their own, will not be up to speed on maintaining social platforms properly.

Social media isn’t a hobby or a passing phase that your organization needs to dabble in. It is a separate profession that requires a distinct skill set.

When sourcing external candidates, do not be intimidated by a lack of professional experience or the absence of a big-name collegiate communications program. Instead, focus on tangible examples of social media content being executed, even if it is for a small organization or a self-started property. Experience running a platform is incredibly valuable, even if it is not for a “name” company.

When are they working?

It is naive to expect your social media team to work a traditional nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday schedule. If you are going to push for consistent engagement and want to have any relevancy to current, trending events, it is an always-on schedule.

You cannot expect your platform’s performance to conform to a traditional work schedule and, thus, you cannot expect your social media employees to conform to a traditional work schedule.

There is more value in being immediately responsive at night and during weekends rather than working mirrored hours to somebody in accounting, human resources or other similar departments. This may catch some sideways glances in the office initially, but if you spent two hours the night before publishing and promoting a piece of content, it is OK to come into the office at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. What you want to avoid is an employee who goes completely off the radar when standard business hours close.

Those damn millennials

Millennials are a group of lazy, entitled brats who received too many participation trophies. They have no grip on the cold realities of the real world because they are too connected to their damn social media.

Does this sound familiar? A grouchy, judgmental older generation vocalizing their concern about the generation younger than them and new forms of communication is commonplace.

When it comes to staffing your social media team, it is likely you will encounter some of these “damn millennials,” if not have your whole team staffed by them (and managed by them).

As someone who technically is a millennial (depending on the ever-evolving age parameters) and has been surrounded by them the past few years, these stereotypes are wildly exaggerated and inaccurate. Outside of being amenable to the untraditional hours discussed above, millennials are self-starters, function well within a team when proper goals are set and regularly take advantage of creative freedom if you give it to them.

You cannot expect results if you are micromanaging social employees. They are likely more native to the platforms than you are and have a better intuitive understanding of them than any “non-millennial” in the office. Throw them in the ocean with responsibility, let them sink or swim and then regularly check for course correcting as needed. Let the kids cook.

Joe Caporoso is vice president of social media for Whistle Sports.

Image courtesy of AndreyPopov/iStock.