Effective social media marketing teams: 7 lessons in collaboration
When a company is very small, usually during startup years, there often is only one person responsible for the social media marketing campaign. As that company grows, however, more marketing staff will be added, and suddenly there is a team responsibility for social campaigns. These marketing teams share common goals: to spread a company brand, to increase the following on current social platforms, to promote trust among followers, and to develop relationships with the identified target audience. Everyone agrees on these goals, but collaborating to achieve them requires far more than just agreement. For a team to do this right, there are decisions to be made:
1. Figuring out structure and strategy;
2. Determining a voice and tone that will be consistent across all platforms;
3. Communication/Coordination methods – tools to use;
4. Delegation – by platform or by schedules – calendaring who will post what and where.
Once these initial decisions are made, things can still go awry in a hurry, if there is not continued communication and collaboration among all team members. Each one must not just fulfill his/her responsibilities but must also keep everyone else informed of progress, be available to help his/her fellow teammates, and participate in overall evaluation of a campaign. There are definitely lessons to be learned as a team works through its individual and collective responsibilities. Here are seven of them.
1. Ensure that Social Relationships are Established
Team members of any type need to develop an understanding of one another. They need to share some of their personal lives, their interests, and their passions. Activities that allow this sharing promote a camaraderie and a willingness to listen to one another and to help each other out when necessary. Given that a marketing team may be virtual, it will be important that visual communication occurs often and that there are a few specific physical gatherings each year.
2. Leadership Roles Must be Clearly Defined
Obviously, there can only be one top manager. While collaborative decision-making is important, when all is said and done, one person must be responsible for the final decisions and ensuring that all team members are fulfilling their designated roles and tasks. Being a team leader of a social media marketing team will require many of the skills of servant leadership too, and these must be mastered.
There are other leadership roles as well, especially if the team is larger. If, for example, a company has a presence on four social media platforms, then there should be a leader for each platform. That leader will be responsible for decisions on topics, posting calendars, etc. Collaboration among platform leaders must also occur, to maintain consistency of voice and tone. In short, the company should “look” and “feel” the same across all platforms. Further, each platform leader must know what is being posted and when on all platforms, so that integration of mutual promotion can happen
3. Everyone is a Respected Contributor
A contributor who is a member of one sub-team (e.g., Facebook) may have a great idea for an Instagram carousel. If the correct relationships have been established, that individual should be operating in a psychologically safe environment and feel comfortable making such a suggestion to a member of the Instagram sub-team. In the same vein, when a proposed post, created by another team member could use some improvement, an individual should feel safe making such suggestions.
4. Out-of-the-Box Thinking Should be Encouraged
Perhaps a decision has been made that a particular aspect of the company will be the focus for posts over a specified period of time. Suggestions for topics, headlines, visuals, etc. are opened for discussion. No idea is ever squashed, no matter how quirky or off-the-wall. From these quirky ideas can come the modifications that turn them into exceptional content.
5. Collaboration is More than Co-ordination
Co-ordination occurs when all team leaders and members have their task responsibilities clearly defined and set about completing those tasks, within budget and deadline requirements. It’s like all of the gears of a machine working well. Collaboration, on the other hand, is a pervasive relationship, where resources are pooled and shared across sub-teams as needed. The sub-team for LinkedIn is having difficulty with topics for its next month. A call goes out to the entire larger team for help. Everyone pitches in as s/he is able, finding topics and locating resources, making suggestions and offering to do some research. Magic occurs when this kind of collaboration is a common thing.
6. Play Games
Especially with virtual teams, this can foster connections among team members. There are any number of virtual games that support collaboration – things as simple an online scavenger hunt in which team members who do not know each other well must team up. Role-playing games such as “World of Warcraft” will require players to collaborate just to survive, by making decisions in an environment about which they have incomplete knowledge.
7. Get the Right Tools
It is the responsibility of the manager to provide all team members with the collaboration tools they need. Fortunately, there are plenty of them. Here are a few common and a few uncommon ones.
• Point: This is a tool for sharing articles. No matter where a team member may be online, if they have this Chrome extension, they can share a news article, post, or story with other team members through a sharing box, adding any notes they want to.
• Trello: Create a board on Trello. Everyone can drop files, memes, images, links, and even questions into it. If everyone is encouraged to participate at least once a day, a lot of great ideas can be shared.
• Dropbox: Great for sharing absolutely anything, especially stuff that is in-progress, as well as anything found online that might help a teammate struggling with topic or content. Everyone knows what everyone else is working on and where they are in the process.
• Canva: Here’s the great thing about Canva. Not only is a great tool or creating visuals, but those can be shared via email with other team members who can add their touches.
• Post Planner: Team members can find viral posts, images, etc. and share them with other team members. Great tool for content curation or just re-posting on Facebook if the post fits the greater team thrust at the time.
• Mention: This is a tool that will monitor and inform the team any time the company name is mentioned across all social platforms. Each sub-team can monitor its platform and provide follow-up in case replies are needed.
There are many more tools, of course, but these are the types that will make collaboration easier for all team members.
As stated earlier, magic happens when teams have true collaboration. It’s not about just completing tasks and projects on time. It’s about working together to make that social media presence spectacular while also enjoying the process.
Getting teams to work together is essential for bringing in projects on time and under budget. But going beyond that and getting teams to collaborate is when the real magic occurs. Think of how small, independent films have often surpassed the creativity and quality of big-budget offerings from Hollywood. Such successful collaborations don’t have to happen only on a movie set; they can occur in virtual environments too. But the trick is to pro-actively remove the barriers to collaboration. Only then will the team have a chance for true magic to flourish.
by Kerry Creaswood