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social media department  community manager  monitoring tools  followers  KPI

Starting a social media department

The role social media plays in the success of a business is growing increasingly critical. No matter whether your business is focused on the consumer market, or focuses on other companies, digital presence is a key element of your brand. Lacking a strategy for social media is almost completely unsustainable from a commercial perspective.

Our social media accounts dominate how we spend our time and how we communicate with friends and acquaintances. For many, social media is an indispensable tool in their practice, and not only journalists and politicians have realised the value of social media in sourcing information about, and communicating with voters. To utilise and take advantage of social media is a must in all industries and businesses.

Here are some things to consider if you're about to organise and structure your business with social media:

What setup should our department for social media have?

There is no simple, obvious answer to this question. How you choose to organise your social media department depends on how much business you have, what industry you work in and what your initial goals for the department are. You may also need to assess based on where you see that you’re generating the most business value.

When organising social media activities, many companies base their approach on their customer service, or sales. A hybrid of the two can form a fitting solution. Here, finding the right people (both externally and internally) is paramount. The next step is then merging the new department seamlessly with existing organisational structures. Don’t forget that it is optimal if the whole company contributes to activities around its social media presence.

Some key positions to appoint:

The analyst's most important task is to determine whether you’ve reached your goals. The analyst must also find new trends and opportunities for success. Here, an effective media monitoring tool is of great help.

The Community manager's main role is to take responsibility for the most dedicated tracking tools, ranging from fans to ambassadors. Community managers in turn are supported by a customer care manager, who is dedicated to caring for your brand’s most devoted followers. In contrast, the community manager's role is a little wider, analysing entire conversations around your business and industry.

The social media director holds broader responsibility. The role should support the others in his or her team and work strategically toward long term goals. The social media director is the representative of the company in social media, both externally and internally.

What role should the department of social media have?

Most commonly, social media is used in marketing. But there is no rule of thumb saying that is has to be limited to this area. A well-developed social media department can also be advantageous for teams in public relations, sales, customer service and more - your only limit is your imagination.

What should your social media strategy be?

This question is the most important of all. Without a well thought through strategy, there is a risk you are feeling your way through the dark, and doing the wrong things at the wrong moment. Think carefully through how social media optimises your specific business benefits. What is it your team wants to achieve? How do we achieve it? Simple questions sometimes give complicated answers. Bear in mind, however, that no strategy is perfect from the beginning, so don’t be afraid to adjust your activities along the way. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind if you build on what you experience and learn.

How should we define the goals?

Remember that measurable goals are much easier to meet and control. Keep it simple. For example, if you think building the number of followers and likes you have is a reasonable goal in the beginning – stick to it. In time, you will be able to reformulate measurable goals that are more relevant to your business.

Try to find KPIs (key performance indicators) which are relevant and measurable. Don’t forget to acknowledge reaching your goals (celebrating with a cake, for example) to motivate your staff.

How should the plan look?

Starting with the strategy, formulate goals and then finally, a concrete action plan based on measurable actions that produce results. Be sure to allocate adequate resources. Be aware that every time you start a new business it requires more resources than you might think at first. Be humble and realise that learning curves are acceptable in the beginning - you have to crawl before you can walk.

In your plan, list the resources to be added as well as when this should happen - as well as a timeline for delivery, and the frequency with which you will share content. Don’t forget to determine roles and responsibilities.

Outsourcing vs managing internally?

Generally speaking, it’s rarely optimal to outsource communication or analysis issues. There is a risk that the external provider does not know your brand or organisation well enough to be able to act as your representative. However, if you allow your external agency to be part of all the material required, it can work out very well. An obvious advantage of outsourcing your social media management is that you don’t need to invest in costly recruitment and the like initially. A collaborative model is a hybrid solution in which personnel from your company work closely with an agency to help you. In this way, your team learn about social media best practices for business, and you can eventually create your own in-house department.

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