How to Optimize Your Team Structure for Social Media Success

The many paths to achieving strong social media game are unique for every client. When we’re onboarding new clients, one of the most important questions we ask them is how they are structured and what their approval process is. This gives us valuable insight into how the client functions internally and which key stakeholders our work will reach before it goes live.

Let’s take a quick look at how your client’s department is structured and how it can impact your path to social media fortune and glory:

The Lone Wolf

Your direct client carries the weight of the marketing department on her shoulders. In the broader scope of things, social media is just one of at least 10 primary responsibilities your client has. Her organization is looking to her to develop and execute the annual marketing plans, manage the brand newsletter, work with the brand’s agencies to develop corporate messaging, press releases, media strategy and plan, refresh the website, on-site events, and the list goes on and on and on.

  • What to love: She knows all of the brand’s activities, which can lead to much stronger integration between messaging platforms. TV, print, display, SEM, CRM, social all with aligned messaging? YES!
  • What to troubleshoot: She has limited time, availability, and focus. It only takes one fire-drill to potentially derail the day. She needs things to be as streamlined, simplified, straightforward, and as organized as possible. Otherwise, you could lose time and opportunities

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The Committee

You have a client that you speak with on a regular basis, but your client works with a broader team and they are all accountable for their brand’s social media communication. This could be a handful people that all share approval and feedback responsibilities, or, in some cases, this can also be upwards of 21 or more people (Yes, this has happened). Some marketing department structures require social media sign-off from multiple PR representatives, legal (compliance, product liability, marketing, copyright/trademark, etc.), brand managers/directors/VPs, creative managers, corporate partners…etc.

  • What to love: Every individual brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective that your immediate client may not have, especially when it comes to the same or related campaigns being messaged in other marketing channels. This can make the content exponentially better.
  • What to troubleshoot: You can run the risk of having too many cooks in the kitchen. In these situations, it’s usually unclear on who has the final say and the process sometimes ends up going in circles. Your best bet is to bring as much of the team together into one live meeting for review/discussion. This can be incredibly productive in giving everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts, hear other thoughts, and try to get on the same page.

The Autonomy Squad

This client’s organization views agencies as trusted vendors and believes the job will get done and get done right, but they may not be very hands-on. From day one, this client puts their complete trust in you and really only wants communication when something is urgent or on fire. The individuals within the department run autonomously.

  • What to love: Freedom. Freedom to test, create, engage…It’s liberating. Also, to have that level of trust from a client is a big confidence booster.
  • What to troubleshoot: As good as it is, there are two potential issues:
    • Not getting enough direction. You could be going an entirely different direction with content or programs and you may not be aligned with other messaging. If you find yourself here, you can try to provide the client with drafts as you go along. Hopefully, you can use their reaction as a supplement for direction.
    • You could accidentally lose that trust. The reason may not be entirely the fault of the agency, but the reasons don’t always matter. Your client could become a completely different partner if you lose that trust.

      Autonomous Client

      The Tag Team

      Whoomp! The Tag Team client thrives on give-and-take. She’s smart, trusted by her peers, and hungry to learn more. She will work with you every step of the way, as a hand-in-hand partner. She has opinions and some level of expertise in social, but is eager to know and understand the agency’s perspective. Her peers trust her judgement, and she usually brings you into the fold so that your agency gains the same level of trust.

      • What to love: There’s usually a strong relationship and mutual respect. Conversations are usually the very productive and individual goals align.
      • What to troubleshoot:
        • In times of disagreement, which are inevitable with any relationship of length and value, it’s tricky to navigate a client who does have expertise and the best practices that the social media team gains from being the boots on the ground. Ultimately, though, assuming your client is paying for your social media services, the customer is always right.
        • If for any reason your direct client is no longer part of the picture (transferred or leaves the brand), it can sometimes be difficult to develop the same relationships with new clients.

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