Social marketing should roll off the tongue of any business these days. For most companies a social media presence for their brand has been around for a couple years and has evolved and most likely taken money for your budget. If you work in sales, marketing, HR, legal, PR, or any other department in a business you probably interface with the social team monthly if not weekly and for the lucky ones; daily.

I’ve worked with every department in a business and want to share with you key things to consider as you work with your social team. In this article I’ll cover the following topics to help you avoid frustration and meet your business goals:

  • Communication styles
  • Email do’s and don’ts
  • Measure success and achieve objectives

Adam buchanan social media

Let’s Meet Your Social Team

First, let’s spend a little time and meet your social team shall we? Social media is still a fairly young industry. Your team may vary in age but the stereotype out there is that they are younger. Now if they are younger they may not have as many years of experience in the workplace but that’s balanced with more experience in the digital space. It’s ok, we can still all be friends.

Keep in mind that if you rattle off a bunch of business terms and you get a blank stare, slow it down and explain. Your social team is highly information driven and once they learn something it sticks. They constantly have to learn and re-learn policies, visual best practices, and consume high amounts of data and then make decisions to progress their program forward, sometimes with little or no warning. Avoid picking them apart but rather seek understanding why they do what they do or the thought behind their strategy.

The majority of the time your social team LOVES to talk about social and will talk your ear off. Let them get it out of their system and take time to educate them on your department. Meet in the middle. Hold hands. We can all be friends.

Your social team doesn’t have a job description. I mean, they do but that’s just for HR purposes. While it may be written down on a document somewhere in a filing cabinet their job evolves every 90 days or so. As digital communication progresses so does the social team’s roles and responsibilities. If the social team isn’t doing a certain strategy anymore it’s because it probably wasn’t successful and they are working on bigger and better things. Referencing a social strategy that you were doing a year ago is like asking about the time we ran phone book ads back in the 90’s.

The social team is always ‘on’. Now, they’re the social team so they’re going to smile and make sure they look happy. But don’t let those pearly whites fool you, they are freaking stressed and have no idea what tomorrow holds, or what the afternoon will bring for that matter.

Communication Styles

There is no set communication style with ALL social teams. I highly suggest getting to know them early on in your business relationship and ask them what their style is. If you can figure this out early it will save you much heartache. I’ve worked with people who love email and instant message and people who despise it.

On social teams in the past I’ve worked with highly introverted folks and total social butterflies. Not all social teams are social butterflies. Figure out their communication style quickly and let them know your preferred style. Don’t assume just because ‘social’ is in their job title they are Tommy Talk A-lot.

Since we know the social team is probably a bit stressed before even talking to you, make sure to give your inquiry or request a second glance of how urgent or life threatening it is. I even suggest spending some time with your social team to understand what the definition of life threatening is from a social perspective. If you’re unfamiliar with social media marketing it’s time you get familiar. Read a book, read a blog, talk to your social team, buy my social media book, ask questions, and do whatever it takes.

Especially if you are at an executive level you have to answer to stakeholders what your digital and social media strategy is. Saying that you don’t understand twitter and don’t have time to learn may have worked in 2009, but now it makes you look silly.

To be successful in communicating with your social team educate yourself about social media and get to know your social team long before you begin working on projects together. 

social media twitter

You can even send people handwritten notes! Like, without a keyboard. Above is a photo of invites that we sent to our friends to an event at Cabela’s stores. I got so many emails back from my friends laughing at the nicknames I wrote to them on their cards. 

Email Do’s and Don’ts

I get the craziest subject lines. I mean the craziest. Some are SUPER long and some are completely empty. It amazes me that the empty subject lines contain some really important information! I’m not one to delete empty subject line emails but c’mon people!

Let’s start with the Do’s

  • Tell us what’s up. “REQUEST: Feature HR video on facebook by 1/15/15” is a perfectly good subject line. I get the gist, there’s a deadline, and I have a pretty good sense of what you’re asking for.
  • Tell us why, what, where, when, who, and how. If any of these details are left out social teams get bored and now have to dig for information. Think of your social team as a news station. It’s your job to pitch them news and do it with as little as back and forth as possible.
  • Share industry articles! We love to read articles and talk shop. Give us your thoughts, we’ll give you ours and we’ll ride off into the email sunset together on horses! Giddy up white stallion… They don’t have to be social media articles either, they can be about the industry we’re in and the products and services we sell.
  • Phone number please. We get so much done so much faster on a phone call. Email is cool, phone calls are straight up stylin’. If I can’t find your phone number in an email then I have to goto the employee directory, then I get bored, then I get distracted, and then I don’t call you back. I understand you don’t want to reveal your phone number to unwanted phone calls but guess what, we all deal with unwanted phone calls.

Now with the Don’ts

  • The correct use of ASAP. I think some people think ASAP means urgent which means get it done now. Social teams read it as As Soon As Possible, with a hefty focus on possible. While a social team is nimble we are also very realistic of what it takes to compose a facebook post and push it live. If urgent, use urgent. And if it’s urgent, give us a call on the telephone, let’s chat about urgent stuff! Don’t expect the intonation of your email to magically get your message across, in an email.
  • Subject line only has the word ‘Facebook’ in it. I love you. I do. Let’s be friends and ride horses together but ‘Facebook’ alone in the subject line tells me very little. Are you sharing a facebook article? Has an employee from facebook just arrived to the building? Is facebook on fire? Tell me more about this facebook you speak of.
  • Don’t email. We have phones. They are magical. If you know that your question or request is fairly complicated and could cause some heated discussion internally, let’s clear the air before your email is completely misunderstood. My personal favorite is when people call me and say, “I’m emailing you an article that I need you to see, let’s talk about it right now.” Heck yes, I love you. Do more of that.
  • Don’t think you’re the only one. We’re friends right? Ok cool. A good functioning social team works with all the departments in a company. Keep in mind that when you strike up a conversation with the social team they may have just gotten eleventeen requests 5 minutes prior. Keep your discussions open rather than a dictatorship. If you tell a social team how to do their job and push stuff on them to get on a facebook page it shuts down the relationship.

It is critical to build a relationship first with your social team before you start asking for stuff. And it goes both ways. I make sure before I start asking for the world I ask for little mini villages and mini village people first. Start small, give a little, and do great things. 

Measure Success and Achieve Objectives

You have a social team. Heck yes, I’m so pumped for you. You have objectives and goals, right on, so does the social team. Ready to ride into the success sunset together holding hands? Cool, let’s do this.

Every company is different and each social team may have different goals. Here’s where things get complicated. In all companies the social team has to balance all of those business KPI’s because we don’t focus on one, the social team has to focus on all of them. However, certain departments may only care about 1-2 of those KPI’s.

  • HR cares about recruitment, turnover, diversity, and employee advocacy.
  • Sales cares about sales.
  • PR cares about brand reputation.
  • Operations cares about customer experience.
  • Product development cares about feedback and insights.

And on and on. While you may think your KPI is the cutest kid in the room, it’s not. But don’t feel bad, we’re not calling your KPI child ugly, we’re just not calling it gorgeous. Learn about how the social team measures success and inform them how you measure success. Find the overlap, make a compromise, and let’s go procreate and make little KPI children together.

While social media is great and reaches a massive audience it’s not a magic wand. You can’t put chocolate on broccoli and feed it to people and expect them to lap it up off the floor. Be open to discuss what you’re asking for and be ready for the social team to deliver feedback to spruce up your story.

Spend some time on your company social channels and see what your social team is posting. If they post pictures of puppies every Thursday and you come to them wanting to post a shark eating a small lamb, that probably won’t fit into their editorial calendar. If you see that videos perform a certain way or drive a certain conversation that better informs you for when you want to post a video that aligns with your objectives.

When you ask your social team to support your channel don’t be afraid to puff them up and let them know you’ve been watching the social channels. A little ego boost can go a long way with your social team. Most social teams aren’t exactly sure where they stand at any given time within an organization so if you let them know what their doing is cool and building the brand they’ll be stoked and be open to work with you.

Social teams have trust in the company. The company should have trust in their social team. This trust comes with time and with trial and possibly a couple facebook typos along the way. 

carrot social media

This is my son who pulled a carrot out too early from the garden. This represents your budding relationship with your social team. Or it’s just a cute picture of my kid in the garden. 

Go and Do Great Things

There it is folks. I hope those methods and that information helped you. If you do have questions or some genius additions to the above add it to the comments below or contact me here.