Ever wondered how big brands cope with all their posts, replies, monitoring, and cross-brand collaboration? How do they provide 24/7 social media support and always seem to be on top of the latest trends?
The reality is they often have a team working on each social media channel, and that team is often decentralized. How do they manage social media coordination?
As director of marketing agency Contentworks, I’ve worked alongside big brands and also overseen social media collaboration on client accounts. So, I understand the challenges.
In this article, I’m going to show you how your team can ace social media collaboration.
Whether you’re working in a social media team, you’re an agency in charge of managing social for your clients, or you’re working with another brand, social media collaboration will make your life easier.
But the idea of collaborating is a lot more straightforward than actually doing it.
Here are some of the problems that can arise when multiple team members work on the same account.
Managing one set of social media accounts as a team can cause big gaps in tone consistency. Everything from spelling (US or UK) to design particulars, the emojis you use, and your tone of voice or interpretation of the brand voice contribute to brand consistency.
Gaps in consistency are responsible for weak branding, an unprofessional appearance, and even trust issues, especially in sectors like finance.
When Gap changed its logo (for six days) there was a massive outcry because customers loved the familiarity of the old logo. Brand consistency is incredibly important to consumers.
Delays, missed posts, and duplicates
Multiple people collaborating on one social media account can equal all these problems.
Two team members answering the same message or numerous posts going out on the same day are classic scenarios.
Different time zones, different departments, and different perceptions of what needs to be done can cause huge confusion.
Even Mcdonald’s fails to collaborate sometimes like in this Black Friday tweet.
Social media is fast-paced, so working as a team on one account can mean cut corners that cause problems later.
That includes …
- Client updates not being shared with the whole team
- New designs saved on one social media manager’s laptop and not the server
- Posts boosted without talking to anyone else
- Complaints not assigned to the right person
Social media collaboration is great until it comes down to reporting.
A social media report should be produced at the end of each month whether you’re an agency working for a client or a team managing your own brand. A report should clearly identify your engagement, followers, most popular posts, and a summary of how this relates to your social media KPIs and budget.
Often this isn’t done because it’s time-consuming or because it involves asking different team members for their input on each channel.
2. How Do Big Brands Overcome These Challenges?
The main problem in all these scenarios is communication. You can be the best communicator in real life but still fail in regard to social media collaboration.
It’s not a blame game. But there are some ways that big brands and marketing agencies address these problems.
Have a documented style guide
A documented style guide is something that big brands and social media agencies should have handy. It’s not a private document, and it can be distributed to anyone working on the account, external agencies, and partners.
It contains things like:
- The tagline
- The brand voice
- UK or US spelling
- Hex color codes
- The company values
- The customer demographics
- Examples of how to reply on social media
- Any legal risk warnings or disclaimers
- Guidelines on emojis, GIFs, and memes
These are extracts from our own agency style guide and we produce individual guides for each of our clients. Consistency on how to write a brand name may seem obvious to your own marketing team but what about partners, media outlets, and external agencies?
Keeping your language and style consistent may seem complex, but it’s not so hard when it’s all documented.
Here you can see how we ensure all our channels use the same spelling and grammar.
Have a comprehensive coverage strategy
Big brands have a strategy that covers social media collaboration.
They know they need to provide seamless posting and support, so they factor in:
- Time zones. Make sure you are utilizing your team to cover different time zones on large accounts. Posting 8-5 really won’t do for big brands. Similarly, different language posting needs to be targeted and clearly communicated to others.
- Evergreen content. Big brands often have a library of evergreen content ready to go. That’s content that is not time-sensitive and can be used at any time. This ensures you can fill gaps if a team member is away or another post needs to be pulled. They definitely have a content calendar.
- Hold meetings. Yes, it sounds old school, but a regular update meeting is important from time to time. Patch in your overseas team on Zoom, and be sure everyone has coffee and donuts. This is a time for problem sharing and addressing any upcoming campaigns.
- Holiday cover. Do you have a process in place for holidays and sick leave? Don’t just expect the rest of the team to know what to do if a key member is away.
- Separate support. You will see that many big brands separate their support account from their proactive marketing account. This usually means that a social media support team is managing support replies while another team follows trends, posts updates, and makes announcements. @ASOS_HeretoHelp is separate from @ASOS, for example.
Understand individual responsibilities
The more people you have working on a social media account, the more likely something will go wrong. Missed posts and duplicate posts are the most common. That’s if you don’t set clear expectations and responsibilities for each person.
If you have five team members with equal access to posts, for example, you need to find a way to separate their roles.
Some of the ways big brands do this are …
- Delegate tasks by shift. Big brands have global teams to cover different time zones. Many do a handover after each shift letting the other time zone team know they are signing out. For example, a USA-based team hands over to Europe. Anything after this point must be handled by the European team. You will often see that brands that do this will sign off replies with the name of the person who responded like RyanAir below.
- Assign by the network. I’ve worked with brands that have a 10 strong social media team with each person responsible for a different channel. This does not always allow for 24-hour cover, but it does ensure there are no overlaps and gaps in consistency on the channel. It also ensures each channel manager can explore creative options, develop a deep understanding of the platform and avoid duplicate content. Of course, there will still be omnichannel marketing at times.
- Assign different authority levels to different people. One of the most popular ways to divide up responsibilities is by simply assigning different authorities. On Facebook, this is what this looks like, however, each person should clearly understand their role and what it entails.
An easier way to manage roles and responsibilities is with the Agorapulse content management system.
Here, a Manager automatically has Admin rights on all social profiles included in the organization.
A Member can have unique permissions on each profile: Admin, Editor, Moderator, and Guest.
Using the Agorapulse management system, team members can assign posts and tasks to others in the organization and will clearly see if these have been resolved.
Brands also have a documented process they will follow in different scenarios.
- Customer tweets a complaint.
- Brand acknowledges a complaint and encourages customer to send a DM.
- Brand aims to resolve on DM and can send a 10% off voucher.
- If the customer is still unhappy, the message is assigned higher.
The challenge as an agency is that each client will use a different set of collaboration tools.
It would be impossible to join each one individually and have over a dozen dashboards open each day. We, therefore, tend to invite clients to join us.
Some good collaboration tools are …
- Trello. I love Trello for keeping track of campaigns and ideas, assigning users, and ticking items off as “completed.” The key to good social media collaboration here is to avoid lengthy essays and keep ideas as bullet points or short notes.
- Basecamp. Basecamp is a sweet little tool to use for updating the team without getting caught up in lengthy email chains.
- Workstack. This is a tool that works directly with Basecamp, so you can see the hours and days your team allows for Basecamp projects. With several people working on one account, tracking where the hours go can eliminate waste and maximize team efficiency.
- Canva Teams. Using Canva for social media designs? With Canva, you can invite clients and team members to collaborate together on any design. There are two types of teams available in Canva: free teams and Canva Pro teams. (Fun fact: Agorapulse now has Canva integration.)
- Google Drive. Sounds old school but using shared cloud systems like Google Docs is quite effective for document management. We do avoid multiple people editing the same document, though as this can cause approval problems and delay campaigns. Google Drive works on all major platforms, enabling you to work seamlessly across your browser, mobile device, tablet, and computer.
Agorapulse is a marketing agency favorite for social media collaboration because everything is in one place in a centralized dashboard. That means managing all your posts, replies, approvals, and communication on the posts, too.
“We manage over 150 accounts just on Agorapulse. [So the tool we use] has to be user-friendly for me and everyone that works with it. And it has be [a tool] that I know that I can rely on and trust.”
It’s easy to have team members assigned to accounts and even clients if you want to.
An example of this for us might be a compliance manager in a finance company. They want to see and approve the social media posts to check they are compliant before they go live.
Get a comprehensive snapshot of each fan reply. You can see on the right side that Agorapulse shows you a snapshot of the commentator and allows you to follow or unfollow them.
Using Agorapulse, we can easily add and remove team members, clients, or other brands from our dashboard. The easy alert system shows you what you need to review and allows you to easily assign posts.
The easy heart/ tick system allows you to like replies and mark them as handled. You can also reply if you want to.
You can assess your response metrics. How many replies did your team send and what was the average response time? This helps you to continually improve and strive for better social media customer support.
Accessing one calendar avoids duplicating or missing posts because you can easily see at a glance what time your posts are scheduled to go out. You can edit them, too, or move them to different days.
Posts can easily be assigned to others or replied to. Once replied to, they are removed from your “to-do” list making it super easy to be organized.
Write messages to other team members within the platform to collaborate and communicate on posts or responses. All messages are stored making it good for accountability.
Other team members can be given access to KPI metrics and reports for each channel. No more fighting over who will produce a social media report. Now it’s all done for you and accessible at the touch of a button.
Social media collaboration is not only down to the personalities on your team. It centers around documented strategies and excellent tools to manage communication.
Keep in mind that social media collaboration allows your team to work more efficiently, but it can take some time to develop your processes.
Take control of your social media! Check out our free trial of Agorapulse to help you schedule, track, and measure all your social media efforts.