Managing A Social Media Marketing Team

shutterstock_92510854-surgeonThe surgeon leans over the patient, whose abdomen has been surgically opened.

“Forceps,” the doctor barks.

The nurse hands the doctor a stainless steel instrument.

Again the doctor demands, “scalpel!”  The nurse dutifully hands the doctor the necessary tool.

We’ve all seen the drill in countless films and television shows. But, the process of a nurse serving as a surgeon’s assistant as a sort of operation room caddy was only developed in the early 20th century, purportedly by efficiency expert Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr.

In those years, the efficiency movement swept through the business world, creating change in every arena, from bricklaying to sales.

All work is made up of tasks and activities, which can be done in a more or less effective way, and social media marketing is not an exception. The industry is nascent and our processes are inchoate – there is much to be gained by developing better approaches to the management of social media marketing.

Resources Available

The first task in managing a social media team is to determine the resources available to you. You need to find out how much time and effort is at your disposal, along with the skill sets of various individuals.

Of course, you’ll have a social media team, and if your organization has PR or communications professionals, those individuals might be available to the social media team. Each organization has its own way of determining how people are allocated and how social media is placed in the overall organization.

If you have turf wars, there are other individuals in the organization you can potentially turn to. Even the CEO tweeting can be regarded as a resource. If you are managing a blog, you might be able to get commitment of a blog post per quarter from each department.

Create an inventory of the various individuals and their skills. You might even take note of their social media accounts, which can be a good indicator of someone’s proficiency with social. If Joe from accounting is active on Twitter, that’s an energy that might be put to good use.

A table of resource

If you’re using an external agency to augment your company’s work, take note of the overall budget, and how that could translate into hours. If you’re unsure, reach out to your agency and ask for an understanding of that.

Some organizations use outside agencies for one-off creative projects, while others use them for ongoing community management. Either way, you should understand what’s available to you.

Projects & Ongoing Work

First off, what exactly are we managing: projects or processes? Dr. Barry Johnson was fond of saying that problems are to be solved, while dilemmas are to be managed. In social media marketing, we are immediately confronted by a great big hairy dilemma: social media marketing is made up of both open-ended activities and closed-ended tasks.

This is a dilemma because we’re not able to report on outcomes in the early stages. Instead, we have to report on activities, which we assume will lead us to the outcomes that we’re seeking.

In addition to this dichotomy, we’re faced with the fact that not all social media marketing is the same. Consider these approaches to social media marketing:

  • Brand maintenance – listening and responding
  • Community management – participating in and nurturing communities
  • Influencer outreach – targeting and engaging with relevant influencers
  • Reputation management – thought leadership and reputation work
  • Big splash – large creative social media campaigns, like the Pepsi Refresh or the Old Spice Guy campaigns

Some of those approaches, like brand maintenance and community management, are more about ongoing process, while others lend themselves more to a project approach.


Use a percentage planning worksheet to conceptualize how you want to allocate your organization’s energy. By using this worksheet, you and your team will be able to think through some of those big approaches, and clarify your thinking.

Getting  Agile

Where you do have tasks, think of using the agile programming method, in which you consider user stories – small sprints – and scrums. This approach has emerged from the programming world in which project managers came to realize that the traditional waterfall approach was flawed. Too many projects ended up going over budget and past deadline.

In Agile development, the team takes a customer-centric approach to the problems at hand by interviewing customers or other stakeholders and really thinking about the world through their eyes. Then, the team creates “stories” based on these ideas that have a format like this:

“As a <role>, I want <goal/desire> so that <benefit>”

Keep the stories concise. If they’re too complicated, break them down into multiple stories. Make sure you can measure and test the story. Something vague like, “I want to be popular” would be difficult to test. “I want to be listed as the most popular site on Technorati” would be measurable.

Once these stories are created, put them on index cards and put them up on a board. In our shop, we use Trello, which has some other features that index cards lack. Project tasks can be decided upon that fulfill the stories over a short period of time, like one to three weeks.

The Future Of Social Media Marketing Project Management

These are only a few ideas for social media marketing project management. We’re still in the early stages of the revolution – platforms are still evolving, along with our approaches to using social within marketing. It’s only natural that we’ll develop new ways of working as marketing. Have you and your team developed some techniques or tools?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Internet Marketing Industry | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing Column


About The Author: is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.

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