Management Lessons From Social Media

Managing a social media team at IDG, it is easy for me to draw parallels between social media management and how to effectively manage a team. Below is a list of the four things all managers, whether in social media or managing a small team should keep in mind for success.

Transparency and Honesty

As social media managers, we often talk about transparency and the need to disclose affiliations due to the FTC regulations. That seems pretty simple and logical in a commercial environment, not to deceive the consumer. But transparency goes beyond disclosing who you work for, but also is about being honest, sincere, and deliberate. Certainly this is the unique and wonderful opportunity that social provides all organizations. Brands can now have conversations with customers, have personality, learn and work to solve their problems. It should always be clear, the effective social media manager is looking out for the best interests of the company and their communities, in that priority order. 

Managers have a similar conflict. While it is obvious who we work for and that we have the giant ‘boss’ label on our foreheads, it can get confusing. Working closely in a team environment, it is easy to grow to like and become friendly with your team. However, there are times where a team member may say something inadvertently and you must remind them that you are the boss and represent the company. It should always be clear, effective managers are looking out for the best interest of the company and the team, in that priority order.

Communication and Relationships

It seems obvious, if you want to have a relationship with someone, you need to have a regular dialog to develop trust and understanding. As social media managers, that means we need to take a balanced approach to our communications. It is not just a constant promotional spew, but paying attention to the audience, listening and responding directly to them. Too often we see businesses or celebrities where the dialog is just going one direction, all about them. On Twitter the @ mention is the equivalent of looking a customer directly in the eye and using their name, to get a response and engage directly. The effective social media manager needs a regular back and forth dialog with the audience to grow relationships and trust.

Communications in managing a team is critical. If you are not having regular one on one’s with your team members, how can you expect to have a relationship and grow to understand what motivates your team members or what is bothering them. I have adopted a very effective weekly one on one strategy from The Manager Tools team, that I can’t recommend more. At a high level, it is a framework for first enabling them to share what is going for them (work or personal), then for you to share, and then, if time, focus on personal growth. The effective manager needs a regular back and forth dialog with the team to grow relationships and trust. 

Measurement and Feedback

Social media overwhelms us in metrics, causing confusion and difficulty in understanding if you are doing well. The key is tomeasuringsuccess[1] have a proper understanding of the goals and how the metrics show progress against them. If they don’t, they are noise. An important aspect that may be easy to overlook, is obtaining feedback from the client (internal or external). Asking that question: Are these metrics effective for you in gauging success? It is a simple conversation, but avoids so much re-work and potential aggravation.  Social media managers need to align the see of metrics with goals, but also need to constantly checking stakeholder feedback to stay aligned to goals. 

Similarly, there are also many metrics for managers to understand the success of their teams. From production rates, revenue figures to employee satisfaction survey results, there are many different ways to get a good understanding of team and individual success. It is critical to keep an eye on these performance numbers to monitor team performance and not fall into the trap of just ‘getting the job done’. The pitfall that many managers fall into is to not provide the feedback to the team members on the impact of their performance in a direct, clear, and consistent way. Team members need visibility into how they are contributing to success, feedback models are critical to provide this information.  The effective manager needs to align metrics with organization goals, but also need to align this by providing team member feedback aligned to achieving goals. 

Continuous Improvement

The changes in the world of social media marketing have been accelerating in both breadth of platforms and depth in their capabilities. It is not enough to just know Facebook or Twitter, but an expanding sea of platforms from Snapchat, Pinterest, Vine, Periscope, Instagram and many more. Simply knowing who to engage on and use these social platforms is not enough, you need to also stay on top of content marketing, paid and natural search as well as various tools to manage all of these in a comprehensive way. The effective social media manager is continually learning, looking for ways to take advantage the rapidly evolving technology landscape for the good of the organization’s stakeholders. 

The manager’s world is also a sea of constant change. The forces of cloud, social, big data and mobile have impacted EVERY business model and force us all to compete at hyper speeds and learn new skills every year. Managers that are not both continuously learning and improving for themselves AND also encouraging their teams to do the same will find themselves outrun by their competitors. The effective leader is also continually learning, looking for new ways to take advantage of the rapidly evolving technology landscape for the good of the organization’s stakeholders.

Those are my top four. I know that there are many others and would certainly love your thoughts in the comments below or feel free to let me know on Twitter – @CRBrowning.

The Sounds of Silence

Are we confusing silence with disinterest?

As marketers, ‘paying attention’ equates and audience’s level of ‘engagement’.  Jakob Nielson’s rule for participation inequality has been the standard for how we think about an audience’s engagement. I can count on my 1% active participators and 90% lurkers with 9% somewhat in the middle. While research from The Community Roundtable shows that active and healthy community management can radically influence these ratios, anyone that has attended a conference or a meeting knows that 90% lurkers and 1% active are the natural inclination of most audiences.

So given this broad understanding, what do social listening platforms do? They focus on the 1%. The 1% that are posting, tweeting, commenting constantly across social platforms.  The 90% go largely ignored by most of the current social listening platforms that focus on semantic analysis.

We are missing the sounds of silence of the 90%. These are people that intentionally follow others, like, engage in countless other actions… they just may not actively contribute. These actions, may be the sounds of silence, but they are also the sounds of engagement to be measured.  In fact, breaking these actions down to a simple engagement funnel, similar to the the one proposed by Social Media Examiner enables us to show how the silent majority is actually much more powerful.

Bottom line: embrace and measure your silent majority. Don’t focus on the noisy 1%, but gather all the data available for the ENTIRE audience to paint a full picture of an engagement funnel to understand your results.

/colin

The Panic

Image by pietroizzo

I had a panic nightmare last night.  In the dream I ran out of ideas.  The well was empty.  I was asked to contribute to a project and nothing.  Dull blank stares.  I could not even doodle in my notebook.  Perhaps I even turned into a righty (the horror)!

So far, so good. Tried to think of a social gaming concept today.  I thought it was very clever, others did too.

But, when you break it down, it is really just combining exisiting ideas… it is nothing really new.

Oh god… the panic again!

Stories From My Digital Marketing Life

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