We get asked this question once a week by outdoor sport brand marketers, by resort marketers and by our outdoor sport retail clients. Of course everyone’s confused – social media is evolving daily and there’s a huge list of roles that have been created in the last few years; social media leaders, analysts, content strategists, community managers, planners, content creators, social media writers, etc. If you’ve asked yourself “how should I structure my social media team, and where do I start?” this article hopefully a guide to help you in your planning.
Before you draft up an org chart for your dream team, here are a few key questions you should answer:
- What are your social media objectives? What role does social play in your bigger picture marketing plan?
- Do you have an articulated social media strategy?
- Do you have a budget allocated to social media content creation and distribution?
- Where does social media “sit” within your company?
If you struggled to answer these questions or you’ve realized you don’t have a plan or a budget in place, you won’t be able to justify having a social media team, and you won’t be able to allocate and manage your social media resources, including employees, funds and equipment to build your social media team.
First things first.
What are your social media objectives? What role does social play in your bigger picture marketing plan?
For some of our clients, social media is the number one tool they use to connect and engage with their customers and potential customers. For them, the social media objectives are closely tied to their business goals and social plays a leading role in their marketing planning, content creation (and budget). For others, social media plays more of a supporting role, it’s a secondary channel to the more traditional forms of advertising and the objectives surrounding social are less about awareness, engagement and conversion. They’re more about relationships. They’re more about community. Think about the role of social for your business before you build your team.
Do you have an articulated social media strategy?
Like any strategy, a social media strategy, aims to help you align your social media efforts with your company’s objectives, and it’ll also help you dictate your KPI’s. Every brand should have at least one social strategy: one over-arching social strategy, and one social strategy per social team. For instance, your company may decide that it’s best for you to have one main social media team (or person) that caters to branding and marketing, while having another social media team (or person) purely dedicated to customer service.
Do you have a budget allocated to social media content creation and distribution?
I am baffled at how many brands tell me they have no budget allocated to social media, yet they have huge expectations for its performance. Reality check: it’s not really “free”. Establishing your social media budget is a lot easier when you’ve done steps 1 and 2 above. When you have clearly defined objectives and you’ve set a strategy in place, defining the budget will be just like defining any other marketing budget. You’ll look at your objective, audience segments, distribution channels and content creation resources. A future post will dig into this particular topic in greater detail. But, for now, set a budget that will allow you (and your team) to meet those objectives.
Where does social media ''sit'' within your company?
Many brands are not sure where the social media team should “sit” within their organisation. Will this team sit under Public Relations? Marketing? Sales? IT? Customer services? Or will it sit as a standalone team connected to all the other teams in your organisation? Virtually speaking, there’s no “wrong” position for a social media team to be. However, bear in mind that if you fit a social media team in a box, its KPIs will be heavily influenced (and sometimes “dictated”) by that choice. So, if your social team is suddenly in the sales team, be ready to prove the ROI of everything you do on social as that will be one of your main KPIs (including sales, activations, and other related metrics). Unfortunately teams that wouldn’t normally deal with social media (your sales team perhaps) may not be necessarily interested in other valuable social metrics like advocacy, social engagement or share of voice, since those metrics ‘don’t make immediate money’. One method that I support wholeheartedly is not placing social in any boxes, making it breathe and live in its own vertical, just like marketing and IT have their own verticals. So, just as you’d have an IT department and a Marketing department, you’d also have a Social department, with its own Head – but more on that in a minute.
Social media team structure
There are no right or wrong ways to structure your social media team. But, it’s important to account for the key roles. Keep in mind that many of these roles can be combined in one person (or agency).
The head of social media
This person may have various roles and duties, but the main responsibilities include being the social spokesperson for your brand, internally and externally. They advocate social media and make sure it’s front and center in your company, they loop in all the various departments that might be contributing content, they know and understand how social media will help meet marketing and business objectives. They might be called Chief Social Officer, Director of Social or some other variation but the key - they champion the brand in social. They will typically be the ones to develop KPI’s, to define and prioritize your audience segments, to oversee the content calendar and its adherance to the brand. Frankly, this role is not common in our industry: many brands have a social media person or team without a leader. If you don’t have a head of social, be sure to know that there’s a gap in your structure.
This is the person who is responsible for nurturing and engaging your online community. The community manager implements strategies to encourage conversations and engagement, grow your communities, manage your social presence, create engaging content (sometimes with the help of a content creator), content tailored to the networks you’re in. The community manager will also monitor and participate in relevant conversations as well as respond to consumer questions, complaints and ensure these are answered in a manner that suits your brand’s voice and customer service style.
Someone needs to be in charge of content creation. This is often falling on the shoulders of the community manager but it warrants a discussion. Someone should be in charge of creating visual assets and social applications for your campaigns, and ensure your social presence is updated with your brand’s campaigns and visual assets. Often, the content creator is a team of people; a writer, a photographer / vidoegrapher and often, this team gathers content from your athletes and ambassadors. Regardless of how much custom content you’re producing, someone needs to be responsible to create, gather and publish that content.
This is often a luxury for smaller brands. The social analyst is there to understand the impact of your content and social media activity on other initiatives you’re running, like sales, SEO, and A/B testing. They are there to provide insights, and recommendations on performance improvements. Often, social analysts are also responsible for your company’s social listening, monitoring online mentions and conversations around your brand, products, competitors and industry. With the increase in S-commerce, we’re seeing more and more companies dedicate a space for this person on their social media team. For some, it’s the web analyst who is given these responsibilities (which makes sense for a smaller team).
In house or Agency?
The key reason why outdoor brands outsource any part of their social media is a lack of qualified, available internal resources. Most of our clients who work with us for any social media consulting, do so to get some guidance on the high level strategy, objective setting, defining of audience segments and development of strategies to meet the objectives. If you have a qualified person to handle this on your team, there is sometimes still value in getting your agency to review and react to your strategies.
The average community manager salary these days is between $35,000 and $50,000USD a year (plus vacation, retirement and health benefits). That for head of social is similar to a Director of Marketing salary.
There are obvious benefits to having your community manager in house. They will live the brand, they will know the rest of your organization’s teams, they will ensure that customer complaints or questions are sent to the right person. This can happen with an agency (and we do it for several clients) but it requires a commitment to onboarding, to weekly (and often daily) communication and to a level of trust that goes beyond the usual non-disclosure agreement.