How To Get Value from Influencer Relationships

give-and-take

For some organizations, working with bloggers and other social influencers is new, maybe it’s even uncharted territory.  Other companies have ideas about how to approach these media creators and may even have tried a few things.  A third group of companies has sophisticated programs with high visibility.

If your company is new at this, or tried a few things that may or may not have worked, it’s a fair bet you are seeking ways to demonstrate the value of working with social influencers.  Here’s how to demonstrate value in the future.

Clear Expectations

Create clear expectations of what you want the results to be.  Are you asking the influencer to do social media on the go — spontaneous posting on social networks  — as they experience your product or service? Or are you looking for a thoughtful report or image stream after the fact?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I hope to get out of this relationship?
  • What volume do I expect?
  • Are there deadlines I hope to meet?

Fair Exchange

A fair exchange is “I’ll give you X and I expect Y.”  What “X” and “Y” are for your organization could be different. If the social influencer is creating content for your digital properties, fair exchange might include compensation and credit for the content. If the content is created on the influencers’ blog or social network, then fair exchange may be your ability to promote that content on your organizations’ channels.  Making sure that the “deal” works for everyone and that everyone’s intellectual property is protected, might include an actual contract. Or a clearly defined email. Or as the organization, you might use the photos or works under Creative Commons licensing. There are millions of variations of these ideas and organizations and content creators should always consult professionals related to contracts and other legal matters.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Have I been clear about what I expect?
  • How have I communicated my expectations?
  • Do I need a contract?
  • Should I consult a lawyer or contract administrator for assistance?

Nurture The Relationship

Getting to know influencers that may align with your brand takes time and research.  There are many ways to find those influencers organically and many tools that help identify influencers using tags and  algorithms. Even if you have the best tools, it’s still important to get to know each influencer, their expertise and how they approach brand relationships.  It’s no different than joining the local chamber and getting to know other chamber members at networking events.  The relationships need to be built over time.

Some things to consider:

  • How can I develop influencer relationships?
  • Are there groups to join?
  • What tools should I explore?

Disclosure

If you want your future influencer relationships to be professional and ethical, they must include elements of disclosure. The influencers, by law, must identify brand relationships with disclosure statements on blog posts, and identify paid relationships using hashtags like #ad and #client on networks such as Instagram and Twitter.  

  • Have I discussed disclosure with the influencer(s) I’m working with?
  • Are we meeting my organizations ethical and professional guidelines?
  • Are we in compliance with current laws regarding disclosure?

I’ve matched brands with influencers on a wide variety of promotions and campaigns, and it’s easy to get off track.  By creating clear expectations, nurturing the relationships and developing clear expectations including strong elements of disclosure, you can develop value for your organization with influencer campaigns.

Is Your Facebook Group a Mob or Community?

School, child, kid.

Spend any amount of time on Facebook these days, and you witness people traveling in gangs, rising up because serious harm has been done to someone or something. Virtual vigilantes. It could be inspired by the upcoming presidential election, or world events, but the general mood is shifting.

In the early days of Facebook, the network was largely positive, but the sheer size of Facebook and the mountain of content we see daily, is changing the way social media managers need to approach their pages.

This is especially true for groups, which often have a higher degree of controlled access. If you’re managing a Facebook group, it’s a challenge to keep the community moving along.

Good Communities Need Moderation

The best Facebook communities have a good moderator – one or two people (Facebook calls them Administrators) who guide the community along, keep the conversation going and, when necessary re-direct the conversation when it strays from the purpose of the group. Two great examples of groups which I participate in (which are by invitation only, so I can’t link to them here) are the Solo PR Pros Facebook Group and the San Antonio Bloggers Group on Facebook.

Both have amazing administrators which guide the discussion and set the tone for how the group navigates each day. But they also have structure, which is equally important.

Good Communities Need Structure

Although structure in Facebook groups can be very informal, it does create a backbone for the administrators. In the San Antonio Bloggers Group, the administrators have posted guidelines on what types of posts and conversation are allowed and guides to the members’ Twitter handles or Instagram channels. This prevents repetition in the thread and connects seasoned members with newer members.

“A moderator’s job is easy when the purpose behind a group is clear from the beginning and guidelines are clearly posted to help lead the way,” says Stacy Teet, moderator of the San Antonio Bloggers Facebook group. “One of the most difficult parts of managing any large group–online or offline– is keeping all the cars on the track following the same locomotive. Members are as diverse as they come, each with their own individual personalities, preferences and ideals, but if you build a community centered around a common interest, topic or goal and you keep the group focused on that one thing, positive momentum should take care of the rest.”

In the group for solo public relations professionals, the group files include templates, conference information and other information to help its members be better at what they do.

“One of the ways that we keep content fresh for our group is by listening. We actively listen to conversations to keep a pulse on what members need to support them in their day-to-day challenges,” says Karen Swim, president of Solo PR Pro, which offers the closed Facebook group for its paid members. “Knowledge of our audience also enables us to spot trends, information, resources and tools that would be of interest to the community and deliver content accordingly.”

But what happens when that Facebook turns into a mob?

I have participated in several groups where certain posts brought out the mob mentality and discussions got heated. When this happens, it’s tough for administrators to keep the peace, much less manage (what used to be called) “civil discourse.”

What can you do to manage the community back to a peaceful, yet talkative, state?

First, invoke the “guidelines” doc. Strong Facebook groups have a document that outlines what is and isn’t appropriate to post in the group. It also highlights what types of content are inappropriate and how that type of content will be handled.

“If a discussion begins that doesn’t relate to the group, a moderator can ask members to continue the discussion outside the group. If the group starts to veer off course in their day-to-day or general conversations, the moderator should restate the purpose of the group,” says Teet.  “Ask members to reread and acknowledge posted guidelines.”

Second, if you don’t have a guidelines document for your group, now might be a good time to think about it. Once it is created, point members to it from time to time so they know it’s there. They might even go read it!

As an administrator, it’s your job to keep the conversation moving, so if that means biting your tongue, redirecting the conversation, hiding or removing inappropriate posts or working with individual members behind the scenes, think through the outcome you desire and then figure out how to get there.

The needs of the community almost always outweigh the impact of any individual post or member. It might be prickly for a while, but the good news about Facebook Groups, the conversation moves on quickly and will soon be forgotten. Can you say ‘squirrel’?

What Facebook Wants Small Business to Know about Advertising

FBbuttons-cropped

Last week, I attended a “Boost Your Business” workshop sponsored by Facebook. It’s the second time I’ve attended a Facebook-sponsored seminar since they moved their SMB division to Austin.

For all the criticism about this social network and all the changes that cause upheaval for organizations trying to navigate Facebook’s changing landscape, you have to give them credit for trying. By Facebook’s own admission, small businesses in the US are their real opportunity to grow revenues.

Think about it for a minute. You are a brand new business. You have a limited budget. Where else could you start to reach your customers with an investment of $25? You certainly can’t touch the traditional advertising outlets of print, radio and television unless you’re prepared to spend $10,000 or more PER MONTH. Digital ad networks won’t even talk to you unless you’re prepared to spend significantly over time.

Small businesses can afford to advertise on Facebook and they can be successful doing it.

Here are some key points made by the Facebook team during the seminar.

  • Facebook has 1 billion users on mobile daily. DAILY. No matter how small your small business, chances are a key segment of your potential customer universe is on this platform.
  • 1 out of 5 minutes spend on mobile devices is either on Facebook or Instagram. Since Facebook has integrated the advertising choices to include advertising on Instagram, this is a great way to expand your advertising audience, especially if you have great visuals.
  • Once a day is key to engagement. The Facebook SMB team shared that small businesses who post a minimum of 3-5 posts a week will have the best success. In fact, they shared that if you are posting more than once per day, you are actually stealing from your own engagement because you’re not getting the full benefit of the 24 hours of life in a post. (What I WISH they had shared was the average page size for which this statistic is valid).

The typical small business owner wears many hats and choosing and placing advertising is just one more burden. While the process can seem daunting, here are four takeaways from the Facebook seminar that can turn a burden into an opportunity.

  • Boosted posts are the most elementary way to begin advertising. However, they lack the precision of more targeted ads and are often more costly per “click.” Smart small businesses revise and refine targets over time.
  • Choose one objective for your campaign – it could be page likes, website visits or purchases; then target your audience and the amount you will spend to reach them.
  • Test, test, test. If an ad is not performing as you had hoped. Start over. Try a different image, a different target, a different amount.
  • Change your ad frequently. The Facebook team recommends that ads should be changed every 3-4 weeks.

The good news for small business owners is that Facebook continues to develop resources to assist this sector. Here are a few:

  • In the Facebook Ads Manager window, the help tab pulls up the most commonly asked questions as you can see from the graphic here.

help screen for FB

The biggest piece of advice from the Facebook team: set it and forget it is NOT an option.

How has your advertising experience been on Facebook?

Is It Time to Invest in Instagram?

Is It Time to Invest in Instagram-

My clients ask this question frequently. Up until recently, I usually answered this question with a resounding “NO.” I love Instagram and use it myself, but it posed significant challenges to my clients, for two reasons. First, many struggle with creating images that are aspirational or that include a soft brand message. Second, Instagram has been very clunky to manage, making it difficult for brands to incorporate conveniently into their social media practice.

In the last six months, Instagram has added significant features and functionality which have made me change my mind. Here’s why I’m changing my advice to my clients and counseling them to invest in Instagram.

Explore and Search Is Better

explore on IG

As Fast Company reported last year, the enhanced explore and search features on Instagram give brands a chance to target by topics in a way that wasn’t possible before. What does this mean for a brand? You can start following and listening to relevant Instagrammers while building your channel.

Geotagging Means Even Better Targeting

Geotagging on IG

If you’re a business with customers who post, then geotagging means you can see and track Instagrammers who visit your business and talk about you. This means you can also engage with them. In the example below, I’ve posted about a dish I liked at a local restaurant and was able to tag them before pushing it live on Instagram.

Visual Content is the Key

Sounds obvious, right? But it’s surprising to see so many brands struggle with creating content where the visual element is front and center, and the text supporting it is secondary. This is what I want my clients to focus their social media practice on this year. It’s what is driving new social media users to Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope.

Manage Multiple Accounts

The biggest change of all for Instagram was just announced last week. And that is, the ability to switch between accounts. Instagram users can now manage up to 5 accounts from one app. Previously, you had to log out of your personal Instagram to log in to your brand channel. This new feature alone should drive additional brands to jump in to Instagram this spring.

But Remember….

Instagram is owned by Facebook, which is increasing integration for advertisers on both platforms. And while Instagram is easier than ever to use, it should still be part of a multi-channel strategy with goals, objectives, strategy and tactics to make it work for you.

If you want to dig deeper, here is a collection of stories about Instagram.

Want to Compare Instagram and Other Social Networks? 

How to Report Live Events on Social Media Channels

How To Report Live Events in Social Media Channels-cropped

Add the word “live” to your event and there’s automatic excitement. Every host who opens the show on Saturday Night Live, says “LIVE from New York…” and we pay attention. Television stations use “live”and “breaking news” to make us sit up and see what’s going on. In the radio years, a sure sign of something different was the voice of a very stern announcer saying “we interrupt this program to bring you…..” followed by whatever life-changing news was happening.

right now for reportersThe same can be said for live reporting on social media. Instead of the terms “live” and “breaking news” we often see a post on social media proceeded by all caps and HAPPENING NOW, especially on FB. On Twitter, we often see the term “BREAKING” on Tweets from reporters. The early premise of Instagram was that everything was “live” unless you tagged your photo with #latergram, but many users treat the Instagram as a look book rather than a breaking news platform.

You don’t have to be mainstream media or a big personality to generate excitement during a live event. There are numerous ways to use social media to cover your clients’ events live. Here are a few ideas and the pros and cons of each.

example of news media- using breaking

  • Brand-Only Posts: This is where you curate posts for the brand channels before, during and after the event.
    • Pro: It allows maximum control of the message.
    • Con: Only one point of view is represented. During large or multi-venue events, it’s easy to miss part of the action.
  •  Anonymous Contributors: Similar to traditional media, a variety of volunteers or reporters are given “assignments” and one person curates what they’re contributing into the brand channels.
    • Pro: Coverage includes many elements of the event.
    • Con: Someone needs to be at the controls, sorting through and posting photos, videos and other assets as you go along. There is a high margin for error.
  • Personality Posts: In this scenario, you are still gathering assets but they may be brand ambassadors or guest reporters with their own following.
    • Pro: The personalities give weight to your event.
    • Con: They can become the story.
  • Community Sourced Posts: Certainly you’re watching one or more hashtags, visitor posts and the @mentions column to sense the general excitement that is unfolding during the event. In this case, you can share, retweet or repost with a hat tip or thank you.
    • Pro: This shows the community you are watching and open to their point-of-view during an event.
    • Con: Like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.
  • Channel Take-overs: Some brands create excitement around an event with a directed channel takeover by a brand ambassador or celebrity. These are heavily promoted and often part of a larger campaign.
    • Pro: The intersection of the brand point of view and the celebrity’s point of view often leads to amazing results for both parties.
    • Con: Same as community sourced posts, you might be surprised in a different way or do damage to your brand.
  • Combination: When we assist a client with covering live events on social media, we often use a combination approach.
    • The Cardboard Kids Campaign for ChildSafe included brandposts, community sourced posts and a curated stream by key area bloggers into a Flipboard magazine.
    • The San Antonio Cocktail Conference also featured a combination of brand posts, anonymous contributors and directed contributions using social media influencers to cover the 5 day event.live music for Bohanans
    • When assisting a health care client during a one day women’s conference, brand-only posts were the focus due to the nature of the subject matter and the brand’s guidelines.

No matter how you cover your next live event, you need a plan and a moderator to make it all happen.

How do you help your clients cover live events in social media? Leave a comment.

 

Compare the Top 8 Social Media Networks

Compare 8 Social Media Networks with downloadable PDF  chart Don’t you wish it was easier to compare social media networks side-by-side? You know, a really cool chart to summarize what’s going on in the network, so you can answer client questions more easily or find that key statistic to drop into your presentation.

Keeping up with the news of each network is tough, even for communicators working in this area.  So I created  this side-by-side chart to compare the top 8 social media networks so I can answer the questions my clients ask more quickly and without duplicating my research string over and over again.

I compared Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope and Instagram and looked at 6 factors: network size, activity, devices and habits, cool facts, latest move and ownership.

Each network is so different. Sometimes it’s really hard to compare them. Size is important when you are counseling clients on using social media resources, but some networks may not report their size. The way social networks report their Activity can also be confusing, but it’s my hope that the activity metric gives an indication of what’s going on there. For the Devices and Habits category, I had been watching the switch to mobile use for my clients, but now that some of our biggest networks are on mobile only — like Snapchat and Periscope– the category had to change slightly.  The Latest Move section allows me to look at the business side of the network and how these networks are changing to meet the needs of their users. Ownership is an ongoing concern for me as a media watcher.  Who owns what is important and as you can see from the chart, the ownership strings are complicated.   Who doesn’t love a Cool Fact to share with their clients?

Comparing the Top 8 Social Media Networks Chart

Using 36 different sources, I gathered the information into this chart, which isn’t very readable here. So I’ve provided a download link below, so you can look at it more closely. Use it for your business or nonprofit, or maybe to win a trivia contest, but PLEASE, if and when you share it, please note and credit the sources of information in the accompanying citation sheet.

Social networks are growing and changing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Having a comparison chart helps me talk to clients about their mix of social channels. Maybe it will help you too.

What would you like to see on this chart the next time I update it?

Download the Social Media State of the Networks Comparison Chart. 

Finding & Scheduling Social Media Content

Girl looking through binoculars Part 4 in the Outside Channel Manager Series

Guest post by Jennifer Hatton

Time has flown by and we are already at Part 4 of our channel management series.

Our topic today is one of my favorite things to talk about in social media – Scheduling and Finding Content. There are so many assets you can use and questions you can ask to help fill your content calendar, regardless of the type of page you manage. Let’s discuss how to balance the type of messages you are sending to create a versatile schedule.

Scheduling –Use An Editorial Calendar

Great social media managers need to work to find content – it’s not magic. Scheduling content should be intentional and part of your overall process. The first step in effective scheduling is creating and using an editorial calendar. It does not have to be extremely detailed or on a fancy spreadsheet — although those are nice. An editorial calendar is a map where you plan out what you want to say, when you want to say it and mix your content so you can reach your goals and metrics but also stay relevant and interesting to your audience. Audience identification should be part of your onboarding, which we discussed in Part 2: The Warm Handoff.

Information you need to create an editorial calendar:

  • Social media platforms you will be using.
  • Audiences – customers, employees, stakeholders, partners, etc.
  • Best days of the week to post
  • Best time of each day to post
  • Metrics that you will be reporting

Example:

Date Post Time Message FB TW IG
12/01/16 8:45pm Please join us for our upcoming seminar on “How to Find Social Media Content” <NOTE: Link to FB event> X X

Using an editorial calendar will save you time by allowing you to schedule content ahead of time (do you use Sprout, Hootsuite, Facebook or another content scheduler?) in batches. You can create placeholders for when you are waiting on content from your client, such as an event or news piece. The rest can be done weekly or bi-weekly by doing it at all at once. Most social media managers, especially those who are external, have to be efficient with their hours, so they can’t post multiple times a day, every day manually. Plan ahead, save time and have a better variety of content – yes please!

Content Variety

Making sure your content is focused on helping you reach your metrics is important for us and for our clients. If you fill your page with self-serving sales pitches or constant talk about services or products, you will soon have a very small and inattentive audience.

This is where scheduling comes in!

Lay out the “must have” marketing messages, then see how you can organically find and schedule other messages with a share, or by asking a question or posting an infographic – make it interesting! Next you should layer in other types of content, that can be staff focused, client appreciation, educational or even funny. People learn and absorb information differently, so look at the way you are delivering your content to make sure you aren’t doing the same thing repeatedly and missing part of your audience. Have a mix of text posts, photos, videos, links to your website, links to other (trusted) sources, shares from partner pages and memes or infographics. Variety in your content and delivery method will make your page more interesting and effective.

Finding Content

Now that you have a fabulous editorial calendar and you know what content you have and what content you need, you can go to work collecting it.

Internal Assets

First take inventory of what internal assets you have. Look at:

  • Website
  • Photos
  • Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Team
  • Flyers/Mailers/Posters
  • Annual Events
  • Speeches
  • Presentations by company leaders

Often there is content all around you, but it’s easy to overlook. Remember that your audience doesn’t see what you see every day, so linking them to helpful or informative pages on your website is good. Share photos of employees to show the human side of the business and especially any recognition they receive. A few of my clients have the most views and shares when an employee award is posted in social networks. They have an enormous internal audience on their social channels — it boosts morale to see their co-workers honored and promoted on the company page.

External Assets

Next, look at external assets including websites, social media accounts and newsletters from among your partners, topic authorities, sponsors, industry experts.

Interest lists are a good way to mine for content. Twitter lists take time to set up, but save a whole lot of time when you need content for your channels. Facebook lists are a little more challenging, simply because they are connected to your personal account and not your business page, but they are still helpful to flag channels to review later. There are other tools you can use including Mention and Post Planner that will search by topic and key words to help you find relevant articles or posts online.

Taking the time to schedule out your posts will not only save you time but takes your social media networks to the next level. Using a diverse content gathering strategy creates efficiencies for an outside channel manager, and increases the interest in your posts.

Jennifer Hatton photo

Jennifer Hatton manages social media channels –from the outside–for clients in healthcare, tourism, retail and the hospitality industry.

 

 

Want to learn more?

Check out Part 3: Using a Critical Eye to Assess Your Social Media

Read Part 2: The Warm Handoff Key to Managing Channels

Start with Part 1: Managing Social Media From the Outside  

Using a Critical Eye to Assess Social Media Channels

magnifying glass on a blue background Part 3 in the Outside Channel Manager Series

You’ve just taken over managing social media channels for a client and they, of course, want you to immediately answer the question: “how are we doing?” Before you can answer that question, you should look over each social media network with a critical eye.

Look at Channel Activity

Activity on each channel is easy to see and, in most cases, relatively easy to analyze.  How frequent are the posts? In the last week?  In the last month? Clients who have turned to outside channel managers often have erratic posting behavior – 3 posts this week, no posts the next. That’s why they hired you—they don’t have time to manage it successfully themselves.   With your critical eye, and some quick addition, you can tally up the posts for the month and see immediate gaps that can be filled.

A page from a Twitter account showing analyticsNext, analyze your audiences’ age, gender and other key demographic information. Each network offers varying amounts of this information on their channels. For Facebook pages, look at the insights to see the breakdown of ages and genders for your page. Use Twitter analytics to see age, education, income and occupation.

Finally, you should look at your channel growth. New followers/fans versus lost followers/fans. Are you growing or shrinking? If you want to look at that for Instagram, you can try Iconosquare to see a breakdown of new and lost followers. These stats are available on Facebook and Twitter too.

A screen grab from an Instagram analytics platform

Content Review

For small channels, you can do a review of postings for the current or previous month and figure out the “best” and “worst” posts. Usually the best post has the most amount of activity – shares, likes and comments – or some combination of the three. The worst post is one with little or no activity.  Compare one of each of those for each network you are managing and look at why. Is it the content itself? Is it the tone of voice? Is it the time of day it was posted?

You won’t have all the answers on this immediately, but if you do this regularly, you will start to see a trend of what’s working and what’s not. And will see differences emerge between channels. Then you can move your client toward better content over time.

There are numerous tools that will evaluate content against these factors. If you’re using Sprout Social (one of my favorite tools), you can scan the Sent Messages report to easily see which posts have the most activity and then click through to see why. True Social Metrics, a deeper analytics program, has numerous tools for evaluating best and worst posts against your own content and against competitors.

What to Tell Your Client

You can use these ideas to look critically at your client’s social media channels. Repeat the process until you see trends emerge and you are able to get better results from your content tests. Sometimes it takes months to see what works on a new channel; other times, you have one great post that opens the door to a successful content stream.  So when your client asks “how are we doing” you will be able to summarize past trends and growth which helps frame the future practice.

Coming next: Part 4, Scheduling and Finding Content When You’re an Outside Channel Manager 

In case you missed it:

Part 1: Are You An Outside Channel Manager? 

Part 2: Warm Handoff Key to Managing Outside Channels

Warm Handoff Is Key to Managing Channels

A runner handing a baton to another runner Part 2 in the Outside Channel Managers Series

Guest post by Jennifer Hatton

It is rare these days to begin working with a new client who doesn’t have at least one live social media channel.  Many clients have two or more channels that are “live” and because of that we have a process to make sure we get the information we need and get off to a good start. It’s called the warm handoff.

The warm handoff is a term used in tech to categorize a  service or support issue for which everyone on the team knows what’s going on.  A cold handoff is one in which information is missing or a ball gets dropped along the chain.  We of course prefer a warm handoff when we onboard as channel managers, which means you have everything you need to get started.

Onboarding Existing Channels

Getting a verbal or written download from the previous channel manager is the first step. Learn all you can by asking them questions such as:

  • What is your process for posting and reviewing content?
  • Where do you get content that is not directly from the client? Other organizations’ Facebook pages/Twitter accounts, websites, etc.
  • What gets the most response from followers?
  • What is the least popular (but maybe necessary) content?
  • In your opinion, what is the tone and voice?
  • Is there an approved strategy?
  • Anything else that is important or noteworthy?

There are times when the person you are relieving is not available.  When this happens, you can use the same questions, but you’ll be answering them by observing the channels directly.

State of the Channels

Now is the time to start digging into the channels and do a mid level “state of the channels” review.  Go through the pages. Look at everything. A good place to start are the bios – are they complete,  still relevant, using the correct hashtags, do the links work.  For Facebook, take a long look at the “About” page to make sure hours, links, long and short descriptions, and the custom URL are all filled out. Double check the type of page while you are there. One surprise is often the organization forgot to claim their page name and URL.  Check that too.

Secure the Channels

Security is important but we frequently see clients who get busy and forget about their channel security.  Who has access to the channels? Do you need all those page managers?  What email addresses are linked to Twitter and Instagram? Use a password keeper application or a document to list all the channels and log-in details.

Passwords should be different for each channel and changed whenever you change channel managers.  A yearly security and password update is also recommended to keep you and your client safe. There are easy to use password applications that not only save your passwords but help you create new ones, too. One example is Last Pass (link to site) but there are several to choose from.

Check All the Images

The last step in reviewing the state of the channels is to look at images. Check for current logos, make sure sizing is correct on profile photos and that images are credited properly. Facebook cover photos should be refreshed periodically. As a new channel manager, you have the opportunity to plan ahead to switch them out at least quarterly to keep the page looking fresh and visually interesting.

To sum it up, ask lots of questions! The more you know the easier it will be to onboard as a new channel manager. What tips do you have to make sure you have a warm handoff?

In Part 1, we looked at the keys to being a successful outside channel manager.

In Part 3, we’ll look at how to review your channels with a critical eye.

Jennifer HJennifer Hatton photo atton manages social media channels –from the outside–for clients in healthcare, tourism, retail and the hospitality industry.

Managing Social Media from the Outside

Outside-Channel-Manager-girl-peering-through-blindsSometimes an organization needs help managing social media channels.  Someone to plan and post content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other channels as well monitor conversations and lead the way when customers ask questions or need help.

In these situations, organizations might turn to outside channel managers. They might lack that skillset in their internal team. Perhaps the organization has shifted their marketing communications’ team priorities. Or they might want an outside organization to help in coaching to a new level of proficiency. An outside channel manager can look objectively at the current practice and help develop stronger social relationships, better content flow and engage audiences with a set of fresh eyes.

It doesn’t matter why the organization needs an outside channel manager. What’s really important is that you can step in and accomplish your clients’ goals as an outside counselor. So how do you do that successfully from OUTSIDE the organization? With a sound strategy, smart processes and good communication, you can manage social media channels from the outside.

Sound Strategy Is the Key

You may be taking over channel management in the “muddy middle” of a transition or after the channels have started to slip.  It’s time to ask lots of questions. What were the goals and objectives for the networks? What’s working? What doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark?  If there is a planning document or strategy that framed their previous practice (assuming it will be shared with you), use it to frame next steps. Set some interim goals and objectives. We had one client who had lots of great opportunities for storytelling and great content too, but their output was inconsistent and infrequent.  By creating interim objectives for the level of output on each channel, we could see an immediate lift in the conversations on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Right Tool for the Right Job

Finding the right tool to monitor, schedule and comment is necessary for efficient management from the outside. It’s important to match the size of the clients’ network needs and budget with a tool that will help you create efficiencies for them. And the tools change all the time! What you used for a project one year ago may not be the right choice. Make a decision on tools early, when your client has social media top of mind because in 2-3 months, they won’t be as eager to make the expenditure.

Communicating From the Outside

You have to be creative when communicating from the outside. Creating simple client touchpoints is important. One way to do that is to share wins as they happen– maybe that Twitter post got a huge number of retweets or you’ve never seen so many comments on a Facebook post or Instagram photo. Just as important is creating regular communication to report metrics and analyze the program. Depending on the size of the project and the clients’ needs, this could be weekly or monthly. A regular group email to the entire team goes a long way to keep everyone informed.

We’re Just Getting Started

There’s so much more to share about successfully managing social media channels from the outside.  We’re going to break down the outside channel manager best practices over the next three weeks and look at how to onboard successfully, how to source and schedule content and how to look at the social channels with an objective eye.

We’ll start next week with “The Warm Handoff.”

What strategies do you use to manage client channels from the outside? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.