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.