Social Media Marketing, Team of One: How to Build a Strategy When You're at it Alone

Nisreen Galloway is a digital marketer and foodie with a strong background in writing, graphic design, and social media. She began her marketing career as an intern at Yelp and then worked at several B2B and B2C companies in the food and luxury markets, focusing on content marketing, graphic design, and social media management. Nisreen lives in Boston with her loving boyfriend, fridge full of spaghetti squash, and temperamental, but adorable cat Lilly.

After four years of social media management, I’ve learned that small companies are my jam. While I learned a lot from interning and working for a mix of larger national and local brands, I’ve found my nest of comfort in small companies with big dreams. In these smaller teams, I’ve had the pleasure of producing B2B and B2C social media content across various platforms.

However, the one constant on my resume is that in these smaller companies, I’m often a social media team of one. And while I’d be the first to recommend the experience to every driven college grad, there was definitely a harsh learning curve filled with missed holiday posts and mistakes. Eventually, with practice, the right tools, and an amazing network of mentors and resources, I finally found my step and began creating and executing successful social media strategies.

If you’re like me and on starting a social media role on a small team, hopefully some of these tips can help you get started.

Get started.

So it’s your first week. You’ve got ideas for Facebook Live, memes lined up for Twitter, and you think you’re ready to go. But what do you do first? Before you begin planning content, it’s important to outline and review existing content, platforms in use, and assets. This will help you organize not only your ideas, but the landscape with which you’ll be working in. For instance, do you have all the passwords you need to login to existing social channels? Do you have access to old analytics? Do you have to create any new accounts? Taking stock of what already exists in terms of platforms and content is key to keeping you organized and helpful in proving value and skill in your first few days.

TIP: Google spreadsheets and Trello boards are great tools to organize and make note of your company’s currently social media status. These platforms are also easy to share with other team members so if you’re unavailable for any reason, these notes are easily accessed.  

Personally, I’ve found that while a company website may list their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few lost and inactive branded Pinterest and Instagram accounts. Take stock of all existing channels, update passwords and usernames, and archive those that don’t make sense for your new strategy.

Now that you know what content is out there, you can use analytics, team insight, and what you know about your industry to brainstorm and begin strategizing your new plans and goals. When you’re in a smaller company that may not have formally had a social strategy or a dedicated social media marketer, it’s helpful to have not only a thorough analysis of how their old content performed, but have a detailed overview of what you plan to do and how you will measure success so everyone is on the same page.

Create a strategy that is realistic.

Even though you may want to commit to multiple daily posts on each platform, 5 new videos a week, and 2 live stories on Instagram, if you’re operating a team solo, you may not be able to reach those goals…yet. Talk with your managers to determine what KPIs and ROIs are important for your company and come up with a baseline of what success will look like. It’s helpful to create a bulk amount of evergreen content you can share and then supplement that with day to day posts as things pop up. I’ve always found creating a content calendar especially helpful and recommend using Hootsuite and Sprout Social to get organized and planned out ahead of time.

TIP: Hootsuite has a lot of free features, but many that are behind a paywall. As a solo social media manager, some of the tools they offer are behind a paywall that may not make sense for your budget or team. I recommend taking a look at a variety of social media management tools that best align with your strategy. For example, if you’re going to focus on Twitter and Facebook a lot, Hootsuite may make sense because of its multiple streams, free integrations with Facebook and Twitter, and cheaper campaign management. However, if your content will be more visually driven on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, looking into platforms like Sprout Social or Later might make more sense as they have more visual representation of content.

While you’re building your strategy, don’t forget to think about analytics. Analytics are key to maintaining and growing your social audience, especially when you’re working on a small team. Often, those numbers will be a helpful driving force in creating content that is hitting your engagement numbers or knowing when to rethink your approach. On a larger note, it’s also helpful to have social media reports that can show how your initiatives are supporting bigger company goals. Sometimes, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in building campaigns and content that it can be hard to remember the bigger picture.

Creating custom reports for your team will help you stay on track and remember that social media should be supporting the overall company goals. For reports, I have used the Hootsuite analytic platform but prefer the detail in Google Analytics to measure campaign success. If your experimenting with live stories on Instagram and Facebook, make sure you know which KPIs are important to your team and how you will capture them. Both Facebook and Instagram have their own analytic platforms that can be helpful for grabbing quick numbers.

Know your resources.

From finding the best place for free stock photos to adding giphy to your web browser, it’s important when you’re going it alone to have backup when things get tough and you have questions. I’ve found solace in this Facebook group, but also find the e-newsletters, Boston Content, and blogs of some of the social scheduling platforms I’ve used particularly helpful for staying up-to-date on new features and incorporating them into my strategies.

Going it alone can seem daunting but with the right resources and help, you’ve got this!

7 Influencer Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

Kathleen Ohlson is a writer and editor with over 10 years of experience. Previously, she was a high tech reporter covering various topics, including 9/11 and virus attacks. You can follow Kathleen on Twitter, @kaohlson.

Influencer marketing is where it’s at. Gone (well, mostly) are the days of traditional channels; now it’s all about the web and social media. With all of this competition, companies are relying on influencers to get their message – and their brand – to their audience.

Influencers – anyone from celebrities to athletes to everyday people – give a human, empathetic voice to your brand, developing authentic relationships between them and your audience.

But it’s lost some effectiveness recently. The demand to know what’s real content is higher now with the ramifications of the 2016 U.S. elections and new FTC guidelines. And the fallout continues. The New York Times recently revealed actors, companies, a Twitter board member and others allegedly paid for fake Twitter followers, while Unilever threatened to pull advertising from digital platforms unless Google, Twitter and others clean up fake news, racist and other inflammatory language.

So with all of these changes, where does that leave you? Here are some tips to follow this year to get more out of your influencer marketing strategy.

Keep it real.

In light of FTC guidelines, several companies announced programs and algorithms that would allow for greater transparency. For example, Facebook requires influencers to use its branded tool to identify when a shared post is actually part of a brand partnership. But companies are trying to figure out the new algorithms, while making sure their organic influencer content still reaches their followers and isn’t flagged.

One way you can make sure your influencer content reaches your audience is to ensure your influencers clearly disclose they’re being compensated for promoting your brand. Add in #ad or #sponsoredad in a post.

You’ll also need to be vigilant about fake followers and bot-driven engagement. Look for real results like conversions, downloads and product sales and go beyond likes, retweets, comments and click-throughs.  

Remember it’s not always in a name.

Brands have generally felt more comfortable working with well-known influencers, thinking that notoriety would help get more followers. But that’s changing for some companies with the behavior of some influencers and their costs.

The value of influencers isn’t their follower count; it’s their ability to capture the attention of their audience no matter what size it is. You might want to consider micro-influencers, who typically have thousands or tens of thousands of followers. They have a particular interest and expertise that revolves around a specific niche, such as fitness or beauty. Their enthusiasm for that specialty allows micro-influencers to offer a personal touch to their content, establishing them as a reliable voice. While they may not have the name recognition of macro-influencers, micro-influencers’ content generally resonates with their audience because they’re relatable. According to MarketingProfs, 30% of people said they were more likely to buy a product if was based on a non-celebrity blogger’s recommendation, while only 3% said they would consider buying a product if it was celebrity-endorsed.

Brands are now looking to amplify their messaging to smaller, targeted audiences and they’re seeing results. For example, meowbox, a subscription box service for cat owners, saw sales skyrocket after it started sending free boxes to micro-influencers in its target audience.

Stay connected.

Now that you’ve made connections to influencers, the key is to sustain that relationship. Why? They’ll be more invested in your brand. When they know you genuinely care about them, influencers will promote your brand with more enthusiasm. Influencers may even adopt the role of brand ambassador for you.

If your relationship with influencers is more transactional, their followers will see right through that and will less likely be engaged. When you develop a partnership with your influencers, your followers will see that and your brand will have greater access to trends, feedback and new ideas.

Get back to business.

Now that you’re doing all this work, you’re going to want to see results.

Previously, influencer marketing was all about reach and awareness. Now it’s about expanding into driving conversions and engagement. You can track how much revenue influencers bring in, even though there isn’t a monetary value in getting mentioned by them. For example, assign specific UTM parameters to your influencers so you can track what visitors do when they come to your site. Maybe have your influencers share unique promo codes with their audience. Each time a customer uses that code, you can attribute revenue to that specific influencer.

Look into the lens.

Video marketing is where it’s at for marketing, with all of the different options (YouTube Live, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, etc.) and new technologies making it more accessible, immersive and engaging.

According to MarketingProfs, the average daily amount of time that U.S. adults spend watching digital video content has almost doubled since 2012, increasing from 35 minutes to 72 minutes. And most of that time is spent on mobile devices.

So why do you need your influencers in front of a lens? Your audience wants to watch real people being themselves on camera, rather than a super-polished production. And the most successful influencers show what’s happening behind the scenes or at that moment in their lives.

Expand your footprint.

While the majority of the action may be focused on Instagram, don’t limit your platform use. Look at Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and even Pinterest.

Most influencers base their pricing on their following, engagement and demand. If the bulk of their offers are on Instagram, then that’ll drive up their pricing. But if you start using other platforms, you may not get the same reach as Instagram, but you’ll likely get better ROI if you pay less and get better conversions.

Go on a journey.

There’s definitely an opportunity for influencer marketing to make an impact at every step of your buyer’s journey.

During the inspiration stage, influencers can discuss common questions about products and services, while they can provide educational and valuable content such as tutorials at the consideration stage. Influencers can incorporate promo codes with your content at the decision/purchase stage to sway audiences. Storytelling at any of these stages will elevate your brand’s image and foster a connection between influencers and their followers.

Yes, there are a lot of changes to how you need to engage with your influencers and how that impacts your influencer marketing strategy -- and there are challenges with new algorithms and regulations, as well as what trends you need to follow. But the most important factor to remember is the importance of developing – and maintaining – an authentic relationship with your influencers and audience.

Boston Write Now: Highlights From Our Latest Event

Sean Malvey is a digital content marketer with a strong background in data analytics, project management, and international security (he’s a former Interpol agent). Sean currently writes for the DailySoccerDigest.

Last Thursday night, Boston Content teamed up with Wayfair to organize a panel discussion and networking event featuring some of the city’s leading content and copywriting pros. In all, 212 word nerds attended, enjoying pizza, drinks (provided by Drizly), and a whiskey tasting from Relativity.


Co-Executive Director Katie Martell welcomed the crowd, highlighting some upcoming spring #BosCon events, including a writing workshop and a field day. Martell then introduced the event’s moderator, Ann Handley, a popular marketing expert, and the WSJ best-selling author of Everybody Writes.

image1 (1).jpeg

Handley shared some anecdotes from her life and career, then passed it over to the panelists, who were:

  • Amanda Morrison (Senior UX Copy Manager at Wayfair): Worked years in various copywriting projects before honing her skill in customer journey content strategy (CS).
  • Beth Dunn (Product Editor-in-Chief at Hubspot): Winning the “most circuitous career path” award for her background as a former paleontologist, chef, and romance novel editor; Dunn is now a leading figure in Hubspot’s UX and content writing space.
  • Dana Young (Manager of Content Strategy at Brightcove): Worked under a variety of titles in her content marketing journey. She emphasized the importance of CS, especially in the app industry.
  • Michael Baker (Senior Manager of Global Content Strategy at Crimson Hexagon): coming in a close second to Dunn on “career circuity,” Baker once worked as a farmer and pre-school teacher. He’s also the former Executive Director of Boston Content, and in his current role, he weaves meaning out of the trillions of social media data points at Crimson Hexagon.

After the panel introductions, Handley posed some questions:

Q. Is there a real difference between content & copy?

  • Baker: No, not really. The audience doesn’t care. Don’t forget the goal here is always conversion.
  • Rest of panel: Agreed with Mike, but also depends on your company. It can be helpful to separate the two for organizational purposes.

Q. How do you get in the mindset of the customer?

  • Baker: Build legitimate customer personas. We (Crimson Hexagon) talk to our  sales and customer service teams, find out what questions customers have, and build from there.
  • Dunn: Live customer feedback is very helpful, also Hubspot uses a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to make decisions grounded in data.
  • Morrison: Our content team holds weekly meetings to review upper and lower funnel content to vet the tone/voice of our writing. We read it out loud, and if it doesn’t sound like how you’d say it to your friend, then it gets edited.

Q. What skills are helpful to have for your career? And how did you acquire them?

  • Morrison: Organizational management skills are incredibly useful for us right now. I’ve acquired these skills by reading from experts like Karen McGrane and Abby Covert.
  • Dunn: I’ve had to become more globally conscious with my work because Hubspot translates its content into various languages, and has readers all over the globe. You have to be cautious what you create. What reads well here may not translate so well in another culture.
  • Baker: Learn how to own the means of production, (and) you don’t need to get in line and wait. The objective is to get content published, so take on new work and teach yourself new skills.

Q. How do you choose where to insert your copywriting in the marketing funnel, especially with so many different content related touchpoints?

  • Morrison: We (Wayfair) view our website as a storefront, always making sure every piece of content is clever and clear for the user.
  • Young: It can definitely get blurry at times, but the same voice needs to be in all parts (email/product/corporate/website/etc.)
  • Dunn: Your CS should stress the continuation of the story for the user. You don’t want the user thinking they signed up for Princess Bride, and they get the Exorcist!

In the final minutes of the discussion, the panel opened up for audience questions, many of which focused on how best to collaborate with internal departments and teams. Panelists offered advice like taking joint projects early on in the process -- not midstream -- or hosting multiple department teams in joint Q&A events, to help break silos and establish clear lines of communication.

One audience member asked, “How do you manage the hiring process when it’s time to scale up?” Morrison provided the most illustrative response by explaining that Wayfair takes a headcount each year across departments to determine if each entity is scaling at the same pace, and then her team makes hiring adjustments accordingly.

After the last question, many stayed to network, and lined up for signed copies of Handley’s popular writing guide, Everybody Writes.


Stay tuned for details on Boston Content’s next event -- details to come soon! Sign up to be notified here.

A Marketer's Approach to Creating Ethical Content

Dan Shewan is a web content specialist and journalist based in New England. He is a regular contributor to the WordStream blog, where he writes about everything from emerging search technologies to content marketing strategy. Dan’s essays and journalism have been featured in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, Pacific Standard, The Daily Beast, The Independent, Dig Boston, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.

In 2013, Buffer shocked the world of content by publishing the salaries of every member of staff on its payroll.

Many people dismissed Buffer’s commitment to radical transparency. They said it was crazy, that it would tank investment, that merciless headhunters would poach Buffer’s best and brightest.

The naysayers were wrong.

Thanks to the courage of startups like Buffer, blogging about employee salaries is no longer viewed as exposing sensitive proprietary information; it’s seen as a positive, desirable brand attribute, and rightly so. But something that far fewer companies seem willing to talk about or even acknowledge is the profoundly negative impact that many of the companies we rely upon and work with are having on their workers, their users, and society as a whole – and our complicity in it.

The ease and convenience promised by today’s tech often comes at great cost. Facebook may be able to offer advertisers the ability to target dozens of highly granular audience segments, but Facebook faced intense criticism when reports surfaced that it had shared sensitive data about the psychological well-being of schoolchildren in Australia and New Zealand with an advertiser. Twitter may be unbeatable for interacting with large audiences in real time, but Twitter has failed utterly to consistently enforce its own abuse policies and protect its users, and even issued temporary bans to victims of abuse. Amazon may be able to offer consumers delivery in one hour or less through Amazon Now, but the average Prime subscriber probably hasn’t heard of Amazon Flex, a virtually invisible network of independent contractors that delivers millions of packages for Amazon using their own vehicles, as part of a system with virtually no workplace protections in which drivers are forced to compete for delivery assignments using an Uber-style app.

Few companies are willing to risk losing revenue, users, or future acquisition prospects by weighing in on what are seen as largely political issues. Unfortunately, as inconvenient as it may be for Silicon Valley’s most prosperous startups, you can’t be an agent of transformative social change while enjoying the benefits of political neutrality. When you set out to “disrupt” things like public transportation by reinventing the bus for wealthy white people, or seek to capitalize upon an already predatory housing market rife with discrimination, you become part of the political landscape – particularly if you knowingly and repeatedly break the law in the pursuit of profit.

To complicate matters, many of us – especially straight white men – enjoy positions of such immense privilege that we’re more concerned with the click-through rates of our e-commerce campaigns than we are about the news of workers in Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Scotland who were reportedly forced to live in tents in the woods because they couldn’t afford to commute.

Simply put, it’s easy to ignore inequality and exploitation because we either directly benefit from them, or they don’t affect us.

Initiating a Dialogue About Ethics in Content

Sadly, there has been virtually no meaningful public discussion about the pervasive, structural inequality in tech among the content marketing community. For an industry with so much self-described “thought leadership,” this is as surprising as it is disappointing. It seems we’re much more comfortable talking about the ethics of accepting bribes from brands than whether we should be working with immoral tech companies in the first place.

Having difficult conversations about inequality in tech doesn’t necessarily mean trash-talking valued partners; all it requires is a commitment to the truth and the courage to voice it. Editorially speaking, there are very few ways to put a positive spin on a project like Uber’s Greyball tool or Palantir’s Investigative Case Management system, and even fewer ethical justifications for doing so – but content doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Someone has to write Palantir’s copy. Someone like you or me.

It’s never easy to be the person asking uncomfortable questions when everybody just wants to finish their work and go home. But we have to be those people, and one of the best ways to start talking about ethics in content is to frame these conversations as an extension of your company’s brand values.

If your company offers a way to ask questions of senior management, such as a regular company meeting, ask how – or if – ethical business practices factor into your company’s growth strategies. If you’re comfortable doing so, consider running a series of workshops to talk about how your company’s partnerships reflect your brand values. If your editor asks you to write something that conflicts with your personal ethics, ask how this content truly serves the best interests of your audience.

What else can you do? Before you start your next content project, ask yourself some difficult questions:

  • Does this content overlook, rely upon, or otherwise obscure unethical business practices to make its case or provide value to the reader?
  • How racially, economically, and socially diverse is the audience you’re writing for, and is this audience truly representative of the kinds of people who could benefit from your content?
  • Does any aspect of this content project conflict with your personal morals? If so, what would you need to do or change in order for you to stand by your content in good conscience?
  • Will your content meet the ethical standards of professional journalists? If not, why not?

We don’t need to resort to hyperbole or invective to start a conversation about unethical business practices in tech, but we do need to agree that the current system is unsustainable and that we all have to try harder and do better. Yes, we all have bills to pay, but we also have a responsibility to speak out against business models that encourage the exploitation of the disenfranchised and reward callous disregard for basic human decency.

And if we really can’t get behind ethics in content for its own sake, there’s always the profit motive for a more ethical approach to business.