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!