Many social media teams worked remotely even before the pandemic hit. But these days, there’s more to the story.
Remote social media staff are almost certainly experiencing more stress than they used to be. Their content strategy has been shaken up, and they may be hesitant to meet up to get on the same page about it.
To stay productive, social media managers need to talk through remote work best practices. While many of these are common across roles, some deserve special consideration by social media teams:
Revisit Your Content Calendar
The most important job for your social media team is to publish content for your business. Coordinating content development can be tricky when different time zones, work hours, and social media platforms are involved. Misalignments can be avoided and solved by developing a comprehensive content calendar.
This calendar will show when pieces of content are scheduled for, what topics they cover, and who is in charge of each post. Reducing guesswork minimizes mistakes and makes everyone more productive.
Use Project Management Software
When working with any sort of remote team, you need to have a central hub to manage deliverables. A project management platform is how the rubber of your content calendar meets the road.
Use it not just to track projects on specific progress, but to host your content calendar, style guide, team roster, and whatever other documents your team needs to get work done. Set expectations on who’s responsible for updating what fields and when.
Project management software is critical for communication on remote teams. Activity feeds keep conversations about content accessible to the entire team. These tools also let social media staff share documents and photos, as well as brainstorm new topics and talking points for their campaigns.
Ditch the Timecards
Many managers worry about their remote teams putting in an honest day’s work. Measuring output rather than hours worked takes the stress off of everyone. Instead of worrying about hour logs, let their content’s performance do the talking.
For your social media campaigns, set deadlines to measure progress. Pieces of content should be submitted by a certain time and date. For longer projects, such as channel audits or keyword research, set checkpoints for review and potential pivots.
Provide a Tech Allowance
Not all remote workers have fancy computers and software at home. Most are doing the best they can with whatever is available to them. Make sure their tools don’t hold them back by providing a monthly technology allowance.
Survey your team to find out what they need, and treat this like a gym or health benefit. Perhaps a $50 credit each month is in order.
Don’t be picky about what your social media personnel spend this on. If a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is what they need for a productive setup at home, then so be it.
Make Meetings More Fun
Your social media team is full of creative minds. Appeal to their right brain by making meetings more fun.
At least once a week, perhaps at your whole-team meeting, play a game or go through an ice-breaker activity. This will keep team members loose, help them build stronger bonds, and maybe even inspire them to come up with a creative piece of content.
Keep track of the number of meetings you hold. Frequent meetings can be inefficient and increase the risk of employee burnout. Less frequent meetings that are more carefully planned and executed provide greater results.
Try on New Roles
Does each member of your team fit in their role? Consider whether they might be better suited to do something else while remote.
Roles need not be permanent. For example, you can create roles for ad buying, photo editing, copywriting, and trend research. If team members are skilled in more than one of those areas, you can switch them around to prevent burnout and find the best fit.
If you do play musical chairs with team roles, make sure you keep roles updated in your project management system. When a team’s members don’t see each other in person every day, it’s easy to get confused.
Focus on Retention
Finding and training a quality social media team is a task in and of itself. Don’t let the shift to remote work jeopardize the team-building work you’ve done.
Attracting and retaining top talent is tough in the best of times. When everyone is remote, it’s even more time-consuming and expensive to hire, train, and integrate new workers.
Think about your management style. Are you being supportive enough? Perhaps you need to ease up a little with criticisms, or relax restrictions on the hours when team members are expected to be online. Whatever it takes to retain your best team members is worth the effort.
One way or another, you’ll eventually need to fill a role. Get ahead of this challenge by developing a remote onboarding process. Making new hires comfortable as quickly as possible will keep the team firing on all cylinders.
Make Yourself as Available as Possible
Managing a remote team means balancing a lot of varying work schedules. While you can’t be online 24/7, the best way to take care of everyone is to make yourself as available as possible.
Be sure to let each team member know when you expect to be online. Encourage them to email or Slack questions even when you’re not. Respond as promptly as possible.
With that said, beware of burning yourself out. If a question can wait until dinner is over, spend the time with your family. While your team might need you at all hours of the day, you can’t neglect your interests and responsibilities at home.
The good news is, working remotely is something many social media teams have been doing for some time. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking they’ve already mastered its challenges.
During Covid-19, all of us are re-learning our roles and workflows. That includes your social media staff, and it’s your job to support them along the way.