Managing multiple social media accounts

Graphic showing managing multiple social media accounts

Trying to manage a brand or remain consistent in your messaging with audiences is near impossible when you don’t have control over all of your organisations social media accounts. This is an increasing problem for Marketing and Brand Managers and a sensitive subject – in some organisations centralised co-ordination of accounts can be perceived by some as taking over or trying to curb freedom of speech.

The counter argument is that localisation and relevance are important to the consumer. How can one centralised Social Media Manager understand all local markets and respond to local needs as well as a local manager can? Whilst this argument is valid, surely every marketer would agree to some common standards that need to be applied across all of a company’s social media presence.

Whilst the ease of social media makes this a modern problem for the marketer, situations like this are not new. I recall a time when everyone with a budget thought they could book display ads in the local press without needing to refer to the marketing plan or co-ordinate in any way.

So how do you establish a brand presence on social media if your organisation already has multiple social media accounts?

Whilst every organisation is different in terms of culture and objectives here is an approach that will apply to the majority of situations.

1. Establish your business objectives

What are you seeking to achieve by taking over ownership of accounts? Are you planning to rationalise the number of brand accounts, grow the overall presence, or provide a framework within which colleagues can operate their social media activities?

Be clear about what you are trying to achieve, with a persuasive reason why – both in terms of the benefit for the organisation and for the individuals you will be working with. My previous blog post provides some reasons that you might want to consider when shaping your objectives.

2. Obtain senior sponsorship

It is important to establish within the organisation that the brand/marketing/communications team is the rightful home for social media strategy and governance.

Other departments may play a vital role in communicating with customers and stakeholder groups eg. customer services, your helpdesk etc., however social media is ultimately about engaging with customers in a two-way conversation and brand reputation management.

Handled badly social media can result in more damage to brand reputation than anyone can imagine. A persuasive case can be illustrated with some of the many examples out there of social media management gone wrong. Get in touch if you need some examples.

3. Develop social media expertise and resource your team

To be believable as the custodians of social media communications in your organisation there your team needs the skills and experience to demonstrate authority. Credibility will be quickly lost if, after you have argued how important it is, you then hand over the reins to you most junior member of staff!

Who will be setting the strategy, managing the official accounts, and monitoring return on investment? Who will be producing social media analytics reports and how frequently? Who will be responsible for protecting that position and closing down any new rogue accounts? Take ownership of this and allocate team members to each task.

Social Media Analytics

3. Identify owners of multiple social media accounts

Find out just who in your organisation is tweeting on Twitter, updating Facebook pages, pinning on Pinterest and so on. What are their accounts are called, and how big is each following?

Make a judgement about how well each account is performing. It would seem counterproductive to take control of an account that is performing really well if centrally you can’t sustain that level of activity and risk losing engagement from followers.

If you are aiming to professionalise your social media presence, but allow individuals to continue with their own accounts, provide incentives for ‘getting on board’ for the social media managers. For instance, provide official avatars, Facebook creative and agree a consistent naming convention. Offer training and regular evaluation of accounts as a service to your local social media managers.

4. Document your social media strategy

Provide a documented strategy and communicate it throughout your organisation. Nothing works quite as well as a clear statement of ownership as the written word is more formal, and can be dated and circulated.

How best to communicate your strategy will be dependent on your organisation, whether you chose for it to be cascaded from a senior stakeholder, via middle management or via social media training workshops direct to the account holders.

Your strategy should include:

  • Which audiences you are trying to reach
  • Which social media channels you will be using
  • The objectives for each channel/audience
  • How you will achieve each objective
  • Consider frequency of messaging, tone of voice, key messages and tactics to be used
  • Measurement and evaluation

5. Include SMART objectives

Ensure that you establish and communicate organisational objectives for social media activity, for instance raising brand awareness, driving sales, customer satisfaction/engagement/feedback and so on. There may well be different objectives for different audiences and likewise for different social media platforms.
For example:

  • Grow Facebook likes by 100% by December
  • Achieve a retweet rate of 10% by year end
  • Increase LinkedIn network by 50% in 12 months

6. Avoid further social media account growth

All your hard work will be undone the minute your social media strategy is launched if the new appointee in Accounts decides to launch an unauthorised Twitter account. Once a social media strategy is in place you need to remain vigilant to ensure it is followed.

One way of achieving this is to regularly communicate results, insights and customer feedback from social media channels throughout your organisation. This will establish your team as the social media experts in your organisation, and should communicate the benefits of having a centralised, co-ordinated approach.

Official accounts can be listed on your website, so that there is a directory for staff and customers to refer to. As well as good promotion for your accounts, this gives a stamp of authority to the accounts listed.

7. What about personal social media use?

A question you will likely encounter – which is a related subject – is around personal use of social media whilst in the workplace. This is the field of Human Resources, but overlaps your area of responsibility. Be clear that you are managing social media for marketing purposes, but provide guidance. For instance you could provide standard wording that the individual (if permitted to use social media in the workplace) is expressing their own views, not that of the organisation. Work with HR to develop your company’s social media policy so that all bases are covered in the document.

How far you want to control social media in your organisation will be up to you, but one thing is for sure, a complete free for all is never going to have a positive outcome for your brand, or your customers for that matter.

Have you encountered similar problems in your organisation? How did you overcome them?

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Roisin Kirby is an experienced Marketing Consultant based in Nottingham (UK), specialising in education and services marketing. A Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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