Forget Strategy: How do you Scale the Social Media Strategists

If you haven’t noticed, social media is kind of a big deal right now. How social media is managed at companies is radically different than it was 1 – 2 years ago.

Who owns social media strategy at your business? If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you own at least own part of it. 1-2 years ago social media strategy was one of many jobs the social media strategist had to do (even though it was the job title we preferred). Today most of you are doing social media almost exclusively and several of you may be a part of a team running social media.

If you’re the lone social media strategist who also does some other marketing or if you’re running a small team of people you are likely feeling the strain of scale.

Yes scaling the results of your social media efforts is challenging but I’m talking about the challenges of scaling the strategists themselves.  Here are my best two pieces of advice to help scale the social media strategists in your business.

You Can’t Own Everything, Don’t Try

It’s the natural reaction for the social media strategist to own all the channels and all the social media efforts for their business. This is a bad approach. Social media land grabs are ugly and don’t help anyone. It may have been necessary when you were getting started to ensure that things were being done right but now you should be sharing the love.

  • Don’t try and do it all yourself. You aren’t doing yourself or your company any favors.
  • Eventually social media will be a part of everyone’s job.
  • Your job is to figure out the best processes and train others to carry the torch.

Become the Enemy: Management

3 – 4 years ago management was the “enemy” of social media. They wanted processes and best practices and ROI. This was a problem because, for the most part, we didn’t have those things yet. We were still trying to stay on top of all the new products and services that seemed to be rolling out every hour. Management wasn’t wrong to want these things, it was just too early to give them the kind of answers they wanted. By now social media strategists should be able to answer these questions. And they should be requiring these answers from others.

Build a team: Even if it’s a cross functional team, you need a team of people to start implementing social media more broadly. Now’s the time to be a leader.

Manage more. Do less: This will be the hardest part for most social media strategists. Your job should be about enabling others to do social media which means you may not get to play on Twitter all day.

Work your way up the food chain: Instead of convincing your manager about the social media investments that need to be made, you should be talking to the VP or the CMO (or better yet, the CEO).

Evolve or Move On.

Some social media strategists won’t make this needed change. They’re starters and change agents, not managers and process people. That’s not a bad thing but it’s just the way things are.

A little over a year ago when I left HP and joined Waggener Edstrom, I was one person helping some of our clients execute social media. Today I run a team of 5 strategists. Half of our job is to figure out how do things no one else has done before. The other half is educating the account teams to do these things for their clients. My job is radically different than it was even just last year and I expect next year it will be much more different than it is today.

I’ve had to make the choice to adapt and grow with the industry. Some call this growing up. Some call this selling out. I just call it evolving.

Photo credit bBalakov

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About Tac Anderson

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.
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