10 steps for building an "uber" social team

Here are ten steps for building an internal social media team who'll be responsible for the listening (monitoring and response) process, as well as reporting and measurement of social media activities.

I’ve written this about direct employees, but of course small organisations can quite easily include volunteers in this.

1. Start with a large group of people from different departments who have expressed interest. You can narrow down later, but eventually this will be part of everyone’s job so it’s a good idea to get a sense of who’s doing it already and who’s generally into the idea.

2. Make sure someone from every member-facing department is included – membership, marketing, PR, advocacy, communications, publications, education, meetings, etc. Different people will be paying attention to different things, and that is exactly what you want. Make it truly interdepartmental.

3. Include people at all levels of the management hierarchy. It’s important to have people “on the ground” who are used to connecting with members – yes, like your receptionist who knows everyone – as well as people who are higher up and have knowledge of the strategic direction of the organisation. (Which of course I think everyone should have, but that’s for a different post).

4. Include people who have a capacity and pre-existing comfort level with certain social sites. You will get going much faster and better than if you have to train everyone from scratch. Make sure those people with existing social capital are ok with operating in those social spaces on behalf of the organisation. Make sure they check their privacy settings so they can easily keep personal stuff personal.

5. Build an inventory of existing social media activity. This should include any “official” experiments as well as member-generated stuff going on. List the name of the administrator or person managing the activity (group, site, account…).

6. Decide on how the team will collaborate. Each person will be responsible for listening and monitoring, and reporting back particularly interesting conversations or activity going on. Some teams work best by having a regular weekly meeting; others use an online tool to post information for the whole group to be able to see – either internally like Sharepoint or externally like a Groupsite. Everyone should know how to share something of interest, in some central location, even if it’s not specifically related to their own department.

7. Have policies in place so that everyone knows how they are empowered to engage and respond. Everyone on the team (at the very least, if not everyone in the organisation) should be able to freely (and professionally) engage in a basic level of conversation with members and stakeholders. With your collaboration system in place, create a simple process for asking the team how something should be handled if it requires more analysis. Incorporate this into your existing crisis communications plan; your PR/communications people presumably already have a funnel process should some contentious issue arise.

8. Establish a good content strategy. The key to managing staff resources for feeding social spaces and outposts is being able to repurpose content from different places in easy, shareable ways. The team should always know when there’s new material worth sharing in the social spaces they are monitoring.

9. Use the team to share and communicate internal workflow too. This is similar to no.8, but more about work than about content. If everyone knows what each department has coming up, they will be great at finding those sweet spots where they can use social media tools to build buzz for those activities, if appropriate. You’ll be able to provide a sense of the strategic direction of the organization too, if everyone knows what internal (or external) projects are a priority. 

10. Use qualitative and quantitative reporting to measure success. Develop a system the team can use to measure progress on a regular basis. This should include all kinds of anectodal feedback, (such as a printout of a tweet from someone saying they are psyched to come to your conference after hearing about it on Twitter). At first, report more than you need to – as you progress, you’ll refine what’s important to report based on alignment with specific objectives.