woman juggling social media icons

11 Tips for Managing Social Media Solo or On a Small Team

By: Sophie Maerowitz

July 18, 2019

popular science, engagement editor, ryan perry

Ryan Perry, Engagement Editor, Popular Science

In an era where audiences’ appetites for social media content is seemingly endless, producing, distributing and measuring social media content can be a Sisyphean task no matter the size of your team. Too often, social media management falls on a single individual or a small team, and the increasing number of social platforms to update—paired with the rapid pace of digital—are nothing if not daunting.

Despite these expectations, social media professionals can’t be everywhere at once. To help you avoid burnout while increasing productivity, The Social Shake-Up asked four social media professionals from the nonprofit, agency, media and entertainment spheres how they make the most of a small or solo team on social. Here are their top tips for doubling yourself, repurposing content and improving time management overall.

Do a full audit to assess where to spend your time. “One of the first things I did when I came on board was to look at our whole social media landscape of what was working and what was not,” said Ryan Perry, Engagement Editor, Popular Science.

Communicate a clear timeline. Sarita Nauth, social media manager at VH1 and influencer for her beauty brand Glam By Sarita, said it’s important to get specific about deadlines as they relate to your editorial calendar—especially if you’re working with an influencer. “Do they need to get their Instagram Story done in two weeks? Or do you have a more flexible timeline?”

north shore animal league, senior social media manager, nadine grindell

Nadine Grindell, Senior Social Media Manager, North Shore Animal League America

Collaborate across teams. “I collaborate with my operations team and medical staff, because they’re on the floor day in and day out,” said Nadine Grindell, senior social media manager at North Shore Animal League America. She asks those who work with animals for stories to use on social, relying on their photos and content ideas.

A small ad budget can go a long way. “Paid social media is no longer an option; it’s a necessity,” said Justin Buchbinder, social media director at global marketing and communications agency Finn Partners. If your leadership is wary of investing in paid social, try proving how far a dollar goes: “Even $100 will be enough to show the difference between paid and not—easily.” Start with a small monthly budget, and unlock more as time goes on.

Quality over quantity. Perry said social marketers should focus on quality, evergreen content in order to avoid spending too much of their time crafting short-lived articles and posts. The litmus test? If it were a part of your personal library, “it should be able to live on your bookshelf for years.”

Argue for a position dedicated to influencer management. Managing influencer relationships is a job unto itself, argued Nauth. “Having a staff person devoted to influencer marketing will also make influencers more likely to work with you.” That white glove treatment is key, and should include “putting influencers on a rotating events list and inviting them to parties.” If you don’t have any budget for influencers, let alone a new hire, “find talent available within your organization and get them on board.”

Investigate how your channel audiences differ. “Our Facebook audience is older than our Instagram audience, so I keep that in mind when I post,” said Grindell, adding that she might use the same photo on both Facebook and Instagram, but change the caption to something more colloquial and fun for the latter audience.

director of social media, finn partners, justin buchbinder

Justin Buchbinder, Director of Social Media, Finn Partners

Engage reactively for channel growth. Buchbinder stressed the importance of interacting with followers; liking, commenting and responding to their content. “I like doing some engagement when I’m waiting for my train,” he said. This “reactive” strategy is just as important, if not more, than “proactive” content creation and distribution.

Turn teammates’ trash into treasure. Perry said he sits in a weekly editorial meeting in which his colleagues brainstorm ideas. There, he hears a lot of rejected ideas. “For every two stories that get picked up, I get 12 other ideas to kick around for content inspiration. I might be the quietest guy in the room, but my gears are turning.”

Create a ROI checklist. To better assess what to prioritize, Perry keeps a “Worth My Time” checklist, which he said will likely differ from brand to brand. His main criteria are whether or not content will diversify routes to Popular Science’s website, increase subscribers or accelerate channel growth.

Generate content without borders. Ask: Can your content live in multiple places? “It’s essential to have a flow chart for content on a small team. This can live in your head.” Perry provided the example of a story idea from his editorial colleagues: If they want to use an idea for a story, he’ll wait to post until the story is up, using the story image and linking to that content on social media.

VH1, social media manager, glam by sarita, sarita nauth

Sarita Nauth, Social Media Manager, VH1; Founder, Glam By Sarita

Otherwise, he crafts snackable content with similar imagery (but different captions and aspect ratios) for an Instagram Story, Instagram feed post or Twitter poll. Similarly, while creating Facebook feed posts is “not always reliable” for visibility, Perry relies on Instagram Story posts to feed to Facebook Stories, which receive more eyeballs.

Follow Sarita on Instagram.

Connect with Justin, Nadine and Ryan on LinkedIn.

Follow Sophie on Twitter.

At The Social Shake-Up