As social professionals we see a lot of big-budget, time-intensive campaigns from larger institutions, but what do you do when you know you don’t have the capacity to achieve a campaign on that scale?
If you’ve had the good fortune to attend the CASE Social Media & Community Conference (and I highly recommend it if you haven’t!), you will have encountered the concept of the unconference.
Brought into the CASE arena by a certain Dave Musson, it’s an opportunity to break out of the set presentations and for anyone to propose topics of discussion, from which delegates can pick their favourite and share their thoughts.
At this year’s unconference, I braved the stage to suggest a discussion about managing social as a one-person team, and was chuffed when plenty of other conference-goers joined me to have a good old rant about how challenging it can be.
Since so many of us had useful tips and tricks to discuss, it seemed a missed opportunity not to share them more widely! So here’s a quick recap of some of the best things we learned about maximising your time and creativity for social when you’re the only one running it.
Fight for the equipment you need to do your job
We’ve all been there – you’re pushed for time, you need to get that post out NOW, but your personal phone’s data allowance is nearly out and your campus wifi is shaky.
Not having the right tools for your job can be intensely time-consuming and frustrating, and it’s hard to persuade managers to spend precious budget on what they might perceive as ‘frivolous’ purchases like the most up-to-date phones or cameras.
Don’t doubt yourself – these are essentials!
Would you expect a painter to produce great work without a good brush? If possible, try never to use your personal phone for work social – you’ll end up out of pocket without anyone realising. Make managers aware of all the imaginative stuff you could be doing if you only had the right tools – and eventually they will give in.
Don’t be afraid to go with the easy options
It’s easy to get caught up in the narrative that everyone on social must be innovating and pushing boundaries at all times, but – let’s be realistic – that’s hard work! There is nothing shameful about relying on some tried-and-tested methods to get easy engagement. Do your followers love a #FBF or #TBT? Pictures of campus in the snow still unrivalled for reach? Just click post and watch the likes roll in – you don’t need to always post the most innovative or groundbreaking content as long as it’s still meaningful for your audience.
Scheduling, always scheduling
Now that Instagram has finally opened up direct scheduling from third party apps, you’re missing out if you aren’t scheduling your posts in advance. Set aside some time each week (I usually go for a Monday or Friday) to sit down and schedule your posts for the week ahead. Then waltz through the rest of your week safe in the knowledge that you won’t have to reach 4.30pm and realise in a panic that you haven’t posted anything that day!
Blow their minds with stats
Finding time for analytics can be one of the hardest jobs as a solo social team, so make the most of your limited time by pulling out your most impressive and meaningful stats. The analytics available directly from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide plenty of useful numbers to calculate your total reach and average engagement – the stats that your senior managers will be most interested to hear. And, good news: if your management team aren’t particularly familiar with social then those totals can sound extremely impressive, and often compare favourably to some of the results from print publications or advertising (not that it’s a competition…) Circulate your stats as widely as possible and they will help to show off how much hard work you put into social.
(*Cough, cough* Editor’s rude interruption – you might also find Edurank to be a useful tool when you’re measuring your social media activity #shamelessplug #justsayin)
Find time-saving tools that work for you
Everyone has their preferred methods of creating and scheduling content for social, and these services can be a huge time-saver. The design website Canva is regularly recommended as a simple way to create professional-looking graphics for social, and apps like Buffer and Hootsuite provide easy scheduling and monitoring for your posts and analytics. If you don’t have much budget set aside for social, a lot of these tools have free plans which include their basic services. Take some time to play around with these and see which fits with your style of working – and which could save you some stress!
Don’t take on too much
Time to get a little more serious! Remember that while it can be tempting to work through your lunch breaks, or stay late to get time by yourself in the office, your health and work/life balance should always come first! Don’t be afraid to take time off or to leave a few tasks for later; after all, nobody is going to die if you don’t tweet for 24 hours.
In a world like social where we are expected to be ‘always on’, you should always make it known if your to-do list becomes too much to handle in a healthy way. Feed your workload up, make your managers aware of all the many, varied demands on your time, and make it clear if you need to drop certain jobs to fit everything in.
Remember – you’re not alone!
And finally, my most important lesson from our discussion at #CASEsmc? I’m much less alone than I thought!
When you’re the only person working on social at your institution, it’s so easy to feel isolated and left behind. But rest assured that there are plenty of us out here in the same boat, going through the same struggles. The #HESM community is a fantastically supportive place and there are plenty of ways to get involved – there’s a Facebook group, a Slack workspace, and the #hesm and #casesmc hashtags are full of insights from inspirational people.
Any time you start to feel unmotivated or burnt out, sit back, take a breather and remember that you are a badass, multi-skilled professional who can handle whatever challenges are thrown at you. You got this!