Around 43% of Americans work remotely, according to a Gallup survey, yet the current coronavirus epidemic has created what The Atlantic calls “a huge, stressful experiment in working from home” that challenges the paradigm of workers habitually congregating in a central location. With so many workers, rationally, practicing social distancing, the imperative to successfully manage teams working remotely means it’s not just business as usual.
Workers in the gig economy commonly work remotely, such as freelance writers and artists, virtual assistants, and drivers. With the coronavirus, more teams are now working without physical contact with each other. Getting used to working remotely as a team is a challenge that takes time to sort out as workers need to find alternative ways to not only communicate but to maintain the social connections that smooth collaborative activities. Moreover, teams must now maintain relationships with customers and relationships between customers who now shop online, get curbside pickup of items, and in effect distance themselves from you and each other.
In terms of social media, teams working remotely require an enhanced focus on planning and a clear definition of goals, roles, and procedures. For weeks or perhaps months, audiences will increase reliance on social media to obtain information, connect, and accomplish work projects. Important adaptations must occur at a strategic level to account for this uniquely difficult moment in history.
When working together in an office, social media roles are often ad hoc involving numerous meetings to adapt messaging to current needs and outside events. This is particularly the case in fluid workspaces where the staff is encouraged to upload stories, imagery, and impressions — sometimes via company channels and sometimes on their own accounts.
For instance, companies like Adidas encourage employees to associate themselves with the company when posting, asking only that they make it clear that the post is personal. Of course, this can easily backfire when employees go rogue, such as when a Chrysler executive went on a Twitter rant about poor drivers in Detroit.
Or when an intern at ASUS (at least the story goes that it was an intern, but he might have just been thrown under the bus to protect the firm) made a reference to the attractiveness of a co-worker’s rear, comparing it to a new product.
While not limited to the situation of teams working remotely, it’s important for companies to lay out ground rules regarding the importance of posting content that does not offend. Companies may likewise insist that their employees make their accounts purely private, so the divide between work and personal accounts (and opinions) are clearly laid out.
The same goes for brand ambassadors among customers. Moderation is necessary to ensure such offensive posts are weeded out while allowing legitimate complaints to appear. Hiding the true only works in the short-run and can do long-term damage when attempts to hide it ultimately fail.
Relying on Planning Tools
As stated by marketing company Neon Ambition, social media planning and automation tools that enable advanced programming are key for modern marketing teams even for teams working together but especially important for teams working remotely.
Top-rated tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social ensure consistent brand messaging shared according to an established calendar while ensuring posts receive approval prior to publication. They also allow those managing the accounts to optimize publication times, ensuring content is up during peak times so as to reach the target audience. They also provide central control that allows managers to modify or even postpone content based on rapidly evolving external environments. Thus, significant events among your target audience may require sensitivity to prevailing emotions that means replacing planned content with messaging that considers these emotions. For example, after 911, the sensible thing to do is postpone promotional content in favor of content that’s uplifting and encouraging.
Hootsuite, for instance, works with over 35 different social networks and enables users to program multiple accounts and keywords. Finally, they allow teams to measure their social ROI and run social media ads accordingly.
Discovering Key Posting Times
Different social media channels provide key tools that enable you to gauge engagement and activity. Twitter has Tweriod – a free tool that compiles data directly from your followers, showing when they tend to be online. This tool only works with accounts having more than 1,000 followers. Of course, obtaining this number should be easy for a business that actively posts and creates vital online relationships with their followers.
Facebook, meanwhile, has Facebook Insights, which shows how many people are on Facebook at a given time. Check out the Posts tab to discover two important graphs. These indicate the number of fans who viewed your posts and the average number of fans who saw these posts at a given hour.
Critical for our conversation is that, as more people work from home, these optimal post times may shift. For instance, not only are employees working from home, many must supervise children now home from school or even take over education responsibilities as schools take their classes online. This might shift their work hours to later in the evening or early in the morning when kids are in bed.
Goals, Roles, Procedure
Social media channels differ in terms of written content, ethos, use, and visual options.
From the outset, it is important to identify how many uploads you expect your team to undertake each month, assigning different staff members to different channels and tasks. Commonly, a calendar is developed months in advance based on strategic directives and contains this information for every day in the month.
From the calendar, a manager assigns staff members based on their specific skills, so that staff with visual/artistic background, for instance, have tasks such as selecting images and uploading stories for Instagram and Facebook. Their familiarity with editing, filters, and framing of imagery ensures your content is professional and slick at all times. Those with strength or experience in writing, meanwhile, are tasked with text-based channels such as Twitter, blogs, and LinkedIn. Of course, teams work together synergistically, each contributing to maintaining continuity.
In teams working remotely, again your need rules and procedures that are clearly articulated, as well as routine meetings to collaborate and coordinate posting.
The main roles involved in creating, programming, and uploading social media content include image generation and editing, creating hashtag lists, writing texts of the correct word length for each social media channel, and the like. Teams that are in a sudden situation of remote work, such as we’re currently experiencing, might assign each role to one person or smaller team to ease collaboration. Ideally, teams should generate all content at the beginning of a given month or week, so all content can be programmed in advance at specific times.
The person or team in charge of editing photographs needs to create different sized versions for each media type based on the standards for each platform. For instance, shared images on Facebook should have an upload size of around 1200 x 630 pixels, Twitter in-stream photos work best at a minimum size of 440 x 220, Instagram works best with square images up to 1080 x 1080. These requirements change frequently, so if you spot an anomaly in what you upload, check out sites that provide update sizing rules.
Uniformity among Social Media Accounts is Vital
If staff is uploading impressions, information, and images from home, it is important to set out guidelines regarding the spirit, ethos, and values that should be common to all uploads. If, for instance, you work in a luxury-oriented sector, videos, stories, and text need to express high-end lifestyles and values. If, on the other hand, you aim to appeal to a younger, more urban crowd, then everyday life, ‘imperfectly perfect’ editing and an ad hoc spirit to your uploads will inspire stronger connection with your audience. All proposed content should ideally be filtered by a social media manager prior to publication.
Planning for the Unplanned
During the course of your business and despite the current state of affairs, you may decide to expand on current products and services, or wish to share incoming information as gathered from your social network. Within your planned programming, you should allot specific times of the day for these last-minute additions. Low-peak moments of the day are ideal for this type of content, though, in the case of new products or services, their importance may be such that replacing programmed content may be merited.
Current times have meant that many marketing teams who normally work in a face-to-face fashion, are now working from home. Scheduling and planning are more important than ever since it ensures that each team member is clear on their roles and time goals. Dividing tasks according to experience and ability enables each member to shine in their respective fields, while advanced programming takes the stress out of ensuring you continue to engage with your audience during times of crisis.
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