There are lots of different ways that organisations can structure their social media accounts. It’s arguably one of the most important decisions to make that will have a big impact on your social media strategy and delivery!
With that in mind, getting it right is pretty important. In today’s blog we’ll be discussing the four main social media structures you can choose from, the pros and cons of each and the factors you should consider when making your decision.
1. Centralised social media accounts managed by a central team
The first model is the simplest and easiest to adopt as it only involves your central marketing and comms team operating a single set of social media accounts that represent your brand on each of the relevant social networks.
The benefits of this structure are:
- Complete control over brand message and content.
- The accounts are likely managed by social media specialists.
- Fewer social media accounts means more time can be spent building a community on each.
The drawbacks can be:
- Central teams often rely on local teams to provide videos and photos which build a picture of the organisation.
- Your audiences might not all be interested in the same topics/information but there is little way to filter this with just one social media account for each platform.
- The comms and marketing team may not have all of the knowledge to answer inbound questions on social media.
2. Localised social media accounts managed by a central team
In this second model the social media accounts are still managed by the central comms and marketing team, but the accounts represent different departments or locations that the brand has.
The main benefits of this include:
- You can create more tailored content for each specific site/department that will be more relevant to that specific audience.
- You still have the control over quality, consistency, and message of all content across the channels.
- It’s often easier to improve engagement rates on location specific pages because there’s a greater sense of community and familiarity.
But this model can be tough to manage because:
- It can be difficult to create enough location specific content, particularly when the central team are likely based at a head office further away.
- The central teams may not always have all the knowledge of local customers and their needs to accurately respond to inbound questions.
- Your local customers and stakeholders may want to build a relationship with local colleagues on social media which isn’t possible if the central team are the lead.
3. Centralised & localised social media accounts managed by a central team
Structure three is where we start to see a combination of the first two models. In this case there are both central social media accounts, AND localised social media accounts to target different audiences, but both managed by the central comms and marketing team.
This is an attractive model because:
- You can appeal to the needs of each of your distinct audiences by providing brand level communication and location specific updates/community building.
- You still have complete control over your brand message and can ensure consistency across all accounts.
- You can where relevant, share brand messages down to local pages too which can make it easier to ensure important messages have been received by your audiences.
However, some of the challenges include:
- Depending on how many local social media accounts you create, this can end up being an unmanageable amount of accounts for one team to look after.
- Creating enough content that is differentiated from the central pages to share on the local pages can be very difficult when your central teams don’t have direct access to local content.
- Central teams may not have all the information they need to respond to inbound questions from customers at a local level and so will have to involve other colleagues.
4. Centralised and localised social media accounts managed by central and local teams
This final model is where we start to see involvement in social media from the local teams, working in partnership with the central teams to deliver tailored content and service to audiences at a national/brand level AND at a local/site level.
This model comes with a number of key benefits including:
- The local teams generally have fantastic access to take photos and videos of customers, your product/service in action, and interesting insights that central teams just can’t get hold of.
- This model makes the most of the knowledge held across the organisation and often helps uncover hidden social media, community engagement, or videography skills.
- Customers can build closer relationships with their local teams via social media and are more likely to engage on their local account and feel like part of a community.
But it can be tough to maintain due to:
- Challenges in effectively collaborating on content and responding to customers without a management tool like SoCrowd in place.
- Enthusiasm for social media from the local teams can wain over time leaving you unintentionally with a structure similar to model three.
- These local teams will generally require training to use social media effectively unless their roles already include similar responsibilities. While this shouldn’t be seen as a reason not to adopt this option, it is a key element to consider as it has a cost and time implication.
Factors to consider when deciding on a social media management structure
So how do you decide which of these structures is right for your organisation? Before you make your decision consider the following factors.
How your organisation is recognised
To decide whether centralised social media accounts, localised accounts, or a mix of both is right for your brand, it’s key to ask yourself, how do your customers view your brand?
Do they think of you as one national/central entity or are they only really concerned with the local element of your organisation that they come into contact with, i.e. a customer who visits a local leisure centre may know that as Cardiff Leisure Centre, rather than by the name of the brand who manage it. Understanding how your customers engage with and recognise your brand will help you to decide whether you would benefit from local accounts to tap into local interests, or would be better off concentrating energy on a smaller central set of accounts.
Your target audience
This really feeds into the next consideration which is concerned with who your audience are and what their needs are on social media. Focus on your target audience/s and what channels they would be interested in. Do you have multiple audiences with differing interests? For instance a housing provider may have suppliers and partners interested in company performance and initiatives at a central level, whereas residents are mainly interested in information and updates relating to the specific development they live on.
As you can see, matching these audience/s with their interests helps you to build a picture of the central and/or local social media accounts you might need!
Social media customer service requirements
We’ve referenced the importance of social media customer service throughout each of these models and it’s because it can be a factor that makes or breaks your social media project. Do your customers currently use social media as a channel for service and if so can their questions be answered at a central level, or will you need to tap into local knowledge?
The answers to these questions will have a large influence on which model you choose and who you involve in delivering social media across your organisation to provide the best online experience.
Related Guide: you can find out more about preparing for and managing social media customer service in our guide – The Ultimate Guide to Exceptional Social Media Customer Service
Resources and Tools
Each of these models have different resourcing requirements and create different amounts of complexity to manage. With that in mind, it’s crucial to consider the assets you have at your disposal and whether you realistically have the people, budget, and tools in order to put your chosen structure in place. If not, you might have to consider putting a business case together for greater investment into social.
Internal attitudes to social media
While you might recognise that the best social media management structure for your organisation and customers is a model that involves colleagues at a local level, not everyone will necessarily agree with you. You might face some push back from local colleagues who are less confident on social media and are concerned that you’re adding to their workload. Or senior management might not see the value in having more teams invested in social media.
These attitudes can really affect a social media project so make sure you’ve taken the time to get key stakeholders bought into your vision. Or alternatively start with a paired back social media structure and build it up as you go and improve the internal perceptions of social media!
Related Webinar: For more tactics to get buy-in from colleagues and management for your social media plans, check out our recent webinar on the topic here.
Those are four of the most common social media management structures that we recommend considering for your own organisation. But we’d love to know which model you’ve employed and how it’s working for you! Get in touch @SoCrowd or on email to firstname.lastname@example.org