Managing Expectations as a Social Media Team of One

Being a social media manager comes with its challenges, especially if you are the lone social media manager in your organization. At any moment, you are a data analyst, copywriter, video editor, photographer, customer service representative and a referee (trolls anyone?). Knowing how to manage time and set professional boundaries at work are critical. 

Master Your Calendar, Master Your Time

Create a quick list of tasks that take up the most time. For most social media managers, this is content creation, scheduling posts, and/or responding to comments online. Block out time for these items. During time designated for these jobs, focus only on them. 

For example, while most emails require a response, they are not all urgent. Consider blocking out two or three times during the day to answer email. This leaves other parts of the day uninterrupted to complete tasks.

To start, block out mornings and afternoons at the same time daily for email and a few hours weekly for content creation and post scheduling. Experiment until you find the right schedule and adjust as needed. 

Set Professional Boundaries 

Failing to set professional boundaries can create a lot of stress for the lone social media manager. For example, your day may include people stopping by or messaging with content ideas or 'quick' questions. Or perhaps it’s when people expect you to drop everything to take pictures or create a 'quick' video. 

If this sounds like a typical workday, consider setting office hours, or specific times, where you discuss content creation with colleagues. Also, consider creating an email address for content submissions. Then set up an autoresponder on this inbox letting people know when you’ll review content and when they can expect a response.

Share with Leadership 

Prior to setting up your time-management plan and professional boundaries, communicate them to your supervisor and get buy-in. Having leadership agree to and support your plan will allow you to firm up protocols with colleagues. It also allows your supervisor to act as an advocate should you receive pushback. 

First, let your supervisor know that you want to set up a meeting to discuss ideas. Mention the goal is maximizing your time and streamlining the team’s content-creation process. Explain some of the challenges you’ve had completing tasks and that you have a plan to address them. Tell the supervisor  you’d like to share your plan with her. Also mention you'd appreciate feedback and approval. 

While you don’t need a formal presentation,  it may be more impactful to have a few slides. These should outline your work challenges and solution. In addition, the slides should note the time frame you’d like your solution to begin and how you will share it with colleagues. Include the expected outcomes or benefits to the company (e.g., content calendars now will be done two weeks in advance versus one, etc.). 

After you share this information with your supervisor, be sure to explicitly ask if you have her support. Let the supervisor know that you will follow up in a month to share your progress. If you fail to get buy-in the first time, don’t be discouraged. Instead, wait a few months, document how your challenges have continued, how they have influenced your work and revisit the subject. 

Give Yourself Grace 

Being intentional about time and setting professional boundaries can be hard, especially if you’ve never done it before. You may make mistakes, or find that your original plan needs adjustments. In turn, your supervisor or colleagues may be reluctant to adhere to your policies. It's perfectly natural and often happens with change.

Be sure to allow yourself and your colleagues patience and grace while everyone (including you!) gets used to the new rules. Your main objective is to communicate challenges at work and dedication to making things run smoother and more efficiently—which helps you, your supervisor, your colleagues, and ultimately the company. 

Sabrina Merritt is founder and CEO of October Social Media

For more insight about social media teams of one register for the Social Break, a free, virtual monthly Q&A during the second Friday of each month. Sabrina Merritt and other speakers will dive into the business of social media at The Social Shake-Up, June 8-10, Atlanta, Ga.