How to Outsource Social Media for Sustainability Professionals

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How to outsource your social media. So, if you are like me, and you have a lot of social media platforms or if you would like to be on a lot of social media platforms, you may find that it becomes overwhelming and that you need to bring in some assistance to generate content and spread it out on the various social media platforms.

I can’t do it all myself, so I use the help. So how do I do that? Well, I generate quite a bit of social media content, but I also use help from my in-house team. Tracy our Marketing Manager and Allison our Project Assistant, also are responsible for creating content and making sure that it is posted in the appropriate place. We also use interns to generate some of our blog content and make sure that some of the postings happen, and occasionally I rely on guest bloggers to generate content for our blog which is then posted on various social media platforms.

So if you’re thinking about bringing in some additional help or relying on others to help generate your social media outreach, you first need to establish some ground rules. So what are the ground rules?

1. First thing is, what is your voice? Are you going to be professional? Are you going to be funny? Are you going to be practical? Are you going to be idealistic? Certainly, for SSC, the goal is practical and sort of cut through the bull.

Sustainability needs to have a business value; it needs to be practical it needs to be modular. You need to be able to take a bite size piece of it; you don’t need to tap into it all at once. So that is very much the approach we take and the content delivered through social media.

2. Second thing is, what are the parameters of your social media outreach strategy? So for example, some of the rules we have are that we don’t mention clients without their express permission.

We don’t talk about them, even if they have a really great story, simply because that is not our story to tell, it’s theirs. And so some parameters may be, who do you allow to post what and when and what are the rules around posting. And this is where it is helpful to develop a must do and a never will. So what is a must do? So for example, at SSC one of our must do is to reuse content as much as possible so whenever we do anything, if it’s a blog entry or if it’s a webinar, we always look for how can we maximize this across multiple platforms.

So for example when we do a webinar, we will advertise it ahead of time in a blog entry, or we will advertise on Twitter or on Facebook. Then we generally do a recording and play it back so that it becomes one of our resources that you can download afterward; we will generally make another blog announcement that says hello it’s ready to click here to download. But we also may turn it into another set, for example, a SlideShare that we can post to link in or a top ten Twitter list.

It may also be something that we can turn around into a podcast or a video clip. The goal is to reuse it in as many ways as possible, that’s one of our must-dos. Similarly, we have a list of never-wills. So, for example, we do not talk about any specific company without it going through me for approval first. So let me give you a little bit of an example. Our interns over the summer are responsible for generating a variety of blog content generally they are sort of summarizing reports or other news articles, these generally are not super sophisticated analysis but more sort of recapping and turning it into practical advice for our readers.

And in one case one of our interns was tasked with pulling something up on sustainable agriculture, and because this intern did not have a whole lot of background on some of the more intricate aspects of sustainable agriculture, she happened to use Monsanto as this example of this company that was really committed to sustainable agriculture.

Now you may know that Monsanto has an extremely, what shall we say, complex relationship with sustainability. I think they have a lot of really innovative programs, but they also do some things I really am opposed to from a sustainable agriculture perspective. You can make your own decision, but the lesson here is that the blog entry that she did ended up getting posted I think for about an hour before I happened to see it and I ran to our marketing manager and said, “Wait! Wait! Take it off! We cannot be using this example, holding Monsanto up as a paragon of sustainable agriculture, that’s just not where we are coming from.

So this is an example of or never do. We now have a flat rule for everyone that we do not use to specific company examples unless there is an oversight process that it goes through and either another sustainability consultant on the team or I review it to make sure that in fact is something that we want to be talking about and putting our name behind as well.

So the next step, once you’ve established your ground rules, is to identify what must be done by you. So, for example, I take on reporting on most of my twitter so 99% of the other tweets that come out under my name or my twitter handle, which is just Jennifer Woofter, come directly for me. I’m the one typing them up and usually doing it in real time, although I do some stuff ahead of time. If it’s not, if it’s sort of something from the SSC team, chances are someone from the in-house team wrote it, and I generally read it ahead of time but generally don’t do too much tweaking for that.

So sort of figuring out what your comfort level is, what do you need to do versus what are you comfortable letting other people do. So one question is, what can be started by others but then needs to be read or approved by you. So for example, any blog entries that talk about a specific company are something that I make sure to read before it gets published.

3. The third thing is what can be done without your oversight. Where can you not be included, and this is I think a really challenging thing for a lot of sustainability professionals and especially once you start to grow your team. Lots of time we, especially entrepreneurs, feel the need to micromanage. You know, it’s hard. This is our name; it’s our brand. But the reality is that when you get to the point where you really are, and you need to put out a lot of content, is that probably need to step back a little bit and stop being a bottleneck.

It can be very problematic when I tell my team that I have to read everything before it goes out. So one thing that has really helped is that I have completely given up reposting information, so, for example, write an initial blog entry, but then it’s going to go out on Twitter or Facebook, or we are going to take a webinar and turn it into a SlideShare and post it on LinkedIn, that is generally something that I allow the team to do without my oversight. If it is simply rehashing an article or breaking it into the top three things that are most important about this report, that is also something that I typically don’t get too involved with.

It’s been a process though really working over and phasing down, so things that I would initially write instead just sort of going over them with the in-house team and then letting them sort of craft some things that I then have oversight and approval over and then sort of gradually transitioning into a space where I don’t have to be actively involved with every single thing that goes out on our blog, on our Twitter, on Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Prezi, all of these different tools.

So those really are the key lessons.

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