25 July 2022 |

Social teams are set up to fail ❌



<aside> 💡 a case study on either your own work at TW or another brand’s social strategy. Each deep dive will leave the reader with 1-3 actionable strategies to apply in the coming week. “Super practical stuff, not high-level fluff”


How to set up a lean, but effective social media team

Emphasis on the word “team.”

There’s a big problem. A lot of social media managers are set up to fail ❌

Don’t believe me?

Let me know if this sounds familiar…

A single social media manager in charge of research, content creation, video editing, graphic design, distribution…

Across multiple platforms. Been there. Not fun.

Truth is, in 2022, this approach doesn’t cut it. It isn’t scalable. It leads to SMM burnout — and your brand will just churn through talent.

As a social media professional, you know this.

And look. Sometimes you can’t avoid that situation. I get it.

Not every company has the resources to build out a full social media department.

That’s okay. If you choose to work for an early stage startup or small business, you have to understand what you’re getting into. Plenty of talented, scrappy teams have do great work on a budget.

The problem is when leadership extrapolates that thinking to marketing teams for companies that do have a budget to work with.

These companies have resources at their disposal and still leave the social team (or team of one) out to dry.

Leadership: don’t be one of those companies.

SMMs: don’t work for these companies (if you’re able to choose, of course).

And if you do find yourself in a solo SMM role (super common if you’re a freelancer):

Push for prioritization. You should be tasked with scaling 1-2 platforms for that brand, maximum. If they’re not at the stage where they can afford to let you build a team… that’s fine.

Truth is, 1-2 high performing channels are enough to make a massive difference for any early stage business.

“Omnipresence” (being everywhere) doesn’t matter if your content is 💩.

Got it?


Eventually, as your company’s social presence grows, you’ll be ready to scale to other platforms.

This DOESN’T mean you should just add these platforms to your plate as a solo SMM.

It DOES mean you need to scale and build a legit team around you.

Some questions might be racing through your head right now, like…

What happens when you are ready to scale your social team?

What should that look like?

What hires do you need to make?

Today I’m gonna break down how I’d build the ideal, lean social team in 2022.

And remember, this assumes:

  • Your brand is ready to scale beyond 1-2 platforms
  • You have a lead social media manager in place already
  • You have the budget to hire freelance help (and eventually full-time hires)

Again, if this isn’t the case… you need to reframe your expectations for social growth.

Now, here are the 3 hires I’d make it I was building out a social team from scratch 👇

HIRE #1 – Video editor 🎥

Wait, but Tommy… I know how to edit in Premiere Pro. Can’t I just do it myself?

Just because an SMM can edit videos, doesn’t mean they should.

Having a dedicated video editor 1) Increases the output of video content 2) Increases the quality of that output.

In other words – more content, and better content for your brand’s social accounts.

Make sense?

If you have a podcast or YouTube channel:

A video editor is a must to make sure you distribute that long-form content across channels like:

  • TikTok
  • YT Shorts
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

…and more.

Again, your SMM can do it (I still do it sometimes), but it’s not the best use of time.

Your lead SMM should be guiding the strategy, and executing where they are strongest — not spending hours on YouTube watching Premiere Pro tutorials on how to do a J-cut (been there LOL).

And here’s some good news: you don’t need to hire an editor full time.

Early on, you probably shouldn’t. Just work with a freelance video editor to start, and scale when you need to.

Leveraging (and paying) talented freelancers to work with you as an SMM is a great investment.

Now, for hire #2 👇

HIRE #2 – Graphic Designer 🎨

You do not want to see my graphic design skills

My ability is pretty much capped out at memes (banger memes, however).

You might feel the same way. Lots of social media managers do.

But, graphics are important for posts like IG carousels, LinkedIn PDF posts (and the recently introduced carousels), infographics, and higher level memes.

Great graphic design can add an extra touch of professionalism and quality to your social presence as a brand.

And remember… like we went over, just because you can do design work doesn’t mean you should.

The hours spent in photoshop making graphics for social are far better spent leading the larger initiatives from the brand social accounts.

Working with a designer again saves time and energy that are much better spent on these other, higher ROI tasks.

And just like your video editor, you can find talented freelance graphic designers if you aren’t ready to bring someone on full time.

HIRE #3 – TikTok Content Creator 🕺🏻

TikTok is a full time job.

The time it takes to understand the intricacies of a platform is a lot.

The effort it takes to keep up with the barrage of viral trends is sometimes inhuman.

The output of content required to succeed is insane.

Expecting your social media manager to lead ideation AND content creation AND engagement on AND is delusional (and that’s putting it lightly).

Instead, work with a creator who specializes in TikTok and short form video.

Have your social media lead collaborate with the creator on strategy and direction — but, the filming, editing, and management of the platform should be handled by the TikTok specialist.

Now, there is some important nuance here:

I’m more inclined to written content. That’s my bias.

But, if you’re more of a video person as an SMM you might actually want to be more involved in TikTok content creation.

That’s cool too. Here’s how I see it:

In most cases, social media pro’s are either more inclined to video content or written content.

Video being platforms like TikTok, IG Reels, YouTube Shorts.

Written being platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit.

If you’re more writing-oriented (like me), you’ll want to look for a team member who helps fill the gap in video proficiency.

If you’re more video-oriented, you’ll want to look for a team member who helps fill the gap in writing proficiency.

Make sense?


Hire #1 – Video editor for YT and podcasts Hire #2 – Graphic designer Hire #3 – TikTok Content Creator

This approach will give you the minimum viable team to scale an ‘omnichannel’ social media approach.

Yes, it will take an investment. Of course it does. Any marketing channel worth executing on requires a hefty investment of either time or money.

BUT, arming your social team with the resources it needs:

  1. Increases the output of content
  2. Improves the quality of content
  3. Reduces SMM burnout & helps your brand retain top talent

Invest in your content, or reframe your expectations.