09/19/2013 11:39 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2013

How a Small Staff Can Get the Most Out of Social Media

No matter the size of the company, there is a common gripe in social media teams across the U.S. and that is, "We don't have a large enough staff to accomplish everything we have (and want) to do."

In some cases, it's a time management issue and not a body count problem, but in others, the situation is more dire. One or two people are manning six social media accounts, responding to questions and running new campaigns all at the same time -- or in addition to their other daily tasks.

Although these tips will certainly be practical for smaller social media teams, they're still good reminders for departments of all sizes.

Schedule, Plan and Schedule Some More

Although Winston Churchill's advice has become overly used and little-practiced, it still holds true today: "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

Even if it's only a week in advance, create a spreadsheet (or a regular document for those who dislike Excel) on a shared drive, or better yet, Google Drive. Map out what you want to say on which days and on what platforms.

This prevents overlooking key messages and enables posts to be scheduled in advance. Facebook offers a native scheduling tool, and services like Hootsuite and Sprout Social offer tweet scheduling plus analytics.

Whether your team has access to all the latest and greatest scheduling tools or not, managing time and resources is easy to fix.

(Find more social media business tips on my business blog here.)

Don't Try to Do It All

This may come as a shock, but organizations do not and should not be on every social media site out there. Not every platform is appropriate, and by attempting to do it all, nothing will be done well.

Seriously evaluate the top social media sites and determine which ones are the best fit for your organization. The main point is to pick and choose the platforms your team can dedicate time to and to not just throw something out there "just because."

Carefully craft a message with fans and followers in mind. Putting out two posts that really resonate with fans is much better than posting six messages that are merely mediocre.

To figure out what platforms really are the best for your business, ask yourself these two things when examining the latest and greatest social medium: how will this serving my customers (practical tips, inspiration) and what will this really doing for business (exposure, product sales)?

Don't Ignore the Numbers

The easiest way to determine how effective your posts are is to look at the numbers. Google Analytics and are your friends. Check the weekly stats to see what clicks were generated and from where.

Key metrics to examine are the reach of posts over the past one to two weeks and the number of clicks during that time period. These metrics provide insight into the larger picture and should influence the overarching social media strategy and not the other way around.

From there you can determine if you're getting the most out of a particular social platform and if posts are effective. Don't repeat the same mistakes week in and week out. Change it up, get creative.

If there's any place to test something new and never-been-done, it's social media.

Company Blog > Everything Else

When it comes to creating priorities, a company's first objective on social media should be to demonstrate expertise, showing how it's different that its competitors and is of value to consumers.

One of the top ways to create that expertise is to write on a company blog. Creating quality, search engine optimized posts for a blog should be at the top of the social media to-do list.

As the sites gain and lose popularity, t's a content investment your company will own.

Businesses will always get the most bang for their buck here, and hat's true for two reasons: 1. blog posts are easily found in Google if optimized correctly and 2. they are mostly likely directly attached to the business website, which means a greater likelihood that readers will stay on there and not get lost clicking through from another site.

Invest time here - the results will speak for themselves.

Find Tools That Work For You

Typically with a small staff comes a small budget. There are many exceptions to this rule, but for any department cutting costs is beneficial.

A few free tools every small social media staff should be using are:

Hootsuite: Manage Twitter and Facebook accounts and monitor relevant industry keywords.
Picozu: Create top quality images on with this web-based tool.
Topsy: Find what topics are trending on the Web.
ShortStack: Create customized Facebook box apps for your business page.
MailChimp: Send out quality newsletters and emails to customers.

Many of the tools have an upgraded professional option, which is especially helpful for businesses just starting out in social media and need space to grow.

Don't Give the Intern Control

Don't do it. Unless your intern happens to have years of professional (not personal) experience speaking as the voice of an organization, do not put them in charge of your social media presence.

It's more about missing an opportunity than avoiding another social media horror story. There should be purpose and reason behind your social media activity, and that requires someone who understands your company's mission, goals and values.

While the intern may know every detail of how the platform works, they may lack that same expertise about your business.

What social media advice would you give to a small staff?