An agile approach to social media

The world of social media moves at an incredibly fast pace, where often change is the only certainty. This can be challenging in terms of strategy because an element of reactivity is required to accommodate this rapid change.

Can taking an agile approach to social media help to overcome the challenge of uncertainty? Are the two things even compatible? To answer these questions, this blog post will examine the twelve principles of agile and their application to social media strategy.

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Your customers or audience should always be at the heart of any social media strategy – I’ve written about this before. Your strategy should aim to consistently provide relevant and useful content that will meet user needs and keep your audience engaged.

So far, so good.

Welcome changing requirements, even late development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

Change is inevitable with social media, and should be welcomed. Don’t be too rigid in your planning and be prepared to accommodate last minute developments and to respond to (or capitalise on) unforeseen developments.

Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

Consistency is key with social media and you should plan to be constantly delivering to your audience. However, this doesn’t mean that content planning has to be a daily task. It could be incorporated into your team’s sprint planning sessions (in our case once every fortnight) using a tool like Buffer to manage your publishing schedule. A small amount of time can then be set aside each day to respond to users and amend or add content if there are any unexpected issues.

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

Communication is very important and if social media is a team priority then it should be added as a standing item in your daily team stand-ups so that issues can be flagged and suggestions gathered.

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Empowerment and ownership are pretty important to agile, and they should be for social media too. Those responsible should be trusted to make decisions on a day-to-day basis with support available when issues arise that need to be escalated.

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

See my earlier point about daily stand-up meetings.

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

In terms of social media, meeting your targets is the primary measure of progress. These should be predefined and measured by key performance indicators. Without these, you can not evaluate the success of your activities.

Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

A social media strategy should also be sustainable, as well as consistent – users want to know what to expect from your social media channels. As previously mentioned, this can be achieved through using a tool like Buffer to schedule posts in advance and take away from the daily burden of content planning.

Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Your social media channels need continuous attention to ensure that response rates are good and to deal with any issues swiftly. As has already been mentioned, building a little time into your day for these tasks is well worth it.

Simplicity – the art of maximising the amount of work not done – is essential.

Keep it simple stupid. Don’t try to overcomplicate things by overcommitting and being too ambitious. Doing one thing well is much better than doing three things half-heartedly.

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The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

As mentioned earlier, empowerment and ownership are important in agile. This principle is as applicable to social media as it is for software development. Micro-management should be avoided, and the expertise of those responsible should be trusted – that’s why you hired them in the first place.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

Social media is a fickle beast. Platforms add new features, algorithms change, communities change, trends move on. The only possible way you can keep up with all this change is to regularly review and revise your strategy to ensure you will continue to meet your targets and gain maximum return on investment.  

So, to summarise:

  1. Your primary aim is to meet the needs of your audience.
  2. Welcome change.
  3. Build a sustainable strategy to maintain both momentum and consistency.
  4. Communicate with your team, daily!
  5. Empower team members and encourage ownership.
  6. Keep it simple, stupid.
  7. Review, regularly.

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