Social media is one of the most quickly evolving areas of digital marketing. So, your social media marketing team needs to keep pace with customers and competitors alike.
From new social platforms and changing algorithms to the latest technologies and trends, marketing is unforgivingly fast-paced. It comes as no surprise that social media marketers are struggling to keep up.
In a recent survey by The Social Club, it was found that the accelerated pace of social platforms is becoming overwhelming for social media marketers. 81% admitted that it was a struggle to stay on top of the latest trends and technologies.
Other marketers struggle to develop the wide range of must-have marketing skills needed to perform the diverse role.
As a result, performance, knowledge, and skills gaps can grow within social media marketing teams—and they can wreak havoc. Luckily, you can combat gaps by identifying and addressing them in a variety of ways.
So, let’s discuss how you can identify and tackle gaps within your team. And in doing so, how you improve productivity, future-proof your business, and equip your team to meet social media marketing goals.
Evaluate Your Team’s Skill Sets & Experience
Before you can identify skills gaps, you need to establish the skills and experience your team currently possesses.
So, start by conducting an in-depth evaluation of your team’s current skill sets, experience, and knowledge. This will present you with a comprehensive inventory of skills that you can align with your business goals.
Ultimately, it helps you determine where your team thrives and where it falls short.
But how do you go about this?
As a best practice, consider using several different methods of evaluation to get a reliable picture of your team’s current skill set. For example, you might:
Create a Formal Test
Formal tests can be used to assess the technical and theoretical competency of your employees. For example, you can test how effectively employees are able to use a certain tool. Or, you can assess how aptly they identify a particular framework and apply it to a situation.
While this is a popular evaluation method, there are some limitations to consider.
Formal test conditions don’t always present a reliable picture of proficiency. Some people perform worse in test conditions due to stress and anxiety. Other people might display competency in test settings but are unable to apply this knowledge in real-life scenarios.
So, consider using formal tests alongside the two other evaluation methods that we’re going to discuss below.
Conduct On-the-Job Observations
Observing real-world performance is one of the best ways to accurately gauge your team’s skill set.
On the job, are your employees able to efficiently utilize technologies to meet goals? How effectively do they communicate and collaborate in fast-paced environments? Are they applying their skills, knowledge, and experience to a standard you’d expect?
In-person assessments allow you to observe your team within the everyday work environment. Compared to formal tests, they can give you a more accurate representation of employee performance. But, there’s still the risk that employees’ nerves may alter their performance, which can skew the results of your evaluation.
And of course, in-person observations simply aren’t possible if you’re a remote team. So, you might have to use another method: performance management technology.
Utilize Software to Measure & Evaluate Performance
Instead of relying on in-person observations, you can enlist the help of software to track your employees’ performance. This includes tracking whether employees meet project deadlines, reach benchmark KPIs, and are otherwise engaged in and attending to their responsibilities.
The data obtained from software can help you identify performance gaps. Performance gaps are just as critical to identify and address as skills and knowledge gaps, as they damage productivity and negatively impact your bottom line.
In many cases, performance and skills gaps overlap in some way.
For example, underperforming employees might lack the skills or knowledge they need to perform their roles effectively. Similarly, employees who regularly miss work might lack motivation or feel dissatisfied in their role, which can arise as a result of a skills gap.
To combat this, an HR performance management system with an attendance tracker feature enables you to track performance and attendance in real-time. Attendance software automates the process by identifying absence patterns and quickly alerting you to potentially struggling employees. As a result, you can uncover and tackle performance gaps more efficiently and effectively, all while supporting your employees and earning their loyalty.
Establish Your Team’s Objectives
Setting realistic, unified team goals and objectives can close performance gaps that may be hurting your productivity. When team objectives are misaligned or unachievable, employees disconnect from them. This leads to disengagement and poor motivation.
However, when you set clear, realistic objectives and empower your team to achieve them, you can boost productivity and close performance gaps.
Establishing team objectives can also help you identify skills gaps.
Let’s say that your team really wants to grow its followers on Pinterest. As you proceed to devise a Pinterest marketing growth strategy to meet this objective, you might discover that your team doesn’t know enough about Pinterest to execute this strategy effectively. So, you’ve identified a skills gap.
Armed with this knowledge, you can quickly target this skills gap by hiring a marketer with the relevant experience. Or you could upskill your employees—more on this later.
Identify Areas for Skill Development
Now it’s time to dig a little deeper and identify any specific skills gaps that exist within your social marketing team. Chances are, you’ll find some—53% of companies currently have a skills gap, according to research by SHRM.
Skills gaps can arise for a variety of reasons. Talent shortages, poor training, lack of experience, and failure to keep pace with new technologies can all result in skills gaps that put your company at a competitive disadvantage.
With a fine-tooth comb, inspect your team’s digital marketing skills, experience, and objectives to illuminate any areas for improvement. For a social marketing team, the most pressing and common skills gaps include graphic design, videography, and photography.
Provided by The Social Club, here’s an example of what social media marketers deem to be essential skills, compared to how many marketers feel that they actually possess these skills.
Provide Continuous Training & Development
Before you rush to fill your skills gaps by hiring new employees, consider upskilling your current employees first.
Upskilling is a learning and development strategy that involves providing continuous training to employees to help them learn new skills. There are a bunch of benefits to doing this—it’s more cost-effective, it boosts productivity, and it even increases employee satisfaction and retention. 71% of employees who took part in employer-provided upskilling opportunities say that it increased their overall job satisfaction.
That said, any old training program won’t do. Training content needs to be delivered strategically, with a focus on keeping it engaging and interactive to maximize knowledge retention.
Here are some top tips for training your social media marketing team:
- Create visually engaging and interactive online training videos
- Utilize other interactive training methods too, like memory games, quizzes, and puzzles
- Assign employees to a mentor for 1-on-1 training and development sessions
- Create a centralized online knowledge base packed with valuable content (how-to’s, blog posts, indexes, etc)
- Offer bitesize training modules to help employees retain knowledge
- Most importantly, provide opportunities for them to exercise their new skills
Seek Feedback From Customers
Your customers are invaluable information sources. Their feedback can shed light on areas that your social media marketing team needs to improve on, driving learning and development initiatives in the right direction.
There are lots of different ways that you can request feedback from your customers. Follow-up emails, social media, and website surveys are just a few examples. And you can request feedback on pretty much anything you want, from the quality of your YouTube videos or Instagram photos to the consistency of your brand’s voice across your social channels.
Just make sure to avoid common customer survey mistakes if you want to garner the best results.
If you’re still struggling to obtain customer feedback, there are different ways to tap into what your customers are thinking without asking them directly.
Reviews left on third-party websites like Google and TrustPilot can be a source of valuable feedback. Try encouraging customers to leave reviews which you can use to accumulate useful information. For example, recurring pain points that come up in reviews may uncover hidden skills gaps or performance gaps within your team.
You can also use social listening tools to monitor what customers are saying about you online.
Review Your Team’s Workload
A heavy workload hinders productivity and is one of the leading causes of performance gaps. But it can exacerbate skills gaps, too.
Without the means to undertake professional development, employees can quickly fall behind competitors. Remember, 81% of social media marketers struggle to stay on top of social media marketing developments.
The same study found that 53% of social media marketers claim that it takes over an hour a week to keep on top of the latest marketing trends. 10% say that it requires over two hours of dedication a week.
Put simply—if your team has a heavy workload, keeping up just isn’t possible.
Assess your team’s workloads and, with the assistance of your employees, adjust them to free up time for learning and development. Through this process, you might also realize that you can reallocate resources to maximize skill utilization and reduce skill gaps.
An employee who excels in paid advertising, for example, should invest more time in utilizing and refining those specific skills. Or, if various team members are tackling campaign management alongside their other duties, it might be wise to hire a dedicated social media marketing manager to unburden these responsibilities. This provides more time for learning and development while also closing a skills gap.
Consider Hiring Additional Team Members
Sometimes, hiring new team members is absolutely essential.
For example, it could be that your team completely lacks the necessary experience to fulfill duties in a complex area, like social media analytics. Or, it could be that your team’s workload is so heavy that it’s impossible for employees to leverage all of the necessary skills to their full capability.
In these scenarios, look into bringing new team members on board. But be careful—a poor hiring process can result in bad hires and a host of other issues. Not only can this widen skills gaps even further, but it can seriously damage your team’s overall productivity.
So, it’s critical that you precisely identify the skills and experience that you need a new hire to possess. From there, you can create job ads that accurately detail the responsibilities of the role, increasing your chances of attracting high-quality candidates.
Using talent acquisition software, you can then leverage AI to automate the labor-intensive candidate sorting and screening process. Talent acquisition tools can match and score candidates according to your preset rules, dramatically reducing the time it takes to find the best candidates to interview.
Evaluate Your Team’s Culture
A team culture that is misaligned with your company’s values and objectives can contribute to performance and skills gaps. This is why it’s so important to continuously evaluate your team’s culture, nurturing positive cultural traits and weeding out any negative traits.
Performance monitoring and attendance tracking software can help you identify engagement issues and tackle their underlying cause. Gathering employee feedback via pulse surveys and eNPS surveys can highlight areas for improvement that you may have otherwise missed. And external employee review sites are also a useful way to glean honest, unfiltered insights into your team’s culture.
To effectively close performance and skills gaps within your social marketing team, work on fostering a culture that embraces knowledge-sharing, unity, collaboration, and continuous learning and development.
As the latest digital marketing trends, technologies, and platforms continue to emerge at an accelerated rate, knowledge and skills gaps are bound to crop up. It’s vital that you empower your social media marketing team to keep pace with competitors and meet marketing goals by identifying and addressing gaps.
Once you’ve identified gaps through observations and analysis, you can work on closing them the right way. The best ways to tackle gaps in your team include providing continuous training, hiring experienced employees, and adjusting your team’s workload.