Smaller social media teams can feel like David facing Goliath. But you can successfully compete with today’s social media giants—despite limited resources and shrinking budgets.
Here’s how the at Amtrak pulls it off by taking calculated risks and streamlining. These ideas will help you generate big-time results—no matter your size:
- Embrace reactive testing. “Almost every social platform is going through a paradigm shift right now,” says Nicolle Lopez, social media manager at Amtrak. “That includes changes in everything from algorithms to feed layouts and even subscription models.”
Her advice: “A big part of working smarter is keeping an open mind and being nimble,” she says. “That means embracing a more reactive approach to see how these changes affect user consumption—and testing what works along the way.”
- Follow your fans. Lopez advises meeting your audience where they are.
For example, Amtrak is seeing younger passengers who seek out sustainable, leisure travel. As a result, the social media team has evolved its voice on social to reach these “riders of today and tomorrow” on the issues—and the platforms—they prefer.
Specially, “YouTube will be one of our 2023 flagship platforms as we explore this genre,” Lopez says. “From taking on a new creative strategy to testing YouTube Shorts, we are looking forward to growing our channel and connecting with audiences in new ways.”
- Automate where possible. Social media automation tools can help smaller teams streamline their efforts so they can focus on creating high quality content.
“However, it comes down to your social strategy, resources and any social platform’s API restrictions,” says Lopez. “In our case, we need to reach potential passengers across our 500 destinations in the U.S. and Canada. That range requires us to have a presence on most major social platforms and to stand out amongst oversaturated feeds.”
Her point: “To stop the scroll and manage the load, we use social media management systems to streamline publishing and analytics,” she says. “Even so, there’s no perfect tool or API. There are still products we need to publish natively, like Idea Pins. The same goes for reporting, where a manual search analysis should always compliment automated metrics.”
- Remix your content. Lopez also recommends reevaluating and revitalizing your content mix.
“For example, we’re embracing infotainment,” she shares. “We’re providing content that engages and educates followers about Amtrak. It’s a good mix between educational, humorous and trendy to invite new riders onboard and encourage younger audiences to seek out more sustainable and efficient forms of travel.”
- Collaborate—and educate leadership. Small teams can’t afford to operate in silos. To maximize efficiency, it’s critical to foster greater collaboration both inside and outside the department.
“For a legacy brand like ours, any changes or adaptations require support from leadership,” agrees Lopez. “Collaborating at this level has taught us that education is key.”
Her advice: “If your workflow requires approvals from several different stakeholders, then ensure everyone understands the nature of social media and the potential impact of what they’re reviewing. Enabling a culture of education and transparency adds to your social team’s credibility and empowers all involved to trust the process more.”