I found out about client expectations a long time ago from a very good friend and a former client of mine. I’d like to pass some information along to you. Being one of the co-founders of Social Media Manager School I found that having a real clear client expectation contract is important to work with a new client, even good to have with old clients – to re-circle and come back and have that conversation again.

On the Same Page

It’s really important for everybody to be on the same page so to speak for a couple of different topics. So normally I create these videos and I talk about client expectations for solo entrepreneur. But today what I’d like to do is expand it and talk about it if you work with a team. Maybe you work inside a business and you’re doing a social media management work inside that business.

Let’s use the team idea and for this I think what I’m going to do is use the example of a social media management team inside of a University.

3 Nesting Circles

Now for this example I think there are three nesting circles for client expectations. The first circle is obviously the social site and the people who visit the social site. The circle around that is the internal social media team and the largest circle around all of that is the University itself.

There are expectations that people have in the first circle. Three of them to my mind is that the visitors to that site receive

  1. useful information,
  2. that they’ve received helpful responses
  3. and that they have a quick response.

Now each one of those things need to be defined very clearly so that anybody who visits a social site knows that they’re going to have these three things. So whoever’s on that team that directly interfaces with anybody on any social site needs to agree to certain parameters around those things. I remember that I once had sought the help of a social media marketing company to enhance and market my website, in order to increase the flow of traffic to my website. Amongst the array of options I had, The Marketing Heaven seems like a good choice and so, I decide to go ahead with it.

For example, what is useful information? Is it always just straight up information? Can it be funny things? Can it be things that break the monotony of the day? What is considered useful when posting on the site, those posting parameters?

What are helpful resources — Where are they, what are they and are those people available? If you give out a phone number to somebody on the social site, are they going to pick up on the line?

And what is a quick response time? Is it five minutes? Five hours? Five days? What about the weekend?

All of those things needed to be defined by the team and put into writing. That’s a “client expectation” between the social site and the people who visit that site to that’s going to be really important.

The Next Circle of Expectations

The next circle I think is around that one, that is the actual social media team, that internal team that handles all social media. In a university it might be different departments have their own social media team or the university has one social media team. Whatever that is there’s still “client expectations” that need to be developed and signed on in a written document. For me I would think that internal social media team has some areas to work on, too.

One is what is the preferred communication flow for normal things and for emergency things? Because in social media there’s always something that happens that needs an emergency response.So that process needs to be very clear in a document, what’s the normal way to communicate with each other inside the team? What is an emergency response? What are the expectations around that, it needs to be really clearly defined. This will help you so much when that emergency does roll around. Even if you don’t think it’s going to be an emergency, trust me there will be one. So defining that — the communication flow — is vital.

The other one is reporting what’s really necessary. Does the team have to come up with a fifty-point reporting document? Or can it just be three items that the university needs to know, that has to be clearly defined.

The third thing is the culture. With the solo entrepreneur you get to define your own culture for and how you work. But when you work with the team you need to work those things out and the culture of a space is probably one of the most important client expectation for an internal team. You really need to know the people that are on the team, how each one of those people works, what their gifts are with their communication things are. This particular part of the expectation contract really needs to be written out. Sometimes you need to have built into that client expectation regular meetings to make sure everybody is still on the same page with that.

I have a small personal example about that in my own life. Many times I’ve written emails in a hurry out to people, I work on a team and I’m just giving them the facts and I’m just trying to be efficient with my time. A lot of times people come back with “Are you mad at me?” When I thought I was being efficient with my typing, they were taking it as being terse and upset with them. So it’s really very important to understand what happens to personalities, especially when they get stressed and how to understand that.

Just as a personal insight on this, what I have found that I have to do with myself because I learned that lesson. Because when you get that email back “Are you upset with me?” You have to spend so much time healing emotions with that and it’s really not necessary. So before I send any email to any team member on my product launches, I always take a moment, sit for a moment and make sure that what I’ve written is coming from the nicest, friendliest space that I have and not be so efficient with my time in typing. I understand that my energy and my power comes through the email. So I personally have taken that as a thing I do to create a good culture within my team.

The Outer Circle

Okay so now the third circle is that outer circle in this team example I’m talking about and that’s the university itself. So you have the people who interact with the social media team on social, you have the internal social media team and then you have the university itself and there are three things in that circle.

One — is there needs to be a clear process of how the whole university is going to use social media. In other words, does the University want to use social media just for gathering leads? Does it want to use it for branding? Do they want to use it just for communication? That has to be really clear and set in this client expectation form.

The second thing is an agreed-upon follow-up process that the University and the internal social media team use between themselves to follow up on things. So for example if the social media team gets a lead for a student who might be interested in the University, there’s a process that the internal team uses to the whole university and that process is really clear and agreed-upon. Any moment you could have a follow-up process. So those are two separate things, the how to create the lead and how to follow up on that lead. That would be a really important client expectation.

The last bit is that preferred communication flow between the internal team in the university itself and it needs to be written down on a document and everyone sign it. So really I could talk about this up for a really long time, because it’s really one of the most important things that people talk about my world in working with clients, either as solo entrepreneurs and or as part of the team. Those client expectations are the number one thing that throw people off when they’re not written down. So please take a moment and do that process.

What’s your experience with this idea of client expectations?

Social Media Manager School is opening up again soon, I hope you join us! We have these conversations all the time and help people through these processes on our private Facebook group. Get a boat-load of case studies, templates, documents and webinars by joining our list.