Working as a social media manager can be an exciting and rewarding career. But it can also be a bit stressful: In this position, you will be responsible for producing measurable results, and your employers will be looking for answers if you don’t.

Fortunately, you can get the results you need to help your employer and your career by following a few best practices.

Here are a few things you can do to get your best start in the job:

Perform a Thorough Audit

Before you can know what you need to do to help your company get better results on social media, you need to know what practices the company has engaged in previously and what its stats are currently.

Create a spreadsheet for the company’s social media channels, showing what network the company is on, who has posting permissions, and what tools are being used to manage the sites.

Create a more thorough spreadsheet that shows how many followers the company has on each site, what the average week-over-week growth has been (or decline), average weekly shares, average weekly comments, and average weekly mentions, among other metrics.

You may need to tweak these metrics depending on the site. For example, Facebook has shares, while Twitter has re-tweets and Pinterest has re-pins.

Finally, create an extensive report showing what social media practices have been used and what kind of success they’ve had. You’ll want to note what kinds of posts are being made, how frequently posts are published, whether images or video are used, whether contests are hosted, and so on.

Monitor Competitors and Followers

Once you get a sense for where your company is, get a sense for where the industry is, including both competitors and followers.

Take a few days or a few weeks to listen to what people are talking about, how they are interacting with each other, and what they want.

In particular, you want to find out how they talk about your brand or products, and how they view your company in relation to competitors. If they aren’t talking about your brand or products, that tells you a lot also.

You also want to pay special attention to what your customers’ problems are and what they want or need from your brand (or any brand in your niche). That will help you understand how to reach them.

Talk with Employees about Strategy

Get a feel for how social media has been handled for the company in the past by talking to employees.

Ask them how social media has been handled, including who has been responsible for posting on what channels and what kind of strategy has been used for posting.

Find out if the employees responsible for posting had been trained in social media strategies. Find out how employees who are not a part of the marketing team are able to request content for social media or provide their ideas or feedback.

Knowing what kind of history the company has had for social media will help you determine where changes need to be made. You’ll also learn about successful strategies that you can emulate.

Study the Best Performing Content

By looking at your company’s best performing content, you can determine what resonates best with your target audience.

Make sure you understand why the content performed well. What is the type of post — informational, entertaining, inspirational? Did posts with just text or those accompanies by pictures or video perform better? Did the time of day or the day of the week make a difference?

Replicate these strategies as best you can with your new content plan. You may need to conduct some A/B testing to get these answers if the data doesn’t provide them.

Create Templates

Once you know what types of posts perform best, you can create some templates for the rest of your team to be successful.

You can create a series of questions for them to answer to create successful posts, or you can create a structure for posts such as “subject” plus “photo” plus “emotion” or something to that effect.

Create a series of guidelines for your team, such as a posting calendar, proper formatting for images, frequency for posting each of the types of posts, and so on.

The more detailed you can be with your social media templates and guidelines, the more successful you and your team will be with your social media strategy.

Working as a social media manager can be challenging. You are trying to balance both the art and science of connecting with users amid an ever-changing marketing landscape. Yet staying aware of the best practices and trends can help you find success. Following these tips will get you and your team off to the best start so that you can make an impression on your new bosses.

Social Media Get Your Best Start as a Social Media Manager