This article was originally published at The Social Penguin Blog, one of our partners. It discusses Sprout Social, our social media management tool.

Collaboration on social media promotions used to be an enormous hassle, but it’s getting easier. When businesses and marketers first started using Twitter and Facebook to communicate with consumers, clients, and customers, there simply weren’t any good tools for keeping track of who was doing what.

You can make the process a lot easier now both by using techniques that the best marketers and managers have developed over the past few years, and by using social media management applications that include powerful tools for managing and coordinating teams.

Here are a few of those techniques and tools, including our own, Sprout Social. We hope they help!

Stay in Touch By Chatting

The most common problem with managing a team responsible for social media promotions is coordinating who’s publishing what — and when. Sometimes team members will publish on top of each other, and sometimes important updates will go unpublished because someone thought someone else was responsible for making it happen.

The most basic way to avoid these kinds of miscommunications is to talk. Obviously, this is easiest if you’re in an office together, but even if you’re not, you can still prevent these problems by keeping a chat window open at all times. If the entire team is in a chat room, they can announce their plans to send out new tweets before they happen, and everyone can be in the know (and have a chat log record) of what’s transpired.

If your operation is on a tight budget, just use Skype‘s group chat feature, but consider 37signals’ web-based chat and collaboration app Campfire if you have $50 per month to spare. It stores the chat logs in a centralized place, works on every platform, and has other advantages that make it worth the money.

Formally Divide Up the Work

It seems obvious to say, “divide up the work,” but many teams don’t do it. Social media is often handled haphazardly by whoever’s available at any given moment because many companies are still new to the idea and haven’t developed a process.

Assign responsibility for certain types of tweets to individual team members. For example, if you’re company has a blog, one team member should always be responsible for tweeting links to the blog posts. Another person can be responsible for product updates, and another person can be responsible to responding to @ mentions from followers, and so on.

Make sure everyone on your team knows who’s responsible for what by sharing a document with assignments on Google Docs or a similar web-based collaborative tool.

Use a Social Media Management Tool Designed for Teams

Many organizations can get by using the tips above, but those that want to get really serious about managing online marketing teams and a company’s social media presence  should consider powerful social media management tools that offer collaboration features.

Our social media management tool is called Sprout Social, and we just released a new version called S2. Sprout Social S2 offers complex account structures and permissions, as well as task assignment. You can organize individuals into teams large or small, giving some teams or individuals access to some social media accounts, but not to others.

You can also monitor all your incoming contact from customers and followers, then assign individual tweets or other tasks to people in your organization, such as replies to certain customers. You can even do this with our new mobile application.

We’ve done our best to make Sprout Social comprehensive, so you don’t need other tools to manage your team, but we still recommend Google Docs for sharing best practices with your team and Campfire for collaborating in real-time, particularly if you have a very high volume of tweets, Facebook updates, and other social media activities to track and produce.

Do you have any ideas for managing social media teams? Be sure and share them in the comments!

[Image credit: Anita Hart, Michael Surran]