The idea of assembling a social media team is new enough for businesses that there isn’t a clear rule for how many people a company might need to handle all the tasks. Do you need a social media manager or a community manager, and do you know the difference?

Small and mid-sized businesses can get by with a lone ranger as your whole team, but that could increase the person’s risk of burnout, leading to a lower quality of work and high potential for mistakes. And for larger brands, it could feel like you need dozens of people to stay vocal on all the major networks.

What’s the magic number for the perfect team? As with so many elements of social media strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. However, there are several points to consider as you make hiring decisions about the size and composition of your team. Here are some important questions for your company to ask.

Do You Have a Manager Already?

The first hire for a company looking to launch a dedicated social media team should be probably be a social media manager. This person focuses on the strategy side, developing and executing a campaign for these online networks. He or she will help you identify the best channels for your company to be on, the type of content you share, and should exemplify some key traits related to the job.

Another possible consideration for your team is a community manager, who is most involved as a vocal face of the company. This may be the person handling some of your business’ tweets and Facebook updates, but he or she should also take their passion for the company beyond social media and act as a general brand ambassador.

Both a social media manager and a community manager can be responsible for some of your posts, but remember that social media is usually not a 9 to 5 job. To have somebody on call at all times, you’ll want to allocate the resources to hire more than just one of the managers listed above. Consider the following questions to decide how many additional people should be participating in your social media ventures.

What Are You Using Social Media For?

The size of your team is dependent on what you want to get out of your social media strategy. For example, if you looking for a place to field customer service inquiries, you’ll need to have enough people on hand to answer all the queries you receive in a timely manner. For a small business, one or two people should be sufficient working during usual business hours. An international enterprise brand could use up to a half-dozen depending on how accessible you want your online team to be.

On the other hand, even big brands like Coca-Cola or Skittles have created successful social media campaigns without a huge investment in dedicated social media staff. If you have a smaller number of daily posts, you may not need more than just one social media manager to maintain your brand presence on social media.

How Many Networks Is Your Company Using?

The spread of your social media presence is another key factor. If you want to have busy, active accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Foursquare, you’ll want to make sure that someone on your team is an expert (or willing to be become an expert) in each. It’s not necessary to have a separate person in charge of each channel, but the success of your social media campaign will be influenced heavily by how much time your staff can commit to maintaining the various accounts.

As you vet candidates, be sure to focus on what their strengths are. Is one person well-versed in Twitter but couldn’t care less about Pinterest? Be sure to consider the networks that are most important for your company and select people who are passionate about those channels.

Do You Have a Company Blog?

Corporate blogs don’t have to fall under the umbrella of social media team, but the people who run and contribute to your blog are still involved with your brand’s online presence. Depending on how large your business is, you may have a separate editorial division to handle blog operations, whereas a smaller company may lump blogging into the social media team.

In any case, make sure you don’t neglect the resources a blog needs. Even if you maintain your blog outside of your company’s social media crew, both teams should be in contact so that important posts get the proper treatment and promotion online. Also, make sure you’re giving your bloggers fair compensation for their work.

How many people are on your social media team? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Saad Faruque, Victor1558, Intel Free Press, cybershot dude, David Davies]