Originally featured on Whiskey and Red, August 31, 2016.
One of the scariest parts of running a business is not necessarily the client work, or managing the products and services we offer, but the other important business tasks that come along with owning a business; invoicing, client management, marketing, and of course, social media.
With the ever changing algorithms and new platforms popping up all the time, running a business and managing a successful social media presence can be overwhelming for a lot of us small business owners. Especially those whose comfort level engaging online isn’t very high. (Psst! If that last comment is you, then this post is too.)
Naturally, when you aren’t very good at something, it makes more sense to focus your valuable time and energy on what you do best, and outsource the things that you aren’t as good it. But how do you outsource social media? How do you find the right person to take over? Is it still authentic if it isn’t you doing the posting? What can you outsource? (Raise your hand if you’ve asked any of these questions too!)
I am thrilled to welcome Social Media Manager and Strategist, Helene Kwong of Hashtagitude to discuss not only how to find a social media manager to help you with your social media efforts, but how to make the most of their partnership and really harness the powers that social media can bring to your business through the working with a Social Media Manager.
HOW TO WORK WITH A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
How to know when you’re ready to bring on a Social Media Manager and how to hire the right one for your brand.
FIRST OFF, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A VA (VIRTUAL BUSINESS ASSISTANT) AND A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER?
Why would someone hire one over the other, and how do you know which you need most?
Helene: A VA focuses on executing tasks which don’t necessarily all center on social media, while a Social Media Manager focuses on social media and other aspects of digital marketing by building out the social media strategy, executing on those strategies, and providing in-depth analyses of the data that comes back from performing those strategies. Depending on the individual, a VA can be lower cost than a Social Media Manager.
You would hire a VA over a Social Media Manager if you had a lot of different tasks to outsource, such as invoicing, emailing, basic scheduling out social media content, et. al. If you wanted to amp up your digital marketing efforts (but do not want to perform the tasks alone), you would hire a Social Media Manager to get an effective strategy together and execute upon that strategy.
You will know whether you need either a VA or a Social Media Manager (or both) once you outline what your goals are for making those hires: do you want to increase your online presence? Do you want more SALES of your products and services? If hiring an individual to help you with day-to-day business tasks (a VA) or social media, what would you do with that time freed up?
Once you’ve made the decision to hire a Social Media Manager…
HOW DO YOU BEGIN OUTLINING THE VARIOUS TASKS TO OUTSOURCE?
What really falls into the realm of “social media”? Is it just things like Facebook posting and Pinterest pinning? Or are there other areas that a Social Media Manager can get involved to help expand your business?
Helene: The most basic task in social media is getting content posted, whether that’s Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, etc. In addition to getting your content scheduled and posted, an effective Social Media Manager can help you create a total strategy for your social media marketing efforts, an editorial calendar to plan out content curation/creation for the current month and future months, plus analytics reporting.
A Social Media Manager can also be involved in your email and content marketing as well, but that all depends on how well-versed he or she is in other aspects of digital marketing. Since Hashtagitude is expanding its services past social media, we also provide email marketing, content marketing, and soon search engine marketing to our clients.
A good Social Media Manager really *should* (cough-cough MUST!) have working-knowledge on how Social Media Marketing fits in with other aspects of digital marketing, since social media is more complementary with other components of the digital space versus being stand-alone.
Oooo I really love that point you just made about how “Social Media Marketing fits in with other aspects of digital marketing, since social media is more complementary with other components of the digital space versus being stand-alone”. This is HUGE, I find so many of my client view it as a separate entity and have a hard time visualizing how to tie it into the grander strategy of their overall business plan.
A Social Media Manager, can take a business plan and help curate the most relevant and purposeful content strategy to utilize the powers of Social Media to help accelerate your long term business and marketing goals. Even if someone isn’t sure which platforms to be on, or where their target market is best engaged, but by having a clear business plan, a Social Media Manager can take that plan and identify your top platforms where you’ll receive the most authentic audience engagement.
HOW WOULD SOMEONE GO ABOUT HIRING A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER?
What kinds of questions should they be asking? How can we gauge the expertise of someone’s skills and if they are right for our business?
Helene: Unfortunately, anyone can say they are a Social Media Manager and they may not have the ideal qualities or ethics to handle your work. There are some Social Media Managers out there who may charge a low rate, but you have to know what you are paying for as well.
You could start your search for a Social Media Manager in certain focused Facebook Groups (such as Julie’s “The Creative Corner”), but you may get a huge queue of people who will say “Yes, I do social media!” and then it will be a huge task in itself for you to weed through who actually has credentials.
Thank you for the group shout out Helene, and I so agree, crowd calling for a job on social media isn’t always the best avenue for success, although sometimes it can help get you on the right track to see what people are offering versus what others aren’t and start to discover the stronger players who meet your needs.
Helene: You can also search for a social media manager through LinkedIn since people are more likely to list their actual work experience in digital marketing versus through a Facebook Group. Check out those profiles and their business websites, if they have one.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN HIRING A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER:
- What kind of tools does the Social Media Manager use to manage their clients’ accounts:
Do they use Hootsuite? Sprout Social? Buffer? CoSchedule? This shows how efficient the Social Media Manager can be if they know how to use these kinds of tools for scheduling, posting, engagement, and analytics.
- What is the scope of services the Social Media Manager will be performing?
Will the manager be working on only posting to your social media accounts, or will he or she also be helping you with figuring out the best times to market your product/service, creating Facebook Ads, etc.? This is another way to gauge how experienced the manager is and if he or she is competent in the field.
- Which social media networks do they work with?
Some Social Media Managers will state that they only work with Pinterest and Instagram, while others will work with any social media network that’s out there. When we first started Hashtagitude, we focused primarily on Twitter and Facebook, but now we can effectively manage all the major social media networks out there.
- Can they report on analytics?
All the major social media networks now have native analytics, so at the very least, the Social Media Manager should be able to interpret the analytics and report on this to you on a weekly/monthly basis.
- What kind of industries have they worked with previously?
A Social Media Manager who knows the ins and outs of your industry would be great to have on board.
Helene: You can also look at what kind of certifications the Social Media Manager has (or ask them for their certifications). Since the digital marketing world continues to evolve over time, there aren’t too many “official” certifications out there. Hootsuite has a certification exam that users can take after completing their six free courses on social marketing fundamentals. A Social Media Manager who has certifications in the industry can be a good bet since that shows that they are invested in learning and growing their knowledge.
Something I’ve found in my own past research for a Social Media Manager that when I check out the Social Media Manager’s accounts, their following might be small or quiet, but looking at their past client’s accounts really gives a better scope of their professional credibility and quality of work. Seeing clients with soaring numbers, high engagement, and a strong consistent post schedule is a great way to see how that client utilized the scope of work from their Social Media Manager.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER FOR YOU
I personally believe that while I am a designer, I am not the right designer for every project. I have my own unique perspective when it comes to business and design and that needs to be in line with my clients in order for us to have a successful design experience. Do you feel it’s the same for Social Media?
Are some social media marketers better for a specific client than others?
Helene: Since marketing can be subjective, one Social Media Manager may not be the right fit versus another one. The question comes down to industries: at Hashtagitude, we focus primarily on service-based businesses, even though we are open to working with product-based businesses (and are currently working with one, actually) and larger businesses.
Some Social Media Managers may be better suited for certain industries than others. For instance, the legal, medical, and financial industries can be tricky to navigate on social media with all of their compliance regulations, so a Social Media Manager who knows a lot about those industries or has worked in those industries would be a better asset for an attorney than a Social Media Manager who has no idea how to navigate those industries.
WHAT ABOUT TONE AND MOOD
I know that it can be hard to explain the kind of tone or mood I want to portray across my social platforms, and I never want to come across as insincere or false. I know I’m not alone in fearing that my authenticity could be affected by hiring someone else to manage my accounts for me.
How does a great social media manager combat these fears and keep my accounts authentically me?
Helene: When Hashtagitude works with a new client, we perform preliminary research on the client’s previous blog posts, email newsletters, social media posts, et. al. , in order to have a good idea of the client’s brand voice. We then make sure we continue to have a good grasp of their authentic voice by drafting social media posts for those clients and having them revise and approve those posts before publishing on a regular basis. Our clients stay involved during their duration with us to optimize the return on investment for their social media marketing.
Does this mean that the client creates the content or does the Social Media Manager create the content or is it somewhere more in the middle? The goal of hiring the Social Media Manager was both to increase productive engagement as it relates to the primary business goals, but also free up time on the client’s end for them to focus on other areas of their business. How do you help meet both those needs as a Social Media Manager?
Helene: Depending on the level of involvement clients want to have in Social Media Management, we are generally in contact with our clients at least once a week. However, our Social Media Management service gives our clients more free time to focus on other areas of their business and an increased amount of productive online engagement for their brand.
Working with a GREAT social media manager means that you will still have a hand in the process, but you can rest at ease knowing that you can focus on building your business while the Social Media Manager focuses on your online presence on your behalf.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU RECOMMEND?
Do you have any tools or resources we can use right now to help us get a better handle on our social media platforms?
Any special programs you recommend for us to gain more clarity and control with what we want from our accounts and help us get organized for a social Media Manager to come in and take over?
Helene: You’re in luck: we created a free tip sheet with common social media terms, a list of resources to check out (with pricing, a brief description of each resource, etc.), and our top five blog posts regarding social media.
ARE YOU READY FOR A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER?
What are some of your fears about working with a Social Media Manager? The cost? The communication? The giving up of control over your favorite platforms that you’ve worked so hard on?
Let us know in the comments below, and let Helene and I help provide you some clarity on how to take your brand to a new level of success on social media, no matter whether you do it on your own or hire a Social Media Manager to help you. There is no such thing as a silly question, so ask away and let’s bring some clarity to your social media strategy.
If you know someone who’s been looking for a Social Media Manager lately with no luck, share this post with them and hopefully they’ll be able to find the perfect Social Media Manager for them.
Here’s to building a brand that not only looks, but acts, sounds, thinks, and feels just like us. Because after all, we are our brands.
Julie & Steve