If you’re reading this, you have either decided to explore the world of outsourcing your social media marketing or perhaps you have recently engaged someone and that work is underway.
Let me start by saying this: GOOD FOR YOU!
Bringing someone into the fold from ‘outside’ your team to work on your business is a huge step! It takes a real leap of faith to entrust such an important aspect of your business to someone else; only made more difficult when it’s been a solo operation to this point.
It is also an excellent step to take in your business, particularly if Social Media Marketing is not a personal strength of yours.
There are a few reasons business owners take the plunge into hiring a Social Media Manager:
- You have grown to the point where it is necessary for you to hand social media marketing to someone else, so you can be present in your business
- You recognise the extraordinary value in a strong, focused social media strategy and believe it is better left to an expert
- You have tried, but feel it doesn’t come naturally to you – sometimes this is a case of the business owner not being confident creating high-quality content in the form of photos and videos and sometimes the written word, ‘cuz social communication just isn’t your jam
- You have NFI what you’re doing (don’t feel bad – ask me to help you with maths… actually…don’t.)
- You want it done right, by someone with experience from the get-go
And there are many reasons to add to that list, I am sure.
Now that you have decided to either look for someone or have already engaged them, it is important to understand what that person’s role will entail.
“Social Media Management” can cover so much more than social media. If you are about to head into seeking someone to support you, it is worth figuring out what functions of your business, marketing strategy and sales funnels will be affected by the person’s role, and how they intertwine. Consider:
- Do you have an email list you want to make the most of? And will your Social Media Manager take that on as part of the work they will be doing?
- Do you require landing pages, website updates or pages created to funnel your clicks? Can they do that for you? Or is this something you need to do yourself/hire someone else for?
- How many platforms do you want/need to be on, and how many of them are crucial to your site visits and ultimate sales numbers?
- Are they only going to be generating and scheduling content, or will they also be running advertising campaigns for you?
- Do you have content based on your product or service, or do you also require someone to create that for you?
- Will you personally respond to messages and comments, or do you need them to be all over your accounts morning, noon and night?
- Is someone else generating content, writing blogs and completing emails which affect the new social media managers schedule and role?
“Social Media Management” can cover so much more than social media.
If you are talking with Social Media Managers, or have one already, these are questions they should be able to answer for you, based on their skills and availablity. And if you are unsure, they may even be able to help you find the answers. A good Social Media Manager should be able to create a plan with you, which outlines the roles of anyone involved, highlights the need for possible extra hands and will tailor a strategy which suits your business needs.
Once you have started shopping around, there are some questions you need to ask the individuals or agencies being considered for this very important task. The agency or person’s expertise may not actually reflect your needs, and there is no shame in trying to work that out and ask the question.
- Have they worked on accounts within your industry before? If they send you a lot of green flags, and the answer to this is no, this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Discuss with them how they plan to support you.
- Have they any experience in creating advertising campaigns? If this is a big one on your list, it’s important that you ensure the person you are considering can deliver quality and carefully designed campaigns. Whilst it’s not always perfect results from the first campaign (like, rarely. There is so much involved; social media advertising is fickle, changes often and is most definitely a “tweak and perfect” art) it is crucial they understand how to play with the data and tweak your targeting to make the most of your dollar.
- Do they take photos, write, update websites, understand your mailing client? If the answer is no, consider if these are things you need them for. If the answer is yes, you may add to the role being negotiated or keep in mind for later!
- What do they cost and what are you advised you will have in return? This is a tricky one. While there is, at times, a median price in social media management, it doesn’t apply to all. Some agencies charge per month, some per week, some have packages, and some charge purely by the hour. Some individuals charge per hour, and some charge according to the results they will bring in. Again, have this discussion and make sure you understand their pricing structure. There is nothing worse on either end than having to question what is being paid for (more on this later).
- What are their unique strengths when it comes to social media marketing? This is so supremely important and overlooked far too often! A few examples include: Some are talented writers, so your captions are going to be breathtaking, emails expertly crafted and your audience will feel connected and understood. Some are exceptional photographers, either on smart phone or the full monty photographer. They may not produce incredible advertising campaigns, but what is more important to you right now? Creating a look-book and showcasing your quality, or funnelling website visits and leads? (If you were to ask my opinion, which you kinda did by reading this, I would recommend BOTH. If that isn’t an option, revert to the above question and decide if their strength trumps their “weaknesses” according to your needs). Some are relationship managers and will tee you up with the best influencers around, growing your following and therefore your reach – is that what you need right now? Some are advertising wizards and will create funnels for you which turn your dollars spent into dollars received. Have an open chat with the people you are interviewing for this prestigious role, because their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your needs are so, very crucial.
Honesty is everything because social media is personal.
- What do they think of your current social media presence? This is a great way to establish trust, honesty and for you to find out what they are all about. If you are already running your own social (or, perhaps moving on from a previous Social Media Manager) you should ask them what they think of what you or someone else has been doing of late. In doing so, you give the agency/person in question an opportunity to showcase their ideas and passion for working for you, PLUS, you get to find out if they are going to be honest with you and tell you from their point of view what they truly believe will work for you, and not work for you. An average social Media Manager will say “yes” when you make a request of them. A GREAT Social Media Manager will say “This could be improved, I’d like to do more of this, and I can see this isn’t working for you”. Honesty is everything because social media is personal.
- Are they actually good at the platforms you are asking them to work on? Just because they work on social media, doesn’t mean they are great at all social media. Ask me to work on your Google Hangout and I’ll say no. Why? I don’t use it, I don’t like it and I haven’t learned how to leverage it. Make sure the person who will be managing your social knows how to make the most of the platforms you will be showcased on.
- Do they have an idea as to what platforms you should be on? This is also very important because you will be spending money on them spending their time on this. If you are an insurance agent, should you be on Pinterest? If you are a real estate agent, do they think you need to be on Foursquare? If you a retail store, have they recommended Instagram? Be wary of anyone who talks you out of something that could be potentially crucial simply because they haven’t the correct skill requirements to make it work. Be equally as wary of anyone who recommends you be on everything. I am yet to find a single business that should be on erryyything. Especially when starting out – and remember, being my blog, this is based on my opinion – I am of the absolute belief that you start at point A, nail point A, move onto point B, nail it, and repeat. You do not need to be on every platform. You need to be where your buyers are.
You do not need to be on every platform. You need to be where your buyers are.
Now, let’s assume you have interviewed, shortlisted and selected your VIP. You have devised a plan that works for you, the Social Media Manager is excited to get cracking, and you are tingling with excitement, nerves and anticipation to see what they can do!
Exactly what are the rules, here?
How do you ensure you are both managing your relationship so that it actually works?
Here are some things you can do to make sure the relationship rolls along beautifully:
- Make your expectations clear in the beginning. If you need someone to answer your calls at 10pm, give them a chance to agree to be that person. If you have particular religious, personal, intimate, social or political beliefs which may impede on the content they can or cannot use, or perhaps the types of ‘holidays’, awareness days etc that they can mention or celebrate, make sure they actually have this information
- Pay them. Pay your bills. Pay them on time and avoid questioning them. If you were both clear in the beginning, there should be no need to question your invoices. If you are unhappy with the service, voice any concerns professionally and quickly. Do not wait for them to bill you for it. Quick case study: I once had a client who I worked tirelessly for. I did far more than social media management. While I was paid on time 90% of the time, I was incessantly haggled on my price, my hours were constantly questioned, I was contacted at all hours including weekends, and my work quality started to be questioned when I started to count my hours to the minute as a result of the never-ending haggle/invoice questioning. I ended up with zero motivation to work for this client, and my passion for the success of this business dwindled week after week. More than once (more than thrice, if I am being honest) we negotiated hours, pay and roles, however, the time the client took in questioning everything and adding ‘last minute projects’ which were never agreed upon in the most recent pay/hours/job description negotiation took its toll. I fired this client and never looked back. Needless to say, I lost out on the final invoice because they refused to pay it. However, the client lost out also because as per our agreement, I severed the relationship with 2 weeks notice which left them without a Social Media Manager, starting from the beginning again (and certainly not finding someone who would negotiate down the way I had with them). They burned a bridge and lost a hard-at-it, dedicated contractor who took a rate cut to keep their business. Don’t make asking for payment embarrassing for the person working hard for you. Don;t let them feel like they owe you something because you pay them money. It hurts everyone involved and if communication is clear to begin with, should be 100% unnecessary.
- Give them your products! This one may come as a surprise but if you have products you expect them to sell via Social Media Marketing, give ’em to them! It’s the same as if you offer professional services – showcase them! Give them the experience because this is what they need to be selling on your behalf. Please, don’t make them pay – they are not your customers, it is their job to FIND YOU customers. They are contracted to sell you – show them what you are selling. Make it easy for them. Help a brother out. (Note: This is of course within reason. If you sell 100 products, give them some. We don’t expect you to go overboard!)
- Don’t expect them to be available 24/7. ‘Cuz they ain’t. Unless decided upon prior to the commencement of work, your Social Media Manager works during their business hours. Then they spend time with family, on other clients, on their own business… just elsewhere. If they love their job, you can bet your bottom dollar they are checking your account after and before hours, responding to comments and messages, carefully nurturing the accounts you entrusted to them. If someone asks a question on your Instagram account at 10pm, understand that the person you hired to field this will respond in the morning. (Unless they don’t – which is a bonus to you!). It is not unreasonable to assume that customers get that businesses are not open 24/7. Allow a little breathing room.
- Keep the goal posts in place. If you have decided on a specific strategy, branding angle, overall look for your account, keep it that way or have a professional discussion about what needs to change, if that is the case. When you move the goalposts on a regular basis, you confuse your Social Media Manager and may actually damage their confidence when it comes to your account. If a strategy doesn’t work (after you have given it a fair amount of time, and the data agrees) then have a professional discussion to make the needed changes or tweaks.
- Compliment them when due, provide feedback where needed. Simple as that! If they do great work – thank them. Yes, paying them is thanking them but it’s also your obligation. If they do something you don’t like, wouldn’t want to see again or needs a change, let them know in a timely, polite and professional manner.
- Educate them. No one knows your business like you do. Please, don’t expect anyone else to somehow learn the business on such an intimate level as you do. Take time to educate your Social Media Manager and help them do great things for you and your brand as a result.
There are literally hundreds more things I could discuss when it comes to hiring a Social Media Manager, but I think this article may have grown larger than life as it is. If I have to sum the entire article into 4 points, they would be:
- Understand and then respect the person’s craft when hiring. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses
- Make sure your needs are going to be met, and voice your expectations clearly at the start
- Keep the lines of communication clear and transparent at all times, to ensure they can and will do a great job for you
- Go into Social Media Management with a plan and some direction – you will never doubt you are on the same page and you will both be far more efficient as a result!
It might feel scary, but hiring a Social Media Manager or professional is a totally awesome move for your businesses to make! Now, go shop around (contact us here for a quote) and get that business running with you at the frontline of where your strengths lay. Let a professional take care of the rest.