Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin, Oh MY! Hiring a social media manager can be almost as intimidating as social media itself. From basic posting to full-on advertising. There are more ways to use social media for marketing than there are social media channels (and that’s A LOT)!
We all know that social media isn’t going the way of yellow pages advertising any time soon. There’s still a very prominent place in social media for marketing your business. Yet, the landscape changes almost daily and can be challenging to keep up. So where do you start and how do you know what to look for when hiring a social media manager?
Goals, of course.
The first stage of any process should always be your goals. This holds true for hiring a social media manager as well. You need to know what your social media goals are first. Are you just trying to have a visible presence on social media? Or are you actually trying to achieve some concrete results?
Let’s look at a few of these goals.
Someone (Probably a Social Media Manager) Told Me To
OK, I’m not saying this is you. I hope this isn’t you. Maybe this is you. This is you IF you have social media accounts because you think you are supposed to.
Look, social media isn’t like having a business bank account. It isn’t a requirement for doing business. Sure, a lot of people will tell you it is. They probably have some stake in you getting so far in over your head that they want you to hire them to fix it for you.
It’s OK if this is you. It’s fixable.
If this is you, you may have opened several social media accounts and, once in a blue moon, post to one or two of them. This content might be repurposed from blog posts or podcasts. Or it might be curated from things you think are interesting. It may actually even, occasionally, be relevant.
This level of engagement is a lot like going to a networking event once or twice a year, dropping off your business cards and leaving. You hope someone will pick them up and call you but it’s not likely.
It’s OK if this is you. It’s fixable.
It may be tempting to hire someone to replace you when you are new. You hire them to have some consistency in your posting schedule. But, all you are really doing is "attending more events" per year and dropping off your business cards.
We recommend avoiding hiring someone to manage this process for you. You won’t see much return on that investment. It’s kind of like going to the gym after pigging out at a buffet. You might feel better for doing it but your results won’t show.
Maybe Get Some Leads
“Wait a minute… Isn’t the point of social media to generate leads for growing my business?”
If this is you, you may feel the best way to use social media is to post links back to your website to drive traffic. You might also offer an occasional promotional post about your products or services.
Sure, we all want leads. I mean, we aren’t in a non-profit after all (if you are, then this may not be the right post for you… Just sayin…). We are here to make money and the only way to do that is to get more leads.
And here’s the rub. You and the more than 50 million businesses on Facebook alone are all competing for that same goal.
You are also competing with the social media platforms. And they have all said they want (and need) to keep traffic on their own sites. It’s not in their best interest to send it to yours! It’s kind of like going to a networking event and telling everyone they need to come over to your business right now. The event organizer isn’t going to be too happy with you.
Once upon a time, it was easy to post a link to your article or offer and get a lot of people to click over. That’s not the case anymore.
Getting organic leads (those you don’t have to use ads to get) requires a much more involved process now. This takes time and effective strategy.
When thinking about organic traffic, a community is where it’s at. You can build social media communities in any of the following ways:
- Groups (Facebook and LinkedIn),
- Boards (Pinterest),
- Hashtags (Instagram and Twitter),
- Or directly on pages and profiles (any social media).
Communities are where cold contacts turn into warm leads. Social media platforms prefer to keep their audiences on the platform. It is up to you to develop strategies that foster your community where they already are.
Think of this like your daily or weekly networking time, only you don’t have to get dressed or deal with traffic!
The best way to build community is to make time to get to know others and interact with them in meaningful ways. This process can’t be automated. It takes a real human to engage with others. At least, I haven’t seen any AI that works that well yet…
Ah, the golden goose. It’s all about generating sales. There are two ways to use social media to generate sales. Neither one of them will likely produce results as fast as you want!
Using paid ads in social media is the fastest way to generate sales. But, it still takes time to get the algorithm to work out and usually requires a funnel to lead to the sale.
It won't cost you anything to nurture your community and take a relationship approach. But it will take a lot longer. It requires getting your hands dirty and having conversations. What you are saving in money, you’ll spend in time.
Every business can start using social media for customer service purposes. It can be as simple as following up when you see questions or comments.
Many medium to large businesses are now also using social media as their primary channel for customer support. Customer support can now interact directly with clients where they are. Chatbots are even allowing automation of many of these common questions
We feel this is an area to be reserve until your business hits a certain level though. If you are still a small, one person operation, you probably aren't quite ready for chatbots.
Improve Brand Awareness
Are you almost as tired of hearing about the need for a brand as you are hearing about social media? Well, that’s because they go hand in hand. An effective brand allows you to stand out in the crowd.
Think of social media as a sports stadium full of fans from dozens of different sports and teams. You happen to love baseball, particularly the Arizona Diamonbacks. And you aren’t a big fan of football. (Oh, wait, that’s me. Well, pick your combo and fill it in).
Now, it’s up to you to get the attention of the few fans that match your combo. You could spend a lot of money for a jumbotron ad. Or you could be wearing the telltale colors and logo of your favorite team. Anyone you meet will know who you root for.
This is what brand awareness is. It’s helping people to instantly know who you are and what you are about. Social media is an excellent way to get your brand out into the world. Sure, you could spend the big money for the ads. Or you can walk around the stadium wearing your team brand and connecting with others.
Are you sending out an SOS? Is this all too overwhelming? Don’t worry, you can get help. Hiring a social media manager depends on more than just your goals, though. Let’s look at what’s next.
You might be sticking to the super basics of social media and only care about the fact that content is posted. For everyone else, effective social media management involves some essential skills.
Programs like Canva make this a little easier to manage. But it’s still important that the graphic elements of your social media are on brand.
If you are a party planner for children’s events, an image with a woman in a long flowing dress laying over a piano probably wouldn’t make sense.
Look at the following two images. What feels different about them?
These are both social media images for Virtual A Team. However, the second image draws on my brand values rather than just following a basic template.
Just as important are the colors and fonts you use in your images. Do they add to or detract from the message you are trying to put out. Graphic design is more than just knowing your way around a program.
For those of us that write, it seems like a skill that anyone can have. However, writing for social media isn’t just a quick sentence or two. Effective posts that increase engagement and stimulate action need some savvy copywriting skills. A good copywriter is part psychologist. They know how people think and string words together that drive results.
Not all of your posts will be stuff you created. It’s important to be able to research and curate content that complements but does not compete with your business. Let's say you are a professional organizer. You might not want to share content that is from another professional organizer in the same town. But one from another state might add to and help you grow your business.
Hey, look, at its core, social media is marketing. That’s why it’s called social media marketing and not social media branding or social media sales or social media networking. Effective social media marketing can have a much wider impact than initially anticipated. Your social media content could end up on search engines, in magazines (both online and print) and on websites all over the internet.
A subset of marketing is advertising or paying for your marketing. The costs of ads go up as social media platforms become more and more competitive in the space they give to advertisers. You can reduce your costs by targeting your ads to specific populations but this can be challenging if you aren’t familiar with the tools.
The next step is to really evaluate your skills in the areas above. It’s OK if you suck at something. You are good at what you do and should focus on your zone of genius. Let someone else suck at what you do and have graphic design as their zone of genius.
Once you know what you are good at, you need to really decide if it makes sense for you to spend time doing it. Seriously. You could be an excellent writer but does it make sense for you to write all your social media posts? If you can pay someone $50 an hour to do that and you can make $150 an hour, you are losing $100 an hour for each hour you do this.
My husband used to tell me that the fastest typist in the world was a lawyer who still had a secretary do all his typing because he made more money as a lawyer. I haven’t been able to verify that story but it gets the point across.
Hey, look, if you have more time than money, then do the work you know how and delegate the stuff you don’t. But if you are slowing down your own business growth because you are spending too much time doing things you CAN do but shouldn’t, then maybe it’s time for a new plan. Maybe…
Who to Hire
If you are stuck on hiring someone just to get basic content out, then you can probably do fine with a general virtual assistant for this purpose.
Social Media Strategist
A social media strategist can help you come up with a game plan for how to get the most out of your social media. They may not do the hands on work for you but can give you some ideas and suggestions for what to post and when. The social media strategies will help you draw the map.
Social Media Manager
There are no requirements for calling yourself a social media manager. This can be a virtual assistant who has some social media experience or it may be a social media strategist who is highly skilled and also helps with implementation. But how do you know if a social media manager is skilled? Here’s a little help.
Questions to ask when hiring a social media manager
- What social media channels should I be on for my business? (Hint, if they say all, then they don’t know what they are doing).
- How would you use the different social media channels for my business?
- What tools do you use to manage social media?
- What is your experience with advertising on social media?
- What makes a good social media post?
An effective social media manager will spend as much time asking you questions about your business and goals as you ask them. In fact, it should be more.
Remember that virtual assistants are entry level positions that often do not have the required skills to get results on social media. If your goals are simply to have a presence, then this can work for you. However, if you are looking at social media as a marketing investment, then consider going with a skilled professional that can get results.