Social Media Q&A
How to Hire Out Your Social Media
Busy entrepreneurs often find out it’s not always best to do everything themselves. Embracing a new social media program can put unnecessary demands on a business that hasn’t thought ahead about how to manage the increase in workflow. Here are some common questions and answers around when and how to hire out social media work.
When is it time to hire someone to manage your social media?
If a company realizes social media is an important part of its marketing strategy, the time to hire someone to manage it is basically whenever it needs managed. What that means is, it could be from day one, if a business owner knows he or she already has a full plate and lacks the interest or desire to do social media directly. Or it could be further down the road once the owner has gained a solid understanding of the medium and how it is engaging with their audiences.
If someone is finding that social media is taking up lots of time and distracting from more important priorities, that is a sure sign it is time to find someone else to take over. Also, if a company is doing social media but not experiencing any engagement or positive results, that is also a sign that some additional expertise is called for.
What are the qualities to look for?
Brands have been communicating with their audiences in different ways since forever, so when looking for a social media manager/strategist, look for the same qualities you’d want in any other potential brand ambassador. They need to be personable, friendly, outgoing, warm and it’s very important that they like people, since social media is a people-oriented process. They need common sense to know when to engage or disengage and how to steer or direct online conversations. They also need proficiency in the current top social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Since these platforms are constantly changing and new ones are being adopted every day, they need a comfort level with technology and the ability to proactively educate themselves on best practices.
An ability to demonstrate measureable results is also something I’d look for when hiring an outside person or firm. What have been their most successful marketing programs and what metrics can they show that demonstrate their ability to gain followers, increase engagement, or build a brand’s personality? Lastly, since it is important for a brand to have a consistent voice in the marketplace, I’d seek a person who plans to be in the line of work well into the future. You wouldn’t want to have someone who captures your brand and connects really well with people only to have them abruptly leave and you have to start over.
What kinds of social media tools do you recommend?
One of the cool things about social media is that there is an application for almost anything you want to do online. You only have to seek it out and give it a try. Also, there are an incredible amount of articles written by super smart people that help evaluate and sift through all the different applications, guiding users to the ones that have the features they prefer. Best of all, many if not most of these things are free. So I’d advise, if someone is struggling with a particular task, do a Google search and see how others have streamlined the process as step one.
Right now the thought is you don’t want to automate your posts too much because it can seem robotic and false, which can put people off. Still, I like SocialOomph.com as a site to input some inspirational tweets and the like so that you can ensure you have fresh content. Just don’t let it be the only stuff you ever share.
Other cool tools I use regularly include Twitpic.com for sharing pictures with the ability to gauge popularity because it shows how many views, Tweetdeck (an easy way to keep track of favorite people and clients), ping.fm to connect some of your social media accounts to save time re-posting, justunfollow.com to let you release followers who are no longer relevant on Twitter, TwitterCounter.com to track your follower trends, and Timely, which actually uses a special process to post your content at the times it will reach the most people, which is pretty cool.
A majorly overlooked tool is inputting your company onto every Twitter directory you can find online. People never think to do this, but these directories are great for reaching those who are actively searching for the kind of information you are putting out there.
When is it best to have an outside company handle it?
A firm is probably going to want to work with a company when they’re totally sure social media is a crucial part of their marketing strategy and/or they have a specific goal in mind, like they need a campaign to launch a new product or service, or they want to reinvigorate a stale brand.
When there is something particular and measurable they want to do, it makes more sense to budget for it and bring in some experts because the firm will experience a clear and measurable result. If a firm doesn’t yet have any specific goals with social media, they don’t understand social media or they aren’t totally sold on its usefulness, they are likely to feel unsatisfied regardless of the performance of the outside group. Just like with plastic surgery, having realistic expectations upfront leads to a happier patient at the end.
Barbara Wayman, president of BlueTree Media, LLC, publishes The Stand Out Newsletter, an award-winning ezine for people who want to know how to leverage the power of marketing and public relations. Get your free subscription today at www.bluetreemedia