Too often, small business owners try to do everything in-house, and while it’s true that DIY can save you money, it can take a lot of time, and since time is money, it’s often a zero-sum game. The time you’re spending on complicated or time-consuming tasks is time you’re not working on your business, and that’s not good for your bottom line.
Then there’s the learning curve. Very often, things that involve technology require a detailed understanding, and it can take time to learn that too. If you skip the learning and jump right in, there’s a chance you could make a mistake, and when it comes to social media for business, that’s a very public mistake!
The answer, for many busy small business owners, is social media management, but what is it, and how can you take advantage of this service?
What is social media management?
Social media management is a turnkey solution to social media outsourcing. A social media manager will take control of your current social media accounts, from content creation and posting schedules to engaging with fans and growing your follower base.
In addition to managing all of your existing social portals, a social media manager will also help you to identify new strategies and practices that might improve your social media marketing ROI.
What is social media account management?
Social media account management refers to multiple channel or account management. So instead of one of your channels, a social media account manager will take control of all of your accounts or channels.
Why is social media management important?
Social media management is part art, part science, and all about relationships. Whether it’s the perfect time to post or the ideal number of posts per day, there is, very much, a magic formula.
Getting the right style, substance, and tone to get the most out of your social media accounts can take a long time, not to mention keeping up the pace of posting to be consistent and attract new followers.
You can’t be too advertising driven, but you also need to find ways to introduce your products and services (it is marketing, after all!). Then there’s the trick of turning followers and fans into paying customers, which is no small feat.
Social media is the perfect way to reach large groups of engaged, interested fans in your area, but it’s not simple by any means. It is definitely not a case of “if you build it they will come,” and if you don’t have the skills (or the time to learn them), outsourcing social media management to a company that knows what they are doing is a shortcut to the head of the lass.
What is a social media manager?
A social media manager is a Twitter ninja. They’re a Facebook Sherpa, to guide you through the social media wilderness. An Instagram guru.
They might be an individual in your company, but often, particularly in small businesses, hiring someone simply to manage social media simply isn’t feasible.
That might mean taking it on yourself, having an employee manage it in addition to their other tasks, or, like many small businesses, choosing an external service provider to take care of things for you.
What does social media management involve?
Do you still think social media management is simple? That it’s something you can do in the half hour you have your morning coffee? What if I told you there were dozens of different functions involved? Here they are:
Creating a Social media strategy
Marketing success always starts with strategy, and the role of the social media manager starts with this crucial planning. Some of the specific strategic functions your social media manager might handle are:
- Creating personas to describe your target audience.
- Creating content plans and calendars to reach that audience.
- Developing a social media budget, including paid advertising.
- Plan your campaigns.
- Outsource content creation, whether that is writing, graphics or other types of content.
- Develop specific marketing campaigns with specific stakeholders. For instance, if you are launching a new product or service, a social media manager might create a specific campaign.
- Educate and involve your existing team in your social media.
Integrate social media with other marketing activities.
Social media implementation
Planning is great, but at some point, you need to execute your plans to see if they work, and get the benefits you hope to out of them. A social media manager implements your plans in several ways:
- Manage day to day social media activities, including automation strategies where possible.
- Ensure that your brand has a consistent presence on your social media platforms. The only thing worse than not being on social media is having long breaks in your presence!
- Recruit and manage brand ambassadors and influencers.
- Community building, and developing relationships with your existing and prospective customer base.
- Start conversations, answer questions and offer interesting and useful information.
Content Creation for Social Media
Content marketing is not just about blogging. Social media is an important part of your content marketing too! Social media managers will:
- Identify and use other channels and platforms to get your brand maximum exposure. Because if your channels aren’t built up yet, the best way to get eyes on your content is to go where they already are.
- Create content for your blog that is designed for maximum social sharing.
- Create video content for your channels by repurposing your best-written content.
- Comment and post on related groups, pages, and blogs.
Social media monitoring
Without data to measure the results of your efforts, any marketing plan is a shot in the dark. Social media managers collect and analyse your social media data too.
- They create goals and targets for your platforms, in the short, medium and long-term.
- Collecting data from your social media pages and campaigns.
Analyse data regularly to determine what’s working and what’s not.
- Create reports on your social media marketing, so you don’t have to wade through the raw data.
Identify and capitalize on new trends in social media.
- Cross-reference social media activity and website traffic.
- Observe competitors social media strategy, and incorporate successful tactics in your strategy.
These are just the most common tasks a social media manager handles. There may be many more involved in your company’s strategy and implementation.
What skills does a social media manager need?
The role of the social media manager is a new one, and it’s constantly evolving, but there are some basic skills you will want to look for in your social media manager.
They should be an image whiz…
Social media posts with images are viewed more than 90% more often than those without. Your posts need images. Because of copyright issues, and for branding purposes, you need to post original images whenever possible.
This is why it’s important to find a social media manager that can handle graphics production on your behalf, so you can avoid paying another service provider.
… and a word ninja
Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but your words are just as important, and while your social media manager might not be writing full-length blog posts, they will be engaging with your fans and followers a few hundred characters at a time – and that’s tough.
Great writing is a critical skill for social media managers, not just in style and content, but to avoid embarrassing grammar and spelling errors, and potential problems in getting your message across.
They should live for customer service
Your social media manager will be the first line of contact with your customers on social platforms, so it’s crucial that they have a customer-focused outlook. While they might not be solving problems on your behalf, it’s important that they pass those issues along as quickly and clearly as possible, so that your customers stay happy.
They should know their SEO from their SEF…
While your social media manager might not take care of SEO and blogging, they are a big part of the picture, so it’s critical that they understand how it all works, and their part in the puzzle.
… and their way around social advertising
Social advertising is a great, targeted PPC option for small companies. If you don’t have a standalone advertising role in your company or a third party who handles this, your social media manager will need to do this too.
Understanding how this type of advertising works will allow them to maximise your bang for your advertising buck, and get you the best possible results.
You need someone with camera presence
Social platforms these days include a number of live, video-based possibilities, like Facebook Live and Periscope. If your social media manager is going to get the most out of these platforms, they’ll need to take care of this too, and that means being able to perform live, with confidence, in front of your followers. Not only is confidence critical, but the right accent and product and service knowledge are important.
Who knows how to build relationships…
Sales these days are all about relationships. Most consumers engage with brands online long before they buy, and when they do, it’s likely to be on social media. Your social media manager will literally be your first line in online marketing in many situations, so they had better be a customer service and community engagement rock star!
… and what makes audiences tick!
People are creatures of habit. While the platform might change, and the content evolves, we tend to do the same things over and over again. Your social media manager should be comfortable to analyse the psychology behind this behaviour, identify patterns, and leverage them to get the best possible results.
They should love to analyse data…
Data is deeply unsexy. There are no bells and whistles. But analysing it is still the most important part of your social media strategy.
Your social media manager needs to understand the importance of analytics, and how to interpret data. They need to be comfortable using that data to determine what’s working and what’s not, and to make recommendations for changes to your strategy.
… and know how to get things done within a budget!
Budget is a big part of any marketing and advertising for any small business. So while your social media manager doesn’t need to be an accountant, they should have the ability to create and stick to a budget, and to calculate the ROI you get from specific tasks like advertising campaigns.
Why outsource social media management?
Social media for business is very different from social media for fun. It’s so much more than memes and cat pictures. It takes dedication, consistency, and commitment. If you aren’t willing and able to devote time every single day, then you won’t get the results you hope for.
If you believe that if it’s worth doing something, it’s worth doing it right, and you can’t commit to the daily grind that is social media marketing, then you absolutely need to outsource your social media management to someone who lives, eats and breathes social. Your business and your customers deserve no less.
Still not sure? Read these warning signs that DIY social media won’t work for you.
Signs You Need HELP!
Most people underestimate how hard social media for business can be. They’re convinced they can do it themselves, and that a little light tweeting will bring floods of new customers to their doors. The facts are very different. Here are some of the most common causes for concern.
- Fitting social media in when you have time.
If social media isn’t a priority, it won’t happen. Silent accounts don’t grow. In fact, they lose followers.
- Planning to use social media for selling.
We all know a guy who is always trying to sell something. We all unfollow him. Don’t be that guy.
- Piling the responsibility for social media onto another (already busy) staff member.
Social media really isn’t something you can do properly if you’re doing a million other things.
If you’ve thought any of these things, you’re not ready for DIY social media management.
DIY Saves Money… But Costs Results
Spending money on something you think you can do yourself can be painful for small business owners, but when it comes to social media, DIY can do way more harm than good.
1) Social media is all about first impressions.
You may only have one chance to tell your story on to a potential customer on social media. Don’t waste those seconds!
2) If you want to sell on social, you’re doing it wrong.
Social media is social. They don’t call it sales media. If you think this is a selling channel, you need someone else to do it for you.
3) If you don’t answer, people go elsewhere.
Nearly 90% of customer contacts on social go unanswered. Those customers go elsewhere. You have a day or two to respond before that customer moves on. So if you can’t commit to responding to customers 100% of the time, you need to find someone who can do that for you.
4) There’s a steep learning curve.
Social media success doesn’t come from throwing things at the wall and hoping something sticks. You need a solid strategy, commitment, and accountability. All of which a social media manager will give you.
Why You Should Outsource
Large and small businesses can benefit from social media marketing. Here’s why:
- The person who handles your social media needs to know what to do, but also why they need to do it. If they aren’t sure, you should be outsourcing.
- Your message, tone and style need to be consistent. If you can’t maintain the “voice” of your brand consistently, you need to outsource to someone who can.
- You need to know your target audience in depth. If you don’t have detailed personas for your ideal fan or follower (or know what a persona is) you need to outsource to someone who does.
- What you post matters. When and how often matters just as much. If you don’t know exactly what type of content you will post, why, and how frequently, you will benefit from a professional who can develop and implement a content strategy and schedule.
- Do you understand marketing data? Do you know where to find your analytics? Do you know how to interpret it? If not, you probably need someone who does to take care of it for you.
- Can you devote time to social media every day? Are you prepared to work on social media on weekends or at night? Very often, social media is time sensitive, and if you can’t do this, you might want to hire someone who can.
- Do you know what split testing is? Do you know why you should test? Or how? Testing is important to social media success, and if you don’t know how to use this critical tool, you may need some professional help.
- Is there someone in your organization who already knows, in detail, how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and every other platform works? Once you launch a social media program in your organization, there won’t be a lot of time to learn on the job!
- Do you understand how to get the most out of paid advertising on social platforms? This is often critical to early traction for your pages, so if you don’t already have the know-how, outsourcing may be a good idea.
- Do you have the people, the time, and the resources to devote to getting social right? If not, you have two choices: don’t do it, or outsource.
If we’re outsourcing, what does social media management cost?
There’s no one size fits all answer to this question. The simplest and most honest response is that it varies a lot.
It will almost certainly be cheaper, however, than hiring a full-time person to deal with your social media channels.
It will definitely be cheaper (and less damaging) than trying to do it all in-house and making a mistake.
At Polkadot Communications we often manage our clients’ social media accounts as part of an overall communications strategy and therefore don’t typically specify a cost just for social media management. After all, social media management on its own doesn’t drive traffic, leads and sales. It takes the right bespoke combination of sustainable strategy-led marketing and communications techniques to grow a business.
Social media management isn’t for everyone. But if you can’t afford to hire a bona fide social media manager to take care of your channels in-house, it’s almost certainly the next best option.
So if you’re on the fence about hiring a professional third-party social media manager, find out what your options are. You’ll probably find that the ROI for going pro makes the investment worth your while.
Why not book a free communications assessment to see what your options are?
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