When it comes time to hire a social media manager, many companies take what they think is the easy route.
“We’ll just hire an intern or a millennial fresh out of college. They all know social media, and hiring someone young will help us save money.”
If this thought has ever crossed your mind, I’d like you to take a moment to think about what you’re actually saying…
Yes, millennials came of age during the time of social media, so many people who are a part of this generation are fluent in many of these social media channels and use them regularly, posting to their personal accounts.
But you know who else posts regularly to social media?
And yes, Maureen is a saint in many respects, but she is not an expert on what types of social media content appeal to a brand’s target audience.
She doesn’t know how to find which hashtags a company can use to improve their reach or nail down the specific types of content that appeal to a specific audience who is looking for a specific solution to a specific problem.
And while this may seem like an extreme example because my grandma is hardly a millennial, it’s the same flawed thought process.
Just because someone has a thriving personal social media presence does not necessarily mean that they have what it takes to manage your company’s social networks. One misworded Tweet or a series of posts that don’t appeal to your audience, and you could lose the following you already have.
So let’s talk about what does make an effective social media manager and how you can benefit from bringing the right person on to your team.
Why Small Businesses Need a Social Media Presence
In today’s competitive economy, social media marketing is non-negotiable for any small business looking to make an impact. According to a 2019 survey from The Manifest, 73 percent of small businesses rely on social media for promotion. While this represents a clear majority, this number is only going to increase as a greater share of consumers look to social media to discover, research, and connect with brands.
Social media provides a variety of marketing benefits for businesses of all sizes, across various industries. However, for small business owners, social media is a resource that is that much more important as it allows SMBs to compete with larger companies that have larger content marketing budgets. All it takes is a great social media manager who can identify the type of content a brand’s target audience wants to see and ensure that the brand is posting and engaging consistently.
Still not convinced that social media holds the key to digital marketing success?
Here are just a few of the top reasons why social networks are indispensable as a tool for small business marketing:
Increasing Brand Awareness
Small businesses often struggle to build brand awareness due to limited budgets or narrow geographic reach. However, with social media, these limitations don’t matter so much. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow small businesses to attract not only target customers in their region but also, a broad range of consumers residing hundreds — even thousands — of miles away. This ability is particularly important for e-commerce businesses, which otherwise may find it difficult to go up against larger retailers who have brick and mortar establishments across the U.S.
Building a Sense of Community
Social networking is all about the community. Users love engaging with brands that align with their personal goals and values. They also enjoy connecting with people who share these priorities. By building your presence on social media, you offer your top customers the opportunity to join one another, with your business acting as the common link. This, in turn, will drive greater engagement for your brand.
Strong consumer engagement provides significant value for SMBs, who can stretch their marketing dollars further if backed by loyal customers. It takes far less work to keep a current consumer engaged than it does to attract one in the first place. Once a strong connection has been established, consumers will make greater investments in preferred brands. In fact, research from Accenture reveals that two-thirds of customers spend more when they feel a sense of loyalty.
Improving Other Digital Marketing Efforts
The most effective small business marketing strategies are comprehensive in scope. Ideally, social media marketing will complement other efforts, such as SEO and email marketing. For example, small businesses can use strong social channels to drive more traffic back to their site through links to content while also increasing subscriptions to their email newsletters. Ultimately, the best social campaigns will seamlessly tie into several other digital strategies to form a cohesive approach to digital marketing.
Strengthening Customer Service
While phone calls and emails remain top avenues for customer service, many consumers now head straight to social media to find information about or otherwise interact with brands. While many small businesses fear negative comments, data from a notable American Express survey confirms that social media-based interactions are, in fact, overwhelmingly positive.
Consumers appreciate the freedom that social media grants them to voice their thoughts and concerns in real-time. Their perception of your brand will be that much better if your responses convey a sense of care and compassion.
Producing Cost-Effective Marketing Content
Social media represents one of the most cost-effective means of increasing brand awareness and producing conversions. While paid advertising is available on most social networking sites, it’s also possible to represent your organization on these platforms nearly free of charge through organic marketing.
Keep in mind that even ‘free’ social media networking comes with some sort of cost attached. In many cases, this will involve a significant time commitment, as an effective social media strategy requires significant effort at the outset. If you choose to invest in keyword research and content production, however, you could come away with an impressive return on investment. Depending on your objectives, your social media campaign might net you increased website traffic, new contacts for your email list, or increased sales for your e-commerce site.
The remarkable ROI attributed to social media marketing may explain why, in the previously mentioned study from The Manifest, nearly two-thirds of respondents expressed interest in expanding their social media budget in the near future. While small business owners recognize the value in leveling up digital marketing across the board, the unique opportunities available through social media provide greater confidence when making allocations that might otherwise seem risky for cash-strapped companies.
As you seek effective and affordable solutions for increasing your organization’s digital reach, look to social media as a top strategy. A small amount of effort could produce huge gains in everything from website traffic to client bookings or in-store sales. Don’t waste this opportunity to build an engaged audience on a budget.
Pros and Cons of Hiring Someone to Manage Your Social Media Presence
Now that you understand why social media is indispensable to small business success in the modern marketing landscape, let’s talk about hiring someone to help.
While business owners overwhelmingly agree that social media is essential, they differ greatly in how they plan and implement social strategies.
Some small business owners manage to build a strong social media following all on their own. However, such success stories are surprisingly rare as few entrepreneurs possess the time or expertise necessary to navigate this complex process. Increasingly, SMBs look to social media marketing experts to handle everything from keyword research to key performance indicator (KPI) tracking.
Outsourcing can feel like a big leap for small business owners already struggling with budgetary constraints. Prior to taking on this expenditure, entrepreneurs should feel confident that it will deliver a desirable return on investment.
If you’re thinking of investing in outsourced social media management for your small business, it’s crucial that you understand the full scope of considerations that go into this major decision.
Pros of Outsourcing Social Media Management
Here are just a few ways that your small business can benefit from outsourcing social media management to a professional community manager:
The greatest benefit of outsourced social media arguably lies in the potential for saving time. As a busy small business owner, you may be limited in your capacity to take on additional marketing initiatives — especially something as time-intensive as social media. While social networking sites can provide significant value, you need to nuture your social media following if you want to build an engaged and responsive community of followers. Otherwise, social media outreach will have little impact.
Often, business owners underestimate the true time investment that implementing an effective social media strategy requires. Unfortunately, this effort cannot be allocated in a specific time slot and then set aside. As experts at Search Engine Journal explain, it mandates “constant attention…generally in small intervals.” Outsourcing mitigates this hassle, freeing up both time and mental space for other endeavors.
When business owners are short on time, social media tends to be the first marketing essential to fall by the wayside. Suddenly, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram updates decrease in frequency. As a result, each post produces diminishing returns, with followers growing less engaged over time. Publishing consistency is a must for brands that want to continue to grow and nurture their audience.
Scheduling your social posts can help you post more consistently. However, this doesn’t account for the community management or engagement aspect of social media marketing. It also doesn’t account for any time-sensitive content you may need to post in real-time. Hiring a freelance social media manager or social media agency allows businesses to maintain consistency, thereby ensuring that updates are posted at the most opportune times while also taking trending topics into account.
Effective Integration With Other Marketing Efforts
Despite their title, social media managers do not exclusively focus on networking platforms. Rather, they aim to integrate social media efforts within broader digital marketing campaigns. The goal? To harness the power of social media for the benefit of a vast array of marketing channels, including websites, email, and more. Social media experts understand the interplay between these various platforms. Their efforts can increase ROI not only with social networking, but also for the entire scope of your organization’s marketing initiatives.
Cons of Hiring a Social Media Manager
While there are many benefits to hiring a professional social media manager for your small business, there are a few concerns that you may have as well.
Cost is one of the most common barriers for many businesses interested in outsourcing social media management. Already suffering from limited budgets, many small business owners are reluctant to spend more money on marketing. But what some business owners fail to realize is that their efforts to continue maintaining social media accounts on their own can actually cost them more in the long run.
Occupied by social media concerns, business owners may struggle to allocate the time and focus needed for other, equally important matters. Social media agencies and professionals tend to be more efficient in their handling of digital marketing efforts. Their contributions allow small business owners to allocate precious time to the more core aspects of their business.
Much of the strength attributed to social media marketing resides in its ability to convey industry authority. Small business owners enjoy connecting with followers, who appreciate the business owner’s in-depth knowledge of the industry and its products or services. Many business owners worry that this effect could be diminished through outsourcing content to a social media expert who may not be an industry expert.
But this isn’t necessarily true.
Numerous social media agencies offer niche specialization, complete with experts who thoroughly understand the industry and its accompanying concerns. Additionally, these agencies can integrate business owners into the process to ensure that their voice remains consistent.
Social media outsourcing provides a wonderful opportunity to amp up your digital marketing efforts to achieve a far greater ROI than would be possible on your own. Take some time to weigh the potential cost of this approach against the possibility of time savings and better metrics. You may be surprised by the extent to which outsourcing improves your organization’s social media outreach.
Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Social Media Manager
Now that you’ve weighed the pros and cons or outsourcing your social media management, let’s dig deeper into the benefits of hiring a freelancer to manage your social media over an agency or in-house professional.
First, you’ll want to take a look at your current situation, particularly at staffing. Do you have the resources to bring on another full- or part-time team member?
Many small businesses are hesitant to hire another full-time team member with benefits, especially if they are not yet certain of the ROI that this team member will bring to their company. This makes hiring a freelancer an attractive option as they do not need to work 40 hours or get benefits from the small business to make an impact on its digital marketing.
Next, you’ll need to consider if you even have full-time work for a social media manager to do. Many SMB owners may not have time to take on social media, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a full-time job.
For this reason, many small businesses find that hiring a dedicated team member for social media management is inefficient. The workload tends to be small, so they don’t get the full value of hiring in-house. The freelance model is a much better fit for small business that need someone for their social media, but not full time.
A freelancer will typically bill per project or monthly as opposed to drawing a full-time salary and benefits. This fits better into most small business’ marketing budgets. You can tailor their job duties to your needs and only pay for what you need.
What do freelance social media managers do?
A social media manager manages a company’s social media platforms used for advertising and marketing. The nuts and bolts of this tend to vary from one business to another but the outcome is always the same. Their goals are to turn fans into loyal customers and those customers into brand advocates.
How do they do it? There are a number of tasks that they may manage to accomplish this.
Social Media Strategy
Social media managers often start by setting goals, developing strategies, and planning the content. They might create an editorial calendar and populate it a month ahead or three months ahead, create all of the content, and then automate the posting using a tool like Hootsuite. This involves crafting the right content for your target audience and then deploying the right strategies to get that content in front of them.
Online Reputation Management
The social media manager is also an integral part of developing and managing a company’s online reputation. They constantly monitor the interactions on the various platforms and engage in social listening to hear what the customers are really saying.
Social media professionals also use social media to increase brand awareness. This is often factored into the overall campaign, but they will take specific actions to make the brand more visible as well as more approachable. This is part of the relationship-building process that gives customers a sense of trust in the brand.
Since content is at the core of social media management, the social media manager will often double as the content creator. This includes developing both written and visual content to share across your social platforms. Social media managers who double as content creators need to have a specific skill set that enables them to create images, videos, and written captions that capture your audience’s attention.
Lead and Sales Generation
The generation of inbound traffic as well as the cultivation of sales and qualified leads is another hat the social media manager wears. They aim to create a content experience that draws in consumers who are most likely to buy from your brand. They’ll also provide a mix of content that aims to convert leads into buyers.
In addition to content creation, the social media manager may also play their part in lead and sales generation through communicating with and engaging your social media community.
What are the benefits of hiring a dedicated freelance manager for your social media presence?
Hiring a dedicated freelance social media manager means that one person, one voice will fuel your social media content and engagement. Every piece of content that your company generates will go through that one person. They will also be there to communicate with anyone who enters your brand marketing funnel through a social media channel. Having one person manage this social media work helps ensure that your brand voice is consistent across platforms.
Hiring a freelancer as opposed to hiring a full-time employee will, of course, save you money but it will also keep that person’s focus on social media and content. They will not be distracted by other office duties that a regular employee may face.
Often, small business owners have to hire employees that are able to wear multiple hats. This means that they may hire someone like a copywriter or marketing manager to handle social media. However, in hiring a freelancer, you’re able to choose a professional that specializes and is focused on creating and managing social media content and engagement rather than hiring someone who has a little experience in multiple roles.
Why hire a freelancer over an in-house team member?
If you are a small business, it may not be economically feasible to have an in-house team member managing your social media content and engagement. Sometimes it just isn’t practical or cost-effective to hire a new full-time, in-house employee. By choosing to hire a freelancer you get the best of both worlds, a loyal professional who values your company and wants to see it succeed and a specialized talent that charges per project or offers a retainer rate that allows you to get the most out of your limited budget.
Some businesses will recruit an existing team member to take over their social media management but often these businesses find that the learning curve is too steep for it to be financially efficient. It isn’t enough to throw up a few posts on Facebook and write a couple of pretty posts. It takes knowledge of social media dynamics, audience demographics, consumer habits, SEO, and more to create content that does what you want it to do.
Similarly, passing this work off to someone on your team may take them away from other important job tasks. Social media is not only time-consuming but it requires consistency if you want to get the full value of this digital marketing tactic. Hiring a freelancer allows you to benefit from someone who has the time and expertise to really grow and foster your social media community.
How to Hire a Freelancer for Social Media Management
Okay, okay, I need to hire a freelance social media manager. But how do I know who to hire?
You’ll need to consider what your goals are before you start the search process for a freelance social media manager. Use the guidance below to determine what you need, who to look for, and where to find them.
What Should You Look for When Hiring a Social Media Manager?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Consider what you want from social, so you’ll know what to look for. Check out three basic types of goals you may have and how it changes what your ideal candidate may look like.
Do people already know who you are? Or do you simply want a presence just to have one?
Maybe you don’t have a large social media budget right now. But you want to get something going. And you need someone to regularly publish to each platform.
This is the most affordable way to do social media.
Look for someone creative and consistent. They would also need to have the skills to understand what’s resonating with customers. And they need customer service skills to handle customer concerns that come through social media.
You’re building a social media presence from scratch–or close to it. But you need to see measurable results from your social media in the form of increased revenues–Yesterday!
You’re willing to increase your spend if you see those results. You may also have a long-term plan for brand-building. But the short-term is more important right now.
Look for someone who understands how to generate a following on social media and convert that following into sales. This often involves a combination of social media management and social media advertising. And that may require you to find two different freelancers who work closely together.
If this is your goal, find a social media manager who understands how your target customers use social media. They must have strong analytical skills and understand how to use social media automation and advanced analytics to help build a presence.
Also, look for someone who can think short- and long-term. Because over time, building a brand will increase your social and ad ROI.
This is where most businesses that are serious about integrating social media into their marketing strategies will fall.
You’re ready to go all-in with social media. And you probably have some up-front capital investment. Your goal is a high ROI that may not be immediate. You want to charge a premium for your brand. And you know that consistent social media branding can increase revenues by 23%. It can also cut costs on hiring, advertising, and marketing over time.
Getting results quickly isn’t as important as brand awareness and creating demand. You’re looking for a rockstar social media management freelancer.
They should have all of the above skills. Plus they should know everything about social media and the best ways to get results. You should also be able to get references or see examples from businesses they’ve helped before. They are masters of social media contests, live video, and other advanced media.
How to Evaluate Prospective Social Media Managers
As a hiring manager, know that you’re making a critical hiring decision when hiring a freelancer. You’ll be investing some time and effort into this partnership, not mention money. So you want to choose the right person. Here are a few things to consider when interviewing potential social media managers for your business:
1. Communication Style
Are they comfortable communicating in the language of your target customers? And keep in mind this includes how they use the following in their social media content:
And of course, they should have the ability to communicate inclusively and avoid saying something that causes a public relations nightmare.
You should also feel comfortable that this person will communicate with you and other members on your team to keep everyone on the same page in terms of social strategy, operations, and results.
Can they be innovative and edgy, while still aligning with your brand? Do they use a variety of media to communicate brand messages and get the art of visual composition?
Check out the social media profiles that they are currently managing or ask to see examples of past work to get a feel for their style and voice when it comes to social media content. Look closely at the examples from businesses that are similar to yours in terms of size, industry, and/or product or service offering. This will give you a better idea of how creative this professional can be when it comes to creating content for similar social media profiles.
3. Organizational Skills
A social media marketer must be organized. While they may have working style variations, all managers must be able to plan, meet deadlines, and use analytics to evaluate the success or failure of their efforts to improve.
The best way to find out if someone is organized is to ask them how they stay organized. If they provide details about the different tools and strategies they use to stay on top of things, then they are most likely an organized professional.
4. Broader Understanding of Digital Marketing
Your ideal social media manager doesn’t have to know everything about marketing to manage social media, especially if you’ve hired a maintenance manager. See above.
But they need the broader context of:
- Targeting customers
- Conveying a brand image
- Creating social media strategies and campaigns
- Inbound + outbound
- Delivering customer experience of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
- Feeding qualified leads to the Sales Department
Consider your marketing department and how a freelancer fits into it. And you’ll understand what kinds of questions to ask here. Maybe you have a marketing manager that can provide strategic guidance and you just need help with creation. Or maybe you have no internal marketing team so you need someone to hit the ground running. Consider what types of skills and knowledge your social media manager needs to have to be able to work well within your existing team.
Where Should You Look for Potential Social Media Managers?
Social media managers are on social media. On LinkedIn, they’ll probably have something like “Freelance Social Media Manager” or “Freelance Social Media Specialist” as their job role. Many of these professionals will even indicate on their profile or in their heading if they are currently open to working with new clients.
Similarly, you may be able to find these professionals on Twitter and Instagram. By looking for a freelance social media manager on social media channels, you are not only able to find people who do this work, but you’ll get a little taste of their creative work by looking at their social media pages.
You can also find social media specialists on freelance job sites like WriterAccess. Many of our clients who get help with social media management work through WriterAccess Managed Services to get help from a customer success manager who does all the coordinating for them.
Want to learn more about how WriterAccess can connect you with a freelancer who specializes in crating social content?
Request a demo, and we’ll show you how it works.
Sarah Jane Burt is Sr. Content Strategist at WriterAccess. For the past decade, she’s helped brands big and small, from tech giant IBM to the local plumber, tell their stories and create strategies for customer-driven content. When she’s not working on developing and implementing our content strategy, she’s writing blog posts that help demystify content marketing and strategy for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and enterprise content teams.