Everyone is an "expert" in social media these days, and when looking for someone to support you with your business' social, your first instinct may well be to go to a millennial with thousands of followers! Because they know what they're doing, right?
Building an audience on social media as an individual is completely different to building an audience as a business. An influencer isn't selling; they are just gathering followers because of the content they share - they may well get them to read their blog or sign up for their newsletter, but this is very different to encouraging followers to buy their products or shop in their store.
When choosing someone to support you with your social media, you need to ask the following questions:
1. What experience do they have in managing a social media audience on behalf of a business?
This is really important; you need to know that they understand social media is more than just building a community through sharing content and that you need to see some ROI. When a client asks me this question, I can rattle off clients I have worked with over the last 18 months, but most importantly I started my social media business journey managing the social channels for Swarovski, where social media was used to build brand awareness and get our followers into our boutiques. You're looking for similar examples to help qualify them for the job.
2. Do they understand your industry?
I would never, for example, offer coaching or management services to a financial services provider. I have no experience in this area and wouldn't know the protocol or legislation around selling in this market. I do however know retail, inside out! 15 years working in retail in a variety of positions means that I know customer service and how to sell - skills required for social selling and brand building. Don't be afraid to question your social media expert before hiring; they may not be able to give you specifics such as "I increased X's click throughs by X" because their client might not want that information shared, but they should be able to talk knowledgeably about the industry and previous successes. If they are just one person but offering to service all types and sizes of businesses - I'd be concerned. Would you hire a Jack-of-all-trades to build you a house? You'll be able to tell quite quickly if something isn't quite right.
3. Are their prices too good-to-be-true?
My Dad always said to me, "if it's too good to be true, it probably is!" As a small business, your budget will be tight, BUT if it's too good to be true, it's probably going to cost you twice as much undoing the mess this social media "expert" is going to get you in.
I've seen social media managers offering to manage social media accounts for as a little as £99 a month! You need to question what you're going to be getting for that fee, just as you would if they were going to charge £2,000 a month.
- How many hours/days a month are they working on your account?
- How much content are they providing, will you need to provide the images or will they be taking them for you?
- What "add-on" costs might crop up (photography, reporting, advertising)?
- How many months are they locking you into a contract?
In-depth analytic software costs around £99 a month for one account, if they're managing multiple accounts the monthly cost will be much higher, you need to question what reporting is going to be offered to you regularly and how thorough and accurate it is. Ask what software they use and what the reporting will look like and will they send a summary as well as the numbers, as these figures might not mean a great deal to you if you're not familiar with social media analytics.
4. Do you need someone to manage your social media or someone to support and empower you to do it yourself?
Hiring a social media manager is a long-term investment, month after month you will be paying out a fee - you need to ask yourself how sustainable this is? As a small business owner, you might feel like you're spinning a thousand plates (heck I do!) but is this a plate you can afford to give to someone else?
Although I offer social media management services to those small business owners that need to outsource, I believe much more in coaching and supporting SBO's to take charge of their social media.
The reason for this is as follows:
- It's a short term investment, once you know what to do - you can do it! Social media is FREE so why to incur an extra monthly cost that you don't need.
- When you're growing your business, you need to listen to your customers, and there is no better way to get to know your customer base and understand what they want than attending a daily focus group with your target market right there on social media
- Your brand voice. If the business is still small and built around you, you are your brand. Nobody can be your voice. Just as I would never manage someones LinkedIn profile for them, nobody can be you - you are unique. Although your business may well grow beyond just you and develop a separate brand voice, right now - it's an edited version of you.
- As with any contractor, ask questions, request testimonials (especially if they aren't on their website) and drill down to what exactly "qualifies" them to be an "expert" in their field. Unlike a lot of professions they won't have certifications, however, there are lots of indicators as to whether someone knows their trade and is qualified to charge for their services.
Ultimately go with your gut, you'll know if they're a good match for you and your business and if your gut says the match isn't right, walk away because replacing that broken plate is going to cost you.
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