Could a Social Media Manager Be Right for You?
A quick note to start
Let me preface this by stressing that your business might not need an outsourced social media manager. If you have someone on your team, who has been professionally trained on using social media for business and is happy to keep an eye on your accounts 24/7, without sacrificing attention to other business-critical tasks, happy days. Or you may be a social media whizz yourself, of course.
There are some great online courses available on maximizing social media for business. There are also some bad ones. If you come across anyone labelling his or herself as a “social media guru”, “ninja”, “rockstar” or “badass”, definitely watch out.
There are also face-to-face social media training courses. Codebreak runs a cracking half day social media training course, although I might be biased.
Managing your social media in-house
Many businesses do run their social media in-house but, if they haven’t had the above training, they can sometimes do half a job, which will impact on your bottom line. They post weak content, they post irregularly, they don’t use Facebook Advertising and they don’t know how to handle people online… all of which adds up to ineffective activity and little engagement.
I have to stress this – just because someone uses Facebook a lot personally does not mean they know how to use Facebook commercially. It doesn’t matter that they’ve got 1,000 Facebook friends or 5,000 Instagram followers. Trust me. I have seen this happen time and time again.
When you are choosing a professional social media manager, a good first question to ask is, “What kind of Facebook Ads have you run?”
You could have the prettiest Facebook posts in the world but unless that page is backed up by an ad campaign, you are smiling at a girl in the dark. Or a boy. Or both, if you’re lucky. Your business will benefit from working with someone who does more than post for you.
Below are the services that a business-savvy employee or a professional social media manager should provide, in my experience. It’s what Codebreak recommends you should look for if you truly want to take advantage of social media’s huge influence:
A reliable service
Again, it might be tempting to ask an employee to take care of your social media. And this can sometimes work well. However, if they have lots of other stuff to do, it can be tricky. If social media is just an aside for you, fair enough. But if you are expecting it to benefit your business, social media needs to be at the top of their priority list.
They would also need to be supported from a continual training programme. Social media is developing on a weekly basis. What worked on Instagram a couple of months ago might not be as effective now. Will your member of staff know that?
Also, what’s going to happen when your employee is off sick? Or on holiday? This is why outsourcing is popular for a range of business tasks, not just social media. We’ve all seen the rise of the mighty VA. Outsourcing your admin without any HR hassles is hugely attractive.
This may ruffle some feathers but accordingly a professional social media manager should have a team around them. So if they’re sick or on holiday, you’re still covered. Each of our clients is covered by at least three of the team, for example. It can be done on your own (I’ve been there myself) but it’s flippin’ hard.
24/7 social media support
Social media doesn’t have opening and closing hours. Customers now expect you to be available at all times, any day of the week and that’s what a social media manager should offer. What happens if someone submits a business enquiry through Facebook at 8pm on a Friday? There’s no point getting back to them on Monday; they’ll have taken their business elsewhere.
These days, some people’s preferred method of contacting a company is through social media. They prefer to type than talk. They want to post a question on your Facebook Page, send you a Facebook Message or a Direct Message over Twitter. Will an employee monitor that for you 24/7? Will they be willing to have a lengthy to-and-fro conversation online on a Saturday night when everyone else is watching The X-Factor?
Some businesses need social media accounts set up from scratch, and this does require specialist knowledge. As well as strong imagery, calls-to-action and the right contact information, a social media manager will know how to keyword business bios for Search Engine Optimisation and understand how Google indexes social media.
We are amazed at how many accounts we’ll take over and see that some fields have been left empty. Even the email address! Potential customers will want to get hold of you easily! No email = fewer enquiries.
It is always worth checking these foundations. They make everything easier and more effective. You might be surprised what you find….
Always be polite
No matter what the situation or kind of mood they’re in, a professional social media manager will always be polite when liaising with customers or potential customers. That should go without saying but some people haven’t got the memo. Many confrontations can actually be diffused by politeness or even turned around.
Rising to someone on social media who is being rude or complaining rarely ends well. Most of the time, you’ll simply be pouring fuel on the fire. Sometimes, the person is being obtuse to deliberately bate you anyhow. They’re trolls – keyboard tough guys, we call them. Over time, you’ll know how to read people online and understand e-tonality. Then you’ll know how to respond… and also who to outright block and ban.
An employee of a client of ours, who was an admin of their company Facebook Page, once took it upon himself to reply to someone who had posted a harsh (but fair) criticism of a deal they were offering. He took the bait, basically. And it ended with him saying he was an idiot and that he should “stick to eBay with the other cheapskates”. That occurred at 10pm and I think alcohol was involved….
You have to ask who you can trust. Put personal feelings aside.
Posting regularly and strategically
Knowing when and how often to post in order to reach and engage with enough of the right audience is a learned skill. There’s no point posting at times of the day when your customer avatar is not online or has other priorities. Equally, posting three times in a row and then nothing for the rest of the week is a waste of time. We see this a lot and it is a giveaway that a business has thought, “Ooh, I’ve got five minutes – I’ll do some Facebooking.”
Once a day is all you need to post on Facebook, Instagram on LinkedIn. Twitter… 15. [Source: coschedule.com] It is always a case of quality over quantity. Posting multiple times a day on Facebook is a sign of a lack of knowledge, I’m afraid.
As with any successful marketing, you test and measure, test and measure. Some businesses find that posting late at night works well for them, for example, which flies in the face of much social media research. Yes, there’ll be fewer people online at that time, but there will also be fewer businesses competing for their attention. Keeping track of trends such as this is key. Do mix it up of course rather than only posting at night but be strategic about it.
Finding, designing and sharing strong content
A professional social media manager will research, create and post strong content. This will be content relating to your business but also to your industry and other news that your followers might be interested in. It doesn’t have to be solely about your business. Saying the same thing all the time will see people switching off. Me, me me! Yawn Central.
Do you share content from contemporaries, industry bodies and celebrities? Is your target audience likely to be into football or rugby? Great – you can use that. Post about the World Cup and Six Nations. Even an accountancy firm is allowed to be interested in sport! Films, humour, motivational quotes…. It’s wise to reveal your business’s personality and culture as well as your benefits; in fact, this is crucial if you’re a local business.
Also, spelling and grammar in your posts are important. It’s not the end of the world if there’s a missing apostrophe but your next biggest customer could be the one who does care. So if you have someone posting on your behalf, make sure they can spell and structure sentences properly! They are representing your business after all. There’s no point looking cool and “on-brand” if people are sniggering at the finer details. Or, worse still, making a public comment about it.
Hashtags can help grow your audience on Twitter and Instagram. If used correctly. If used incorrectly, they can make you look out of touch, desperate or can even lower the reach of your post.
A social media expert will know the fundamentals of hashtagging on different platforms. For Instagram and Twitter, a moderate number of relevant hashtags will increase your visibility by acting as an indexing system for anyone searching for that subject. They should find strong but niche hashtags; a dog walker, for example, shouldn’t use a hashtag that millions of other people are using such as #labrador. They’d be better off with #labradorable, which is still being used but not by the world and, er, their dog.
On Facebook, posts with one or maybe two hashtags are likely to perform better than posts with three or more. Sometimes, you shouldn’t use any hashtags in a Facebook post. If you see a business with ten hashtags at the end of their Facebook post, they don’t know what they’re doing. #fitness #vegan #lifestyle #gym #whatever … people’s eyes will glaze over, as will Facebook’s indexing algorithm.
Facebook Advertising is essential to reaching and engaging with a meaningful number of people. Nnbelievably, some social media managers still don’t use it! With the average organic reach of a Facebook Business Page being around 5% (source: Social@Ogilvy), you need it! Without it, your content won’t get seen by enough people. That is a fact. Only international firms that are posting super-viral, trending subjects on any industry can get away without advertising.
As you know, Facebook Ads are ideal for reaching defined groups of people. Where else can you target women in their 20s in London, who like playing tennis and have children under 12?! Facebook Advertising is where you do the real selling, not via your organic posts. There are different types of Facebook Ad, and your social media person should know which ones to choose for different goals and how to split test their performance to maximize your budget. Then of course the need ongoing monitoring. What’s working well, what needs tweaking?
You can also link certain Facebook Ads with Instagram, Messenger & Audience Network (other websites that Facebook partners with). This is another great advantage of Facebook; their Ads don’t only appear on Facebook. They allow you to retarget too, i.e. show ads to people who have visited specific pages on your website. Lots of reasons why Facebook’s revenues are up, no matter what scaremongering you might read.
At the end of the day, it is about making social media work for you, because it can be a beautiful thing. It can also be a quick way to waste time and lose money. Or ever both.
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