It took a while to get people to realise the importance of digital marketing. I think it’s fairly safe to say that today, most businesses are more than familiar with how vital this marketing avenue is to their growth and success.
Next came the challenge of getting businesses onto social media. This actually seems to have been a bit easier. The number of social media manager jobs increased 1,357% between 2010 and 2013.
So businesses are online, and they’re on social media. What’s the next big challenge for them in online marketing?
Doing both of those things right.
Obviously that’s easier said than done, which is why businesses are best left to outsourcing their digital marketing and social media management to third parties. But even this can have its fair share of pitfalls. Who do you trust to manage your social media accounts? Who do you trust to effectively market your business on social media?
Let’s start from the beginning
Digital Marketing And Social Media Management Are Not Interchangeable
To be pedantic, social media management is a kind of digital marketing. It’s a marketing platform that is digital.
There are businesses who don’t think they need to worry about a social media manager because they have a digital marketing team; likewise there are those who think they don’t need a digital marketing team because they have a social media manager.
They’re both wrong.
The approaches necessary for digital marketing and social media management are actually very different. Digital marketing uses a lot of “outbound” marketing techniques — things like email newsletters and directly trying to get in touch with leads to convert them.
Social media marketing, on the other hand, is more about inbound marketing. It’s a slower game — building trust and rapport with potential customers, providing value, and gradually convincing them to engage with your services over the competition. It’s not “Click here to sign up today!”, it’s about planting the seed of an idea in their mind so that when they want a service you provide, you’re the one they call.
A strong marketing strategy will be built on using both approaches for maximum results. Relying on one or the other won’t get businesses anywhere.
Know What a Social Media Manager Does
Now that we know what a social media manager isn’t, let’s look at what one is.
Many businesses fail to see the need for social media management because they don’t fully appreciate the work that goes in to successfully utilising social media for businesses.
Here are some of the tasks a social media manager is responsible for. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a social media manager can be expected to perform the following tasks:
- Managing a social media calendar. I’ve written on how to make and use one of these before.
- Scheduling social media posts for maximum results.
- Curating social media content that will speak your message to your target audience.
- Engaging with customers and partners who interact on your social channels.
- Monitor networks for brand mentions and keywords relevant to you and your services.
- Reviewing and revising strategies based on analytics
- Keep in touch with the rest of the company to keep abreast of announcements to publish
- Run experiments to optimise social media posts and revise strategies where applicable.
As you can see, effectively marketing on social media is so much more complex than posting photos and videos and making CTAs every once in a while.
It’s a full time position which requires at least one person working full time, or to be outsourced to a professional. Sufficiently large companies have entire teams dedicated to running their various social media channels.
So now we know what a social media manager isn’t, & what one is. How do you go about finding the right one to manage your businesses’ needs?
How to Find the Right Social Media Management Service
Here’s a red flag to get us started with:
Any social media management service that talks about selling through social media — at the least making hard sells — should be automatically taken out of consideration.
Because any social media management service that suggests that doesn’t know what effective social media management is.
Like I said at the beginning, social media marketing is about inbound marketing, not outbound. You can throw out the occasional limited time sale or hard sell, but overall your social media marketing is about engaging with an audience without an immediate expectation of a sale.
If you’re looking to hire a social media manager in-house, Sendible has a great list of questions to ask candidates. Some of them are a bit outdated (Google+ is dead — although it could be worth your time to ask the question and see if the candidate even realises this!) Being able to interview a candidate allows you to have a lot of control and get an immediate feel for the person’s suitability.
But most small-to-medium sized businesses don’t need to hire a dedicated in-house person; they want to bring in an external source to run it for them. This can be trickier, because everyone seems to say the same things. So here are a few key features to look out for when considering different social media management services:
Perhaps obvious — experience is always a relevant factor, whether hiring staff or finding a service provider — but there are quite a few elements at play when looking at the experience of a social media management service.
What do I mean by that?
Well, the years they’ve been running are all well and good. You want to engage with a provider who is going to be able to provide ongoing support to maintain consistency across your channels.
But you also need to look at what specific channels they have experience in.
Twitter is a very different beast to Facebook, for example. And new social media platforms are on the rise — first MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat. The latest major player at the time of writing is Tik Tok, and who knows who it will be by the end of the year.
So look at which channels the management service is comfortable using, and see how quick they are to dip their toe into new channels that emerge. A social media management service that’s got 6 months experience with a 9 month old platform could be invaluable to a business getting a head start on a fresh medium.
This leads us in nicely with point two:
Flexibility and Adaptability
So we’ve already covered an ability and willingness to adapt to new marketing channels.
What about their ability to adapt to new marketing strategies within the same channel?
A social media management service that’s been running a consistently successful Facebook page for five years, for example, is clearly light on their feet. Facebook has changed its algorithms, tools, and services many times in those years. Maintaining positive results despite all of them is the mark of a truly great management service.
Likewise, a company that has 5 years’ of experience, but all of their successful campaigns were 3-5 years ago, is probably struggling a great deal to adapt to these changes.
Good Customer Service and Interpersonal Skills
This one can’t be stressed enough. Social media managers are responsible for interacting with inbound communications from followers, leads, customers, etc. They need to be good at talking to people.
It’s one thing to be able to create an engaging post that gets shared and liked; it’s another to be able to respectfully respond to criticism, or helpfully answer a question, or talk to people in a way that makes them feel appreciated.
Social media is about engaging with, and growing, a dedicated online community. That takes people skills, and too many social media managers lack them. For many businesses, it’s often too late when they realise how poorly the manager handles customer inquiries, and their business is hurt.
This leads neatly into:
They Understand That Social Media is Social
Most people go on social media for two reasons:
To keep in touch with friends, and to keep up to date on the news.
They don’t go on social media to look at stock photos or generic images with sales copy written on them. Yet, so many social media managers make this a large part of their content. Rather than using images of the business, the staff, etc. they’ll use a stock image from online that’s vaguely related.
Avoid this. If you see that a social media management service’s social posts are predominantly stock imagery, be wary. Be very wary. The point of social media is to put a human face on your business — your face, specifically — not a stock one.
Five Qualities Of Social Media Managers to Look Out For
Here’s what you want out of your social media management service:
- Organisation. They need to know the importance of, and be adept at making, social media calendars. These form the spine of successful social media campaigns; without planning, you’re doomed to fail.
- Room for spontaneity. While organisation is critical, responding to spontaneous events is a cornerstone of social media. The social media calendar should allow for spontaneous announcements, and your social media management service should be quick enough to pounce on them while interest is still high.
- Strong sense of priorities. How does your social media management service prioritise tasks? Social media managers have many balls in the air at a time, and they should know which ones need to be caught first. A social media management service that prioritises things on a first-come-first-serve basis — or perhaps worst, deals with the most immediate piece of information first and works backwards — is going to crush your social media effectiveness.
- Ability to conduct research and analyse results. Your social media management service should be in the habit of conducting tests of content to see what’s most effective. A/B split testing of different demographics, setting up tests with controlled variables, etc. Businesses of all sorts are increasingly data-driven; your social media management service needs to be researchers as much as managers.
- Ability to respond to data and revise plans accordingly. I stressed this above and I’ll stress it again: social media marketing can change quickly, and you need a service that can adapt quickly. To do this, they need to be keeping an eye on their data and metrics, see and interpret trends, and adjust course effectively. Don’t be left behind.
Social media management is a very different beast to digital marketing, even if the two are related. Effective social media campaigns can do wonders for a business — or waste money and engender terrible customer relationships if done poorly.
By finding the right social media management team for your business, you’ll enjoy a healthy boost to your marketing efforts and see a pleasant upswing in your bottom line.
Looking for a social media management service? Give us a call today on 1300 127 128.