October 5, 2011

Rachel Strella

You Give Social Media Management a Bad Name: Part II – It Takes Two!

This is the second and last part of “You Give Social Media Management a Bad Name.”

Read Part I: The “Tweet-for-Hires.”

And that’s exactly what I did. Over the next few weeks, I really got to know their business, their customers, and what these customers loved about the place. I also discovered things they were hoping the business would expand or improve on. But for the most part, it was really about learning what the customers were saying and how we could respond.

Even though I didn’t spend hours a day at the business, I felt like I was able to capture their voice and respond to the audience. The business was excited to have someone who was consistently posting content and quickly following up with the customers. We used social media cards at the place of business to drive traffic to the social sites and used the social sites to keep current and prospective customers engaged. Every few weeks we evaluated what was working and what wasn’t working and how we could modify the content, frequency or channels to keep the conversation going.

Moreover, the client actually liked having someone that wasn’t a staff person managing the social media. It gave them a fresh perspective.

Alas, an entrepreneur was born! I figure if I can do this for them, I can do this for any business right?

Well, sort of. Outsourcing social media efforts takes two. It’s a real balance for both parties. There are clients who want to micromanage the work and there are those who don’t give me enough to work with. I do the best I can with what I have, but most importantly, I make sure I am doing what I would do if it were my own business.

A shocking flood hit Central PA a few weeks ago. I discovered that one of my clients’ businesses closed and the other had no power but were taking phone orders. I made sure to communicate this hourly on social media until I heard from the owners that the stores had power and were ready to open for business. The business owners themselves were too busy dealing with the outage and they had no in-house employees that day because of the outage. It made sense to simply keep me on the list of people to update. When power was restored, I communicated with to their audience.

If you’re considering hiring a social media manager, here are a few things you should consider before signing the contract:

A Social Media Presence. Does this company even use social media for their own business? And, by that, I mean, tweeting more than once a year. This seems like a big ‘duh’ but you would be surprised how many folks claim to be experts, but don’t actually use social media for themselves.

Background. No need for a graduate degree in social media, but I would find out how long they’ve been in the industry and their overall job experience. Solid candidates have a marketing, communications, customer service or technological background. The latter isn’t a prerequisite, but I do find that a lot of folks with technical careers are transitioning into social media and are doing well with it.

Clientele. Does this business have any clients? What are they saying about them? A fun test to see what past clients are saying – if current or even former clients have good things to say, that’s a good sign. But do find out why the past clients are not working with them anymore.

Proven results. How do they plan to leverage your social sites to generate awareness and engagement? Can they measure your marketing goals? How will they determine a ROI and what’s the timeframe for doing so?

Just because social media is a buzzword and social media management is in high demand, does not mean you need to skimp on finding the best person or company to represent your business. For information and resources about social media management or if you would like to find a qualified manager for your business, check out the newly formed, Global Social Media Managers Association.

What are your thoughts on social media management? Have you encountered the “tweet-for-hire” services? Have you discovered reputable, results-driven social media managers? What qualifications would you seek out in a social media manager?

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