4 Tips for Hiring a Social Media Manager

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How do you choose someone to manage your social media? What do you look for in a social media manager? Is that something even worth paying for, or should you do it yourself?

1. Determine Your Goals

Before you consider hiring a social media manager (SMM), and really before you put too much time into doing it yourself, one of the first things you should do is outline your goals. As I’ve written before, planning takes time, but that planning time up front is well worth it in the long run. Here are some examples of goals you might be trying to reach with your social media:

  • Improve customer engagement
  • Enhance brand and reputation management
  • Receive feedback and ideas for improvement from customers
  • Attract talented employees
  • Increase sales
  • Respond to customer service inquiries
  • Network with other professionals in your field

You may feel that you want to do all of these things and more! It would be a good idea to not only list your goals but also rank them in order of importance to you. Once you’ve made a list of goals, you should also think about how you will measure success and how you will know that you’ve met your goals. Things that can be measured are statistics like online traffic, fans on social networks, new sales, new leads, etc.

2. Examine Your Budget

As business owners, we have to work within our budget. I know that I bring in approximately X per month (gross revenue), and I need to pay myself a salary of Y every month (salary). I also have to set aside money for my estimated taxes (30% of net income) and pay E for my monthly operating expenses.

70% of my net income must be greater than my salary (Y).
Net income is gross income (X) minus expenses (E), therefore…
0.7(X – E) > Y

mathematics-1509559_1920Let’s put some real numbers in that formula. Say you earn $3300 gross every month, and you need to pay yourself a salary of at least $1800. Now, we solve for E to see what your budget for monthly expenses needs to be. Who knew Algebra could actually be useful?

0.7(3300 – E) > 1800 … divide both sides by 0.7
3300 – E > 2571.43 … subtract 3300 (X) from both sides
-E > -728.57 … divide both sides by -1
E < 728.57

There you have it! Your expenses in this scenario must be less than 728.57. From here, you’d look at your current expenses compared to that number. If you’re only spending $400/month on business tools, web hosting, and advertising, that would mean you’d have up to about $320 remaining to hire a new team member. You can also look at ways to cut down on your existing monthly expenses to free up more of your budget.

3. Weigh the Cost vs. Value

As always when making a business decision, you must compare the cost of your purchase to the value you would receive.

Okay, this is a little less mathematical than the previous point. Value is something that is a little harder to measure and define than cost. Value has to be seen in terms of what you gain, but those gains may be tangible (such as an extra 10 hours per month to put into paying work or spend with your family) or intangible (such as reducing your mental burden and relieving stress). Here are some benefits to consider when thinking about the value of a social media manager, in particular:

  • If you don’t love doing it yourself, hiring a social media manager may lift a huge weight from your shoulders.  (Clearly, loving browsing your personal social feeds is completely different from loving the business side of a social media strategy.)
  • If you haven’t been keeping up, hiring a SMM will mean the work is actually getting done!
  • If you don’t know how to track metrics, hiring a SMM will mean you’ll actually get to see whether your strategy is working and whether you’re meeting your goals.
  • If you’ve been struggling and floundering, hiring a SMM with expertise will help you be more likely to meet your goals.
  • If you need more time to put into your business or family, hiring a SMM could save you valuable hours every week. (How many hours will depend on how many networks you’ve been managing yourself and how frequently you post.)

4. Choose a Social Media Manager

Consider asking fellow business owners or friends for recommendations! Personal recommendations are a great way to find a social media manager. Alternatively, you can search online for a social media manager (consider searching with a keyword for your industry, for example “social media manager for web designer” or “social media manager for author”). Finding options is the first step. After that, it’s about vetting your candidates.

Pay attention to your first impression.

Check out the social media manager’s social media! Are her own accounts managed well? Does her branding match up on all her different networks, and does it match her website? Is every single post on every single network a carbon copy? (It’s okay for there to be similar or even duplicated posts, but there should be some uniqueness to each network. If everything is simply posted the same on each network, at the same time, in the same order, that should be a red flag.)  How is her fan engagement? Does she respond to fans? Do people like or share her posts?*

*Keep in mind that the rate of engagement is not something that only depends on quality. There is another thing to consider here, and that is audience size. Smaller audiences will have lower engagement, by nature, so some personal discretion must be used when you’re evaluating someone else’s social media. Is the engagement rate low because they’re posting bad content? Or does it have to do with a small audience? If the audience is small, is that because they’re happy with a smaller community, because they don’t know what they’re doing, or something else? You can always ask your SMM candidate to see how they explain their small audience! Perhaps they do have to limit their own social media efforts to save on costs, but that may also mean that they charge lower rates for their clients, and that may be what you’re looking for.

Additionally, you should pay attention to how the SMM interacts with you. Is she professional? Does she write/speak with good grammar? Is she asking intelligent questions so that she can customize a proposal for you? Is she listening to YOUR preferences and needs? Is she being proactive? Does she respect your time? Do you feel comfortable conversing with her?

Verify a good reputation.

Look at reviews on her website or on LinkedIn. Check out any references or referrals you can find. Consider asking the SMM if you can speak with a past/current client, if you don’t find any online testimonials. And remember, we were all new at one time. Someone who is new, who does not have a verified reputation yet, may not necessarily be bad at what they do.

Make sure the social media manager is prepared to meet your needs.

Consider whether the candidate has experience with your industry or seems eager and ready to learn about it (especially if you have a lot of industry-specific lingo). Is she familiar with the social networks YOU use? Does she understand how to measure success and help you reach the goals that you’ve defined? Is she going to be as responsive as you need them to be? (Talk about how she might be reached if there is a concern or how often she will update you on progress.)

Is the price right?

Finally, you also have to look at the price. There is going to be a wide variety in what a social media manager charges. Depending on various factors, prices could fall anywhere between $300-$1000 per month, even for essentially the same services. The variance depends on many things, just like the price varies in YOUR industry for many different reasons. If you find an otherwise perfect candidate, but the price seems to be out of your budget, and you can’t adjust your budget to accommodate that price, you may have to move on. If no one fits your budget, or the ones that do fit your budget are not meeting your standards, it may mean that you just can’t afford this service.

What if I Can’t Afford a Social Media Manager?

There is, I must mention, a middle ground between full DIY social media and hiring a social media manager. That is, you can possibly save money by have a social media manager do an evaluation for you and help you create a plan/strategy for you to follow. They may even offer some training to make the DIY part a little easier. If you can’t afford to hire a social media manager right now, this middle ground may be something you can afford (or save up for)! Ask me about getting an evaluation and roadmap.

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Michelle Martinez
Michelle Martinez partners with entrepreneurs and busy professionals as a virtual assistant to maximize their time and efficiency and keep them organized.
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