Let's assume that you're a time-poor business owner, or you work in a marketing role. As the business develops, you may find that you no longer have the time or energy to maintain your online presence. Or you realise you need help to maximise this powerful marketing tool. So you hire a Social Media Manager (SMM) for your small business. Now what?
1. Tell all Tell your SMM all about your business upfront so they get a really good feel for what you do, and understand your values and brand 'personality'. Think of three or four words that sum up your brand. They don't need to be too deep and meaningful – for example you might want to be thought of as modern, friendly, and expert. It’s not necessarily the personality your business has now: it’s the one you want to become, and how you want your customers to describe you. This step is vital. Your SMM can now tailor all content so it consistently matches this personality.
2. Discuss your strategy up front Before the first Tweet is sent, you should agree your social media strategy with your SMM. They will be able to point you in the right direction. It needn't be complicated; you basically need to agree on (1) What you want to do and (2) How you’re going to do it. From this discussion you'll be able to decide between you which social media platforms will be most suitable for your business. We've written more about the various platforms on another of our blog posts about social media marketing.
3. Set clear and realistic objectives As with all areas of your business, you need to set some objectives. This will allow you to monitor the success of your social media management. You’ll never know what your return on investment is without first setting these objectives. For example, you could use these goals for Facebook marketing:
- Growth of 'likes' (although check point 8 below!)
- Reach – the number of people who have seen your post. Your post counts as reaching someone when it's shown in their News Feed
- Engagement – the percentage of people who saw a post that liked, shared, clicked or commented on it
- Leads and Sales – this may be harder to measure. For example, how do you find out if a purchase in a shop or a visit to a café was generated by a Facebook post?
4. Find out what they'll be doing Make sure your SMM is clear about how much work they will be doing for you. For example, will they be posting twice a day on Twitter and three times a week on Facebook? How much time will they spend growing the accounts? What level of interaction with followers will there be and how quickly will they respond to this interaction? The vast majority of social media managers will offer a range of packages to suit your requirements. Ultimately the price you pay will depend on the time they spend working on your behalf.
5. Keep an eye on it You're paying someone to look after your social media, so you shouldn't feel the need to constantly check that everything is in order. However, it's a good idea to cast your eye over your accounts now and again, just to make sure that you and your SMM are still singing from the same hymnsheet.
6. Give them lots of pictures Posts containing images are proven to be the most viewed, commented on and shared across all social media. This is particularly the case on Facebook. Share as many professional photos as you can – these will be best for the header images on your accounts. You should also supply as many other pictures as you can. They don't have to be professional – snaps taken on your smartphone can work really well (if this is appropriate for your business).
7. Give them notice If you've got an upcoming event, promotion, sale or special offer, make sure you give your SMM plenty of notice. This will allow them to come up with a calendar that ensures posts are consistent in the weeks leading up to the event. It's essential in a social media campaign to post often enough to keep the information fresh in customers’ minds without making content seem spammy.
8. Remember quality vs quantity Having 10,000 followers on Twitter and 5,000 page 'likes' on Facebook doesn’t mean a thing if there is no interaction between your followers and your company. Beware of the company who promises you huge numbers in a short amount of time. They are either buying in fake followers who will never engage, or will be expecting you to pay for an advertising campaign to boost numbers. Building a fan base takes time and a lot of hard work. It's better to have a smaller number of truly engaged people commenting on posts and retweeting content than a huge number that doesn’t participate at all.
9. Be prepared Discuss what you might do during a crisis, and ask how your SMM would respond if a customer complained about you on social media. You can't just put your head in the sand and hope it will go away! Their strategy should be to respond promptly and avoid aggression. For an ongoing problem e.g. an interrupted service, the following formula could be used: “Update/description + what is currently being done to fix it + call to action".
10. Talk! Make sure you communicate with your social media manager as much as possible. If there's something happening in your business that you want to share, let them know. It may seem insignificant to you, but could be of interest to others, for example the appointment of a new staff member, an award you have won, good feedback you have received or even relevant industry news.