When it’s done well, social media can have huge benefits for business. However, many companies make one key error when starting out on social media.
While it may seem frugal to ask your in-house marketing team to run your social networks and channels, it’s often a big mistake.
When your marketing team takes on social media in addition to their current workload, your social media efforts take a backseat to other marketing efforts, and lack the consistency they need to really succeed.
Today, we’ll discuss why hiring a social media manager is almost always a smart move.
Why is social media important?
Social media is rapidly becoming one of the pillars of digital marketing.
Facebook users spent an average of 35 minutes a day on the platform in 2020, and TikTok users were close behind, spending 33 minutes each day on the app. That means collectively, people devote billions of hours of attention to social media each year.
No wonder businesses increasingly turning to social media platforms for marketing.
“People are on social media all day, every day — brands must go where the people are,” Abdul Muhammad, the chief digital officer and partner at rbb Communications, told Business News Daily.
“People are on social media all day, every day — brands must go where the people are.”
Also: A social media presence will enrich your sales funnel. According to a 2020 study, 86% of businesses found increased exposure through social media, while 67% said it helped with lead generation.
Why it’s worth investing in an expert social media manager
While social media does fall within the category of digital marketing, it is its own beast — and expert social media managers are worth their weight in gold.
“While they seem more expensive,” MarketerHire creative director Dani Marom explained, “the turnaround they can bring from their experience ends up saving you so much time, money and error.”
"While they seem more expensive, the turnaround they can bring from their experience ends up saving you so much time, money and error."
That’s because running successful social media accounts for a business requires constant quick, expert judgment calls.
Social media managers need to know how a given channel works — at a given moment! — and they need to be able to hop on social media trends before they turn uncool.
They need to create a wide variety of timely social media content, and speak fluently in the brand voice — so they can reply to followers promptly.
Sure, if they’re lucky, your current marketing team could make a one-off splash on social — but hiring a social media manager who really knows what they're doing will help you build an engaged audience that lasts.
How to know you need to hire a social media manager – freelance or full-time
It can be difficult to know if your business needs a social media manager. What are the telltale signs it’s time to hire? We asked the following social media experts:
- Dani Marom, head of brand at MarketerHire
- Jen Hartmann, director of social media and PR at John Deere
- Yi Chen, a superstar MarketerHire social media manager
You are struggling to prioritize social media.
An effective social media strategy is unlike any other business plan — it can’t simply be lumped together with your other marketing efforts.
If you're a small business owner or a startup co-founder whose in-house marketing team has less than four FTEs, chances are they don't have the resources to prioritize social media.
Or if they do focus on it, they’ll be letting other, important things slide.
“I see a lot of business managers spending five, eight hours a day trying to figure out social media,” Chen said, “and they don’t have the time to focus on more high-level things.”
"I see a lot of business managers spending five, eight hours a day trying to figure out social media."
You aren’t sure how to measure and benchmark each channel (or aren’t measuring channel performance at all).
A successful online presence needs to be monitored. Metrics play a crucial role in refining your social media marketing strategy.
Social media metrics are unlike other types of digital marketing metrics. If you aren’t experienced with social media marketing, you may be confused about which metrics matter on which channel, and what strong performance looks like.
You may not be The Ordinary on TikTok — but does that mean you should abandon organic TikTok all together? Stay the course? Try something new?
A great social media manager will be able to not just collect social performance data, but also “digest those analytics into something actionable,” Marom said.
You don’t know which social media channels will work best for your brand.
While you may think Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook are the only social media channels that really matter, think again.
Back in 2016, Small Business Trends published a list of 40 social media channels that can be useful for businesses — and that list is growing and changing every year.
Instead of spreading your resources too thin, especially at the beginning of your social media journey, you should be focusing on a few key channels, Chen advises. But which ones?
If you don’t have the time or the experience to evaluate new social media channels and decide which are likely to suit your brand’s target audience, consider hiring a social media manager.
You aren’t able to commit to consistency on any one channel.
The ideal social media post frequency depends on the channel.
Really, what matters more than frequency is consistency. “If you make a habit of posting several times a day and then transition to only a few times a week, you will start to lose followers and generate less engagement per post,” Neil Patel wrote in Forbes.
“If you make a habit of posting several times a day and then transition to only a few times a week, you will start to lose followers."
Brands that don’t have an in-house social media manager struggle with consistency, Marom explained. And even when they post frequently, their posts don’t add up to any kind of strategy.
“Reposting anything that came out in the newsletter…. is not a strategy,” they joked.
If you don’t have the time to create an ongoing marketing plan and commit to consistency, chances are, your social media channels won’t see much growth or engagement.
You want to build a loyal community around your brand.
A vibrant community gives brands an edge in today’s economy. Anyone can drop-ship a product, copy a feature from a competitor, or even guarantee two-day shipping — but a social media fandom is hard to copy overnight.
It can be a recipe for customer loyalty. And churn is expensive.
But no one follows a brand, let alone comments on its posts, if its social media profiles are just reposting corporate blog posts.
“When an organization recognizes that social is more than posting content, they can take their program to the next level — engagement, social care, two-way conversations,” Hartmann says. “If you want to build a community, you need to have someone dedicated to it.”
“If you want to build a community, you need to have someone dedicated to it.”
That person is usually a social media manager.
How to hire a social media manager ASAP
Hiring a social media manager is more complicated than throwing together a job description. First, you need to think through business goals, budget, and the nature of the role. For example: do you want a full-time employee, a marketing agency, or a freelancer?
Here are a few considerations to make before deciding.
Determine KPIs for this role.
A social media manager will typically be responsible for a specific set of key performance indicators (KPIs).
“So many organizations think, ‘We need a social media presence,’ and they haven't really identified what their goals are, what they're hoping to accomplish, what kind of resources it will actually take to do it well,” Hartmann said.
Determining your KPIs can help you to better define what you actually need from a potential SMM.
Typical KPIs for a social media manager include:
- Daily reach
To track how your channels are doing, it’s important to monitor metrics that indicate both ROI and engagement. These can change depending on which social media channels you end up using.
For example, retweets might be more important to you than LinkedIn shares. While it’s relatively frictionless to go viral on Twitter, shared posts on LinkedIn often see less reach than original content.
Once you’ve found a social media manager, you’ll be able to finesse your KPI social media strategy with them, and set realistic growth goals for each KPI.
Land on a budget.
Determining how much you can realistically afford to invest in social media is a crucial step in the hiring process. Your budget will not only determine what type of social media manager you can hire, but how extensive your social media presence can be.
Your initial budget will grow as your social media accounts begin to pay off through sales, leads, or newsletter subscribers.
Initial ROI might seem small, though. This is because a good social media manager will first and foremost build up brand awareness and refine brand positioning — which doesn’t translate into revenue right away.
Decide on the type of role.
Once you’ve finalized KPIs and budget for the role, think about what type of role it will be. A full-time employee will be able to dedicate 100% of their time to your brand, and for larger companies, this type of investment can be a worthwhile one.
For smaller companies, outsourcing can be a good alternative. That way, you can try social media marketing for a few months with an agency or expert freelancer to see if the investment is worth it for you.
Hiring a freelance social media manager can also help you minimize your spending, as you’ll be paying one social media specialist instead of a team — and circumventing agency premiums.
Finally, a lot of the really great social media managers out there don’t work with companies on a full-time basis. They don’t have to. Instead, they prefer freelance and consultant work – which gives them more flexibility. Want to work with the best of the best? You may need to be OK with having an expert freelancer run your social media show.
Create a job description.
Once you’ve decided on KPIs, role type and budget, the job description should pretty much write itself.
Try to make your job description as specific as possible to attract high-quality, well-qualified applicants. A lot of marketing job descriptions are far too broad, which can lead to an inexperienced applicant pool.
True experts know what they can and can’t do — and what they are willing to agree to in terms of budget and workload — so it’s worth running your job description past a couple before posting.
MarketerHire, for instance, will help evaluate your job description and even introduce you to an expert marketer or two. You pay nothing until you kick off with a marketer, so there’s no risk.
Determine social media manager interview questions.
Once you’ve posted a job listing, it’s time to start speaking with candidates. Prepare some questions that will help you determine if the candidate is right for the job.
At John Deere, Hartmann uses behavioral interviews to determine if a candidate has the right disposition for the job.
She and her team lean on questions like “Tell me a time that you failed miserably? How did you respond to that situation?”
“It's not specific to social media skills,” she explained. “It's more about how that individual manages difficult situations, collaborates with others, leads a team [and] responds to a crisis.”
If you want to talk about social media more specifically, Marom and Chen suggest trying out questions like:
- How many years of experience do you have with social media management?
- Describe your past experience as a social copywriter. How do you approach the challenge of copywriting quickly in a branded voice?
- How would you go about researching the ideal social channels for our brand to invest in?
- What social media tools are you most familiar with?
- Tell us about an organic social campaign you were proud of. What was your process behind the scenes?
- Tell us about a time you used real-time engagement data to fine-tune a social media campaign. How did you approach it?
Talk to candidates.
Meet candidates, interview them, and determine if they are the right fit in this final stage of the hiring process. Personality fit matters here, too — not just skillset.
“The first thing I look for is personality,” Marom said. “I always do chemistry calls first."
"I always do chemistry calls first."
What are they looking for? "You need someone who is optimistic — someone that can work fast under pressure but still have fun.”
Also, talk to candidates about their communication style. Do they like to work asynchronously, or do they prefer more meetings? Are they more junior, or can they lead your social efforts?
If you’re ready to take the next steps towards finding a social media manager, think about starting with an audit from an expert social media manager. That can help you better understand your brand, your existing social presence and the opportunities you haven’t yet explored.
That will help you determine what exactly you need from a social media manager.
MarketerHire can pair you with a freelance social media manager, who can lead an audit and help craft a playbook for a long-term hire. It's easier than going through job boards, or sifting through a million identical Upwork profiles.
Get started by discovering some of our expert freelancers today.