The comprehensive guide to hiring someone to manage your social media
Hiring a social media manager can save your business time and make you money
I just quit Facebook.
Is something I know many business owners wish they could say, myself included.
However, no, I didn’t actually leave Facebook, because the platform and other major social networks are essential for the marketing and sales efforts of my business and those of just about every other company in 2020. <br> However, I stopped personally running the social media accounts for my business because it increasingly gobbled up all my time as a small business owner.
I bet you can relate. Recent statistics show that the average marketer spends between 16 and 20 hours per week on social media management.
Social media is important, but it also sucks time. So business owners and marketing heads should seriously consider hiring a social media manager to free up time for the strategic tasks that are core to their role. Social media matters, but not at the cost of running your business or your overall marketing department. So hire your way out of it.
The cost of freeing up your time doesn’t have to break the bank, either. While the average annual base pay for a full-time social media manager runs about $50,661 according to PayScale (Glassdoor prices it almost exactly the same), freelance social media managers will cost a business only $15.57 per hour.
Is your time worth more than $15.57 per hour? Of course it is. So buy yourself some time by hiring a social media manager instead of doing it yourself.
What to look for in a social media manager candidate
While almost everyone uses social media, you’ll want a little more from the candidate you hire. That’s because running social media for a business is more involved than just creating shareable graphics and commenting on the posts of others. Technically you can grab a social media-obsessed kid straight out of college, but set yourself up for success by looking for a candidate that will run your social media operation properly.
That means the right candidate will have all or most of the following:
A marketing degree isn’t mandatory, but a social media manager should come in knowing the marketing basics such as the role of marketing campaigns, SEM, landing pages, list-building, etc.
Content marketing experience
Beyond the marketing basics, a good social media manager will both understand and have experience with content marketing since most of your company’s calls to action on social will coordinate with the content marketing coming from your brand.
Demonstrated skill communicating in words, graphics and video
Social media production leans heavily on the creation of posts that frequently contain shareable graphics, video and even live streaming video events. Your social manager should have demonstrated experience creating all these types of media since he or she will be doing it every day.
Deep knowledge of current social platforms
Each social platform has its own norms and specific content style, so knowing the major platforms and how best to leverage them is the bare minimum for any serious candidate.
Technical understanding and learns quickly
There’s no coding involved, but social media managers must be comfortable with HTML, know how URLs work, and have the ability to quickly learn technical skills such as graphic sizing and video format basics.
Social relationship skills
Unless you also hire a community manager, your candidate will be interacting every day with customers and prospects on your social channels. So the right candidate better have the skills to build and maintain these relationships.
Conflict resolution skills
Not every social media interaction will be positive, so your social media manager also should know how to resolve conflict and defuse tempers when they flair online. Otherwise you’ll need a public relationship hire before you know it, too.
Negativity is a constant on social media, but it shouldn’t be a part of your company’s brand. So make sure your social media manager is the cheeriest person on your team and can turn any situation into a positive one.
Time and project management competency
Social media sucks time. It also requires regularity. The right social media manager must therefore be good at managing their time and handling both regular posting and social media projects on a deadline.
Verified team player
Social media interacts deeply with a company’s other marketing efforts, so a social media manager almost never plays alone. You’ll want a candidate who has demonstrated a history of working well on a team.
Preexisting immersion and creativity with social media
And of course, any serious candidate will have a demonstrable history interacting on social media and creating creative, engaging posts that are frequently shared. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples and browse the timelines of social accounts they currently run for themselves or others.
Tasks a social media manager will perform
The reason that hiring an experienced social media manager is important is because there’s more to social than just posting engaging content. When you hire a freelance social media manager, they typically will have a range or responsibilities and deliverables related to your company’s social channels.
Typical responsibilities for a social media manager include:
Developing posting calendar
One of the most important responsibilities for a social media manager is creating and managing a company’s social media publishing schedule. This monthly schedule should plan and track when and what your brand will post.
Of course, the second most important task for a social media manager is creating posts and social content that will go on social channels. Each platform has specific needs and requirements, so even the same post will need customization for each platform.
Managing and curating content
In addition to creating original content, social media managers are tasked with overseeing a company’s social brand assets and curating content that will get posted on various channels. This is an important component of the “manager” function of the position.
Overseeing social profiles
Part of content creation is both creating and updating a company’s social profiles so they remain fresh and relevant. That’s the job of your social media manager.
Monitoring and responding to social signals
Conversation is at the heart of social, so like a good public relations professional a social media manager will engage with social listening tools and respond to conversations related to your brand.
Effective social media is about community as much as anything else. A social media manager therefore will not only engage with others on social platforms, but also both plan and implement community engagement strategies for making durable connections with others on the platforms.
Designing and managing social ads
While the role of social ads is getting intertwined with search engine marketing, historically the job of creating and managing a company’s ads on social platforms falls to a social media manager. You might want to spin this out to a dedicated freelancer who works on ad management and coordinates with your social media manager. Or, if you’re a small business, you might just leave this to your social media manager.
Creating and managing a reputation funnel
Customer sentiment on social channels matters, so all but the most basic social media management includes creating a reputation funnel and tracking overall sentiment toward your brand online. This is optional but should probably be a part of the social media manager’s job.
Compiling and analyzing social metrics
Data is critical for adjusting messaging and determining the effectiveness of a business’s social strategy. The person responsible for collecting and making sense of these social metrics is the social media manager, of course. Don’t hire any candidate who is scared of hard numbers. The number of shares and new followers is just the beginning.
Social media tools you’ll need
If you’re hiring a social media manager, you’ll need to give them the right tools. Although technically freelancers are supposed to bring their own tools under most employment law, the reality is that companies typically pay for basic social media tools such as posting schedulers and social listening dashboards.
Don’t skimp on the tools necessary for proper social media management. While you can save a few dollars by asking your freelancer to rely on the tools built into each platform, the right tools pay for themselves in terms of social effectiveness and time saved.
While individuals can’t usually schedule their social media posts, businesses can and usually do schedule posts weeks or even months ahead. The social platforms understand this business imperative, so channels such as Facebook have taken away the scheduling option for people, this functionality remains for businesses.
There are many posting tools on the market, but too many of the most venerable and widely used are Hootsuite and Buffer.
Buffer is a platform that allows you to cross-post and schedule your social media posts on all the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It lets you queue up posts for automatic release at specific times, and comes with a handy calendar function that can serve as a basic content planning tool. If you buy only one tool, you might want to pick Buffer.
On the other hand, Hootsuite is a more robust albeit clunkier scheduling tool. It does post scheduling just like Buffer, but it also includes social listening tools beyond the basic tools Buffer offers. Hootsuite should be on your shortlist even if you are leaning toward Buffer or one of many other options.
Social listening tools
Because posting is only half the story, companies also will want to give their social media manager tools for discovering what is being said about the brand on social media, and a way to manage conversations.
Hootsuite does this, but a serious social media manager will probably want more robust tools for this task. It is impossible to list all the social listening tools on the market today, but a few of the most popular are Sprout Social, Mention, Tweetdeck and Socialbaker.
Sprout Social is a complete social media dashboard that aggregates all social media interactivity in a single hug. It tracks social media mentions, manages conversations and includes planning functionality, too.
Mention, on the other hand, does one thing and does it exceedingly well: it monitors both social media and the web for mentions that social media managers can use for staying on top of the conversation. Mention cuts through the insane amount of noise on social platforms, and helps a social manager drill down to what needs a response.
On the more specialist side, Tweetdeck is a venerable and popular tool for tracking conversations on Twitter (so popular that Twitter bought it), and Socialbaker is arguably the leading platform for tracking Instagram activity—although it has now expanded to also include other social platforms.
Content creation tools
There was a time when you had to splash out for Photoshop or an Adobe Premiere license to create the best social media content. But thankfully, those days are past.
While you still should arm your social media manager with the right tools for creating content, your hire of choice probably will have specific recommendations for the content creation tools he or she uses most efficiently. Listen to your freelancer on what they need.
If they don’t have strong preferences, though, Canva is a strong choice for graphics creation. For many, Canva has all but replaced Photoshop as the social graphics tool of choice. With good reason: It quickly allows a social media manager to put together social graphics and save them as templates for later use. It includes stock art that your company can use, and also has pre-defined templates for rapid graphics creation in the right formats for each major social platform.
For video editing, there are many free options on the market. Buffer has a good article that reviews some of the top choices. You can save the time and head straight to Headliner, however, since it not only includes the basic video editing tools but also makes captioning for social media video easy.
Access required for the role
Finally, a quick word on the level of access to your company that you’ll need to give your social media manager. In this age of privacy and GDPR, some businesses worry about giving systems access to freelancers.
The fact of the matter is that you do need to give your social media manager access to parts of your business. You can use a password manager such as Dashlane to grant access to online tools without divulging your passwords, but a social media manager does need some access.
Specifically, your social media manager cannot do the job without admin access to all of your social media accounts. This should be obvious.
Social media managers also will need access to the tools listed above, as well some way to access and share files with other parts of the marketing department. Many businesses handle this with Dropbox, the most elegant and efficient file-sharing tool in 2020. But Google Drive also is a popular choice.
It also helps to give your social media manager access to your company’s Google Analytics dashboard for handling analytics related to social, and your blog hosting platform so they can copy snippets of content scheduled for later release. This might be a scary share, but social media managers need this access to fully perform their job.
So if you’re currently managing the social media marketing for your business, consider hiring a freelance social media manager instead. You don’t have to bring on a full-time employee to free yourself up, and your time definitely is worth more than the roughly $15.57 per hour that it takes to get help with social.
You, too, can quit Facebook. Even if you’re a small business owner or a marketing professional.