Social media is an increasingly important component of an overall marketing strategy. And with the abundance of social networks gaining consumer attention, most businesses try to maintain a presence on at least a few different platforms. When you find yourself spending most of your time on social media instead of your core business functions, it may be time to consider hiring a dedicated social media manager.
To Hire or Not to Hire
Hiring a new staff person comes with hesitations. Is there enough work to fill a full-time role? Will the return on investment justify a full-time salary and benefits? Or would it make more sense to simply add these tasks to an existing employee’s responsibilities?
Amie Marse, founder of Content Equals Money, says, “We hired a dedicated SM because we knew that social media needs consistent nurturing. You can't spend five hours one week and disappear. And, with a growing business, any day (or week) can be fully consumed with putting out fires.” Likewise, Christina Daves of CastMedic Designs says she finally made the decision to hire a social media manager when she realized she simply didn’t have the time to keep up with maintaining the company’s social presence across multiple channels. In both cases, these companies found the decision well worth it once they found a candidate who was both qualified and a good match for their respective businesses.
Because having a dedicated staffer managing social media means more time spent on social networks engaging followers, small businesses are seeing tremendous results after making the decision to hire. Jeremy Shih, CEO and co-founder of CampusFit says, “In my experience, having a dedicated social media manager was one of the best decisions I made in growing our brand. We've gone from a minuscule blog to garnering the attention of USA Today within a few short months because of Joanne's prowess.”
The Cost of a Social Media Manager
In terms of costs, social media salaries range across the board from less than $20,000 per year up to slightly more than $100,000. That’s due, in part, to the broad range of job titles and descriptions, which vary from blogger/social media manager, to online community manager or even social media strategist or marketing manager.
You can also hire a contractor or agency to handle some, or all, of your company’s social media participation. Costs for these services also vary significantly based on expertise and qualifications. It can sometimes cost less than hiring a full-time staffer, especially if your needs require less than a full-time commitment. The other option is to assign social media management to an existing employee, such as a marketing director. This may make sense if your company participates in only one or two social networks without plans to expand your presence.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of hiring a dedicated social media strategist.
- You’ll have a consistent voice across all networks, compared to having multiple staffers manage different accounts.
- A social media manager will bring prior experience and ideas for enhancing your social presence.
- You’ll save yourself time to dedicate to core business activities.
- A full-time staffer will be able to delve fully into social networking, interacting with followers and participating more frequently in discussions. You may even be able to increase the number of social channels you’re utilizing.
- You may have to train a candidate to familiarize her with your industry or business.
- You’ll have less control over your personal or company voice, although you can provide voice and style guidelines to candidates.
- You’ll be paying a salary and benefits package to a full-time employee, or at least paying a monthly stipend to a contractor or agency.
What to Look For
If you’re ready to take the plunge and hire a dedicated professional to handle your company’s social media strategy, here are a few things to consider when looking for qualified candidates:
- Look for candidates with a genuine interest and passion for both social media and your industry, or at least familiar enough to be able to adapt easily to your company’s style and tone.
- Shih suggests looking for candidates with at least a basic understanding of psychology. “Successful social media involves, ultimately, understanding what message will resonate with your customers, and psychology is your ticket to fruitful engagement," he says.
- Ask for evidence of past success. Has the candidate grown one or more Twitter accounts to thousands of followers or run a successful Facebook contest?
- Seek candidates with creativity. The best candidates come to the table excited to present their ideas for enhancing engagement and growing your social presence. Ask for a proposal outlining the candidate’s plan of attack.
When you’ve hired someone, be thorough with initial communication. Marse advises creating a voice and style document that provides a framework for understanding how your company likes to communicate with its customers. Marse says over-communication at the beginning of this relationship is the key to a successful transition. If you opt to assign social media management to an existing employee, look for someone who’s enthusiastic about the role and has ideas for growing your audience.
Angela Stringfellow is a PR and MarComm Consultant and Social Media Strategist offering full-circle marketing solutions to businesses. Angela blogs via Contently.com.