Twenty years ago the words 'social media' meant nothing.
Now the social media market is valued at over $198 billion world wide, and having a social media presence is an essential part of developing a business, an essential part of online marketing.
But social media content creation isn't as easy as some people believe, and if you get your social media marketing wrong you can end up in a world of trouble.
So what's the easiest way to nail your social media? By hiring a freelance social media manager.
What does a freelance social media manager actually do?
A freelance social media manager will take complete responsibility for your business's social media platform.
They'll handle everything from designing a social media plan for everything from Facebook posts to crisis communications and online social support.
A great social media marketing manager will help to grow your social channels so that you've consistently attracting more followers.
How much media will my freelance social media manager create?
Your social media manager should be able to make sure that all of your platforms - where relevant - are updated daily.
Using a freelance social media manager also means it's possible to give the impression that your social media is managed 24/7, by scheduling content to be released consistently across the week.
Do I actually need someone to run my social media platforms?
Some people mistakenly believe that they can easily do their own social media because they've used Instagram before.
But online marketing is a lot more complex than sharing your holiday photos on your own social media accounts.
Social media managers have extensive experience on how to take your online presence to the next level, and on how to use social to find new clients.
It requires a very specific set of skills, which is why you might well want to hire a social media manager.
They will, of course, create social media posts.
But the job is much more than just social media content creation, it's about providing an overarching narrative, creating social media campaigns, and making sure that there is a cohesive tone across all of your social media.
What if I don't have the budget for full time social support?
If you use a freelance social media manager you can have them set up your social, create a clear guide to posting online, and then when they finish working on your project share the actual content creation between the rest of your employees.
What will my social media manager do?
Your social media manager will spend time understanding what your business does, who your target audience is and what those potential clients want from social media marketing.
They'll digest to what you say about your business, and do their own research, as well as research about the wider industry.
They will research what your competitors are doing, understand your key search terms, distill what it is that you really offer clients.
Once they've understood why your business needs social media they'll then design a bespoke social media plan to promote your product.
What is a social media strategy?
A social media strategy is a blueprint for how you're going to navigate the internet and stand out in your industry.
It seeks to understand which social media sites are the most important for your business and which you need less.
For instance, if you're a finance brand, you might flourish on Twitter, but find that Facebook groups are redundant.
A social media marketing expert will know where best to focus your attention, and where to use paid spend.
What won't my freelance social media manager do?
A freelance social media manager will not be able to be on-call 24 hours a day.
They will potentially be balancing other clients, and even if they're working exclusively for you, they will still need to sleep.
However most freelance social media managers are able to act quickly during crisis comms.
Social media management often involves using a paid platform to schedule content.
If you don't have budget for a paid platform then the manual posting of content might need to be a shared job across your team.
Why should I choose a freelance social media manager?
Working with a social media freelancer rather than hiring someone on the basis of permanent employment means that you have a great deal more flexibility.
You'll pay them an hourly rate rather than an annual wage.
It's less of a commitment, and it is ideal if you're a smaller business who want to remain as agile as possible.
Social media managers will do much the same work whether they are freelance or otherwise.
Freelancers will often either work part-time, or be brought in to work on a specific social media campaign.
What are the advantages of working with a freelance social media manager?
Freelance social media managers are self employed.
They will either work for a handful of different clients on an on-going basis, or they will work for one client exclusively, providing their services until a job is finished.
This means that you don't have to handle any of the logistical or financial complexities of hiring a full-time member of staff.
Other than the flexibility of working with someone on a freelance basis, freelancers will be able to bring skills from a variety of previous projects, having created a social media presence for a variety of clients.
They'll also have a network of fellow freelancers to draw inspiration from, and will often be well versed in other areas of digital marketing.
How do I find a social media professional?
Finding the right social media manager can be difficult as you need someone who really understands your brand and is able to convey your tone.
It's also essential to have someone who you trust to make difficult decisions during any crisis comms.
As such, lots of people choose to find their social media mangers via an agency. This means that any potential freelance social media managers will have a proven track record with relevant clients.
What do you mean by crisis communications?
Sometimes things go wrong. And when they do, social media is usually the first place that customers go to complain.
The person running your social media needs to be calm, pragmatic and able to deal with a crisis.
A strong social media manger will have already navigated crisis communications before and will be able to fire fight while you and the rest of the team discuss the next best moves.
They will also be able to help create a specific social media plan to deal with the problem.
What kind of content will my social media manager create?
All social media content creation should be tailored to your business, but it's likely that as part of their social media content creation strategy they will:
- Write and schedule tweets
- Create Instagram posts with relevant hashtags
- Make video content for Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.
- Create a calendar of relevant days and occasions for your business to comment on.
- Interact with other accounts to boost your reach.
They can also create Instagram stories which will be posted to Facebook, help with blog writing, create Twitter moments, retweet relevant posts from other accounts and host Instagram lives.
What about influencer marketing?
Lots of brands are keen to work with influencers - which can be an amazing way to promote your brand. But they need to be the right influencers.
Working with influencers can be expensive, so it's important to understand whether you'll actually land new clients by working with them.
If you don't land clients, then no matter what compelling content they've made, it's a waste of money. Social media content is only worth having if it's relevant to you.
For instance, if an influencer has a million followers that's great - but if you're a beauty brand and they talk mostly about cooking, the crossover just isn't there and the budget is wasted.
How do I make sure that my social media freelancer can work with influencer?
When you hire someone to take on your social media management you should ask if working with influencers is one of their skills, because it's easy to get wrong.
If influencer marketing is important to you then raise it when you interview whoever might be in charge of your social media.
Ask what kind of contracts they used, what deliverables they expected and how they navigated any issues with delivery.
Social media support
Social media is often the first place that a client (or potential clients) will come to complain.
It's important that your social media accounts are managed so that they don't end up awash with complaints, which is terrible for your reputation.
The main goal of a social media manager during a complaint will be to bring the conversation out of the public forum, and to solve it privately.
What else can a freelance social media expert do?
All freelancers are different, but many freelancers will have other skills.
For instance they may well be able to help with blog writing, video content creation, create content for your website, assist with content marketing and write for the company blog.
All social media experts will be able to develop your business's research into the market, provide audience insight and help you to better understand the behaviour of your customers.
What does success look like for a freelance social media manager?
Success will largely be defined by having met the goals that you set with your social media manager when you started working together, and will depend on their specific skills.
Popular metrics for success will include: providing product support, growing your social following on multiple platforms, using the data from your social sites (especially Facebook groups) as consumer insight or for research, promoting traffic to your website and of course helping you attract clients.
How can Passionfruit help me to hire a freelance social media manager?
Passionfruit has a variety of professionals with expertise in social media.
First you'll speak directly to them, and they'll ask questions to understand your specific requirements. They'll help agree some reasonable goals for whoever you hire.
Then Passionfruit will connect you with a variety of social media professionals who have a proven track record in their field, and you'll be able to choose who you regard as the best fit for your project.