Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and more – there's a lot of excitement around social media. If your business isn't using social media as a key marketing avenue, you're throwing away countless opportunities to grow your brand. Whether you use these channels to post occasional updates about your store hours, leverage customer reviews, or put out offers and discounts, the types, messages, and styles of your post matter.
It's not enough, though, to post random pictures or dense paragraphs of text. To succeed on social media, you'll need a clear message and brand that ties together every post that you share. For some small business owners, this is a skill that may come naturally. For other, finding the right kind of help may be a necessity.
So, when should you hire someone to work on your social media? To answer that, you'll need to assess whether you have the right strategy, skills, and time to keep it in-house.
How much experience do you have with social media strategy?
Using social media to market a business is not the same as using social media to share the latest puppy video that you found on YouTube. Your business needs a focused strategy to become a recognizable brand on the right channels. From identifying which platform is the most relevant for your audience, to deciding which colors should be utilized in your posts, its takes research and testing to determine what will work for your business.
Is this a skill you have? If not, bring in an expert to jumpstart or revamp your social media efforts. You can hire a one-time consultant, an agency partner, or an in-house employee to help make these decisions and watch the results.
What do you know about designing and writing for social?
Having an awesome strategy goes hand-in-hand with having a great design. Now that you know what kinds of posts will succeed on each channel, it's important to craft visually compelling graphics and concise copy that will get a reaction on social media. Not everyone was born with an eye for design, and some of us are prone to be a little more verbose than others.
These skills can be learned (with patience and hard-work), but the process of developing design and copywriting skills can be long and arduous. If you're already consumed with other to-do list items, your business might be better off with a trained marketer at the helm of your social media efforts.
How intimately do you know your audience?
You have the best understanding of your business, but how much do you know about your audience? Every post on your social media should be targeted towards the exact needs and lifestyles of your target market. Do you know where they're spending their time and what they are most interested in seeing online?
Continuous research is an important part of starting and growing your business, regardless of what you're working on. But marketing and social media research is a different beast from the general validate/iterate cycle that you're operating your company on. If you don't have the capacity for consistent testing and analysis on your social media channels, bring in someone who does.
How much time do you have on your hands?
Let's face it: You probably don't have a lot of extra time on your hands. Even if you've got a great strategy in place, you may not have the time it takes to craft posts, cultivate a following, and interact with other users on social media. Ideally, your company's page on each channel should be "human." That means your brand should actively follow, like, share, and comment on other users' content, and that takes time.
Do you have a few extra minutes every day to check social media, craft a post, and find the right content for your own channels? Marketing automation tools can only take you so far. Instead of hoping for some downtime in your day to post, develop a consistent social media schedule and person responsible for the effort of keeping the calendar filled.
What do you have the budget for?
There are costs associated with outsourcing your social media channels, but there are also costs with keeping this responsibility on your own plate. If you're on the fence, consider your efficiency in social media compared with that of a dedicated employee or partner. In the time you would be spending carefully crafting a post and caring for your account, what to-do list tasks are you delaying, and how much is that delay costing you?
If you choose to work with a partner or hire an employee, keep in mind that you have options. If your budget is small, you could use a one-time consultant or have an ongoing relationship with a freelancer. If you're planning to invest significantly more in the effort, bring in a part-time (or even full-time) employee, or draft the services of a social media marketing agency.
Social media needs to be someone's responsibility, whether that's yours, your employee's, or your partner's. With so many brands competing for crucial real estate in the minds of your target audience, it takes more than an ad hoc post on a mostly dormant Facebook page to earn loyalty to your brand. Make the commitment to master social media, employee an in-house guru, or bring in a partner that will help you maneuver this crucial avenue.