Essential Advice for Hiring the Perfect Social Media Community Manager [PODCAST]
Why Hire a Community Manager?
You have an up and coming social media community, including your thriving Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel, but you just don’t have the time to manage it all. And rightly so. You should be focusing your energy on what you do best, which I’m assuming isn’t social media management.
Today and I’m going to be covering a topic that I’m often asked about and that is online community management, or as many people know it, social media management. Often times, business owners will either take it upon themselves to manage the social media for their company or hire an inexperienced staff member to manage their posting and engagement, only to leave themselves wondering why they’re not seeing any results from their social media.
Who Can You Trust?
I’m going to be honest – there are a lot of people, peddling social media services, who are often vastly unqualified. And that’s the major problem; lack of certifiable skills in social media. There are a lot of universities and colleges around the world now offering social media certifications, but it leads me to wonder what they’re learning and who is actually teaching these courses. You know the types, often spewing buzz words that just confuse business owners more than anything, until they just throw up their hands and yell, “Fine! Just take care of it for me!”
Today, I’m offering up my top advice for finding the perfect community manager for you, that will not only allow you to understand what they’re doing day-to-day, but also to understand the results they need to be producing.
What Does a Community Manager Actually Do?
First, let’s break that first part down – understanding what they would or should be doing day-to-day. I often receive the question, “What is a community manager and what exactly do they do?”. Community managers, or often times called a social media manager, can fill a variety of roles including creating content like blog and social media posts, image asset creation like photo editing or quote cards, and even editing video and audio. They can upload your content and schedule it according to your promotional and editorial calendar, for example, on your WordPress blog and via Hootsuite. Some community managers could also create and manage your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn ads. But above all else, they should be managing your community, and I’ll get into that in a minute.
But often times, business owners look to finding a community manager who knows how to just create a post and use some of the tools that are out there. In my experience, they rarely look past those requirements because they just don’t know what they’ll need. And I’m going to add a shameless plug here – that’s where I come in. Until you have a good understanding of your strategy online, perhaps created by a social media strategist like myself, then you really don’t know what skills your community manager needs to get the job done. It’s like saying, “I need a doctor.”, but a doctor of what? And what exactly is the problem? Unless you know, how can you treat it?
Another question I often receive is, “How many hours will they need per week?”. It’s my opinion that a community manager needs an absolute minimum of 10 hours per week for a start-up community. What can you expect in that amount of time? Well, post creation, curation and scheduling – but this doesn’t include written blog posts or in-depth content creation. This may cover quote cards or basic photography. If you need your community manager to help you to create written blog posts, video or audios, you’ll need to tack on approximately 2 hours per post, depending on their skill level.
With the remaining hours, they’ll be expected to engage with your community. What? Be social in social media? Craziness, I know! I would recommend a minimum of one hour per day dedicated to building relationships and your community through outreach, including initiating and replying to comments and tweets, blog commenting, and even blogger and media outreach. Now keep in mind, if you’re limiting your community manager to only one hour per day, don’t expect them to respond to inquiries or comments straight away. Many part-time community managers will abide by a strict schedule, and you’ll need to respect that, just as they respect your need for a part-time community manager and not a full-time one. Between post creation, curation and community engagement, that will put your community manager at approximately 10 hours per week for a social presence that’s just starting out.
What You Can Expect in Terms of Results
What are some reasonable expectations for community managers in terms of results? I want to answer this question, because often times, business owners play the blame game with their community manager, often questioning their investment. And I just want to stand up here for community managers everywhere and say that it’s not fair on them. If business owners don’t even know what they should expect from their community manager to push leads and sales, then how is a community manager to know? Eventually they’ll know your business inside and out until it’s second nature to them, but in the early days, you need to set goals and expectations for everyone involved.
Before you even consider hiring a community manager, you’ll need to determine your online goals. If it’s to build your following for increased reach and brand collateral online, then great. You’ll need to pair community engagement with perhaps Facebook ads to see real results. Then on a monthly basis, report on your growth and determine what channels are working the best for your brand, based on the incoming traffic and conversions via your website. Push those channels further, investing more time and efforts there.
However, if your goal is to simply increase sales by the use of social media, I beg of you, please be realistic. Consider this – do you search for things to purchase on Facebook? Do you type “shoes” in the search bar on Facebook and wait for all the fantastic shoe pages to arrive on your screen? No, you don’t. You’ll probably head over to Google to search or even check out past shoe stores that you’ve grown an affinity towards in the past. Maybe you currently receive their newsletter or follow them online.
So, do you believe it’s a reasonable expectation for a community manager to drive sales on social with posts alone? I don’t think so, but do you know what is? Creating incredible true-to-brand content that generates buzz around your product or service in meaningful and creative ways, as well as building a strong community of brand advocates who will generate word-of-mouth referrals and potential sales. But creating this type of content often involves several other people, perhaps a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, and in some cases, even a publicist.
Why have a community manager at all? I’m sure I don’t have to lecture you on the importance of social media for your business. If a community manager isn’t maintaining and building your social media, then who will? You? And if you don’t, what will your customers or potential customers think of you when they stumble upon one of your pages or profiles, only to see no one is there? Perhaps they’ll wonder if you’re closed for business, or maybe you’re just behind the times and don’t value social media – or being social with your customers.
In-House, Off-Shore or Telecommuting?
One very important point I like to make when people ask me about community managers is the importance of having someone close to you or in-house. The most effective community managers I know are the ones that have their finger on the pulse, which is hard to do if they’re on the other side of the world. Having someone close to the action will allow them to capture it and generate even better content than if they weren’t there. So, if you have the ability to have them work within your city or within your walls, I say go for it.
So, I hope that you now understand why saying to your community manager “I want you to create 2 Facebook posts per day and tweet 10 times” won’t really translate into results or dollars. It’s preposterous. And now, for all those people and agencies who peddle those types of fluffy services, I hope you will show them the door.