If social media is free, why do I need to pay someone to manage it?
It’s hard to argue the importance of social media in your marketing mix. Done correctly, it has the potential to reach new customers, drive in-store traffic and build loyalty in your community.
Who’s managing social media for your business?
Social media isn’t the same as print or radio or TV, some store owners say. Facebook and Instagram and Tik Tok are free, so why should I pay someone to manage it for me?
I can get a sales rep or my niece to do it for me, right? Just post something about the store and respond to questions and we’re golden.
And for a few weeks or months, the postings are random — no interaction, no community growth. And then a complaint erupts into a tsunami of complaints.
“See,” the owner says, “we told you this wasn’t going to work.”
All advertising costs money. And while social media is free, developing (and managing) a strong, sustainable social media strategy is far from free.
But make no mistake, everything you do on social media is advertising — from cute puppy memes to store announcements about community events to boosting posts, buying ads and more.
Community manager — nice to have or a must-have?
A social media manager can be a copywriter, graphic designer, ad buyer and customer service rep — often throughout the same day.
It’s challenging work, fun work, and sometimes exhausting work, and the learning never stops. Not only is social media constantly evolving, but no two customer interactions are also ever the same.
Social media can create amazing opportunities for small businesses but it can also feel like an obstacle course with risks around every corner.
When social media is an afterthought, pushed off to whoever’s available, the voice of your store isn’t developed. It’s an afterthought as well.
Postings to the page are random and ad buying is done on a whim, not a plan that can be built on or tweaked as ads are responded to — or not.
Do you need a social media manager for your store?
While you may not need one person solely dedicated to social media — it can be a part-time task — you do need someone with their finger on the pulse of it daily; someone who understands your business goals and how to translate social media interactions into lead generation opportunities.
Who is that person for your business? Is it someone already there or someone new?
A social media manager’s DNA
In a perfect world, marketing and advertising (which includes social media) is the halo around your store, the glow that shares your light with the world. Your social media manager sits at the center, acquainted with every nuance and facet of your business.
Whether it’s a current employee or a freelancer, they’re the voice of your brand. And, just a reminder, their skills will often be needed outside of normal office hours. A customer who posts a complaint on Friday at 6 p.m. isn’t going to feel attended to if they’re not responded to until Monday morning.
Your community manager is a brand evangelist, customer service lead, sales and marketing, and technical support in the eyes of the consumer.
So what skills does your social media community manager need to succeed?
At its heart, social media is a communication tool. Your ideal candidate should be able to succinctly convey an idea or story using all the tools available to them — whether it’s emojis, gifs, stickers, pictures, videos or simply text. And while customer engagement is first and foremost, being able to share with other employees how their work on social moves the business forward is just as important.
The best social media managers are not only skilled at wielding their digital assets to tell a great story, but they’re also exceptional digital conversationalists. Their witty updates are as engaging as their clever comebacks and they understand how to tailor all that glittering banter to different audiences and platforms, eliciting emotion in 150 characters or less. Easy, right?
When it comes to developing social media content, creativity is the fuel that elevates and differentiates your business. But ingenuity and originality — not to mention a sense of humor — also power the mundane tasks, such as the subtle, aesthetic appeal of formatting copy and links.
It can be a challenge to pair wildly creative with highly organized in one person but in social media, these two skills go hand in hand. Can your social media manager channel all their creative juices into an efficient, executable plan? Are they learning from each customer interaction?
Great social media managers live and breathe their trade but they should also understand your larger business goals too — and other types of advertising that can help achieve those goals.
Live events, email campaigns, direct mail, radio, TV and print can all help bring more attention to your store. And your social media manager needs to understand how all these pieces work together to create compelling marketing campaigns.
Being able to turn everyday interactions on social media into special moments is an important skill. More and more customers use social media to complain and deciphering the “why” behind those customer exchanges can reveal opportunities for product development, sales and marketing and even future customer connection points. If your customer service representative is a different person than your social media manager, they need to work together.
We all know how dynamic, and ever-changing, social media is, and being able to pivot on the fly is as important as any of the skills mentioned above. If a campaign is underperforming or a post goes viral, does your social media manager have the authority and flexibility to make decisions and act quickly?
It can be hard to dedicate resources to an initiative that hasn’t proven itself within your company.
Rather than looking at the cost of social media, maybe it’s time to start asking ourselves what we’re missing if we don’t do it?
At the end of the day, it’s night and it’s my job to help you get a better night’s sleep – and lead a healthier, longer life. Pretty awesome job, right? As Vice President of Brand & Digital Marketing for Restonic Mattress Corporation, I also serve as the brand liaison for Restonic’s family of brands, which includes Scott Living and Biltmore.
My motto: life is better together. We all want to succeed and when we work together, we can make great things happen for ourselves, those around us and the organizations we serve. Connect with me on LinkedIn.
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