Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Giving Up the Reins [Hiring a Social Media Content Specialist]

Social media has revolutionized marketing. Everyone [or most] can agree with this. 
Marketing, that used to be a one-way conversation to potential customers [print ads, billboards, commercials] has turned into a loud family dinner with all the in-laws. There are so many conversations going on at once now, so many outlets to monitor, and constant technology changes. 
It’s big, it’s scary, it’s loud, it’s time-consuming, and worst of all: marketers no longer have the dominate control. 

On the bright side, social media is, well, social. The companies that do it well have a very specific voice to their content, and quick response times. They have built their social media as an extension of the company, building trust in their brand and an avenue to new revenue. 

But like all success, there is quite a time-commitment. Content must be continuously generated. Social media outlets must be monitored. Responses must be timely. Strategies must be revised. 

And, at some point, help may need to be hired or out-sourced. 

But if you do social media, and do it well, you have created an online personification of your company's brand. How do you turn this over to a contractor who doesn't know your specific business? Who might not have your voice? 

It’s a tough choice, but when the time comes, you’ll realize help is necessary. 

Like sending a child to school for the first time and trusting in the teacher, you have to trust your social media content specialist to take the reins. 

Trusting who you hire is the #1 rule to success. It’s not a job for an intern, nor simply the “cheapest help locally”. Trust your gut that you are hiring someone whom has a similar voice, and outlook on social media. If a prospective hire doesn't garner your trust, keep looking. 

Walk before you run. When my company hired a content specialist, I still provided the content for the first month or so. She simply scheduled the posts, and learned our style. To this day, we have a shared Google doc where she supplies content, channels and posting time frames, and I still approve the content before it goes live. We have had the same social media content writer for a year now, and 98% of our content I approved outright. However, there probably always will be that 2% of the time that there is a nuance to our industry she wasn’t familiar with, that needs to be corrected before it is posted. Don’t expect your freelance contractor to know the industry or your company as well as you do. It is still your job to help guide them. 

Spend time training and outline your goals. I spent hours with my content specialist initially, explaining our audiences, our culture, suggesting resources to glean content from, and giving feedback on voice. It took almost as much time as it previously took me to write the content, but in training my content specialist to our company voice and goals, she learned to take the training wheels off without falling much quicker. 

Implement internal sources for follow-up. Our social media specialists retweets, responds and likes other posts for us. However, social media is often the first-line for service and sales. That is outside the realm what a contractor should answer. Have internal sources implemented to respond quickly when needed with internal knowledge. 

Constantly review and tweak, together. Social media is an evolving field, and as such needs constant revision. We meet at least monthly to discuss strategy, to test new strategies, and to review successes. Our social media specialist is usually more on top of trends and new strategies than I am. She’s the expert, and I expect her to embrace her expertise. 

Hiring an outsider is a scary prospect. But with some oversight, guidance, and trust, hiring a content specialist to help improve your social media strategy might just be the best move you make.

Photo Credit: mkhmarketing on flickr

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