Marketing and social media now go hand in hand.
"Social media has been invaluable as we have built our business, and when used correctly, it can be a great help to companies who don’t have marketing budgets," say Laura Mignott and Sara Walker-Santana, co-founders of 5-year-old digital ad agency DigitalFlash. "You can now use social media to follow and learn about potential clients and partners, as well as get loads of useful information about your industry. It can also enable entrepreneurs to tell the story of their company on their own terms."
When it comes to choosing the best social media platform for networking with clients, I agree with Mignott and Walker-Santana that "Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram all help you to learn what people’s expertise and interests are."
Once you've established your social media platforms, it's important to put the right person in charge of your brand's social media voice. I strongly advise against using an intern. Instead, choose someone from your business who knows your brand's message and is willing and able to engage online with clients or future customers. The commitment to handling social media can be time consuming and for some, a 24/7 job.
If you are looking to hire a social media manager, then here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. How much will it cost?
A social media manager's pricing can vary. The minimum fee depends on the number of platforms you are managing and the number of posts a client is expecting. Social media management can cost anywhere from $500 plus a month, depending on campaigns, contests and ads being run.
2. Social media outreach takes time.
As a client, do not expect to see results right away. The first step is getting on social media, but realize that it takes time to build a community. Be prepared to devote at least four to six months on your social media strategy to see results. Your audience needs to be engaged with your brand, so be prepared to give them quality content, tips and news they can use -- all information that appeals to your customer base.
3. Ask questions of your social media manager.
Most people may not admit it, but they remain in the dark about the way social media works. Ask your manager to explain how many hours it takes to manage the social media accounts. If the manager can provide a breakdown of the work schedule, it might also help you to see how your money is being spent. At the end of the campaign -- or periodically during the campaign -- you can ask for an analytics report to measure progress.
Your social media manager has to get it right when sharing your brand's message. So choosing the right social media manager is important. When I asked a group of social media managers what brands should consider when hiring someone for the job, they said to make sure the candidate has a good understanding of how to analyze data and use all the latest tools and web services, as well as provide samples of their work. As in any situation, references are key.