23rd May, 2013

Are you thinking about getting a freelance social media consultant in to look after your social media strategy? There are a number of areas you need to think about when deciding the next steps. Do you really have the budget to employ someone externally when you could probably do it yourself?

Money and Time…

time restraints

There are a number of things to take into account; that includes budget, a lot of time and effort. If you don’t have time, then executing a social media campaign in-house is pretty much pointless. Too many times we hear the fact their company are ‘on’ social media, Facebook and Twitter, but you need to be active on there! Therefore you need to be willing to dedicate your time to the cause. Like a few online marketing business areas, there are not always guarantees and it’s not by any means an over night solution.  Do you have your own tools to execute your strategy? There are a number of tools out there available for you to use in order to help move your campaign along, but knowing how to use them effectively is key.

What Route Do You Take?

There are management and analytics tools, for example Hootsuite and Sproutsocial.  The two combined can be quite powerful, but unless you have your content in place it is pointless using any of this, as content is your social media ammunition.

You’re just not going to wake up tomorrow morning and have an extra 500 followers (unless you’ve done something against Twitters guidelines or extremely dodgy!). You have to work for your rewards, your rewards being sales and enquiries from a series of engagement and activity levels.  If you choose to, there are plenty of tools and resources out there which allow you to learn indepth all about the best practices within social media. From past experiences and definitely when dealing with our SEO clients, a lot of business owners are far too busy to even think about their own online marketing as a whole, let alone monitor their social media.

The Social Media Guru

social engaging

The trouble sometimes is how popular social media has got and the increase in users. University graduate students can come out with a 2:1 degree and be automatically titled as an SMG (social media guru). I guarantee if you ask the majority of them what a social media strategy is then many will stumble with words. When I was once asked what a social media strategy is, I had no clear answer. At that moment in time I realised that I was great with using the tools, but implementing something much bigger as a whole package or strategy was a completely different story.

What a freelance social media consultant can do is plan the strategy out. Once you’ve got your content, it sits on the fence between your social and SEO. He or she should have the tools to manage the campaign. Using spreadsheets is old school, things get clogged up and it really isn’t efficient enough anymore to be using your spreadsheet, and to be honest, if you were a business paying someone to manage your social media, you’d expect them to have the right tools in place to do it and be up to date with industry standard managing tools.

Reading from the same page

As explained in my other blog post about things to think about when signing up to a social media agency make sure you are fully aware of what direction you want your campaign to achieve. If you do employ a freelancer, both sides need to be on the same page, that’s you and your freelance social media consultant. You need to be able to work and communicate together as the campaign will need your input more so than most people think.

If you don’t have time to do your own social media, then you shouldn’t be doing at all, that includes bringing in a freelancer. You will need to be as hands on as your consultant as you will need be aware of regular updates.

Bad Press

A few years ago (obviously times have changed) a writer from The Telegraph very vocally stated his opinions by writing an article on the use of social media and the cowboy companies that come along with it. Well to put it simply, I think this guy has a few good and bad points. If you look at any business and company, within their industry there are always the good guys and the bad guys, so to single out the ‘blood sucking social media gurus’ is quite a broad statement. Having said that, as I wrote earlier on, you need to be able to spot the cowboys of this industry from a mile off in order not to get stung.

If you ask any business owner if they can manage their social media, they will say no, if you ask them if they have time for it, they will say no, that’s why you outsource it. So how is that stealing or sucking someone’s money away from them? It’s like asking your average home owner, are you a glazier? No. Can you change and replace your own windows? No. What do you do then? Pay someone to come do the job for you, but you still have to keep an eye on what they’re doing.

To Have or Not to Have…

To conclude with the question of whether you need a freelance consultant or not, there is no right or wrong answer! If you simply don’t have the time to do all the nitty gritty, then it is worth either outsourcing it or bring someone in to take it on. Although your freelancer will be managing and monitoring your campaign, you will need to be as involved as possible.  If time is an issue, then forget about social media altogether. An alternative is for you to plan your strategy, for you to know what’s going on at what day and time, and employ someone for this task.  If you do have a complete strategy, the tools, analytics and time, then you might want to look at doing it yourself.

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