Everyone knows what social media is – for many of us it is where we spend vast amounts of our spare time, flicking through feeds of text and images from friends, family and work colleagues. Sharing a post on Facebook or Twitter is incredibly easy to do. Hey you might even get a few likes or retweets from online friends – fantastic! But if you are a business using social media your expectations will likely be a little higher. You’ll be looking at using social media to create an audience, and then regularly showcasing your products or services to that audience in a professional manner. You know that this requires much more than just random posts, but you simply don’t seem to be able to find the time needed to regularly create and post new and engaging content to social media. This is where social media management services come in.
Social media management is a service offered by many marketing agencies to deliver the day to day management of social media for you. It takes the task of defining a social media strategy, building attractive content for posting, manages the scheduling of posts, and then provides detailed reporting on the effectiveness of those posts. Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.
Social Media Strategy
Every business is different, and the way in which they approach social media should be unique to them also. Many factors play into defining a social media strategy such as the type of products or services the business offers, what the ideal audience looks like, which social media platforms that audience can be found on, the required frequency of posts, and which geographies the business sells to – for example, are they a local service provider with a 30 mile radius, or a software developer providing solutions across the globe? Understanding the client and defining a strategy with them is the first and most essential step for any agency offering social media management services. Without this step any content created could be off brand, pitched to the wrong audience, or even potentially providing false information. Core information that should be used to help educate the agency on the best strategy include:
- What products/services do you provide?
- Where do you sell these products/services?
- Does your business have existing branding such as a logo, colour scheme, or brand guidelines that should be used?
- Is the business already using social media?
- What is the desired goal of using social media? Some examples include:
- To generate traffic to the business website
- To build a social audience
- To be able to promote special events or offers quickly
- To develop brand awareness
- What type of information do you want shared? Information about your products/services, links to other peoples articles and posts, videos, links to blogs, etc.
- How do you want to talk to your audience? Will you be funny, informative, professional, relaxed?
Once the agency has this information, they will create the social media strategy. This can be a simple as a single sentence describing the objectives, or could be a detailed multi-page document defining goals, tactics and more. As a client, make sure you both see the social media strategy and agree with it. This is YOUR strategy – so be sure to be happy with it. Without this the project will fail. But with it, you can move onto creating a content schedule.
It might seem confusing to talk about creating a calendar for scheduling posts before talking about creating the posts themselves, but the content calendar is the agency’s planning tool for this stage. A good content calendar will be clear, structured and well thought out – created as the first step to executing against your strategy. It should also be shared with you as the client for approval before ANY posts are created or shared.
The content calendar will define:
- the frequency and timing of posts
- post topics and groupings
- titles of posts, with draft text and image descriptions
This level of planning allows you as the client to understand how the agency will deliver against your social media strategy, and will give you a first look at how your posts will potentially look. Wherever possible get the agency to create at least one template for posts for you to approve. This could be a text based example, but ideally should have both text and image elements. This template style will be then be re-used for future posts.
In my opinion, you should expect to see the content calendar for at least the first 10 posts or a calendar month, whichever occurs first. Beyond that, it is entirely between you and the agency as to what level of approval and preview of posts is required – some businesses want to approve every post, some let the agency own the process. It’s entirely your call.
Once you have a strategy, a plan, and a social template, actually creating posts is relatively easy. However, you as a client can help massively here. YOU know your business better than anyone, so provide as much information as you can about what you would be interested in seeing in posts. That should at least include details on your own offerings, but ideally will include other websites and social profiles that could be referenced, details of the recognised leaders in your field, and any places where topical information on your business can be found. All of these will help the agency develop a rounded set of content to build into the social calendar and push out to your profiles.
So, you have a strategy, a plan, and content being produced and posted according to schedule. All is great – or is it?? Without taking a look at activity reports you have no idea. Your marketing agency should provide you with a variety of reports, ranging from a weekly reporting email, to interactive dashboards where you can create your own reports. Whatever level of service you are provided with, there are some of core metrics that you should be interested in tracking. However, these metrics vary slightly by social network:
Again, every business has unique goals and expectations, so accordingly should look at metrics in their own unique way. But look at the reports you should. In addition, it is important that you review these results with your agency. When, and how often, that review happens will vary based on your service and needs. The review itself should look at recent activity, how that activity has changed over the period – for example how many retweets did you get this month versus last – and ideally show you the progress you are looking for. Don’t necessarily expect instant results from social activities, because they don’t always come, but you should see progress – if you don’t then you need to figure out why with your agency.
Top 4 Benefits of Social Media Management
Now that you know what social media management consists of, you should have a pretty good idea of whether it will work for you or not. If you’re still on the fence though, here are my 4 top benefits of social media management:
1. Time savings
Of course, likely the biggest benefit is the fact that you don’t have to do this yourself. By outsourcing social media management to a professional marketing agency you don’t have to spend time thinking about what you need to post, then writing the post, then posting it, and so on. All of this is done, you’ll get a report of activity and results. Without having to lift a finger. Now that is a huge benefit!
2. Consistency of Communications
An often overlooked benefit of managed social communications is the power of consistency. By this I mean both the fact that your posts will be going out with a regularity (perhaps 2 a week on Mondays and Thursdays, perhaps once a day – it will vary based on your social media strategy), but also that they will all be created in a similar style and tone. This creates a sense of comfort with your audience. If you post random content then your audience will never really feel like they know you. Consistency gives them the confidence to know what to expect in your posts, and obviously they like it as they are still a follower or fan. Consistency is good.
3. Professional Communications
Great as you are at running your own business, the likelihood is that you’re not as good a social media marketer as the professional that you are hiring to do the job. That’s why you’re hiring them right? The benefit that you get from that is professionally produced content, visually attractive posts with no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors (hopefully!) – every single time a post goes out. Again, this level of quality comes across to your audience, and will show them that you are taking social media, and your business promotion, seriously.
4. 24/7 Promotion to a Captive Audience
If you have a website already then you know the benefit of being available 24/7 – it’s huge. The fact that people can come and learn about your business whenever they want, without you needing to answer a phone or visit them, is one of the biggest benefits of websites and the internet. Well that benefit just gets expanded on social media. With a website people have to actually go and look for you – via a search engine typically. But on social media, you can get into their eyeline via a friend, or connection without them actively having to look for you. With some careful targeting and content creation this allows your business to get in front of more and more people, and ultimately achieve the goals that you set when starting off this whole process.
Social Media Management from Instinctive Solutions
Instinctive Solutions offer a variety of social media management packages to cater for all types of business and social media expectations. With solutions starting from as little as £25 per week, Instinctive work closely with businesses large and small to grow their social presence. To learn more click here.