Social media started out as a fun way to connect with family and friends, and has now grown into an affordable, vital marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. Unfortunately, many businesses are overwhelmed by all the tasks that go into managing multiple messages across many social media accounts and are hiring experts to take care of it for them. If you enjoy tweeting, pinning and sharing, then starting a social media management business might be for you. Here are steps and tips to getting started.
What do social media managers do?Similar to virtual assistants, social media managers can offer a variety of services depending on their expertise and their clients’ needs. Services can include:
- Develop marketing strategies based on client goals.
- Social media account set up.
- Post graphics and text on behalf of the client.
- Stay current and share on trends and news relevant to the client’s business.
- Increase the number of followers
- Community facilitation to the client's target market.
- Customer service for the client.
- Marketing analysis.
Pros and Cons of Social Media ManagementThere are many good reasons to consider starting a social media management business including:
- Getting paid to use social media, if that's something you already enjoy doing.
- It doesn't take much investment or equipment to get started especially if you already have a computer and Internet service.
- You can run the business from home, or wherever you can access the Internet.
- You can focus on the one or few social media sites you know best, instead of having to know every single social media platform.
- The need for social media managers continues to grow as more solo-preneurs, freelancers, and small businesses outsource this task
- Of course, there are a few downsides to starting a social media management business.
- Social media is a challenge for one person managing their profile, it's even more difficult to manage several companies' profiles.
- Not all businesses understand the power of social media, so you may need to sell them on the benefits you can provide.
- You represent the company, not yourself, when you're doing social media for others. This means you need to act on it's behalf based on it's tone and attitude.
- You need to stay on top of changes in policies, algorithms, and other aspects of each social media platform so that your efforts on behalf of the client continue to deliver results.
- Along with an understanding of how to engage your clients' target audience, you also will need to be able to create graphics to attract them to the post in the first place.
- You will likely need to invest in tools, such as scheduling services and royalty-free graphics, and graphic editing software.
What does it takes to be a social media manager?Although courses in social media management are popping up, becoming a social media manager requires experience more than education. With that said, there are things social media managers need to know beyond how to take a good selfie.
- Understand social media as a marketing tool. It’s one thing to get a bunch of followers to a cat tricks YouTube feed, it’s another to build a following for a business. Social media marketing is different from traditional marketing, which is why many businesses struggle with it. Social media is about having an interesting, informative, and/or entertaining conversation with the market.
- Knowledge of the nuances of the various platforms. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to posting on social media. Each platform has its rules and methods for best marketing practices. How a business promotes on Instegram should be different than how it markets on LinkedIn, because each platform is vastly different.
- The ability to develop strategies that meet the client’s goals. Effective social media marketing requires setting goals and then developing a plan. Social media managers also need to help clients understand social media and how it works, and work with them to develop goals that best fits social media. For example, research suggests that few sales are made through social media. However, social media is effective at building loyalty and trust, so engagement and list building would be better goals than sales.
Small Business Owner Will give a try :
- Be able to capture the client’s voice. If the client is fun and quirky, social media posts should reflect that.
- Ability to manage several social media platforms for many clients. There are a host of tools, such as Hootsuite to help manage platforms, but organization and a plan are crucial to insuring every client gets their social media needs met.
How to start a social media business:Before starting a social media management business, make sure you have the basic know-how and the commitment to stick with it. If you’re ready to get started, here are the steps to take:
- Build your own social media following. More than a huge number of followers, you should have influence. A large number of followers means nothing if none of them are paying attention to what you post. Your goal is to build a following that engages with you. That means they comment, share or like what you post. One way to quantify your influence is through Klout, PeerIndex (Brandwatch) or Kred, all of which monitor your social media activity and assigns a score that reflects your influence.
- Study social media. Social media platforms change, and the marketing tactics to use them evolve, which requires that you stay on top of these changes and trends. Also, pay attention to people who have a lot of engagement on social media. What sorts of things do they post that are causing people to respond?
- Decide what services you’ll offer. You can offer several packages, such as a start-up service that creates the accounts and then passes the management back to the client, and/or a full-service package that does everything from creating the accounts, posting content, and moderating the community. As you decide what to offer, consider if there are industries you want to focus in. For example, you can be a social media manager for Realtors or authors. Finally, determine which platforms you’ll specialize in. While knowing something of all the major platforms is important, sometimes focusing on a couple that reap big results for the client’s industry is better. Further, some clients may have Twitter and Facebook down pat, but need help with Pinterest or YouTube.
- Write a business plan. Your business plan doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Instead, it’s a roadmap for your business success. In it you outline your business goals, services, assets and liabilities, marketing information and how you’ll compete against the competition.
- Determine your pricing. Payscale reports that social media managers earn a median of $48,150 per year, with a range of $31,015 - $74,738 (as of 12/2017). As a new business, you may have difficulty charging higher amounts initially. Referrals and testimonials will be crucial to helping you earn the big bucks. What you charge will depend on your experience and the work you do. You can charge by the hour or offer package plans.
- Decide on your business name. A business name becomes your brand, so it’s something you want to choose carefully. It needs to reflect your service and your market. Any name you choose a name that is not your given name should be checked at the USPTO to make sure it’s not already trademarked.
- Determine your business structure. Starting out, you can operate under a sole proprietorship, which is free and doesn't require any paperwork except a business license. However, since social media can go wrong, and a client might sue you for any problems it might incur from social media, you should consider forming a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC doesn’t prevent you from getting sued, but does protect your personal assets (i.e. your home) if you are sued. Most states offer single-person LLCs now. Although it requires a little more paperwork and money to start than a sole proprietorship, it’s worth the extra protection.
- Obtain licenses and permits as required in your city or county. Contact your local city or county about getting a business license. In many places, you can do this online. If your business name is something other than your given name, you may need to file a fictitious name statement (sometimes called “assumed name statement” or “doing business as statement”), as well.
- Develop a marketing plan. As a marketing expert, you’d be remiss not to make your own plan for getting clients. This should include social media, especially LinkedIn. Networking will be your best bet for getting your initial client(s), but also include methods for getting testimonials and referrals.
- Work your plan and build your business. Once you have everything in place, your job is to get clients and provide the best social media management service possible.
Small businesses aren’t just the backbone of the U.S. economy. Many times they’re the face of American business, too. When people deal with a large corporation, they may get good customer service, but they rarely see the person who’s providing it. Walking through the door of a small business, customers have a good chance of being served by the owner. If they have a problem, the person who addresses it will be toward the top of the food chain.
Social media can be what truly sets small businesses apart from the stereotype of the large, faceless corporation. It’s also why social media marketing can be such a powerful tool for small businesses — they’re already more in touch with their customers than a big corporation ever could be. To successfully market through social media, a small business doesn’t need a huge, dedicated staff or representation by an agency. They only need to understand their customers and the basics of how good social media marketing works.
Start by choosing the right platform
Social media platforms abound, so how do you choose the right one? Even the most tech-challenged small business owner has probably heard of the biggies: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Big corporations may have a marketer dedicated to each platform, but if you’re a small business owner it can be difficult to do it all.
Instead of spreading your efforts too thin over more platforms than you can manage, start by identifying the platform that’s the best fit for your business. Here are the basics you should keep in mind:
- Choose the platform that is most likely to reach your target audience. This will be the one where your customers spend most of their social time online. It may be Facebook, Twitter or an industry-specific platform.
- Be sure you understand the purpose of the platform. Is it a social meeting place for people likely to be interested in your product or service? A professional forum? The platform’s purpose will direct how you market on it.
- How much time will you need to invest in building your presence on this platform in order to have the greatest impact?
For many small businesses, Facebook is the most approachable platform, as well as the easiest to use. If this happens to be your path, we created an in-depth Guide to Advertising on Facebook to help you get started.
Create your social media profile
In the stone age of marketing, companies used to create paper media kits that told the story of their business. Marketers would customize the kit with different tidbits of information based on who they were sending it to at the time — customers, an industry journalist, vendors, investors, etc. — but the bones remained the same. Your social media profile is the modern version of that media kit.
Creating a solid, engaging and personable profile is critical and if you’ll be working across multiple platforms, you should customize your profile for each. The basics that you include, however, should remain constant. Always include in your social media profile these essentials:
- Description of your company — Keep it concise yet creative, pithy yet witty. This should briefly explain who you are, what you do, where you’re located and the geographic area you serve.
- Hours of operation — Have you ever logged onto a really great-looking website full of impressive images and engaging copy that made you just want to rush out and go to that store or restaurant? What happened when you couldn’t find the hours of operation anywhere on the site? Did you take your business elsewhere? This is a very basic profile element that too often gets overlooked.
- Images — Include your logo and at least one image that’s representative of your business (but not a shot of employees boogieing during the office holiday party).
Remember, your social media profiles should be personable yet professional, informative yet friendly.
Quality content is king
Social media users may come to your page because they’ve found you through an online search, they’ve done business with you in the past, or someone recommended your small business to them. But in order to grow that initial contact into a vibrant, profitable online relationship, you need to continually offer quality content that will keep them coming back.
Keep these essential tips in mind to create content that’s king:
- You’re building your brand and relationships, not just selling products and services. Avoid too much salesmanship. It’s OK to use social media to alert people to special offers or sales, but if all you ever do is talk about yourself, they’ll soon grow bored.
- Social media is about having conversations. Remember, you’re not just on the social platform to tell customers about your business. You’re also there to hear what they think about it and what they want from you. Your content should encourage conversation and provide opportunities for commentary from your customers.
- Grammar and punctuation count. Read enough social media posts and you might begin to think that good English isn’t really necessary for online success. But your social media activity speaks directly to who you are as a small business; poor grammar and punctuation, or dull and dreary writing, create an image that’s less than polished and professional.
- Imagine your mother reading it. Run your social media activity through the ultimate litmus test — would you be embarrassed to have your mother read it? If you post content that’s fun, engaging, informative, useful and respectful, your mother will be proud of you. Never shame her by being discourteous to your customers, or by posting content that is embarrassingly dull or aggressively salesy.
Now that you know the basics of quality content, here are some ideas for the type of content that can help build your brand, engage your customers and drive sales:
- New product information. If you’re offering a new product or launching a new service, that’s legitimate news you can share with your customers online. Remember to be concise and accurate in your description, and make sure to help readers understand how this new product or service can benefit them.
- Announce promotions. Everyone likes a deal, and most people like a deal even more when they feel it’s exclusive. Social media is a great way to offer exclusive promotions or to publicize special sales. For example, offering to email a discount coupon to everyone who shares today’s post rewards them for their part in your ongoing social media conversation and makes them feel special and valued.
- Tips or advice. Just as people like a deal, they also want “news they can use.” Share the benefits of your expertise with your social media followers. For example, if you run a lawn care business, in spring share your expertise on what people should do now to help set up their lawns for a great summer. If you operate a dry cleaner, post stain-removal tips that people can use at home — and remind them at the end that you’re available to help with any laundry problems they can’t solve on their own.
- Customer surveys and feedback. People want to be heard, and this fundamental truth of human nature is one of the reasons why social media has experienced such phenomenal growth. Use your social media presence to solicit and gather valuable information and opinions from your customers. Conduct an online survey regarding how people use your product or service. Ask for feedback on a new product or for some guidance during product development. This approach not only gives you valuable insight into what your customers are thinking, it communicates to them that you care what they think.
What’s ahead in social media
It’s hard to imagine social media use will continue to grow since it’s so huge already, but all signs point in that direction. According to Pew Research, 65 percent of American adults currently use at least one social media platform, and many are on multiple platforms. Facebook alone topped more than 1.5 billion active users toward the end of 2015 — that’s nearly equal to the population of China!
Ninety percent of young adults use social media, Pew says, which is especially noteworthy when you consider that Millennials are the largest generation since the baby boomers. Social media use is about equal across race and increasing even in rural areas.
The power of social media to reach vast numbers of consumers, yet still allow marketers to target specific demographic groups, is impressive. When you consider that social media marketing is also one of the lowest-cost forms of marketing, its value to small businesses can’t be overstated. If your small business isn’t yet engaging in social media marketing, or if you feel you could be doing better at it, it’s time to create your social media marketing plan.