According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) social media specialists are grouped in with other types of public relations specialists. In 2015, their median annual wage was $56,770, which is higher than the overall median wage of $36,000 for all workers.
Social media specialists are the ones who are posting content on various social networks for brands – so it seems fairly simple, right? It’s far more complex than most people know – unless they’re in the industry.
That said, it’s not the right kind of job for everyone. If you’re running a business, you know the importance of being on social. But that doesn’t mean you should be handling it yourself – it’s completely okay to hire someone else to handle it for you. Here’s how to tell if you’re on the right track in choosing to do it yourself.
How Familiar Are You with Social Media Channels?
Not all social media channels are the same – even though they may have similar features and end goals. I’m a big advocate of only spending time on the channels where you know your customers are. This way, you don’t spread yourself too thin, or invest time in trying to be everywhere because you feel like you have to be. At the least, you’ll need to be familiar with the ins and outs of Facebook, as 95% of Millennials expect a business to have a Facebook presence. It’s not just them, either – 87% of Gen X’ers, and 70% of people between ages 45 and 60 think you should be there, too. Only about 50% of people expect your business to have a presence on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.
Regardless of your level of experience, posting the exact same updates on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is not just a lazy strategy – it’s an ineffective one. Twitter limits you to 140 characters, where Facebook lets you be more verbose. Pinterest and Instagram are highly visual networks, so if you lack images, you’ll struggle to gain traction. Instead, adapt the same content for each channel.
If it’s going to take you a substantial amount of time, or trial and error spending money on ads, then you may be better served by hiring someone who has a solid background and experience in social media. Of course, if you’re eager to learn, and want to take those social media skills to a business working in social media to help other businesses, then by all means – get in the trenches and learn.
Do You Have Good Relationship Building Skills?
Social media is all about relationships – and the greater the quality of those relationships, the better your results will be. Stop with the sales pitch about how awesome your business is, and focus on really building connections with your potential customers. Use your social channels as a customer service platform for your audience, and take the time to help them.
If you think you can post on Facebook once a week and tweet a couple times a month – that’s not going to cut it. You’ll have to carve time out of your schedule to make sure you can dedicate attention to not only creating and curating content to post, but to respond to what people are saying when your audience starts engaging.
Remember, building relationships and engagement takes time. If you’ve got a small following, run some ads to help increase the number of page likes – focusing on building a highly targeted following. If you don’t know who your customers are, stop what you’re doing and build out customer personas for each of the major segments of your audience. Then, build ads that target those personas.
Can You Stay on Top of News, Tools, and Trends?
Social media is constantly changing. Even though there may not be a new hot network popping up every time we turn around, Facebook, for one, makes changes to their newsfeed algorithm quite often. If the idea of keeping up with what’s going on makes you want to crawl into a hole and hide, then it’s a good idea to look to someone else to handle your social. If not, then set some Google Alerts to keep up with news and trends.
Are You Able to Balance the Personal and Professional?
Your personal and professional online presences are going to blur to an extent, no matter how hard you work to keep them separate. Customers want to know there’s a human on the other end – no one likes dealing with automated systems. Use social media as a chance to humanize your brand. Do you want to post on your business page about your daughter taking her first steps? Unless you’re in the business of baby products, probably not. Would you share those funny cat memes you secretly love? Unless you’re in the business of selling products to cat lovers, no. But it’s okay to relax and be light-hearted, especially if that’s the voice you’re cultivating for your brand.
It’s possible to find balance between personal and professional, though it may take some experimentation to find out what your audience responds to best.
Can You See the Big Picture?
What you post on social media today needs to fit into your long-term goals and social media strategy. It’s important to go into social with some sort of plan, or you’ll never be able to achieve your goals. If you’re having trouble developing a strategy, you can hire someone to help you with that, if you’re comfortable with the implementation.
To Work Your Own Social or to Hire a Professional to Do It For You – That is the Question
If you’re just starting out and building an audience, or don’t have the funds to hire a social media manager, trying social media on your own is better than neglecting it all together. Set yourself a schedule, use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to build up your queue of content, and use a tool like Feedly to find content to share that doesn’t originate with you. Then, take time every day to be present on the network to respond to engagements, find new followers, and share content from your followers.
If you’ve reached a point where you feel like you don’t have the time you need to properly focus on your social media, and you have the funds to hire someone, pass it off to an expert. You can then use the time you would spend on social to grow your business in other ways that you excel at.