Should you outsource social media? Many freelancers face this question at some point in their career. Having a robust social media presence is key to connecting with clients, driving the conversation in your industry and promoting the work you do. But, as you know, good social content and engagement takes flair, personalization and, frankly, time.
As their businesses and social followings grow, many freelancers are faced with tough choices about how to continue generating new content, managing conversations and increasing their platform presence. Read on for tips on how to decide if outsourcing your social media management is the right decision for you.
To Outsource or Not to Outsource: A Personal Story
In my past career managing a foundation and working in social media, I built a reasonable social media following. But building my own writing business put a different kind of pressure on my social growth. Over time, my followers stacked up, but my posting was ad hoc. With a busy client and travel schedule, staying consistent was tough. Auto-posting software helped a little, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually, I realized that engaging my audience and turning interested prospects into clients meant:
- Posting good content several times a day
- Sharing interesting content about technology, marketing and content marketing
- Consistently promoting client work
- Engaging followers in an interesting way
Enter my social media assistant, whose work is invaluable. She helps research potential content, handles bulk uploading of the content I create, writes original content and keeps me connected to analytics and social performance. This reasonable investment has helped me land high-profile client engagements, and even an invitation to copywrite and blog for a major social platform.
Know When It’s Time
How do you know when it’s time to outsource your social? Consider factors such as the amount of time you devote to this aspect of your business today, how you prioritize social media management amongst your other tasks and your interest or expertise in this area.
Of course, prioritizing social media in a busy professional career can be challenging, notes Jennifer Goforth Gregory, a top technical marketing writer and author of the book, The Freelance Content Marketing Writer.
“For years, I picked paying work over regularly posting on Twitter,” says Goforth Gregory. “However, about two years ago I realized that not having an active professional social media presence was starting to hurt my business. I had several potential clients mention that they had looked at my Twitter account before hiring me and were looking for writers with a stronger social media presence than mine. I realized that my lack of attention to social media was going to hurt my business.”
Outsourcing was a way to increase Goforth Gregory’s visibility without cutting into her work time. “I decided to enlist the help of my virtual assistant with my Twitter account since she was already familiar with my personality and opinions,” she explains.
Don’t Lose the Personal Touch
Even when you work with a social media assistant, maintaining a unique brand voice isn’t totally their responsibility.
“I also think it’s still important to have the personal touch, even if you outsource many of your posts,” notes Goforth Gregory. “Each day, I go into Twitter to respond to tweets personally, and usually make a post or two myself.”
Before moving forward, make sure you determine exactly how you still want to play an active role in your posts and the associated engagement.
“I think that if you outsource without ever touching your accounts yourself, you lose some of the authenticity and personal touch,” says Goforth Gregory. “Some of the most successful outsourcing strategies create a foundation for strong content and reliable posting. Freelancers can then add another layer of spontaneous posting, organic interaction and real-time commentary that keep their voice and priorities front and center in the post.”
Choose the Right Person
Oftentimes, the biggest outsourcing challenge business owners face is finding the right person to take the reins.
“If you feel like you don’t have time to manage your social media presence or you simply dread doing it, it’s time to hire someone,” says freelance writer and social media manager Cat DiStasio.
Her advice for a successful match is to be clear about what you’re looking for in the ideal candidate. “Finding the best person for the job depends on your needs and your goals,” says DiStasio. “If you might outsource other tasks — like research, proofreading and other projects — [you’d be] best served by looking for a virtual assistant who also offers social media services.”
It also helps to find someone with the experience necessary to integrate seamlessly into your existing operation. “A skilled social media manager should be able to work with you to understand your social media objectives, or help you clarify them if you don’t have any clearly defined,” notes DiStasio. “Look for someone who has some familiarity with your industry or niche, as well as a creative way with words and a sharp attention to detail. The last thing you want is a bunch of careless typos in your tweets, after all.”
And don’t overlook chemistry. When someone is interacting with your audience and developing your voice, it’s important that they understand where you’re coming from. “Hire someone you like,” advises DiStasio. “In my experience, it’s much easier to nail brand voice for entrepreneurs when we click, which is usually evident from the first conversation.”
A fast-growing social media presence can be a powerful stepping stone toward new work and opportunities. When you outsource social media work involved in creating content, connecting to new followers and streamlining your posting and engagement process, your investment will pay off. Decide where social platforms fit into your marketing mix, then set goals and move toward outsourcing investments that support these objectives. Whether you need to post more often, create better content or just stay engaged, the right social media partner can take your performance to the next level.