Social media is growing, both for personal and business use. In fact, according to Social Media Today, over the last year, 80% of small businesses increased the time spent on social media websites. This is because more and more businesses are beginning to see the value in utilizing social channels, and businesses with the time and the know-how to devote to a social media strategy will tell you that it works . For those that do not have the time or the know-how, outsourcing can be a great option. However, you must remember that the company you hire will ultimately be in charge of managing your online actions and reputation, so it’s important to do your homework. Here are some essential qualities to watch for while searching for your new social media marketer.
- Be Attentivene and Responsive Listeners. While you’re explaining your company’s social media goals and objectives, is he or she listening carefully and responding with thoughtful comments and questions? If the marketer starts doing all the talking without first taking time to get to know you and your company, it could mean that he or she is a “one size fits all” kind of marketer who uses the same strategy with every client. You know your company is unique and deserves its own special social media strategy, so try to find a marketer that uses an individualized approach with each one of his or her clients. How well the marketer listens and responds to you is also a direct indicator of how well he or she will listen and respond to your social media audience.
- Be Helpful. The goal of most businesses is to make more money, and a good social media marketer knows this. However, he or she also knows that the best way for a business to make more money is by providing excellent customer service and placing an emphasis on “helping” rather than “selling.” A good social media marketer does not promise instant results. He or she will explain the process behind social media and will not encourage you to blatantly and shamelessly post plugs for your products. A good social media marketer will encourage you to post content that is helpful to your audience. Over time, your audience will look to you as a resource. For example, let’s say your business is an auto body shop and you write and post a helpful article explaining the importance of winterizing your vehicle and the required steps. Your competitor, on the other hand, posts one sentence saying, “Winter is here! Time to get your vehicle winterized.” Which auto body shop seems more knowledgeable? And which one would you rather go to?
- Post Engaging Content AND Engage with the Content of Others. Social media marketers should know what your page audience wants to see. Frequently sharing the right information with your audience develops a consistent voice and tone for your page, which is a key part of building online relationships. While this is important, it is only half of the equation. A good social media strategist knows the value in engaging with the posts of others, understanding it is a two-way street. He or she will tell you that if you want people to take an interest in your content, take an interest in theirs. You can learn a lot about a social media marketer by visiting their own social media pages. Do they respond to comments or mentions in a timely manner? Do they start conversations? To take it a step further, ask to see examples of work they have done for other clients. How do they represent their clients in online conversations?
- Be Patient, but Gutsy Leaders. Social media is always evolving, but it can’t do that without people who are open to new approaches and are not afraid to think outside the box. Social media marketers should always be evaluating performances and testing out new strategies. They should be patient and diligent in their trial and error, recording what works and what doesn’t, and constantly tweaking and fine-tuning their approach. It is their job to tell you how they will record progress and measure ultimate success. You may also want to ask them how many social media platforms they've worked with. With new platforms emerging all the time, it is important that they are not afraid to adapt and create strategies for new trends as they come along. This question can help you determine how comfortable they are adapting to even the newest social media platforms.
- Be Educated, yet Non-Pretentious Writers. Knowing how to successfully convey thoughts onto paper (or in this case, screens) is a skill that can make or break your business’s credibility. Besides being able to write content that is grammatically correct, good social media marketers will also know how to write in a tone that is confident, but non-intimidating. Remember, your audience is your audience because you offer knowledge they can learn from. Make sure your page offers content that cannot be mistaken as condescending or pretentious in tone. To gauge their performance on this item, again, take a look at their own social media accounts. Do they post grammar-free content? Do they come off as educated, but non-pretentious?