social media

If your Facebook page keeps getting dropped from your priority list, or you post to Instagram when you happen to think about it-which isn’t often-your business’s social media marketing efforts are likely running along in a flat, low-value line. The solution? Hire a freelance social media consultant. But how do you find a professional you can trust to be the voice of your brand on social media? Here’s a look at how you can get the process started and narrow your search to someone who will be a great ambassador.

What does a social media pro do?

In most cases, the main role for a social media pro is to actively use social networks on behalf of a business. You aren’t paying someone to play around on Twitter all day, however. Their value comes from their marketing know-how, their deep understanding of the social networks that are most relevant to your audience, their knowledge about connecting with that audience, and their passion for the dynamics of such a fast-paced environment. Depending on the needs of your business, a social media freelancer is typically responsible for:

  • Representing your business on social networks to customers, partners, prospects, and the public.
  • Keeping your audience engaged by regularly sharing relevant news and information, both your own branded content and from other sources.
  • Responding effectively to customer questions or feedback, comments from competitors, or news that impacts your audience.
  • Creating original content, which may include writing, images, photos, or video.
  • Actively monitoring news, trends, and best practices-both in general and for your industry specifically-to generate actionable insights that can improve your marketing efforts.
  • Being strategic about the use of social media by creating an overall strategy to reach your target customer, as well as managing short-term campaigns and using paid social advertising when effective and appropriate.
  • Analyzing results to fine tune efforts going forward and report back with metrics that are meaningful for your business.

Why do you need a social media specialist?

Social media helps you get found online, deliver top-notch customer service, and stay competitive. However, what that looks like for your business can vary widely from other businesses, including your competitors. Before you begin your search, identify and prioritize what your business is looking for. For example:

  • How mature are your social media efforts? A business that has no existing presence or in-house knowledge will have different needs than an organization that has a marketing team and an established online community.
  • What’s your brand? Your online presence is an extension of your existing brand-not just its appearance (e.g., logo and color scheme) but also the tone and experience you want people to have when they interact with your business. The person who supports your social media efforts will often be the first point of contact for a potential customer, so it’s important they reflect the same qualities.
  • What’s the scope of work? Marketing projects often start with a creative brief, a document that outlines all the information needed to move forward, such as a description of your company, the project, your audience, and any specific needs your business has. An international company, for example, may need someone who can coordinate efforts across time zones, languages, and cultures. Consider starting with a narrow goal or project in mind, rather than “Manage my social media presence.” The more specific you can be about what you want to achieve-e.g., increased web traffic, more social engagement, better customer support—the more likely you’ll be to succeed.
  • What are your objectives? “Going viral” is a lofty goal that typically isn’t realistic; it takes time and consistent effort to see meaningful results. While a social media professional should help you reach your marketing and business goals, take time to research baseline expectations: Look at industry leaders to see what they do, and check out your competitors to see the sort of engagement they get.