I know it’s hard to believe now, but there once was a time in which businesses only needed a few well placed billboards, loyal customers, and positive word-of-mouth to keep themselves afloat. However, with the emergence of social media, such marketing techniques have now been made obsolete. It is now almost absolutely necessary for businesses to promote themselves on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
But the necessitation of social media in a business’s marketing strategy has proved to be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, a company has the ability to reach thousands (perhaps millions) of people all over the world with a few clicks of button—and all for free. Most social media sites don’t require any usage fees, which allows a business to invest its money elsewhere. Another advantage of creating social media accounts for a business is that it allows business owners the ability to stay connected with their customers—answering questions on Twitter, giving out coupons on Facebook, and liking pictures people using their products or spending time at their business on Instagram.
On the other hand, while social media is an important tool, it can be a difficult one to handle. Many business owners don’t have the know-how to propel their company to the top of the Google search page or how to actively engage followers on their Twitter account. When you’re running a business, posting to Twitter or Instagram two or three times a day may be at the bottom of your to-do list. And while it may not seem like a huge deal to let a few of your accounts go unchecked for a few days, it sends a message to your customers that you’re not on top of your game and that reaching out to them is not a priority to you. And while that may not be the case, perception is everything. If your customers don’t think you’re doing well, you probably won’t be in a few weeks’ time.
When it comes down to it, branding is key—both for the individual and for a business. You have to make sure that your brand has a clear message and remains consistent, or else you run the risk of alienating customers and potential business partners. Social media has becoming one of the most powerful branding tools today, and if used correctly, it can propel you and your business straight to the top. Used poorly, and your business’s days may be numbered.
With the rise of social media has come the birth of the social media management company—companies that are available for hire that will manage your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+ accounts (in addition to any other accounts you may have). These companies will set up a business’s social media accounts, post to them daily, assist with audience building and reputation monitoring, create content for a business’s website and provide strategic consulting.
Each social media management company is different and will offer unique packages at various prices, though most tend to cost a minimum of $200 or $300 and upwards of $5000 a month. While it may seem counterintuitive to spend money on your social media accounts (after all, they are free!), an experienced social media manager could drive up your follower count and (within a few months time) should be able to help your business ascend the rankings on the Google search engine. This alone is incredibly important because I think we can all agree that most people won’t go past the first one or two pages of a Google search. The further down your company is on the results list, the less chance you have of reaching your client. Granted, you may be high up on the search engine if someone were to search your name directly, but the goal is to be one of the first florists to pop up on the search when someone searches “flower shop” on Google.
I suppose one way to look at hiring a company to manage your social media is a bit like taking your shirts to the dry cleaners. Of course you could take the time to iron your button-down shirt yourself, but chances are it probably won’t look as good as if a professional were to do the job for you. And while they’re working on your shirts, you now have more time to get other important work done that might have been sidelined had you had to iron your shirts yourself. In the end, having professionals take care of your clothing (which is a part of personal branding) left you looking better and freed up your time to work on other tasks.
Here are a few other advantages of hiring a social media management company:
1. You now have someone who can tell you what the heck a Twitter is: It’s no secret that if you didn’t grow up in the time of social media, it’s a skill that may not come as naturally to you. Older business owners may have more difficulty setting up and fully appreciating social media accounts, which could end up seriously hurting their business. The idea that “but that’s the way we’ve always done it,” just isn’t going to cut it anymore if you’re looking to expand your business and turn a larger profit.
2. You’ll have a social media expert on your side: Even if you are fairly social media savvy, there will still be things that you don’t quite understand because you don’t have the luxury of dedicating all of your time to understanding the ins and outs of Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. The good news is that a social media management company does have the time to learn all there is to know about a site’s analytics and when the best time to post content is. The less time you have to spend figuring out how to work these various sites is more time you get to spend doing what you really love: working at your business.
3. They’ll provide interesting content: In an effort to bump your company up the Google search, social media management companies will create quality content relevant to your company. Content gives your business a more polished look and makes you seem capable and experienced. These companies also understand that because businesses are branded different ways and are meant for different audiences, various tones need to be used when creating the content. For example, Business A may need a professional tone while Business B may be more whimsical and fun. If you use the wrong tone, you may not appeal to the audience that you’re trying to reach.
4. They act as a fresh pair of eyes: Your business is your baby, and this means that you would do almost anything for it. But it also means that you may have a tendency to turn a blind eye when things aren’t looking so hot for your business. A social media management company would come in with a new perspective that may not have occurred to you or your employees before. It’s their job to make sure that the brand they create for you drive sales and traffic to your sites, so they shouldn’t hesitate to tell you when something needs to be changed or approached in a different manner.
5. They’ll keep your feeds active: With all the work that you’ll be doing running your business, remaining active on social media is the least of your worries—but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best at what you do if no one knows who you are. Maintaining an active account is important because it lets your customers know that you’re dedicated to providing quality service to them as well as dedicated to keeping up a professional appearance. Many people use social media to ask questions and to post complaints and praise, and if you’re not there to respond to them, they’ll feel ignored and eventually will take their business elsewhere.
If you have a social media company there to maintain your account for you, they’ll be able to respond to customers by retweeting all the praise that you receive and facing any negative comments head on.
The best leaders are the ones who know when to delegate tasks to others, so if you think that your business would be best served by having someone with more experience handle your social media, I would recommend doing so—at least until you’re large enough to where you can hire your own in-house social media managers. Even then, there are social media management companies who will work alongside in-house public relations experts or social media managers to create the best brand image for the company.
What it all boils down to is that social media management companies allow you to spend time doing what you love rather than focusing on trying to figure out your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Because while social media is important, the most important thing is creating a business with quality services and products that people can trust.