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Community Management

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How Much to Pay for Social Media Support

As a social media marketer I find myself dabbling in all areas of marketing from copy-writing to customer service to design and media buying. Often a good social media marketer has to take on several roles to run a page successfully. And a really good social media marketer knows when to outsource the areas that just aren't his or her forte (insert graphic design here for me). Sometimes there will be the dream client with a load of great information already packaged in bite-sized 140 character nuggets, tons of beautiful imagery and a specific ad budget set aside for promoted posts, but most often, this isn't the case. Usually your social media marketer is going to have to pick up the slack where your creative assets fall short. Herein lies the problem - you can't pay as much for a well-designed Facebook photo as you would for a magazine layout, yet visuals are key on social. You can't pay as much for a well-crafted tweet as you would for your brochure copy, but pumping out content frequently is a must. You can't pay an hourly rate to watch your pages around the clock, yet we live in a 24/7 world. To pay the same prices you've been paying for traditional media on social would be outrageous, but in some ways you need more support than ever - more content, more coverage, more "always on" advertising to feed the hungry Facebook beast.

Should you throw in the towel now? No. There are those of us out there who are coming up with social media packages every day which offer realistic pricing. We're figuring out what content already exists that we can repurpose, how many customer replies on average you'll get a week and the most efficient way to spend your ad dollars to extend your reach.

It's the wild west out there in terms of pricing and there is a range. Talk to several companies and if someone is selling you social media services for what seems like an incredibly low rate be sure to ask them these questions.

- How many posts a week will you create? Do the posts include visuals?

- How many days a week will you monitor my page?

- If I run an ad campaign will you set that up?

- Does this quote include any reporting/measurement?

- How do you plan on using social to help me meet my business goals?

The social media marketer of today is a hybrid marketer merging a variety of talents in order to create content on the go. If you're getting your social for the low low cost of $99/month, there's probably something wrong.

 

 

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Community Management for Small Businesses

Many stats show that small businesses are embracing social media and plan to devote even more focus in 2011, but what these studies don't dive into is how businesses are going to staff these efforts. Right now I've seen two basic methods - do it yourself in-house, or use agency support. Here are four things to think about as you contemplate expanding your presence.

1. Do you have the skills to manage a community on your staff? The technical stuff can be learned, but the communication and creative stuff will most likely need to come naturally. Some folks are good at math, others are good at talking. At the end of the day social media is about interacting with people online. If writing, responding and listening aren't your strong points you may want to think about outside help.

2. Do you have the time? When you print an ad you can walk away and be done with it, same with direct mail. Social media is different, it requires you to respond, to monitor and to listen. Sure it is more work, but when you are building loyalty and working with your customers to make your business the best it can be, the payoff can be pretty sweet.

3. Do you have the desire? Social media is not for everyone. If you are one of those people who have said, "Why would I ever join Twitter? I don't care what someone ate for breakfast." You may want to hand social over to someone else. It's one thing to not "get it," it's another thing to "not want to get it." Somewhat similar to how I feel about football or baseball...er and hockey.

4. Do you have the funds? Sure setting a page up is free, but then what? To make social work hard for you, you need to keep the content fresh and the conversation engaging (that means spending time listening as well as talking). If you don't have the time, skills or desire to handle in-house, then ask yourself if you have the funds to use an agency. Also think about supporting social with ad buys on Facebook or special promotions.

If you believe social media is a powerful marketing tool and want to increase your presence, go for it. Just make sure you have the right resources in place before you take the plunge, and don't kid yourself that it won't take time and energy. As any business owner knows, anything worth doing  takes a little effort.