One of the most in-demand freelance skills of the moment is social media management. It may go by many names – community manager, social media content writer, brand manager, social media strategist – but many of the tasks, personality traits and training remain the same. This field has a low barrier to entry and is often “on the job” training. If you have what it takes and can provide rock star results, you will likely find yourself with more work than you can handle.
What Does It Take to be a Social Media Manager?
Source Engaging Information – You are the voice behind the social profile in most cases. You are interacting with followers and sharing interesting information. You are keeping tabs on the latest industry news and passing it along to spark discussions and engagement.
Respond to Customer Service Issues – We don’t like to wait 24-48 hours for an email response these days. We want our questions or concerns addressed ASAP. Many turn to social media channels as a result. You are keeping an eye out for issues both directly (@mentions) and indirectly (mentions on blogs or social media that are not necessarily addressed to you personally). These aren’t always bad! The good mentions should be acknowledged as well.
Grow the Community on a Continuous Basis – As a business owner and/or blogger yourself, you know the new customer outreach never ends. It may be more aggressive in the beginning, but you must continually get your client’s name out there. This is where trending topics, hashtags and industry news can get you ahead.
Stay on Top of the Latest Platforms, Best Practices and Policy Changes – I don’t need to tell you things change constantly around here. Keep an eye out for new platforms that may be of interest, changes to privacy and advertising policies and how your clients’ competitors are connecting with followers in general.
Be Able to Bring New Ideas to the Table – One of the hardest things about your job may be going to a client to say, “what you’ve been doing really isn’t working (or it’s just wrong).” Rarely am I met with resistance however. If a train wreck is foreseeable, you need to bring attention to it. If there is a tactic you know will greatly increase engagement or conversions, say something.
Know How to Report Successes and Failures – This is a results-driven job, which is one of the reasons I love it. Analytics are available for almost every platform today, whether it is onsite or through an app. Know where to find this information so you can provide it to your clients. Show them “on paper” what changes can be made and the results you anticipate or are experiencing.
Always Remain Professional and Provide a Consistent Voice – Followers should never know when someone else is behind the social media helm. If you are working with one or two other people, there should be no, “wait until after 3 to voice complaints on Facebook because that’s when the nice people come on” from your clients’ followers. It should be seamless.
Be Accountable – There is always going to be some experimentation with social media so when things don’t go as planned, own it.
Tools of the Trade (see an updated list of my favorite tools here)
Sprout Social – I love Sprout Social for scheduling and staying on top of comments and mentions. The reporting is awesome.
Editorial Calendar – Know what you are posting and when. This is going to save you oodles of time and provide you a plan of action and expected results.
Photo Editing Software – Much of social marketing is image-driven right now. Free tools like PicMonkey or Canva should suffice.
Have Your Own Accounts for Experimentation and as a Showcase of Your Expertise – Remember when we talked about on the job training? Your first “job” is likely going to be yourself. You can often be more aggressive on your own accounts when it comes to experimenting with new strategies as well. When a client tells me, “we need to get more active on Instagram,” I’m right there with them. Implementing, experimenting, and getting results.
Where to Get Clients
Social Media! – I don’t know how much needs to be said here. You’ll see who needs help. They’ll see how you conduct yourself. You’ll be up to date on the best practices. You should also join a few Facebook Groups that include other social media managers and your ideal clients.
Word of Mouth – When you start providing results, word spreads fast. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials or referrals on occasion.
Website – A simple website is always a good idea. You can add the URL to business cards and show off some of your best testimonials and social profiles.
This field may not be for everyone. It’s challenging. You need to be somewhat of an (accountable) risk taker. You need to be confident in your skills and what you have to offer. Need more help? I highly recommend Alexis Grant’s How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business.