Three Resources to Better Manage Your Business’ Social Media Accounts By James Tredwell on September 13, 2019 Social media is an important component of effective digital marketing strategies, but it can be easy for small businesses to become overwhelmed with the burdens of content creation. This article presents three options for businesses to manage their social media accounts: 1. In-house employees and social media software 2. Influencers 3. Agencies Each option presents benefits as well as challenges, depending on the specific needs of the small businesses. 1.In-House Employees and Social Media Software Enable Easier Management of Content Nearly all small businesses (89%) that use social media manage a Facebook account for their business. Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, engaging more than 2 billion monthly users. This expansive audience contributes to small business’ preference for the platform. The casual environment requires an active social media marketing strategy to optimize the platform. Social media marketing requires minimal time and financial investment upfront. Platforms are customizable and offer integrated, and sometimes free tools to analyze content such as Facebook Analytics. Facebook Analytics is free, which enables businesses of any size to measure their pages’ performances. With user-friendly and simple interfaces, social media platforms are accessible and affordable channels for small businesses to market their products and services. Social media management software enables most small businesses to manage digital marketing efforts internally. Hootsuite, for example, helps small businesses manage their social media. The software enables teams to: ● Schedule posts across platforms ● Track engagement and posts ● Direct and organize campaigns and content The platform also provides a dashboard where users can view and engage all posts across all social media accounts. Buffer offers similar services to Hootsuite. The software helps small businesses to manage multiple social media profiles. With the platform users can collaboratively draft, schedule, and review content. Buffer also allows users to schedule content in app. For example, businesses using Instagram can plan and schedule content through the app. The tool also enables users to schedule a first comment to coincide with the post. Buffer helps businesses measure social media performance and generate reports. Over half of small businesses (56%) dedicate in-house resources to manage their social media accounts in-house according to a Clutch survey. Business employees can direct social media campaigns effectively. Employees best understand the brand, which provides valuable authenticity when engaging with consumers online. Increasing spending does not necessitate increased efficacy of digital marketing efforts. For example, social media posts with visuals produce 180% greater engagement according to a Search Engine Journal study. Visually appealing and well-designed photos are more likely to grab the attention of social media users. However, not all in-house teams are skilled graphic designers or photographers. Employees may find themselves strapped for time when managing multiple social media accounts. In 2019, customers expect quick responses from brands. As networks, social media platforms offer opportunities for brands to be in conversation with their audiences. Users expect responses to social media messages within four hours. Typically, brands respond to product questions and concerns on social media within 10 hours according to SproutSocial research. Limited in-house resources can result in lost engagement opportunities. Relying on an in-house team to direct social media marketing efforts can create deficits in a small business’s online presence. An effective social media marketing strategy is essential to the success of small businesses in the digital age. While cost-effective, depending exclusively on in-house resources to manage social media marketing presents limitations to building a robust online presence. 2. Influencer Marketing Offers Affordable Options to Expand Your Reach Influencers are a growing resource for small businesses with limited budgets. The increasing presence of high-impact social media users provide a less expensive option for small businesses to grow brand awareness and trust. Influencers are an affordable alternative for businesses wary of engaging a digital marketing agency to manage their social media accounts. Smaller influencers may work with a small business on the grounds of a product trade. Larger influencers with 500,000 to more than 1 million followers may charge a fee between $5,000–$10,000 per post. Measurement is the greatest challenge for marketers when using influencers. Nearly 80% of marketers state that identifying the return on investment when using influencers as their greatest difficulty when using this channel according to a Digiday survey. Differences in expected outcomes contribute to this challenge. Influencer marketing is designed to expand the reach and awareness of a brand rather than generating sales. Small businesses should consider their goals prior to hiring an influencer. It is critical for businesses to research an influencer, their audience, and fees. Social media influencers are recognized on social media platforms. An influencer will post content about a certain topic such as health, travel or fashion. Generally, an influencer will focus on one platform such as Twitter or Facebook. Businesses should find an influencer recognized online for their expertise in the services or products your small business provides. An influencer should fit your business’s brand image. This ensures your content is reaching the right audience. Businesses should also consider which platform is most effective for promoting their services or products. It is important to have an established influencer promote content that is not only compatible with the platform but also your brand. For example, Instagram supports visual content, which is effective for retail businesses but may not provide as much benefit more traditional businesses such as finance. After finding a compatible influencer, businesses can determine the type of content an influencer will promote. The right influencer should have a lifestyle that fits your small business’s brand and maybe used your products or services previously. Whether or not an influencer is a good fit for your business also depends on budget. For small businesses with limited budgets, micro-influencers tend to be the most affordable option. Partnering with the right influencer can expand a small business’s reach and audience, making the investment in the out-of house resource worthwhile. 3. Hiring an Agency Engages Valuable Expertise to Effectively Manage Social Media Platforms An agency can help businesses with a range of services including paid marketing, audience building, and campaign optimization. Whether to outsource your social media marketing efforts is an important first consideration. A digital presence is a necessity to grow any business. While building a website is an important first step, businesses need to foster engagement. Small businesses without the capacity to create and manage social media content efficiently will not derive much value from a digital presence. Businesses without expertise in digital marketing often lack insight into optimizing a digital presence. Agencies and digital consultants can help small businesses manage content and implement a social media marketing strategy. Small businesses should assess what to do with your small business’s social media accounts and how to approach social media marketing. Agencies offer valuable expertise to small businesses in need of guidance. While the potential ROI is high, outsourcing social media marketing to an agency is expensive. Prior to hiring an agency, small businesses should assess their budget. Consider the strengths of your in-house marketing resources to find an agency that will fill any gaps in your social media marketing strategy. Small businesses should seek a partner that will provide the best value rather than the best price. Choosing an agency because they are the least expensive could result in long-term damage to your online presence. Establishing communication is essential to an effective partnership. Small businesses should search for a transparent agency. Client lists, case studies, and an in-depth “About Page” on a digital marketing agency’s website are indications of a transparent partner. These resources provide insight into an agency’s prior projects, which are critical to making an informed hiring decision. They also exhibit an agency’s specialization, which should align with your goals. Small businesses should choose a partner that has worked with companies in similar industries. They also demonstrate whether an agency is up to date with digital trends. Agencies offer valuable expertise that when aligned with your industry, budget, and goals can support your small business’s growth. Choose Resources According to Your Small Business’s Needs Social media marketing is a necessity for small business expansion. While in-house resources help communicate authenticity to build trust in consumers, agencies can supplement knowledge and resource gaps necessary for optimizing social media accounts. Although influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity, not one influencer fits all small business needs. With a diversity of resources available to engage social media effectively, small businesses have plenty of options to support their growth. Kate Russell is a Content & Editorial Associate for Clutch, an Inc. 1000 fasting-growing private companies. She processes, curates, and creates content to help B2B buyers find the top services for their needs.