What Is Social Media Management?

By Gordon Smith

Many companies offer social media management, but what does it actually give you?

Sometimes it is as simple as outsourcing the time-consuming process of posting to social media and answering queries. But often, there's much more to it than that. 

Find out what professional social media management includes and how it might help your business. 


The backstory

The key to unlocking sales in almost every business is to make sure you are where your customers are.

Businesses have known this for a long time. That's why they advertise in certain publications or hand out flyers in the high street, not the back street!

When social networks started appearing businesses noticed that their audiences were spending more and more time online and hanging out on these networks. Hence an opportunity for brand exposure emerged. 

The three main ways of reaching an audience on social media were (and still are) posting, community interaction and advertising. Let's take a quick look at each of these in turn.

Posting and reach

Posting to social media is the simple act of adding messages, photo, video or other content to the social network. It then may appear in other users' feeds, depending on whether the social network thinks it's relevant enough.

Once posted, the content can be shared, liked, commented or interacted with in a wide range of different ways by other users. 

Sharing is key, because sharing increases reach.  Reach is a key metric which tells you how many people your post has been seen by. 

Community interaction and trust

Beyond posting, social networkers engage with content provided by friends or in groups that they belong to. Such interaction tends to increase trust. As trust is a key (albeit difficult to pin down) goal for businesses, the ability to increase trust in a brand is extremely valuable. 

Advertising and eyeballs

The third way of reaching your audience is via advertising. This can take the form of video, static images, image carousels, stories, slideshows, text or many other options. It depends on the social network.

Advertising is essentially a way of forcing your content to appear in users' feeds. As such it costs money, and to be effective it needs to really resonate with the viewer. It's a way of increasing brand awareness and also generate actions such as signups, leads and of course sales.

If all of the above sounds a bit complex and time-consuming to you, you're not to blame. Whilst social media is designed to be incredibly easy to use and compelling (even addictive), getting the very best from your social media presence as a business can be a little daunting. That's why almost all businesses either hand off social media management to a third party company such as Dotwise or have a nominated individual who's role within this business is to manage and grow the audience on social.  

 What does social media management include?

To make it worth the cost, social media management must offer value well beyond just social posting. Let's look in detail at some of the aspects usually included.

Audience definition

For any business, knowing your customer pool is essential. You need to understand the who, what and why of your target market. 

Who are your potential customers?

The word demographics defines the characteristics of your target market. It will include geographical location (local, city-wide, country-wide or international - or zones within these areas). It will include personal characteristics such as gender, age and, for some businesses, ethnicity.

As a business owner you will often have a good idea of the demographics of your typical customer. If not, the management provider should be able to help you find out. 

However, in the world of social media we can go way beyond traditional advertising demographics. We can define audiences that include all the above demographics but also look at hobbies, interests, job roles, experiences, holiday destinations. We can look at home-ownership vs rental and even discriminate between cat owners and dog owners. We can define audiences according to their marital status and incomes. 

When these powerful audience characteristics are combined, we narrow down our target audience to a very high resolution. We can also define audiences who look like our existing customer base (have similar interests, hobbies, income etc.)

All of this is exceptionally useful both in understanding our general posting strategy and of course, for advertising.  

Posting strategy

All social media management services will include the creation of social media content and the strategic posting and follow-up of such content. 

Posting strategy includes working out what time of day, what Tone of Voice (see below), 

Tone of Voice

Every business has an established tone-of-voice. Tone of Voice means how the business speaks to its customers. This will vary according to who the customers are and what the product or service is. Some examples of Tone of Voice could include:

  • Formal
  • Street
  • Businesslike
  • Relaxed
  • Ironic
  • Sarcastic
  • Irreverent
  • Salesy
  • Factual
  • Aspirational
  • Story-telling

Or any combination of the above. 

Content creation

Once the audience and Tone of Voice are established, the management company will set to work creating content tailor-made for your audience. 

The sources will include material you send to the agency, plus material posted to your website or other content channels. 

Measurement

In social media, almost anything can be measured. That's one of its great advantages. Elements that often form a part of the measurement include:

  • Reach (number of people who saw the post or advert)
  • Shares
  • Likes and other reactions
  • Brand follows
  • Actions. Actions can include offsite actions such as clicking through to a website and taking an action such as signing up for a newsletter or purchasing a product. 

Funnels

Very often sales funnels are used by businesses to lead their customers along a path to purchasing something. A sales funnel is a series of steps taken by customers before they purchase. Social media management services need to be aware of their place in the sales funnel. Exactly what role social media plays will vary according to what you sell. 

For example, if you sell a high priced service such as wealth management, your customers are most unlikely to simply sign up from a social media ad. Instead, they need to be nurtured through a series of steps, each of which builds trust and involvement with your service. This could mean signing up to a newsletter or sending you a direct message via the social media platform. 

The goal is to de-anonymise your potential customer. You cannot sell to an anonymous visitor. So the first step in the funnel is to get the user to give you enough contact information for you to be able to market to them. 

Advertising

The creation of advertising campaigns may (or may not) be a part of the management package. It's up to you. But it's definitely something you will want to consider. 

As with social posting and community interaction, advertising must be measured and monitored very closely. 

Now we've looked at what's involved in social media management, let's answer a few of those frequently asked questions. 

Frequently asked questions

How much does social media management cost?

Well, it does depend on which of the above services your provider will provide for you and what level of involvement they will have. It also depends on the experience and competence of the management company. In general prices range from the low hundreds to many thousands per month, for professional management.

Can I still post myself?

Many business owners  enjoy posting to social media and are reluctant to engage a company to do it for them because they believe they will have to stop posting. Not so. The management company can work alongside you. In fact, it's almost always best to work alongside the business owner, because then the owner can see what the management company are doing, and vice versa.

Also the persona of the business owner often plays a crucial role in the identity of the company.  

Can I use an existing member of staff for social media management?

You certainly can. Many businesses that we interact with have somebody in place who deals with social media. This can work well if the person is a competent, experienced individual. The pitfall is that often, this person is a well-meaning amateur who lacks the necessary experience and qualifications to carry out the task. 

If your business is very small and your need for social media is rather tangential to your overall business, you should be fine to use your own in-house staff member. 

But as your business grows you'll want to take more advantage of social and this means investing in management. 

Do I really need social media management?

Here are few considerations to examine whether your business is a good fit for SMM:

  • If your social media presence is non-existent on platforms that your customers use;
  • If you post to social media but infrequently or inconsistently;
  • If you post in an erratic Tone of Voice or don't know what your Tone of Voice is;
  • If you engage in social media but don't know whether it brings you sales;
  • If you spend money on social media advertising but don't know if it is worth it;
  • If you want to build a large audience quickly;
  • If you want to move an audience from one social network to another;

Conclusion

As you can see social media management can in fact describe a range of services from posting, to community building, to awareness-raising and customer interaction. 

Which parts of the service you choose are up to you but we'd always recommend talking to a professional before signing on the dotted line. 


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