I get a lot of requests saying, “We’re behind on our social media, and we need help.” A lot of these calls for help are coming from people with small businesses, so today I want to discuss some of the options that are available for you, such as working with consultants, agencies, and virtual assistants. We know that social media requires its own set of skills, so it’s important to be willing to dedicate the time to educate and the money to get you access to resources that can help take your business to the next level.
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In This Episode:
- A lot of leads come into Maximize Your Social saying, “We’re behind with our social business, and we need help.” These requests often come from smaller businesses93-94% of companies in the US were already using social media for marketing in 2014*
- *most of those were companies with over 100 employees
- What about the companies with less than 100 employees? They’re a little slower, they lack the resources
- Social media isn’t like SEO or web design where it’s purely technical; it requires messaging created specifically for the company’s products, market, and branding
- There are options for small companies: single person consultants, social media agencies, monthly social media management, virtual assistants
- I only work with companies willing to invest the time in education, and who want to learn enough and dedicate the resources necessary to manage the process themselves
- Oxymoron of small business social media marketing – they often want immediate ROI without a large budget – people need to understand that social requires money and time! It’s fundamentally different
- If, as a social media professional, you go the agency route, you have to charge enough so that you can scale; if you go the consultant route, you need to be paid as much as you’re worth, and you’re probably worth a lot more than some businesses are willing to pay you
- Social media consultants are a great investment – they’ll educate you and get you started, and then you can hire someone to come do the social media, and manage that person, allowing you to be in control of the strategy and the ROI
- Maybe you’re competent enough that you can do the research, read a copy of Maximize Your Social and figure out how to do it yourself
- There’s no competition: I love helping people, and it comes down to those relationships
- Maybe in the future you’ll want to join Social Media Center of Excellence or hear me speak or pay money for one of my webinars because you value my advice; That’s what it’s about – building the relationship
- In Japan, where I learned sales, they truly believe the customer is king, and that’s how I feel – even if you don’t pay any money, the relationship we have, as a potential customer, it’s all about you and where you want to go
- Tweet at me! Write a comment, if you provide a service or if you need help, let’s start a conversation and find ways to help each other
Resources & Links:
- Buy a copy of Maximize Your Social to better educate yourself on what goes into a social media strategy
- If you want to go the social media consulting route, please contact me.
- That being said, if you’re thinking about hiring a social media consultant, read this: 5 things to consider before you commit.
- Curious about the oxymoron of small business social media marketing? Read more about it here.
- More on how to use social media marketing as a small business.
- Start your small business social media marketing with a blog!
Hey, everybody. This is Neal Schaffer. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Social. I’m coming to you from my home office in beautiful Orange County, California, but tomorrow, I am going out to the Social Media Strategy Summit in Las Vegas where I will be actually doing the closing keynotes on Future Proofing Your Social Media. It’s gonna be all new content, first time delivering. I always like to challenge myself at big events to take my own presentations to the next level. So, if any of you are in Vegas, I hope you’ll stop by and say hi and I hope you enjoy the presentation as well. So, let’s get to today’s topic.
You know I promised you on last week’s podcast that I was gonna do Part 2 of my Social Selling, Part 1 being about creating the infrastructure. My apologies, and I do intend to do it in the near future. There are just so many things going on in social media that there’s always something great to talk about, no lack of topics here, which is why this I believe, if I’m not mistaken, is already Episode No. 97, is that crazy? Have you listened to all 97 of my episodes? I don’t know how many of you have because I didn’t really do a good job of promoting them at the beginning. But anyway, we’re revving up the content marketing machine and doing better of promoting them because I do believe there is a lot of great content out there that is still relevant today.
So, let’s talk about today’s topic. And like I said, Social Selling, we’re gonna come back to it. There’s another topic that I want to create a separate podcast for, which is guest blogging. I got a very, very interesting email from one of my partners, or I should say marketing partners, about some very, very interesting data, some very, very specific hard ROI data from some guest blogging that I did on their behalf and I wanted to share that with you along with the philosophy of guest blogging that I have because I run a guest blogging site, in essence where I also blog I call Maximize Social Business. But today, we’re gonna switch gears a little bit, and I wanna talk about the business of social media. I might have talked about this in an earlier podcast, but it still bears reminding.
For some of you who are listening to this, now I know a lot of you listening to this are social media experts yourselves, you own your own agencies, you’re a small business owner, maybe some of you are virtual assistants, some of you may be doing corporate social media. I know that there’s a wide range of listeners to this podcast. But I wanna take a step back and I wanna explain to you the challenges that businesses have with social. And I guess, for the purpose of this podcast, I’m gonna be talking mainly about small businesses who are not quite there yet with their social media and what I offer and what are the various solutions that are out there. And I urge you all, after you listen to this, to chime in, commenting on maximizeyoursocial.com if you are a provider of one of these services or if you have a different perspective.
So, let’s keep going on the topic. And it happens quite a bit, I obviously speak about social media, I have a blog about social media, I have this podcast and therefore, I get a lot of inbound leads. Now, some of these inbound leads are from large corporations, some are for speaking, some are for consulting. So, I always get a few that basically say we’re behind with our social media, we need help. And inevitably, it’s probably a smaller business. I’m gonna assume less than ten employees, I might be wrong. The stat that I like to give when I talk about social is that 93/94 percent of companies are already using social media for marketing in the United States in 2014.
And there’s an asterisk. And the asterisk is companies that have over 100 employees. Well, what about the companies that don’t have over 100 employees? They’re a little bit slower, right? They lack the resources, the education, whatever it might be, they’re a little bit late to the party and unfortunately, they’re probably the ones who need social media the most and have the most to gain from it, especially if they don’t have a lot of brand awareness in their target market, but I digressed, let’s get back to the topic.
So, getting back to the people who basically say I need help with my social media, can you help, it’s obviously, for those of you who get social, it’s obviously a very, very hard question to answer. Social media is not like SCO or web design where it’s purely technical. It’s not like an ad campaign where here’s some money, send me some creatives, I’ll approve one and send me the leads or if it’s just print, or you may not have leads, just show me the magazines after you publish them, but it’s obviously very, very different because it requires messaging. It requires a lot of messaging. I mean even if you were to do a month worth of tweets, there’re still however many tens of tweets that need to be created, need to be individualized, customized for each company, their products, their target market, their branding.
And that messaging really goes deep into who you are, what type of company you are, what is your brand about and that’s really the hard thing. You can hire people, right, and there’re a lot of companies out there from consultants, single-person shops, to agencies that will take your money. Some are better than others. Some will try to utilize best practices, try to go the extra mile, try to have meetings with you, confirm what you want, send everything for your preapproval; others will like well, you know, a few hundred dollars a month, you pay me and we’ll do it all for you and maybe we’ll report back to you and maybe those reports will have some meaning, I don’t know.
So, you have just a range of different opportunities out there, right? You obviously also have, in addition to single-person shops and social media agencies, these are ones that offer sort of monthly social media management, let’s put it that way, almost like a checkbox. We’ll send out one tweet a day, one Facebook post a week, and you know, order the plan that’s just right for you – hope I sounded salesie there. On the other hand, agencies, it’ll be sort of more of a custom plan based on budget and what your needs are. And then you have virtual assistants. I know a lot of really, really savvy virtual assistants that really get social media. They already have a system in place, and maybe they’re not all doing it personally because they scale and they have employees overseas or whoever it might be, but they have a system in place.
They do it for other clients, they can also provide you a great service, but that’s gonna be charged maybe by the hour instead of one of these social media managements, which is probably gonna be the cheapest way for you to do it, but obviously, the quality is gonna be a little bit less. With a virtual assistant or a virtual social media assistant, whatever you wanna call them, you’re gonna get a lot more touch by that person and therefore probably the quality is gonna be a little bit better.
I’m not sure working with an agency where you have a dedicated account rep, but a lot of these small businesses that reach out to me with a question, I really doubt that they are working with larger agencies because probably their budget simply is not enough. Most agencies I know would want a few thousand dollars a month over the course of a three to, you know, at the bare minimum, three months, but six‑ or even 12-month commitments or retainer to do business with them. So, with that in mind, you see the challenges.
Now, where do I fit in? I am not an agency and maybe some of you don’t know exactly what I do outside of my speaking and how I handle my consulting. It really comes down to are you an SME or Small Medium-Size Enterprise or SMB where you want to spend time, where you want to learn, where you want to create, you know, starting with an audit, a full-blown strategy where we work together for some time or are you someone that says I wanna do it myself, I have a resource, I can teach the resource, let me pay you whatever for your time, let me start an hourly thing, let’s work together for a day, afterwards when I need you, I’ll call you.
So, you have the social media consulting, which is working with the larger businesses, you have the social media coaching, which is working with the smaller businesses, which is primarily sort of an hourly thing, but the unifying aspect of both of these is I only work with companies that are willing to invest some time into educating themselves and wanting to do it themselves or at least managing the process themselves so that they can manage the people that they hire, whether it be internally or whether it be a family member in some cases or whether they end up outsourcing it externally. And it gets back to the oxymoron of small business social media marketing and why I end up not working with a lot of small business who even don’t wanna pay an hourly rate that I feel the value that I add is worth because they want immediate results, immediate ROI without a large budget.
And as you know, social media requires time. It’s takes time to create relationships with people. It requires a little bit of money. Even if you wanted to work with some of these very, very inexpensive, starting at $100.00 or $200.00 a month or whatever it might be, very, very inexpensive social media management services that may do you more of a disservice than a service, but I digress, it’s gonna require money and it’s gonna require time. I don’t care how little money it is, it requires a different mindset than just saying hey, I want you to set up a website. Hey, I want you to do some printouts. Hey, I want you to do a pay per click campaign or SEO. It is fundamentally different.
Now, some small businesses may not treat it fundamentally different and they’re the ones that end up spending money over several months then thinking wow, we haven’t seen any benefits from doing this, what are we doing? We have a few hundred Twitter followers, 100 or 200 Facebook fans, what’s the meaning of all this? We haven’t seen any business generated from all this, why are we doing this? So, you get the feeling that it’s obviously very different. And that is really the challenge of the business of social media. It’s a challenge for, you know, some of you who are listening and hopefully nodding, that are experts as many people consider I to be, is you obviously need to make a living and people can scale. So, if you hire people and go the agency route, you need to be able to charge a decent amount in order to be able to scale as a human being, right?
If you go the consultant route, well, you need to be able to get paid what you’re worth, and you’re probably worth a lot more than what a lot of businesses are willing to pay you. And this is the challenge. This is why – now, some of you, you now, I meet a lot of social media consultants. I started my social media consultancy in January of 2010. I just celebrated my five-year anniversary, and I’ve been doing social media blogging since July of 2008, been going to a lot of networking meetings, meeting a lot of people that are in the field and I tell you, I think this is one of the reasons why a lot of them simply don’t last. Unless you get to the top echelon or unless you start your own agency, it’s one thing and you’re successful doing that, unless you get to a top echelon where you can charge enough and get enough because you’re out there, you’re working with larger companies, and I’ve had the benefit and the honor of being able to do that. You’re able to last.
For many, they say they’re consultants, they may have a brand, put up a website, but then six months later just hey, I just started working at such and such company as social media manager, I love it. And it’s like wait, weren’t you a consultant? And that’s really where a lot of the reality is. Very few last a long time. I remember meeting up with – I joke because we’re not related by blood, but we often call each other cousins, Mark Schaffer, who hopefully some of you know, at well, the Dow Twitters, written a few books, ROI: Return on Influence, and what have you.
And we both teach as part of the Rutgers University Social Media Marketing Program and when I happened to meet up with him once by chance, because we were speaking back to back and finally had a chance to meet him in real life and have a few-minute conversation with him, he’s remarked like yeah, there aren’t that many of us left out there that have been doing it this long and that’s the reason. Unless you’re hooked up with a major publisher and doing a lot of speaking, maybe teaching at a university, it really is hard. So, it gets back to the challenge of this business that is social media or the business of social business if you wanna look at it that way, many challenges.
So, my reply to when these businesses reach out to me is hey, it’s one of three ways. Do Google for Social Media Management Services, blindly throw the money, hopefully you’ll find someone good. Look for a virtual assistant. I know a lot of great ones; I’m more than happy to make an introduction if that’s what you want. And I have given – some of my friends have gotten introductions from me and hopefully they’ve made business from them. And otherwise, hey, you probably do not have a budget for a full-blown social media audit, social media strategy and consulting, let me work you through the process.
Spend a few hours with me and then hire someone, knowing that you’ll be able to manage them and you’ll be able to let them know what you need done and it’s gonna be better, both for that person, that assistant working you as well as for you. And you’ll be able to be in control of your strategy and your ROI. And for those people, I say hey, buy a copy of Maximize Your Social. You may be so competent at this that it’s like hey, I’m gonna try doing it myself and that’s great. You know my philosophy in all this, on the business of social media, and I like to refer to my good friend, Michael Q. Todd out of Tokyo, Japan, the guy with the green hair on Twitter, he has his own brand. He has several brands, but one of his brands is called abundance marketing and I love that term because there really is no competition.
I know that some potentially competitors are listening to this podcast, maybe you’re taking notes, maybe you’re learning from it and it’s helping your business and that’s great. I love it. I love helping people, even if you’re in the same industry because you know what? It comes down at the end of the day to relationships. Who are the customers that you have? What relationships do you have with them because if I don’t have a relationship with them and you do, I’m not gonna get the business anyway; it doesn’t really matter, right? So, with that concept of abundance marketing, there really is no competition, which is why I’m more than happy to give away all this advice and maybe in the future, you’ll wanna join Social Media Center of Excellence, you’ll wanna pay money for one of my webinars or you’ll wanna see me speak because you value my advice. And that’s great, right?
So, there really is no competition and that’s why no matter what the final customer decides to do, you know, many of you know that I learned my business etiquette and work ethic in Japan where I worked for 15 years after I graduated from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and I was primarily doing sales, especially in Japan, and in Japanese or in Japan, they say [speaking Japanese], customer is king. And it really is that way in Japan and that’s the way I feel. Even if you don’t pay me money, the relationship we have as a potential customer, it’s all about you and where you wanna go and there’s plenty of business out there for everyone. So if that’s the direction you wanna go, great. If I would have helped you along, that’s good karma, the bank account of karma, right? Any of you know me from my old Windmill Networking days; you know that’s what I’m about. So, that’s it. That is the business of social media.
And wherever you are, whether you provide a service or whether you’re on the other side and you’ve been unsuccessful looking for social media help, it’s very, very hard to get engagement from a podcast obviously so I really hope you’ll Tweet out at me; when you see the podcast live on maximizeyoursocial.com, you’ll write a comment. If you provide a service, hey, throw it down there. If you need social media help, throw it down there. Let’s start a conversation, let’s get it going, let’s try to help as many people, whether you’re a service provider or someone looking for social media help out there, and hopefully that’ll become a resource as time goes by.
Hey, that’s it for another episode of Maximize Your Social. I’m heading out to Vegas, I’m gonna meet some great people out there; hope to have some interviews for future weeks of this podcast. But until then, wherever you are in the world, in whatever time zone, in whatever country, speaking whatever language, make it a great social day. Bye, bye everybody.
Transcript provided courtesy of GMR Transcription Services, Inc.