Outsourcing social media marketing

Should Small Businesses Outsource Their Social Media?

When you have a limited marketing budget and resources (as most small businesses do), it can be difficult to know when to outsource and when to hire in house. Social media marketing is personal; it’s the modern-day equivalent of a store front. You don’t want to hand something so important to just anyone, yet hiring a full time or even part time social media manager can be costly, particularly if you want someone who is experienced and certified.

So what should you do?

Below is a guide to help you decide:

When you should Outsource:

  • No time—If someone in your company does not have the time to devote 20 hours a month or more to social media marketing, then you’re better off outsourcing.
  • No one on staff with the proper skill set or interest—Social media management requires the ability to think both creatively and logically, which are two skills that aren’t always easy to find in one person. But more than anything, you’ll need to find a social media manager with a passion for social media. To do social marketing well, if you have to love it.
  • Limited hire budget—Hiring someone in house is not only pricey, but it can be risky as well. What happens if the person isn’t able to deliver results? It can be difficult to fire a W-2 employee, but with a freelance contractor, it’s easy to let them go if they aren’t meeting conversion goals or performance standards.

When you shouldn’t outsource:

If you already have someone on staff who has the skills, interest and time to manage your businesses social media then by all means, keep your social media management in house! After all, mo outsourced social media manager will ever know your business as well as a full-time employee. The key is making sure you choose the right employee for the job and that they receive the proper training.

4 skills every social media manager needs:

  • Analytical thinking

Effective social media management requires the ability to analyze data. You want your social media manager to be able to accurately assess the effectiveness of your social media advertising and this requires strategic thinking and the ability to interpret graphs, spreadsheets and statistics.

  • Interpersonal intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence is one of the 8 types of intelligence that plays particular importance in the role of social media manager. Someone who scores high in this intelligence type has a heightened sense of empathy and is skilled at interpreting a person’s mood and motivations. A good social media manager will be able to “put themselves in another person’s shoes” and be an experienced communicator. They will need to be able to imagine how someone will feel when reading a particular post and will need to have a firm grasp on what motivates people to buy a product or like and share a piece of content. Emotional intelligence is vital.

  • Writing talent

While you don’t need to hire the next William Shakespeare, you should consider hiring someone with a writing background. Although social media posts don’t typically require more than 200 or so characters, crafting clever and engaging post descriptions when you only have a couple of sentence to work with can be quite a challenge, even for an experienced writer.

  • An eye for graphic design

Graphic design platforms such as Canva.com or Pixlr.com have made it possible for most anyone to create beautiful and professional-looking graphics, so it isn’t necessary to hire someone with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator design skills. Whoever you choose, however, should have an interest in visual art, such as photography or interior design because they will need to be able to create memes and infographics.

How much time should you Dedicate to social media?

Your social media manager should be able to commit at least 5 hours a week to social media in order to be effective. They will also need to adhere to a social media strategy and best practices guide, because this will help to ensure they make the most of their effort and time.

Hiring a social media consultant:

Whether you have someone on staff that can handle the social media or not, a social media consultant can help because he or she can get you started and offer needed strategy and oversight.

A consultant can provide:

  • Platform setup
  • Detailed strategy
  • Competitive analysis
  • Staff training
  • Best practices guide
  • Hiring advice
  • Ongoing social oversight

Visit our social media consulting page for info on pricing and a detailed list of social media training services,


Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked four six years as a freelance travel writer and the  Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can follow her on Twitter @afineskylark.

How Social Media Can Help with SEO

Social Media and SEO: How Social Media Marketing Can Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the art of publishing content on your website and around the web in an effort to get your website to rank on the first page of search engine search results.

Despite what some social media consultants may try to lead you to believe, for the most part, the number of likes, shares or comments your website receives on social media does not directly affect your rankings in search engines…yet. The problem isn’t that search engines don’t see “social signals” as valuable indicators of a website or brand’s popularity, it’s that they may not have access to that information. Many people opt to keep their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts private, effectively banning the public—and search engines—from being able to effectively assess the data. There’s also the problem of how much importance search engines should put on a “like”. It’s a nut Google and others haven’t quite figured out quite how to crack yet.

The “yet” is important. Social media is clearly here to stay. And as more and more people use social media as a search engine (using Facebook’s search graph to locate brands and businesses, for example), it stands to reason that social media may one day be the next “Google”, or at least a direct competitor.

how social media can help improve your rankings in search engines:

Turn your social media audience into link builders

Inbound links to a website remains one of the leading factors Google considers when deciding how to position websites in search results. A website that has a lot of people in relevant industries linking to it from their websites tend to outrank websites that do not.

While many of your social media followers won’t have websites, a percentage of them will. Social media can help with this by placing your content squarely in front of the influential people on the web, like journalists or popular bloggers. The key is to create compelling and unique content on niche topics that no one else is writing about (which is no easy feat) and then getting your key influences to see the content. If it’s well written and thoroughly researched, they’ll (hopefully) reward your website with a mention and a link.

The best social media platform for networking for links? Twitter

Your customers may not be on Twitter, but your industry influencers are! While Twitter can become an inefficient time suck if you’re not careful, at the bare minimum you should be tweeting every time you publish a new blog post or page on your website.

Social media posts send a signal to Google:

The best social media platforms to use for sending a signal? Google Plus and Twitter.

Unlike Facebook, where most of its users privacy settings make it impossible for Google to be able to see who is sharing your content, Twitter has traditionally been a more open-source platform. While some have opted to keep their tweets private, many have not, making it possible for search engines to “see” who is tweeting what.

Google+ is even more beneficial on this front, because Google owns G+, which means Google’s bots have full access to data on who is sharing your content and how often. Although recently G+ has been all but abandoned as a social network, it’s still a great place to post links from your website if only for SEO purposes.

Although links from Google Plus and Twitter are not considered “valuable” as far as SEO is concerned (they are attributed as “nofollow” links, which means they do not pass on PageRank), they aren’t completely worthless either. Get enough links from either platform in the form of retweets and plus ones and search engines will start to take note.

The Future of Social Media and SEO

Although a brand’s social media presence might not have a major direct affect on its search engine rankings, this is likely to change in the very near future. You can look no further than statements made by Google’s Matt Cutts, who said the following way back in 2012: “Google has a plan for relying on social factors as part of the algorithm…”.

The fact that Cutts later redacted that statement shouldn’t mean that marketers should abandon all hope and ditch their social media marketing strategy. It simply means that Google hasn’t figured out how to measure social’s influence, or if it has, it isn’t quite ready to go public about it (this article on VDigital Services goes into further detail about this and is worth a read). Marketers need to trust their instincts and know that their efforts on social media are part of a long game strategy.


Reannon Muth is a writer, social media consultant and the founder of Skylark Media Consultants. She launched Skylark Media in 2015 after recognizing a great need for a social media company geared specifically towards small businesses. She specializes in providing social media marketing for the travel, hospitality and nonprofit industries.

Workshop Series: Content Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Yesterday I had the good fortune to meet several local businessmen and women and entrepreneurs during the two-hour long workshop I gave on content marketing.
Some of the topics we touched on included:
* What is a blog and why every business needs one
* How content marketing is a secret weapon for small businesses
* Free tools and resources small businesses can use to get started
* How to develop an effective content marketing strategy
* What sort of content is most likely to generate leads
Content marketing workshop in Las Vegas
Because the group was small, we were able to have a nice discussion afterwards. Several people chimed in with helpful topic ideas for one another’s businesses, which was great. I love it when impromptu brainstorming sessions happen. In fact, it’s one of my favorite parts about teaching.
You can view the entire presentation below:


Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own social media marketing consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the  Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can follow her on Twitter @afineskylark

If you’d like to hire me to do consulting work for your small business, I offer half and full-day trainings (either in person or via Skype) to small businesses around the country. Call 702-970-2306 to learn more.

Workshop Series: Social Media Marketing Tips for Dentists

social media on a shoestring

Last night I was gifted with the exciting opportunity to speak in front of a group of friendly professionals in the dental industry! It was an honor to be asked to present to such a nice group of successful dentists, dental hygienists and marketers, all of whom live and work in the Las Vegas and Henderson area. They were motivated, cheerful and eager to learn; the ideal audience!

Some of the topics I covered included:

  • Tips for Facebook marketing and advertising
  • The importance of blogging
  • How to outsource your social media marketing

I ran out of time to cover some of my topics (Yelp and HIPAA, for example). I guess I like to talk a little too much for my own good! 🙂

You can view highlights of my talk below:

Skylark Media Consultants provides small businesses with social media marketing in Las Vegas and across the United States. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the  Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can follow her on Twitter @afineskylark.

Workshop Series: How Small Businesses Can Use Facebook and Twitter to Attract New Customers

Social media workshop in Las Vegas

Today we had the privilege of hosting a social media workshop for several business women in the Las Vegas community. It was a lot of fun! The topic? Marketing on Facebook and Twitter: Tips for Small Businesses

The topics we reviewed included:

  • How to tell if your business is a good fit for Facebook and Twitter
  • What to do if your business isn’t “social media friendly”
  • How small businesses can best leverage Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness and drive conversions

Below are several slides that illustrate some of the workshop’s highlights:

Next month’s workshop will be “The ABCs of Advertising on Facebook”. If you’d like to take part, email Reannon for more information at sales@skylarkmediaconsultants.com.

Skylark Media Consultants is a social media company in Las Vegas that provides social media consulting services in Nevada and across the United States. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the  Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can follow her on Twitter at @afineskylark.

What A Winter Storm Can Teach Small Businesses About Social Media Marketing

If you run a search of the hashtag #Blizzard2016 or #Snowzilla right now, you’ll see hundreds  of photos and video clips featuring everything from swimsuit-clad kids diving off their roofs into lake-deep piles of snow to a man in a dinosaur costume skiing down the streets of New York City. But in addition to posts from the news media and East Coast residents, what you’ll also see is hundreds of brands falling over themselves to capitalize on the trending hashtags #Snowmageddon and #Blizzard2016 by posting their own responses to the historical and record-breaking Winter Storm Jonas, to varying levels of success.

While it’s important to be respectful of the fact that for some, a freak snow storm is a tragedy (a handful of deaths have occurred as a result of Storm Jonas), a storm or major regional event can provide an opportunity for small businesses to engage with their customers while joining the national conversation. And tacky or not, you’d be foolish to miss out.

The following are a few tips:

  1. Find a Creative Way to Link Regional Events to Your Product or Service

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.05.35 PM

The key here is to be creative and tap into what binds your audience together. Using a bookstore as an example, their fan base is mostly bookworms. A book lover would see the impending storm as the perfect opportunity to burrow under the covers and enjoy a few days of guilt-free and uninterrupted reading time. In the example above, Shelf Awareness is suggesting that everyone should ensure the essentials are in place: Food, water, warm clothing…and books. They are using humor, which is almost always a plus, while speaking to a core belief of their fanbase of avid readers: It never hurts to have a stockpile of books on hand.

2. Go Local and Create Content that Evokes the Feeling of “We’re All in This Together”

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.10.41 PM

The above meme appeared on a friend’s Facebook Newsfeed. As you can probably surmise from the wording, my friend is located in Virginia, which has been hit pretty hard by the storm.

Small businesses should always aim to “go local” with their content, as this is the most effective way to increase engagement and maximize your posts’ each, but particularly during a time when the event is only affecting particular region or city where you operate. Your audience will be feeling singled out or even special and will subconsciously crave content that reinforces that.

But even if you have a national brand, you can still take advantage of the “go local” option by using geo targeting to only serve social media posts to people located in affected regions or to capitalize on trending hashtags, such as #winterstorm or #Blizzard2016.

By evoking the warm-fuzzy feelings of “we’re all in this together”, you’ll help to further endear your brand to your customers and make them feel like, “Hey, they get it. They’re just like us.”

3. Capitalize on People’s Desire to Help Others By Providing Useful Content

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 7.14.18 PM

Whenever an unusual event occurs, whether it be a freak weather incident like a major snowstorm or an uncommon global event like The Olympics, or even a tragedy like the death of beloved celebrity, most people’s first instinct is to want to help. They want to feel as though they’re contributing to the cause or participating in the global conversation, even if it’s only by sharing a piece of relevant and useful content. Your business can capitalize on this “I want to do something! Anything!” feeling by serving them content that is both on target and helpful.

The post above from PETA is a good example. That photo looks like it was captured in real time and was made to pull on the heart strings of viewers by showcasing several birds shivering in the snow. The post paints PETA as an advocate for animals while providing a share-worthy piece of content.

To our friends and family waiting out the weather in New York and Washington D.C., we hope you’re keeping warm and safe. We’ll be sending warm, palm-tree-filled thoughts your way from sunny Las Vegas. 🙂


 

Skylark Media Consultants provides social media marketing in Las Vegas and across the United States. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the  Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can follow her on Twitter @afineskylark.

5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Social Media Marketing

Okay, so it’s #humblebrag time. I was an early adopter of social media. Yep, I was on social media before it was cool (Ha.). I joined Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2008, back when both platforms were in their infancy, and companies and had yet to realize their potential as branding and advertising tools. But although I’ve been using social media in my personal life for about 11 years, it wasn’t until 2010 that I began to use the social web for marketing purposes.

And in that half a decade, I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  But I’ve also learned a lot throughout the process as well. Here is a summary of a few of the highlights:

1. Don’t stress over trends and changes

Social media platforms are always changing, and that’s one of the reasons why many businesses are hesitant about jumping on social media. They worry that because they don’t have time to keep up with all the changes (this week it’s Snapchat and next week it’s Periscope, ain’t nobody got time for that!), that perhaps that means they shouldn’t bother with social media at all.

The key, however, is to create great content first and worry about which platform to put it on later. Focus on creating something you’d want to read or watch instead. Whether it’s an infographic, a blog post, an ebook a meme or a video, if it’s quality, you’ll be able to use it over and over again, adapting it for whatever the “the next best thing” is. That way, when your 12-year-old niece asks if you’ve heard of “That new app that’s like Instagram only better,” you won’t find yourself stress eating a bag of animal crackers. Instead, you’ll think “I have a piece content that would be perfect for that.”

2. Don’t broadcast

If I were to go to a party and announce to the room, “Hi! My name is Reannon. I’m super cool. Please be my friend. If you do, I’ll give you a free iPad!”, what do you think would happen? People would probably think I was a narcissist jerk or at the very least, socially inept. It’s no different with social media. Social media is about relationship building. It’s about listening to what you’re customers are saying and creating content that meets their needs. Social media is not about monopolizing conversations and shouting incessantly about yourself. 

3. Make your brand a personality

Before you jump into the social media party, try imagining your brand is a person first. What is he or she like? Fun and flirty? Interesting and quirky? Informative and caring? Then ask yourself: What first impression do you want to give others about your brand? And what stories and photos can you share that will help reinforce that image?

If my company, Skylark Media Consultants, were a person, she’d be: friendly, casual, helpful and informative. Thus, I try to post content that is, above all else, useful. Our goal with our content is to educate and demonstrate to the community that we are trustworthy experts in our field. Skylark Media Consultants is not here, for the most part, to be fun and entertaining. We can leave that to the other guys!

Having—at the very least—a mental image of who your brand is will help guide your social media strategy and ensure the process is less stressful and that your content is consistent and purposeful.

4. Don’t just post to post

A lot of social media marketers will tell you that consistency is the most important factor to consider when creating a social media strategy. While it’s true that sticking to a schedule is important, I would say that if I could only pick one thing, I’d pick quality over consistency. This is particularly important with Facebook. Because  while you can post every day at 8am sharp, if every post you publish isn’t phenomenal, people will unfollow you. Or worse, Facebook’s algorithm will simply stop showing your posts to people because it will have determined your page to be uninteresting. Rushing and posting subpar photos or sharing links to articles you’ve never read is a waste of time. If this week you have time to publish 5 awesome posts but next week week you only have time to post one, that’s okay! It’s fine to throw consistency out the window for a while. Being clever and creative round the clock simply isn’t always feasible.

5. If it feels like a chore, you’re doing it wrong

You shouldn’t think of social media as a headache or a chore (As in “Ugh, now I have to be on Snapchat, too?!). If you start to feel that way, then perhaps it’s time to readjust your strategy. Because if you’re bored by the process, then it’s likely your followers will be too. While social media doesn’t have to necessarily be “capital-F Fun!”, it should at least be interesting and rewarding.

Try thinking of social media as a way to participate in “the national conversation”. Think of it as a way to listen to what your customers want and need, because social media is an amazing listening tool. It’s a way to get free information about your customer base, which, when you think of it, makes social media pretty special in that regard. Few other platforms or services will give you a free glimpse into the minds of the people whose hearts—and wallets—you’re trying to win over. If you’re feeling uninspired, switch from posting to simply liking, commenting and engaging. It will make both you and your followers feel good! Plus a little good social karma can go along way.

I’ll end this with one my favorite quotes on the subject:

“Maybe don’t call it social media. Maybe don’t call it anything. Just be human and tell your story.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Featured image courtesy of Sean MacEntee.


 

Skylark Media Consultants provides social media management in Las Vegas and across the United States. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the  Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can follow her on Twitter @afineskylark

Facebook is not a good fundraising tool

Why Social Media is a Bad Fundraising Tool

A lot of nonprofits mistakenly believe social media will be a great way for them to fundraise and increase donor contributions. While that’s a nice goal to have, unfortunately, the statistics do not support this.

Here is some great data provided by Philanthropy.com: 

  • “Only 2 percent of nonprofits in the United States raised $10,000 to $25,000 through Facebook in a 12-month period, and 1 percent raised $25,000 to $100,000, according to a report released last year by Blackbaud, a fundraising-software company.
  • Roughly 1 percent of all online fundraising can be attributed to social media, including Facebook, according to Blackbaud’s research.”

Woah. Just one percent?!

Why is this the case?

According to John Haydon, who wrote Facebook Marketing Dummies, “Very rarely would you pull out your credit card when you’re on Facebook. People are going there to connect with friends or relieve boredom or avoid work. It’s not about making donations.”

Should nonprofits abandon social media? 

No. Not at all. While running a “please donate” ad on Facebook won’t likely yield a healthy return on investment, social media can still be to aid in fundraising efforts, just in a more indirect manor. The key lies in getting your social media fans to recommend your organization for you, because peer-to-peer recommendations work best. Thus, instead of running a Facebook ad for donations, encourage your Facebook fans to share with their social media friends when they’ve donated to your cause.

Also, social media—Facebook in particular—is a great way to drive traffic to your website. One study cited by philanthropy.com found that 28 percent of the traffic a nonprofit’s webpage receives originated from Facebook.

How nonprofits should use social media:

Nonprofits should use social media to connect with their supporters and to promote content (usually in the form of blog posts) that will drive traffic to their website. Research has shown people will donate to a charity if they feel a personal connection to the organization and if they feel a charity is credible. Repeat exposure and delivering consistently helpful information can help boost credibility; social media is great at providing both. The best part? It’s free!

What about you? Have you had any success with fundraising on social media?


 

Skylark Media Consultants provides social media for nonprofits and other businesses in Las Vegas and across the United States. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the  Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.