Hiring A Social Media Expert

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and promoting your book on the Internet

Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby bcomet » 18 Apr 2011, 12:31

Here is something that intrigues me:

What if you weren't a social media expert or you just didn't have the time?
Could you - and possibly a like-group of writers for example- benefit from hiring someone to do that?

Where would you find this person (as opposed to a big expensive corporate type)?
How much/how little would you need to pay them?
How many hours would they need to put in a day for one person or for six people as a "collective?"
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby Sommer Leigh » 18 Apr 2011, 13:40

I think this question depends on what you expect from a social media expert.

If you want someone to teach you how to use different types of social media and help you set up your accounts and link them together, I think you can find plenty of people/other writers who would do it for free but you can pay people too. There are a lot of people who design and build blogs. It is pretty expensive though and sometimes the waiting list is longer than you want to go on. Most people I know who design and build blogs for others do so on the side.

If you want someone to manage your social media for you....I have no idea how they'd do that or if you'd really want someone to. Part of the draw of social media is the social part. No one wants to interact with your developer, they want to interact with you. Readers and fans of you want to read your facebook updates, your twitter posts, your blog posts.

As for finding help from someone, there are people on these boards who know their way around. I am willing to help anyone who asks. If you want to hire someone on the cheap but who can do a decent job, I'd hit up colleges. Post on their bulletin boards that you are looking for someone who can help you get set up. Offer, in addition to pay, letters of recommendation.
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby Nigel Haberdash » 19 Apr 2011, 08:43

What specific tasks would you expect them to do? You would need to provide the content of your social media, so aside from the occasional, "How do I make tabs?" type question, they wouldn't have too much to do and certainly nothing you couldn't get answered or advised on here, so I would say it isn't cost effective no matter what you pay them. I'll do it for 40K a year, though. :)
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby bcomet » 19 Apr 2011, 10:19

Well, for starts, what does basic writer "social media" consist of?

What do *you* (various writers) do as a specific social media practice (specifically) on a daily/weekly basis? How much time do you spend?

Amanda Hocking, for example, seems to have spent a HUGE amount of time.

I am just wondering what the basic recipe is?

I've seen some people lose ALL of their time to social media and then they are not writing and they are burned out.
I've heard others (albeit BIG names) who hire it out. It *seems* like them, but it is really their people.

For my own part, I am interested in blogs and read other writers' blogs fairly actively, but (so far) not so much the Twitter or FB.

But I am on a learning curve here. Learning about others' experiences/practices in this area would be helpful and interesting to learn more about as well as what has been effective or not.
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby maybegenius » 19 Apr 2011, 11:53

You're probably thinking of a freelance Online Community Manager or content creator. I happen to be one (not advertising myself here, just letting you know I have experience in the area). My work essentially entails creating content for social media and managing a client's online communities (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). I also come up with online promotion plans and find followers for my clients. I've mostly worked with small-to-medium businesses and the occasional individual. Some Community Managers also scour media for opportunities for their clients to appear on radio, traditional media, blogs, etc.

Community Management is pretty pricey, which is why the bulk of my clients have been businesses. Depending on the services you want, a freelancer could range from $15 to $30 an hour, while hiring an actual Social Media Marketing firm could cost $1000 to $3000 a month. That's for a pretty full range of services. If you just want someone to write content for you (appropriate tweets, blog posts, that kind of thing), there are dozens of copy editing services that charge by the hour or by the word. Most are something like .02 cents to 2 cents a word.

In short, that scale of social media management is really not feasible or effective for an unpublished or recently published author unless you have that kind of money to burn. There's also the product itself -- it can be difficult to build a following for a new author. Possible, but difficult. When I was working for an agency, one of our clients was a woman who had self-published a self-help book. I didn't really approve of my boss taking her on as a client because I was afraid we wouldn't be able to do much to help her (social media can only do so much), and I ended up being right. We increased her following, got her name out there, ran promotions, and did everything we were supposed to do, but she only ended up selling a handful of copies.

In a nutshell, I'm saying that social media for new authors is something they should try to handle themselves if at all possible. However, there are places you can go to learn more about it -- a lot of the aforementioned freelancers and agencies offer social media consulting as well.

The trick with social media is NOT to join every single thing you can dig up from the Internet, but to pick 2-5 mediums that you feel most comfortable with and make the most sense for the audience you're trying to reach. For writers/authors, I'd suggest Facebook, Twitter, and blogging as the main outlets, while maybe dipping into Goodreads and possibly YouTube if you have a knack for video blogging.

Social media CAN eat up a whole lot of your time, so it's important to balance it and potentially learn to use a management tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, both of which allow you to schedule posts to go out at certain times so you don't have to constantly go to the sites throughout the day. About 3-5 posts a day for Twitter, 1-3 updates for Facebook, and a set blogging schedule whenever convenient for you is a pretty good target to aim for. Other important factors with social media: don't just talk about yourself; share knowledge and links and fun stuff. Start conversations. Always reply to people who respond to you (unless they're bots or trolls). Follow other like-minded individuals and get to know them. Be yourself. Have fun with it.

If it ever becomes more of a job than your writing is to you, you're doing too much.

Whew, that was a long post. I hope some of it is helpful :)
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby bcomet » 19 Apr 2011, 12:32

Maybegenius,

That was awesome! Thank you. Just what I am looking for: others' experiences and social media practices.

I have seen some writers who just seem natural at it. Others it seems to drain to no affect.

Trying to get a sense of how different writers approach it. And, I also agree, if all a writer writes about on line is their book, it comes off as too commercially for me.

On the other hand, I've been especially impressed with bloggers who interview or review other writers' projects and mix things up.
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby Sommer Leigh » 19 Apr 2011, 12:49

Argh! I had this great post to you and for some reason it didn't post. It just disappeared.

Darn.

Ok well, I'll rewrite it when I get home. In a nutshell though:

Blogging is my thing. I love doing it. I write a lot of my content ahead of time, which makes it easy to schedule. I write 5 days a week, but I haven't always. I started blogging in 2000, became serious in probably 2005, and built up from once or twice a week to now. I've had several different blogs for different things, and the one I have now that I update 5 days a week is a little over a year old.

I probably spend 7-10 hours a week writing, formatting, and scheduling blog posts. If I have to do research on a subject I'm not familiar enough to talk about as an expert that can shoot up to 20 hours. I spend an additional probably 3-5 hours of maintenance reading and answering emails, responding to comments, and connecting with other bloggers and readers on their sites. It is very time consuming, but I absolutely love every minute of it.

I also have Twitter, but am not yet a Twitter Master. I probably spend an hour or so off and on throughout the week posting updates but mainly just reading and replying to other tweets. My blog is hooked up to my Twitter account so my it updates Twitter when I update my blog. If you want to read someone who does an awesome job on twitter, check out author Maureen Johnson.

I don't use Facebook for the public me. I have a private one with just family and friends on it and I spend almost no time on that.

That's just a very basic overview. I spend time connecting with other bloggers, YouTubers, and Tumblrs too. There are a lot of social media options. If you decide you want to do something, I'd be happy to help you set up. It is way intimidating, but you have to figure out what combination of things works best for YOU that you are going to love doing. That's the most important thing.
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby Polenth » 19 Apr 2011, 21:38

I think the biggest use would be a teacher, to show you what you need to do and critique your social media presence. I don't think getting someone to send the messages for you is a good idea, as it makes your accounts impersonal.

However, most people I've seen who claim to be social media experts aren't actually social media experts. I get followed on Twitter by people saying they're experts / gurus / whatever... they have fewer followers than me and have only tweeted spammy links. The time you spend looking for a real expert could be spent reading how-to articles.

bcomet wrote:Well, for starts, what does basic writer "social media" consist of?

What do *you* (various writers) do as a specific social media practice (specifically) on a daily/weekly basis? How much time do you spend?


I spend between one and four hours a week on social media. That includes writing blog posts (about one or two a week), replying to people and tweeting. It doesn't impact writing time, as it's something I do to relax between writing.

I'd spend more time if I had a book coming out (the extra time would go to replying to more stuff and writing some guest posts). That may cut into writing time, but I think it's important to set aside time for promotion with a new release.
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby bcomet » 20 Apr 2011, 12:24

One of the great things about this forum is how generous and supportive other writers are.

So generous, Sommer. I have no idea how you do it, but you sure are impressive.

And Polenth, thanks too. I think that about an hour a day is a reasonable investment/five hours a week.

I currently have several blogs *in place* but have not really decided how/what etc. Facebook or Twitter...no where near ready. Still getting all the facts in.

It is very kind and helpful for all the information people keep sharing here.

Thanks All!
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby Sommer Leigh » 20 Apr 2011, 13:20

bcomet wrote:One of the great things about this forum is how generous and supportive other writers are.

So generous, Sommer. I have no idea how you do it, but you sure are impressive.

And Polenth, thanks too. I think that about an hour a day is a reasonable investment/five hours a week.

I currently have several blogs *in place* but have not really decided how/what etc. Facebook or Twitter...no where near ready. Still getting all the facts in.

It is very kind and helpful for all the information people keep sharing here.

Thanks All!


bcomet- this is the stuff that I love and am passionate about. And I love these forums and all the people who populate it. I want to see everyone here succeed and if I can help with what knowledge and skills I have, I am all over that. It's not really work when you love doing it, you know? And I've certainly received my fair share of help from people here on the forums. And anyone I'm lucky enough to help will eventually pay it forward to someone else. These forums are the first time I've ever felt like we as writers are all in this together.
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby PatriceFitz » 23 Apr 2011, 19:46

Interesting thread! My daughter has been handling social media (professionally) on a freelance basis, and just got hired to do it full-time for a company with clients whose names you would recognize. I think this is a field which is growing in sophistication as people become aware of the possibilities. I'm waiting for my daughter to find time to help ME...
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Re: Hiring A Social Media Expert

Postby GregPincus » 24 Apr 2011, 10:55

I think another key here is determining what your goals are in social media before you decide if you need outside help. From my point of view (both as an author and a social media consultant), a lot of social media is about building relationships, and it can be much harder to do that if you have someone else creating your content or tweets. For most of us, spending money on someone tweeting on our behalf, for example, isn't going to return any rewards, so it's not money well spent.

On the flip side, if you need someone to save you time by helping you understand basics or to put together a particular plan, then you might find it worth getting additional help. Even here, however, it depends on what your goals are and how much money you wish to spend to achieve them. If you need someone to put together a blog tour... how much is that worth? If you need someone to help you hone your overall plan so you save time and work efficiently... how much is that worth? There are no hard and fast guidelines here, and each person has a different answer.

Social media is also, for the most part, a long-haul business. Sure, somethings happen incredibly quickly, but if you don't happen to go viral or get major coverage right away, the rewards come from making connections over time. As others here have said, you can do that yourself even without eating up all your time. Knowing your goals and having a plan to reach them is the key.
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