Tag Archives: Social Media Company

Never hire a blogger to help you blog; Hire industry relevant people

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These days more and more of us own or write for blogs. There are also hundreds of social media “experts” and bloggers advertising their services on freelance sites hoping to bag their next gig. The question is, which one of them do you hire, and why? I tried negotiating with many bloggers, and the results were horrible. Not only did most of them lack any formal writing background, but they wanted commitments for large amounts of money when I had no indication that they would do good work.

The “What ifs” of hiring a blogger
What if their work wasn’t popular? What if the blogger couldn’t come up with ideas that were any good (none of them could by the way.) What if they weren’t reliable in their work? What if it took too much time to prep them before they could produce their first piece? Can I get a sample? None of the bloggers wanted to invest even five minutes in my cause to give me a few samples unless I would pay them for it. Such a stingy unfriendly attitude! The result was that I didn’t hire even one of these bloggers. I hired a comedy writer instead. He had a strong professional writing background, was really funny, friendly, and appealed to some (but not all) of my audiences! But, what “writers” captivated my audience the best? You’ll never guess.

The disgruntled call center agent
You will never guess where one of my most popular outsourcing blogs came from. It came from a frustrated call center rep. His writing was filled with grammatical mistakes, but it didn’t matter. First of all, my audience is not so particular about nitpicky things. Secondly, I was able to do a cleanup of his work in two minutes. The bigger issue was, the minute I laid eyes on his work I loved it. He captured seven different points of frustration that a call center worker could have and explained them perfectly in a way that everyone could relate to. You could feel his frustration and anguish in every paragraph. I knew the crowd would love it, and they did.

The frustrated call center manager
Two years ago I interviewed this very frustrated Indian guy. He was down on India and down on the entire Indian call center industry. He only would work for Filipino, US, or Central American outfits. After dealing with a hundred or so of India’s “finest” call centers myself, I began to see why he felt the way he did. But, he gave me fifteen ideas for articles to write about. He was an expert at call center metrics, call center marketing, and more. So, by talking to him for 45 minutes, he filled my head with exactly what people wanted to read about. No blogger could do that!

The upset Notary Public
We also run a Notary blog. I create most of the articles myself. We write about Notary marketing, technical & legal issues, Notary comedy and drama articles, and more. We keep it diverse so our audience won’t get bored. My articles are generally popular. But, the other guy who writes popular articles for me is not a blogger — he’s just another Notary. He happens to be smarter, and a lot better organized (not to mention experienced) than the other Notaries. But, he is not a professional writer. He is just a Notary who happens to be a good writer. He also comes up with winning ideas that our readers enjoy reading about.

So, where do I look for a writer?
In the real world, the guy most suited to writing your articles might not have the background necessary to get industry specific content to fill the article. You really need a team. You need someone who can pick great topics, someone who can get relevant information, and someone who can polish your writing work. Sometimes you can do it all yourself, while other times you need help. Sometimes a good social media agency or social media company is the best resource, but not if they hire incompetent or uncooperative employees.

Find people who work in the industry you are writing about to help you. You might have to look hard to find cooperative people, but they are out there. Even if you don’t “need” them, use them anyway to create a diversity of points of view in your blog. Nothing is more interesting than a blog with multiple writers — all of whom have unique and wonderful writing styles and perspectives!

You might also like:

Why you should hire a Comedian instead of a CEO to help you co-blog

10 quick factors that differentiate a good blog from a bad one

Want to be popular at blogging? Write how-to blogs!

The ideal structure for a social media company

Categories: Social Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Most social media marketing companies out there have very limited know-how, but charge an arm and a leg. I believe that if some smarter companies would get out there and grow like crazy, most of the mediocre companies would be quickly put out of business. It is all about having the right structure.

Do you have replacements?
It is common for a social media company to have a boss, and a bunch of workers doing their thing. Each person has different specialties. If your LinkedIn guy drops out, the next person in line might not be very good at it. It is tricky, because there are so many channels, so much to know, and so many things changing in the industry. The way you used LinkedIn five years ago might not be as effective today!

Brew masters and social sauces
In my mind you need a good boss. The boss should have a solid understanding of all of the channels. That way he can teach others when the need arises. If the boss spends all of his time wheeling and dealing he won’t have time to specialize in the “sauce” which is social media knowledge. The only way around this is if the boss has a partner who is the “brew master.” In breweries, the brew master is often more powerful than the owner. But, such a person has to be on equal footing with the boss otherwise they will quit for sure.

Fluidity is key
If you have only a handful of workers, when one quits, replacing them will be hard. If you have some outsourced people overseas who do mundane tasks for pennies on the dollar, if you need more labor, you will have a flexible pool. Additionally, you need multiple people for each specialty in case someone drops out. As you test new people out, they become part of your labor pool. It is hard to grow a company if you don’t have a handle on your labor, so you need to have more labor than you can handle. As part time new people impress you with their good work and loyalty, you could promote them by giving them more hours and higher pay.

Analysts and checkers
You need staff members who check on the other members. You need to see how they are doing on projects and take notes. You also need to see how effective their work is and if they need to be taught something new. In some cases, checking people regularly is how you get accurate data on when to fire someone. If their work is bad for long enough — fire them. And conversely, if your new people aren’t proving themselves well, then fire them as well.

Customer Support
Should the people interacting with your clients be the same as the ones doing the work? It might be easier to have everything separate. Have customer support managers who interact with the analysts, salespeople, and workers. A team of people working seamlessly together with multiple specialties might be the best way to structure a social media company for the future.

Growth Contracts
It is easy for social media workers to not feel a sense of ownership. But, if they don’t get paid until they reach certain goals, their mentality will change quickly. It might make more sense to have goal milestones, because personally, I don’t want to waste my time with anyone who can’t accomplish anything of value!

How to hire an outsourced social media company!

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What do you look for when you hire a social media company?
Or should you be Buddhist about it and look within? Don’t ask me, the answer will come from within — from within this blog article! An interesting fact that I just learned is that more people are using social media for their business than ever before, yet the man-count at social media companies has shrunk a bit. More people are doing social media for their own companies which makes sense because you need to understand your industry in order to create quality content for your social networks.

Know thyself
It is impossible in business to know how to do everything yourself, nor should you even try. However, it is very difficult to hire others to do tasks for you if you don’t know anything about the task at hand. If you are uninformed, you will get substandard results from outsourced companies, and even get ripped off regularly. The good news is that you won’t feel a thing, because you won’t even know you are being ripped off. If you hire social media companies, you need to know something about content creation and analytics to survive the ordeal.

Quality content
Unfortunately, even seasoned professionals often cannot create the best quality content without some guidance. They tend to go off on tangents and explore crazy ideas that won’t sell well with your loyal clientele. As someone who hires bloggers, Twitterers, and Facebookers, you need to know how to identify quality content. Most social media companies can’t create content on their own. They make you do the hard stuff, and they just do the minimum wage type tasks and post your content.

If someone is handling your Twitter account, you need to be very aware of the technical process of how to operate a Twitter account. You might be managing someone who hasn’t a clue, and whose boss is not watching them. You need to know how to follow, follow back, interact, and write good tweets. You need to know if your outsourced social media company is getting you results for your money. Here are some metrics which might translate into results.

(1) New followers. If you get new followers, but they are not relevant, or don’t retweet anything, their value is limited.

(2) Clicks. If your followers don’t retweet, but they are clicking on your links and reading your blog, then you will get points with Google, and in my opinion, that is the bottom line.

(3) Retweets, favorites, mentions, etc. If you have an active crowd, you will get these, otherwise there will be silence which is bad. A good social media company will know how to bring life to your Twitter account and get people to interact.

(4) Shares and commentary. On Facebook, it is a little bit similar to Twitter. There are shares, and commentary. My experience is that Facebook followers are a lot more likely to post comments to your posts than on Twitter. If you want more of a forum type experience, then Linked in or Facebook might be your starting point.

Basically, when you hire a company to take care of your Twitter, Facebook, or other account, you need to measure their success on a monthly basis. You need to see if they are doing all of the interactions they promised to do (keep requirements in writing in emails for best results.) You need to track your total number of followers, and number of interactions as well. Basically, keep track of as much critical information as you can.

Slacking Off
Be careful. Social media companies typically hire millennials, This group tends to be very idealistic in their own way. But, if they lose interest in a project, they will not give their full 100%. Their attention span is not the greatest to begin with in any case. One guy went from 200% to 10% in a few months because he lost interest. When managing millennials, make sure they don’t lose interest, or have a change of attitude. Make sure they are not slacking off. If you notice that they are not doing what your agreement said they are to be doing, it is time to find someone new. Don’t trust whatever company you hire! Keep a close eye on them, and keep them on a short leash. I’m not saying to treat them like they are not trustworthy, just treat them like a father treats his six year old. The minute you stop watching them, all hell very easily breaks loose!

How do you interview these companies?
Most people who work at social media companies are horrible at communication and are not that knowledgeable about social media either. They know how to do certain types of repetitive tasks and certain marketing functions. Their knowledge is very rarely wide in scope. There will be a lot that they don’t know even in the most seasoned of experts. I have observed an expert who charges $250 per hour who doesn’t know how to craft a classy tweet — his tweets are very short and clunky. He is good at analytics, but not at composition. I met another expert who knows Twitter inside out, but who doesn’t know much about Google+. Here are some questions you can ask to get a sense of how these companies handle their work.

(1) Before you ask any questions, see if they even answer their phone or email. How fast before they call you back or return an email. I just emailed an American guy who runs a company in Thailand. He got back to me in 12 hours. I am very impressed!

(2) Ask them what techniques they use to grow a Twitter account. See how thorough their answer is.

(3) Tell them a little about your industry. Ask them what types of tweets they would write to attract readers. If the answer is evasive, or if they tell you that it is complicated, don’t put too much faith in them. People who have thinking skills will think of something useful to say when you ask them a question — that is the most valuable rule of interviewing companies.

(4) Tell them that you had a problem with Google+ and don’t know what the best way to solve it is. One guy told me just not to use Google+. That was not a very intelligent answer, although I agree that Google+ should not be the primary thrust of my marketing efforts.

(5) Ask to see some of their top five Twitter accounts that they manage. Send them a personal message to several of those accounts and see how they respond. If they don’t respond to you, then they won’t respond if they are handling your account. Also, by seeing the accounts of their clients, you can see if they are managing any successful accounts. You can see how good the tweets are, and see how fast their client’s accounts grow which is critical to your success.

Even if you don’t understand social media…
Even if you don’t know anything about social media, if you have common sense and take good notes, you can easily distinguish between responsible, knowledgeable teams and idiots — and there are a lot of idiots out there. Sometimes you get a smart manager who hires workers who can’t think which is another issue. Just because the manager is good, doesn’t guarantee that the workers will be. If you ask teams the questions I indicated above, you can compare answers. See which teams give you actual information, and which teams just tell you that it depends, or that it is difficult to say, or that they would need to look into it after they made you wait two weeks just to have a meeting with someone. Wrong answer!

It is generally good to try companies out for a few months on low. Don’t give them too much work. Give them enough to see how it is in real life working with them. After you make contact with a few dozen companies, pick two to try out, and if one doesn’t work out, try others. You will not find the perfect company on the first attempt, so expect that the shopping around process could last for years, and become complacent to that reality.

Be wary of contracts
When you are trying someone out, you don’t know if you will like them and you don’t know how good their work will be. Even if their work is good, they could lose their star employee and then it will all go downhill. Try to avoid large contracts. If your company insists on a contract, keep it as short and as small as possible. It is easy to get taken for a ride with a contract. The contract guarantees how much money you give them, but does it guarantee how much results you will get? I strongly suggest putting very detailed and well thought out results in the contract if they insist on a contract. You might not be able to get them to sign it, but at least the contract will be beneficial in some way to you instead of purely for them. In the long run you will be forced to sign contracts. Just shop around very carefully before you sign anything, and keep it as small as possible in the beginning, even if that means going overseas!