Pinning to Pinterest, posting to Instagram, and sharing to Facebook Groups can take hours and hours per week. When your business expands to the level that you’re able to hire outside help, you may consider outsourcing this kind of social media work. But how do you find a social marketer who understands the craft business and train them to communicate for your brand?
Jennie Poppenger manages 20 Facebook pages for a variety of businesses, both inside and outside of the craft industry. Facebook is her preferred social channel, because it is all about connection.
“With Twitter, it’s just passing on information,” she says. “On Facebook, you can build relationships with your customer base and that can be very powerful.”
How much can you expect to spend?
When hiring someone to create content for your Facebook business page, Poppenger suggests that you should first look for someone who has strong communication skills. “More important than finding someone who works in your ‘niche,’ is having someone who understands that it’s about relationships and connecting,” she says. “They should also be able to grasp sales, marketing, psychology, and customer service, because it requires all of that.”
If you want to connect with people, understand that your Facebook page is not about you, but it’s about them. “That’s a really important key that a lot of people don’t get,” Poppenger says. “If your posts are always about ‘buy, buy, buy,’ it’ll turn people off. The word ‘you’ is the most persuasive word in the English language. Asking a question on your Facebook post helps to sell that connection and relationship and evokes a response.”
When hiring someone to post on your behalf, how much can you expect to spend, and how many posts will you receive in return? It depends on how aggressive you want to be with your social marketing, Poppenger explains. Though the total spend varies, many professionals say a company should spend 10% of their budget on marketing, which includes everything from outsourcing social media to business cards and ad buys.
Consider the number of posts and also their effectiveness in meeting your goals, whether it’s to gain customers or give a face to your brand. An “expert” who offers the lowest cost per post, but no overarching goals, is just giving you filler. Some Etsy sellers offer social media management packages that cater to craft businesses. An example might be 30 posts to one platform (Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram) for $120, with discounts for purchasing services on multiple platforms. Reading reviews and asking trusted colleagues for recommendations can help you make a good hire.
Poppenger, who worked for years in radio advertising, offers three Facebook marketing packages, all of which are $500 a month or less. “For a medium- to large-size business, $500 a month is nothing,” she says, “But for a small business, $200 a month is an investment that they really need to see a return on.”
Give it time
Any marketing plan should be carried out for at least 3 months to see results, because it takes time to build, Poppenger says. “The rule, no matter what medium you’re using, is the same. You have to be consistent. If you’re not going to post at least twice a week, it’s not going to be effective for you. And your message has to always fit your business.”
Of her clients, Poppenger says many are really pleased with the results. “I speak with them first and find out what their objectives are,” she says. While one of her quilting clients is trying to sell more patterns, she might have another company that’s looking to grow their base of employees.
Kathy Aho’s goal in hiring an assistant for Pinterest was to spend more time sewing and designing, and less time on the social sharing site. From the onset, she asked for 1 to 2 hours per week to stick within her budget. “My Pinterest is only part of my social media, and it is the part I can assign out the most efficiently,” she says. “But even that has time limits as far as how it will pay you back.”
Curating Pinterest for your brand takes time. When setting up her Pinterest profile, Aho aimed for a dozen boards with 75 pins per board, to give a good starting selection. Adding her assistant as a Pinterest collaborator was a huge bonus since she has nearly 10,000 followers. “It works in my favor to have her listed as collaborator so her fans see what she is pinning on my business Pinterest,” she says. “However, I did upload and manage three boards of my own creative intellectual content from my own laptop. I felt for those it was faster to do it myself rather than explain and export each photo pin.”
For Aho, the decision to outsource her Pinterest work all boils down to time, and time is money. “I like to spend my time designing and sewing,” she says. “Another premeditated gain for having someone else do my Pinterest is that my ‘design brain’ is not biased or influenced by what I see other makers doing on Pinterest. It’s important to me from an integrity perspective not to inadvertently copy other people’s work, and this helps prevent that.”
Social media = interacting with customers
Three years ago, Ellen Ault was scheduled to teach a class at her local quilt shop. She asked permission to post the class to the shop’s Facebook page. This led to more social media posting and product photography for the Tampa, Florida store. “Then engagement was added on, then e-mail marketing, and eventually a full-time job that included running the website,” she says.
Scheduling out weekly social media posts for three brands owned by the quilt shop takes just a couple of hours, which she prefers to do on Mondays. “The engagement is where the most time is spent, since I have to actively check it multiple times a day.” Facebook and Instagram engagement requires Ault to answer customer service requests. Since she works in-house, Ault has an advantage of being able to answer 95% of those questions. If the shop worked with an outside social media manager, however, there would be more time spent going back and forth with management.
Though she can speak on behalf of the quilt shop in many ways, Ault says it’s important to make sure her client understands that there’s a difference between marketing and sales. “My role is to save the business owner time and get the customer in the door or to the website,” she explains. “After that, the sale is up them. I will make the product or event appealing, but I’m not the end of the line for it.”
When outsourcing social media, it’s a good idea to set up a protocol for handling those customer service requests as well as negative or controversial comments on your social media profiles. When onboarding a new employee, remind them of your brand’s values, and use their training to set up some scenarios in which tactful responses will help maintain your brand’s integrity.
If your relationship with a social media manager has gone sour, or their performance just falls flat with no return on investment, it might be time to let them go. Consider what worked and what didn’t, and learn from your mistakes.
Sherman Standberry, the COO and cofounder of LYFE Marketing, writes, “When considering someone to take on social media responsibilities for your brand, ask them one question: ‘How are you going to drive more traffic and sales to my business?’ If they can’t answer this question, they are not the person for the job.”
Lindsay is a modern quilter, writer, and editor. A multi-book author with C&T Publishing, her latest project was designing sampler quilts for FreeSpirit Block Party (Stash Books, September 2018). She also works with Craftsy and Baby Lock sewing machines, and is an editor for Frommer's Travel Guides. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, son, and two cats, who were the inspiration for her adult coloring book and Kickstarter "Project of the Day" Lazy-Ass Cats. www.lindsaysews.com, www.lazyasscats.com