Hiring a Social Media Manager for Your Blog – 8 Important Questions to Ask

It’s a huge achievement to grow your content creation business to the point of hiring a social media manager. The decision isn’t easy, you’re putting a lot of trust into a virtual stranger. When you hire a social media manager, you’re handing off responsibility for your brand’s image on social media. Do not trust recommendations alone with hiring a social media manager for your blog – ask yourself these important questions as well.

Time and time again, I am connected with bloggers and brands who have hired a virtual assistant (VA) or social media manager (SMM) who was following old or bad practices. When some content creators find their way to me, they’ve lost access to their social profiles or they’re in ruins. I hate seeing that happen, and I want to equip others to avoid that all together. These 8 important things to consider when hiring a social media manager will help you avoid disaster with social networks and their algorithms.

Hiring a Social Media Manager for Your Blog | Photo of someone working on a macbook while holding a cell phone.

#1 Does the Social Media Manager know your niche?

Knowing your niche is the key to success on social media. Someone who has no experience in your niche won’t know the important keywords, hot-button topics, trends, or be able to identify with your target audience. For example, an education/teacher audience is going to be hard to reach for someone who has no experience in education. For the wellness niche, you don’t want someone sharing random articles that don’t fit your own message. How are they going to catch early trends, or optimize your content for keywords if they don’t know your niche like the back of their hand?

I primarily work in the food, special diets, and wellness niches. The special diet niche is especially tricky – if a freelancer doesn’t know the special diet well, they’re likely to schedule content that isn’t aligned to it. The paleo diet is grain-free – yet I have deleted hundreds of pins with corn that previous social media managers made to my paleo clients’ accounts.

I’ve seen it argued that a good social media manager needs to have their own robust social profiles. Or, they need to be a blogger in the same niche as their clients to know enough. Both arguments I disagree with. Unless your target audience is the same as the potential social media manager, it means very little. You want to see evidence that they can grow a social presence in your niche. As for being a fellow blogger, many of us social media managers can rock the short copy needed for social media – but don’t have the patience for blogging. I certainly don’t have the patience to blog, and I’ve been in the blog world since Greymatter.

#2 What training have they received? How are they continuing their education?

Quality training goes a long way – especially when there are social media courses out there promoting bad or old practices. It’s easy to put trust in an online personality that appears to know how to grow on social media. Many times their practices are artificial – temporary growth that doesn’t target your ideal audience. Red flags are any course that promises quick results, is based on anecdotal experience from a short period, doesn’t promise regular updates as algorithms change, and an unproven reputation for the course.

There are a lot of rumors and myths about the various social media networks. A great social media manager is able to weed through the rumors for the truth, and adjust as the algorithms change. Even big-name social media news outlets push speculative and unproven social media claims. Remember – every few months, rumors go around that Instagram is finally adding the ability to link within posts. Or that Instagram is blocking link in profile tools. Has either ever happened? Nope. When hiring a social media manager, it’s important to know that they won’t chase unproven methods with your social profiles.

You can read about the resources I recommend here, I keep this list updated as things change with the resources themselves.

#3 How do they gauge if their strategy is working, and make adjustments?

It’s no use to follow the same strategy month after month and not monitor its effectiveness. A social media manager should have a game plan for monitoring your growth and making adjustments for each individual platform. What tools do they use to monitor? Google Analytics? Custom UTM links? Social Insider? The platform’s own insights? How often do they check your metrics? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? How do they go about diagnosing the growth stall?

#4 How do they source content from others? What do they do to prevent spam?

As you know, social media is also about sharing content from others. Where a social media manager sources the content they’re resharing to your followers is important. Is it a reliable source aligned to your own brand? Are they cross-sharing with other clients to artificially inflate numbers? How do they know what content is already going viral and will do well for your following?

Spam is a major problem, and a key to preventing it is doing your part to stop the spread. Both Facebook and Pinterest are actively shutting down or restricting accounts that share spam links. It only takes a few people to report a post for spam to have restrictions placed on your profile. It is almost impossible to recover a Facebook page or Pinterest account closed for sharing spam. Yes, social profiles are falsely flagged and closed by mistake on occasion – and those are recoverable.

If the social media manager does not check over every item they curate for your account, that is a major red flag. It doesn’t matter if they source from accounts and sites you approve, every link needs to be checked. The amount of accounts I’m coming across with spam being reshared by social media managers is alarming. It is not that hard to double-check content before resharing it, even when sourcing from Tailwind Tribes or Pinterest.

Hiring a Social Media Manager for Your Blog | photo of a woman working on her laptop while drinking from a mug.

#5 How well does the social media manager prove their knowledge? What do the accounts they manage look like?

Most of my clients come to me in one of two ways:

  1. Knowing me from a networking group, like on Facebook.
  2. Referral from an existing client.

The majority of my clients know of me from some of the networking groups I take part in on Facebook. Networking groups are essential for me to keep up to date on the latest social media changes and unsubstantiated rumors. By participating in those groups and offering help, I show to potential clients I know my stuff. I don’t participate to recruit clients (I’m usually booked full) but to simply help others.

References are hit and miss – of course when hiring a social media manager, they’re going to give their best references. When a freelancer is recommended to you by someone else, you can ask them specific questions about their experiences. If you found them via Facebook, you can message any mutual friend to see if they’ve worked with them. Examine the social profiles you know they manage – even if you’re a social media novice, you will be able to pick up on some warning signs.

#6 Does the social media manager’s workflow and personality work well with yours?

The ability to work together is often overlooked when hiring a social media manager for your blog. I got distracted myself on a few occasions with great opportunities while missing the fact that my workflow might not mesh well with theirs. Simply said, a Type A person might not work well with a Type B. How often do you both expect to communicate with each other? Does one work ahead, while the other works day-to-day? If you have a team of other freelancers or employees, do you think this social media manager will fit in well?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict personality and workflow conflicts before hiring a social media manager. Being upfront about expectations and working styles will help avoid potential conflicts. Freelancers are not employees, meaning they control the manner in which they do their job – and there are major legal implications if expectations are different.

#7 Do they subcontract the work out to a virtual assistant?

A social media manager who uses subcontractors isn’t a bad thing at all. I use a virtual assistant to help me with some tasks. I am careful to double-check their work – especially if it involves anything with a client. However, there is a growing number of social media management businesses that hire subcontractors with little to no oversight. When you hire a social media manager, you’re expecting their skills and knowledge to be behind your account management – not someone else. Ask your prospective freelancer what they do to check over their subcontractors’ work, and what exactly their subcontractors will be handling for you.

#8 What ideas do they have for growing your blog’s social presence?

Social media is not dead, even though many bloggers are feeling that way. Mismanaged social profiles can be turned around, it will take time and a plan. When hiring a social media manager for your blog – they should demonstrate a plan to grow your social presence. It isn’t a good sign if the social media manager or virtual assistant hasn’t looked over your social profiles before interviewing. They do not need a formal proposal to grow your presence, but at least have solid suggestions.

The Most Important Key to Hiring a Social Media Manager for Your Blog

Hiring a social media manager for your blog isn’t the end of your role in the management of your social profiles. Even if they’re the best of the best for virtual assistants in your niche, you still need to monitor the management and growth of your accounts. By checking over your accounts regularly, you are more likely to catch a problem before there’s damage. It is very hard to recover from long-term problems, longer than the problems existed. Does this mean you need to examine every single post your social media manager makes? No. It simply means check over their work regularly and monitor growth yourself.

I also prefer for my clients to have their own knowledge of the best practices for the platform I’m managing. That way they are able to create and optimize their blog content for the platform and can understand why I implement the strategies I use. Having your own knowledge of social media will equip you to spot potential problems with your social media manager.

Hiring a Social Media Manager is an Investment

After you hire a virtual assistant or social media manager, it does lighten a lot of your responsibilities. It is a major investment in your blog that has the potential to have a great return. Not only are your social profiles in the hands of someone who can grow them, you have time to focus on your content creation. You also have a new ally who can help you monitor trends and strategize. But remember, like any investment it takes time to reap rewards – especially with Pinterest. I hope these tips will equip you in hiring a social media manager for your blog!

What key things do you look for in hiring a social media manager? What is your biggest struggle in finding the right person?


Full Disclosure

I wrote this blog post to help bloggers find the right person to handle their social media. I did NOT write this blog post to funnel people into my client base or bash another business. Like I said in the article, I serve specific niches and my availability is limited. I regularly refer people to other social media managers, many of which are good friends. 

While I am coming across bad practices from many other freelancers, that does not mean they are operating with malice. I am fully aware that many people go into a virtual assistant career thinking they can read a few articles and manage social profiles. It is something that I caution against frequently in the freelancer group I moderate. Do not take on any work you do not know well, especially work that impacts a brand’s online presence. Bad practices are being promoted by big-name marketing personalities, and it’s easy for anyone to fall for them. The best thing a blogger can do is take caution in hiring a social media manager. Many content creators don’t know where to start – which is why I wrote this article.

I will not tolerate anyone trying to name and shame another business owner in the comments of this post. 

Pinterest’s First Five Pins of the Day – Explained

Photograph of laptop with post title overlaid. Confused by Pinterest's recommendation to "prioritize" the first five pins you make each day? When does the Pinterest "day" start? Why does Pinterest recommend doing that? Does it have to do with their algorithm? All those questions are answered in here!

Pinterest recently changed their best pinning practices guidelines to say that we need to prioritize the first five pins of the day. What does this mean? When does the “day” start on Pinterest? It’s pretty simple – but lots of people are confused by the vague instructions. Pinterest’s “first five” pins are the first five pins after midnight UTC made to your account.

Here’s what Pinterest’s Best Practices for Pinterest Success page says:

“The first 5 Pins you save each day will be prioritized for distribution. Save to the most relevant board first. It’s okay to save a Pin to multiple boards, but save to the most relevant one first—that Pin will get distribution priority. Saving to irrelevant boards won’t help and may hurt the distribution of your Pins.”

Update 06/01/2018 – Pinterest recently redid their guide to simply things, and removed the “First 5 Pins” recommendation – along with a lot of other recommendations. HOWEVER, it was confirmed to Buffer via Pinterest’s developers that the first five pins are still a factor. 

THIS IS POST NO LONGER RELEVANT! Pinterest has now done away with the “First Five” and this post will eventually forward to a new one on times to pin. I’m still finding that the pins going out around Midnight UTC do the best for my clients, so I’m still prioritizing in this same manner.

Why the First 5 Pins?

The reason Pinterest says to prioritize these first five pins is that the algorithm will be sure to prioritize showing these five pins in the smart feed over the other pins you make that day. That doesn’t mean they won’t show your other pins, it just means that those will be shown first – then as they keep scrolling, your followers will see more.

Think of it as if you have five good chances to get someone’s attention on Pinterest, what would you want them to definitely see?

When Does the “Day” Start?

Pinterest has confirmed that their “day” starts at Midnight UTC. People are getting very confused with converting midnight UTC to their own timezone – especially because UTC isn’t impacted by daylight savings time. Many people are using the terms “EST” or “PST” when googling to convert the timezones, but we’re currently in daylight savings time – or “EDT” and “PDT” – except for Arizona & Hawaii of course 

Midnight UTC converts to:

  • 7pm EST/8pm EDT
  • 6pm CST/7pm CDT
  • 5pm MST/6pm MDT
  • 4pm PST/5pm PDT
  • 2pm HST

You’ll notice that these are the same times that many have always said are the “best” times to pin on Pinterest. Chances are you were already sending out your newest or best pins at those times and don’t need to change a thing!

How to Embrace the First Five Pins

So what do you need to do? Just make sure the pins that go out after midnight UTC are the pins you definitely want eyeballs on, on the most relevant personal board. I cushion those pins a little bit – especially when scheduling via Tailwind – because sometimes scheduled pins get a bit laggy with publishing. I’ll make sure that the pin before and after those chosen five are also pins I want to prioritize, just in case there’s a delay.

What about live pinning, and pinning other peoples’ content? You’ll definitely want those five pins to be your content to your personal boards (not group boards). If you find yourself live pinning during that time block – play it safe by adding those pins to a secret board, and move them later. Therefore, your scheduled prioritized pins can go out as planned, and you won’t have to worry.

Pinterest’s “first five” pins aren’t as complicated as they first sound. Once you figure out the right time to pin, and have your personal boards optimized for SEO, you’re good to go! Because the first five pins recommendation is an easy and simple one, it’s a great starting point for those brand new to Pinterest strategy.

Need More Help with Your Pinterest Strategy?

I recommend one course – Pinning Perfect* (affiliate link)! It’s the best value for your dollar, regularly updated with all the latest information. Recently, I’ve seen lots of bloggers complaining about all the “new” Pinterest changes. Pinterest actually hasn’t made any significant changes, the strategies they recently shared at conferences and in webinars were all the same strategies Pinning Perfect has covered for years. In my opinion, every single blogger or business person who wants to strategically use Pinterest for their marketing needs to use Pinning Perfect.

Don’t want to do it yourself? Contact me to see if I have any openings for my Pinterest Management services.

*I am an affiliate for the Pinning Perfect course, which means I will make a small portion of any sale made using my link. I only recommend courses and tools that I use myself, and that I feel are the best value and quality money can buy.

More resources:

Best Practices for Success on Pinterest:
https://business.pinterest.com/…/best-practices-for-pintere…
Tailwind & Pinterest Facebook Live Webinar:
https://www.facebook.com/Tailwind/videos/1984457738292249/

How We Survived a Devastating Layoff – and You Can Too!

Layoffs, most of the time, are totally unexpected – and totally devastating. In the fall of 2014, my husband was hit with a devastating layoff – and we suddenly needed to replace his income to make ends meet. I was terrified, until that point I felt like my freelancing was just means to get us out of debt faster and have some fun money. Thankfully I had completely overhauled my business earlier that year and went from barely contributing to our budget to being able to support us both on one income. You can do it too and survive a devastating lay off with self-employment – all you need is some time and some sort of skills that you can use remotely – like editing Word documents!

My husband was laid off suddenly and unexpectedly – but we managed to survive that devastating layoff and find independence with self-employment! Here's how you can start a new career from scratch as a virtual assistance or any other telecommuting position!

[Read more…]

How to Buffer Video & Image Shares from Other Facebook Pages

Buffer is a great social media scheduling tool! Here's how to use it to schedule shares of video & image posts made by other Facebook pages. If you Buffer video & image shares, you get a boost of engagement & reach from the original page! In both a video tutorial & written format to follow along. | MegBateman.com @ourmisadventure

It’s no secret that I’m a major fan of Buffer, and love to use it for managing profiles for all of my clients. But, it isn’t always straightforward how to do some things. It’s hard to develop something that depends entirely on others, and we all know how easy Facebook makes things. Yes, that’s sarcasm! One of the things that we have to adapt to with Facebook’s quirks is using Buffer to re-share videos and images from other Facebook pages. [Read more…]

Tips & Tricks for Pinning with Buffer

Note – A previous version of this post appeared on my other blog, Our Misadventures on August 5th, 2015. Since then I’ve decided to separate business from personal blogging and am moving this over to MegBateman.com along with some updates. 

Not sure about switching to Buffer for your Pinterest scheduling? Want to see it in action before taking the dive? Or you're confused on how to use it? This webinar covers all the tips and tricks for pinning with Buffer.

Not sure about switching to Buffer for your Pinterest scheduling? Want to see it in action before taking the dive? Or you’re confused on how to use it? This webinar covers my favorite tips and tricks for pinning with buffer!

[Read more…]

New Blog, New Beginnings

Welcome to my new blog, Meg Bateman – Social Media Strategist! This is a new outlet for me to help others with their most pressing social media & blogging problems.
At the beginning of this year, I decided I needed to find a new balance in my life between running two businesses and making time to really enjoy life. One of the things that stood out to me was being able to help more people with the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years. I only have so much time for regular clients and coaching calls, I needed to find a way to help more people with the time I do have.

[Read more…]