I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a freelance social media manager. Many just small, and a few corkers, but you could argue that these mistakes have made me the social media marketer I am today. However it’s also fair to say that I could have worked less and earnt more sooner if I had navigated more wisely.
So lets talk about some of the mistakes I see others making so you can hit the ground running.
Mistake one – selling the service not the value.
Often at networking events, I am not the only person in the room offering social media management. So I find it interesting to sit in the corner and see how other people are pitching. (Maybe try it at your next event.)
What I notice that happens a lot, And, I've done it myself too. When speaking to potential clients they talk about the service that they provide. What’s the problem with that you might think?
What they really want to know is what value you could bring to their business and can you be trusted?
Trust and value are going to be the key factors. You're going to be operating as the face of their business.
So It's all very well, you talking about the tools of the trade and and how you work as a social media manager, But what difference can you make? How are you different from every other person pitching for work?
Building a relationship and building trust is one of the best ways I've ever found to “win clients”. Don't be pushy, Don't be salesy. Just Be yourself and allow that person the time they need to make a decision.
Mistake two – Not having any systems and processes in place.
The first complaint many of us have about any service provider is usually about their customer service. When I started out I didn't think about how I was going to onboard clients, how I was going to agree terms and conditions. How I would communicate with them and how often.
What I needed were systems and processes to make my clients experience a positive and less time consuming experience.
I've dabbled with a few paid for systems but they never ticked every box. So I’ve created on-boarding systems that work seamlessly for me (many of which you'll find in The Social Media Managers Toolkit). I could probably automate more of my systems but, call me old fashioned, I like the personal touch.
We often take for granted that clients will know what we're doing. We assume that they know what happens next. But some businesses, have never outsourced any of their services before so it can be quite a daunting experience for them.
Keep that in mind and always tell them what's next in the onboarding process and early months of working together.
Mistake three – niching too soon.
There are many people out there who say that having a niche is the only way that you can operate as a social media manager. I generally disagree with that statement. I've never had a niche until recently. And even now, it's pretty broad.
As a social media manager starting out, it's all very well to assume the type of business that you may want to work with because of previous careers etc. But being a social media manager in that sector/niche could be very different to what you’d hoped. I’d suggest you try out a few business areas before you commit.
In the early days, I worked with as many different organisations and businesses as I could, I was a little bit ruthless, I would work with clients for a couple of months, and then move on when they were no longer the right fit for me. I'm glad I did that. It gave me a wealth of experience. And it gave me a taste of the kind of businesses that I really wanted to work with.
I now have a client base that’s pretty perfect for me. But they are not who I thought I would be working with when I started in this business three years ago.
It's okay to have a focus too, it’s ok to have a plan but I’d consider refraining from marketing yourself as being a social media market in a specific niche until you are 100% sure. Time will most definitely help you make this decision.
Mistake four – forgetting to be the expert.
Don't forget to do what you're saying you're an expert in – Social Media!
There are lots of people who say “I'm a good social media manager, I just don't have time for my own social”.
I get that, my social media is not in perfect order. But being as active as I can puts me in a great position to be able to show that I am knowledgeable, I am an expert in my field and I'm staying on top of all the changes.
If my clients haven’t come from recommendations they’ve found me via Facebook or Instagram – the platforms I’m most active on. My biggest paying client found me on Instagram (from their personal account).
If I wanted to outsource my social media, the first thing I would be looking for would be someone with a good social media following themselves and good engagement. Someone confident using those platforms. Your potential clients could be thinking the same.
Have you made these mistakes in your business? Join us in The Social Media Managers Hub and let us know.
by Laura Davis
Laura is the co-creator of The Social Media Toolkit and also runs Virtually Savvy a social media marketing agency.