Brands are protective of their social media accounts, and for good reason. What gets posted anywhere on the internet, especially social media is a reflection of your brand. That doesn’t mean you need to keep a death grip of control on your social channels. By refusing to delegate, you’re compromising your ability to accomplish arguably more important responsibilities (i.e. hire that engineer you’ve been talking about for months).

That said, social media is clearly important for business success today, and deserving of your time and energy (even for CIOs!). But that energy should be applied to finding someone you trust to manage the day-to-day operations of your social presence for you. Heck, if you find someone really good, they’ll likely have even better ideas than you on how you can grow and engage your audience.

Here’s how to find and hire a talented social media freelancer who you’ll like working with, but first…

Why a freelancer?

Founders and execs tend to think they can “just do social media themselves” or that it’s not important. Let’s be real, social media is the first thing to fall to the wayside when a founder is busy with well, anything else. And at this point, we all know that social media plays a crucial role in building an audience and increasing brand awareness — two very important considerations when raising money or launching a new business.

A freelancer offers flexibility. You can work with them to find a plan that fits your budget and needs, even if it’s just enough to reach baseline goals or keep your accounts active. As much as we’d love to see you work with your freelancer forever, you can end your contract whenever you want. Plus, freelance social media managers typically have a ton of experience with a variety of businesses. They offer a fresh perspective as a consumer, and know all of the latest social media trends from being in the trenches for other clients.

Onto how to find the freelancer that’s right for you…

1) Focus on results first

Naturally, you’ll first look at a candidate’s experience — who they’ve worked with, for how long and past social media work. Before doing that, we urge you to see if they included results achieved within their portfolio. This demonstrates that they can perform, that they understand the business value of social media and that they’ll be focused on producing you real, tangible results — not just pumping out content and blanketed replies.

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Note how Marian references who she’s worked with — two notable startups — but also how many users they have, building credibility. She also references results she’s achieved for her personal blog, demonstrating that she can perform.

2) Evaluate their client management experience

In their communications with you or within their portfolio, does the candidate ask questions about your goals and existing strategy? Do they ask what’s worked and what hasn’t? Do they talk about what they think will work for you, or what they’ve done in the past? If they take a one-size-fits-all approach with each job, then it’s probably time to move onto the next candidate.

Anyone who has extensive experience managing client relationships understands that each client is unique, and although they should apply lessons learned from previous work, their work should be focused on your needs. For example, Briana Green did an excellent job of applying her industry knowledge to the specific needs of Millennial Week:

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3) Get to know their personal interests to measure for cultural fit

In our Peep profiles, we include a “what I read” section because it lets customers get a better picture of a Peep’s knowledge of industry trends and where they find information, but it also shows what other interests are. Some of our Peeps like to include that they read sci-fi novels, for example, which may be the perfect fit for a company who embraces nerd culture. Or if they read travel blogs and even run their own, they’d prob be a great fit for your travel startup.

You might want to look to see if a candidate includes any relevant side projects or volunteer work in their portfolio. For example, if you’re an EdTech startup, you may be especially interested in working with someone who volunteers as a mentor or tutor in their spare time.

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Christina would be a great fit for a travel or sharing economy brand with a nerd culture :)
Christina would be a great fit for a travel or sharing economy brand with a nerd culture 🙂

This is a great opportunity to check out their personal social media profiles. We advise against judging them solely on their followers or follow/following ratio, or even how active they are on social media. More often than not, freelancers (especially if they come from an agency background) focus so much on building a social media presence for their clients, that their personal accounts go neglected. That said, someone who has a strong social media presence is going to stand out among the rest, and all the power to them — they’re likely a stellar candidate who’s understood social’s impact on a freelance business since day one.

Take a look at the messaging candidates use in their social bios and what they tweet about to spot any common interest — any indicators that you’ll enjoy working with them. Someone with a very conservative outlook and formal work environment probably won’t want to work with me. But someone who’s into music, laughing and cursing might. 🙂

4) Measure their ability to GSD

If they haven’t already shared it, ask the candidate what tools they use for social media management, time management and organization. Even if they’re tools you’ve never heard of, this is a strong indicator of their organizational skills and ability to get shit done.

An experienced freelance social media manager should have no problem managing multiple accounts for all of their clients as long as they have the proper processes in tools in place. These may differ for each professional you speak with, and that’s totally fine. The important thing is that they know what works best for them. Look for a freelancer who values and strives for getting the most meaningful work done in least time.

5) Test their communication skills and availability

Beyond having solid social media skills — that is, knowing how to be engaging and interesting to establish cut-through — your social media manager should communicate effectively and efficiently. You should be able to tell right off the bat in how they present their work in their portfolio and how they communicate within the first few emails, messages or phone calls.

Communicate back and forth with a candidate a few times to ensure they know how to clearly articulate ideas, results and most importantly, to see if they listen and are responsive. A bit of a shameless plug, but at CloudPeeps, all of our freelancers undergo a screening process so the chances of them flaking are highly unlikely.

6) Understand how they budget time

We suggest asking candidates how they plan to break their time out for your project. It’s good to know how much time they’ll dedicate to research vs. replying to audience members vs. posting the actual content vs. planning out future content. This will give you a clear picture of how your money is being spent and establish baseline metrics (i.e. how many posts will be published) to measure productivity against.

It will also indicate their level of autonomy. If they already know how these things should be broken out based on your needs, you’re golden.

7) Talk analytics and reporting

As this Entrepreneur article recommends, make sure the candidate has a thorough understanding of how to analyze and report on data. As with any marketing activity, social media success needs to be measured. Make sure they have an understanding not only of which metrics are most important to you and why (i.e. growth for brand image, conversions for revenue growth), but how and when they plan to report on them.

Ready to hire your social media freelancer?

We have hundreds of high-quality Peeps who would love to work with you – get to know them. If you’re not convinced a freelancer is right for managing your social media, check out the results a few of our Peeps have achieved for their customers. Or reach out to us any time in the comments below or at hello@cloudpeeps.com. We’re always happy to help advise how you can hire the best freelance marketer for your needs and goals.