digital disruptors | Apr 3, 2019 |
What to know before outsourcing your social media

Even the most amateur of Instagrammers knows how time-consuming it can be to craft the perfect post. You have to snap the best photo, find the ideal crop and filter, write the wittiest caption, use the tags and location that will draw the most viewers and maybe gain a few more followers. It’s a lot, even for those of us who do it just for fun.

For interior designers, many of whom use the platform to grow their businesses, it’s even more of a challenge. “It’s like having two jobs,” says interior designer Darla Powell, founder of Miami-based Wingnut Social. “You can’t wear two hats and expect to do both jobs at 100 percent. To do social media right takes an incredible amount of time.”

That’s exactly why Powell founded Wingnut: to give designers back their time by taking social media management off their plate. As a designer herself, she understands the need for outside help when it comes to running a successful Instagram (or Pinterest or Facebook) account while trying to keep your focus on your clients.

There are a few avenues for designers looking to farm out social media management: agencies like Wingnut, public relations firms that offer social as part of their services, and freelance social media coordinators. Here’s what you need to know before handing over the keys to your account.

How does it work?

Whether you hire an independent contractor or work with your regular PR firm, the process begins a lot like a first date. You have a conversation so your hired gun can get to know you and your social media hopes and dreams.

“We try to get a read on how they tell their story in their own words,” says Rachel Goodman, director of digital content at BDE, a public relations firm. “We love getting personal and going to a studio or a designer’s office to see what’s inspiring them, what they surround themselves with, what they talk about with their team. It gives us an inside look into their personality as a designer.”

Then, they’ll do an audit of your accounts to see what’s working and what could be improved. They’ll create a personalized content calendar and proposal to fit your needs, essentially offering you a social media menu from which you can choose the services you want. These range from your basic account management and growth strategy for one channel (posting content, engaging with your community, etc.) to blogging, newsletters, and branding.

Once you’re up and running, your social media guru will provide regular feedback and analytics so you can continuously optimize the process.

How much work do you want to put in?

Social media management is a boutique business. One size does not fit all, and companies will tailor their approach for you—but you will have to put in some legwork, especially in the beginning. No matter how adept a social media manager is, they need clients, particularly new ones, to provide regular feedback. For Christina Wright, an independent social media coordinator who works with home brands like Robert Allen Duralee Group and Sonder Living, this means weekly check-ins and often daily emails.

It’s similar at BDE, where they talk to clients on a daily basis. “The closer we get in our working relationship, the better we understand the brand ethos and philosophy,” says Goodman. “Not only that, but every single piece of copy, every post, goes through the designer or brand first for approval, so they can make sure everything meets their standards.”

In addition to giving constructive feedback, designers need to provide a healthy bank of project imagery to choose from. Wingnut creates a shared Dropbox folder with each client, where they can upload photos they want to share, noting the photographer and any vendors, tags or features they want to highlight. “That’s really all that’s required,” says Powell. “We write all the copy and edit the photos, if needed.”

If you’re a young designer with only a couple projects under your belt, that’s okay. Mood boards, inspiration, in-progress shots, or photos of you shopping at HomeGoods or visiting High Point are all great fodder for the feed.

What’s your budget?

Everything comes with a price, and social media management will likely run you around $1,000 per month for a basic plan. That said, pricing is completely custom for each designer, depending on the services. Wright charges $3,500 per month for larger brands (for whom she makes herself available around the clock), and $1,500 a month for smaller businesses. At Wingnut, a simple plan (posting on one channel four to five times per week, with community management) starts at $750, while a comprehensive brand package, which can include influencer marketing and custom photo shoots, costs $4,000 per month.

“It’s not an inexpensive undertaking,” says Powell, “but if your social media is keeping you from giving 100 percent of your attention and focus to your clients and being the best designer you can be, then it’s worth it.”

What are your goals?

It’s the million-dollar question: What do you want your social media to achieve?

“When we first sit down with a designer, that’s our top question,” says Goodman. “They might not know the answer, but by the time we’re done talking, we will figure it out together.”

Are you gunning to be an influencer? A lifestyle expert? Is increased engagement what you’re after? Do you want more followers? More clients? A beautiful visual portfolio? Better brand awareness? Designers should think about what makes them different from the competition, but also what sparks joy for them.

“It’s a discovery process,” says Powell. “The designer that comes to us is going to have to do a little soul-searching.”

But the beauty of social media is that if you’re not completely sure what your end game is, you can always change your strategy in six months. “It’s very fluid,” says Powell. “You don’t have to start from Day One with, ‘This is exactly what I want to be when I grow up,’ but you do have to get out there and try.”

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