bar scene for managed by rita blog

A Freelancer, An Agency, and A Business Owner Walk Into A Bar…

When you’re overwhelmed with running your own business, and you know you need help with your social media, but you’re not sure who to ask, it can be like on of those bad bar jokes.

A freelancer, a marketing agency, and you, the business owner, walk into a bar. You say to the bartender, “Hey barkeep, serve me up some knowledge, which one of us is best to run my social media marketing?” The freelancer cuts in with, “I’m the best choice because I’m flexible and affordable.” The marketing agency interrupts, “Yes, but we can provide all-purpose solutions for any marketing needs.” And you’re thinking to yourself, “Isn’t this something I should be doing?” Meanwhile, the bartender serves you a cheap domestic beer and says, “I don’t know anything about social media, but I’ll help get you drunk so your head spins from that instead of spinning with these questions.”

Not funny right? The joke or the scenario. But, how many small business owners find themselves in that same position, deciding between hiring a freelancer, an agency, or tackling their social media marketing on their own, without really knowing the pros and cons of each?

I currently freelance as a social media manager, but I have worked for agencies in the past, and in a way, I run my own small business, Managed by Rita, and manage my own social media on top of the accounts for my clients. From my experience, let me break down the differences, advantages, and disadvantages to each route of social media management. Truth be told, there is no one right solution, it’s up to you as the business owner to find the right fit for your company.

A Freelancer

I’ve already mentioned two, flexible and affordable. Because of our ability to schedule our work out for ourselves, most of us can bend our deadlines to meet the needs of our clients. Because we mostly work out of home offices, we’re mobile and likely able to meet face-to-face or schedule a conference call on shorter notice. Personally, I like to meet my clients in their place of business to a) make it convenient for them, b) immerse myself in their business culture from time to time, and c) act as a member of the team albeit one who comes and goes.

Freelancers rarely have overhead. Therefore our prices are much fairer. Again, our flexibility is at work here because we answer to no one (except our clients, of course). Often, you can negotiate a price or the amount of work you hire, and most of us will customize our services to fit your needs within the realm of what we offer.

Other advantages include:

  • Specialization – A lot of freelancers specialize in one area or a select few, and if you’re only looking for a piece of a package, this will be your more affordable option.
  • Personal treatment – This comes with the flexibility aspect, a reliable freelancer will likely be more available for your calls, texts, or emails. No leaving messages with receptionists and waiting two days for an email response here.

Some disadvantages include:

  • Specialization – A lot of freelancers specialize in one area or a select few, so if you’re looking for an all-inclusive solution to compete with what an agency can provide you may have difficulty finding just one freelancer to fit the bill.
  • Need for collaboration – A solo freelancer may require input from you on a regular basis, whether it’s content generation, access to various web accounts, or approval on posts. If you’re looking to hand off your social media completely to a freelancer, you’ll need to be willing to relinquish a lot of control and grant them all access.

An Agency

As is mentioned in the lame attempt at a joke, agencies usually offer full-services marketing for their clients. They have teams of people working on digital strategy, social media, content creation, design, and development. They have account managers and project managers to keep everything running smoothly, and deadlines met. They have the time, capabilities, and manpower to run analysis, beta testing, and case studies.

Other advantages include:

  • Worry-free – Many agencies devise the strategy, create the content, schedule, manage, and report back to their clients with minimal input from the client with the exception of approvals and the occasional meeting to consult on the strategy.

Disadvantages include:

  • Expensive – Agencies have overhead and those teams of people they need to pay. Their prices will be high, and often they require a signed contract that binds you to their services for a certain amount of thime.
  • Overwhelmed employees – The many people who make the agency run are regularly working on multiple projects at a time. The higher paying clients with the most clout will be made a priority while other projects get pushed off if need be.

You, Yourself, and You

The main advantage to this is obvious. You will not cost your business anything, other than time. If you have the time to devote to managing even one social profile, then all you need to spend is advertising dollars.

Other advantages include:

  • No one knows your business like you – You’re physically in your place of business on a regular basis. It’s easier for you to snap an Instagram photo of a happy customer or live Tweet from an event than to send the info off to a third-party. You also know your message and your audience better than anyone.

Some disadvantages include:

  • Extra work – As if you don’t have enough to do with just running your business, to make social media work for you, you’ll need to dedicate time on a daily basis to posting, responding, engaging with others, liking, commenting, etc.
  • Not as easy as it looks – Each platform has its unique audience, advertising rules, and idiosyncracies. Learning best practices for each is a full-time job (I should know).

At the end of the day, there isn’t a single correct choice for who should manage your social media. The decision needs to be made based on what will work best for you and your business with time and budget considered.


Interested in learning more about managing your own social media? Contact me today to set up your Social Media Bootcamp or for consultation about outsourcing work to Managed by Rita.

facebook login for managed by rita blog

The Value of Social Media Marketing

When you’re running your own business or just starting out, you’ll hear from everyone around you, “You need to be on social media.” The popularity social media as the suggestion for marketing a small business on a low budget often implies that social media advertising will be cheaper, or even better, free. And, it’s easy to confuse the use of social media for your personal life (which is free) with a company presence on social media, but the two are not one and the same, and the latter will cost money, there’s just no way around it. Your friends and family are correct, though. You should be on social media.

But, if you find yourself looking over your numbers and budget, and wondering, “How is this worth my money?” I’m happy to help break it down for you into some numbers that might help you understand.

3.17 Billion

People worldwide who are active internet users.

5.54

Is the number of how many social media profiles an internet user has on average.

1.71 Billion

That’s the number of internet users on Facebook in the world.

400 Million

The number of Instagram users.

320 Million

Twitter users.

100 Million

Active users on Pinterest.

$8.3 Billion

That’s how much money businesses spent in advertising dollars on social mediain 2015 .

38%

That’s how many advertisers said they intended to use 20% or more of their advertising budget on social media in 2016.

The numbers show, the world’s market is online and they’re using social media. Does it cost money to advertise? Yes. Does it cost money to gain followers? Yes. But, where else will you find your target audience so conveniently categorized by location, occupation, interest, income, and shopping habits, and in a place where you know they’re spending their time and money?

You can’t sell to the market if you’re not there.


Interested in learning more about managing your own social media? Contact me today to set up your Social Media Bootcamp or for consultation about outsourcing work to Managed by Rita.
The statistics for this post were gathered from brandwatch.com

7 Resources for Generating Content

The number one problem, and often the most time consuming, I hear from most people is finding what to post to social media. Many people are familiar with the term content marketing but think it is synonymous with blogging. This isn’t true. Content marketing encompasses using shared content of all varieties to bring awareness to your company. This includes blogging, yes, but also, memes, infographics, photos, videos, and articles. When you’re running short on ideas for what to share, use these resources for quick and easy solutions.

1. Portent Content Idea Generator

screen shot of portent content idea generator for managed by rita

For the times when you need inspiration even coming up with a topic, use the Portent Content Idea Generator to come up with one for you. Simply enter in a topic and it will provide prompts.

2. Meme Generator

screen shot of meme generator for managed by rita

If humor is a part of your content strategy, use the meme generator. Simply search a topic and it will provide images you can overlay text on to create your own memes.

3. Unsplash

screen shot of unsplash for managed by rita

For FREE high-resolution photos, use Unsplash. These are outstanding e-sources for blog images and Instagram (after resizing to a square).

4. Feedly

screen shot of feedly news for managed by rita

Feedly is an excellent RSS reader where you can search, organize, and share various articles on an assortment of topics. When you’re short on your own content, share from reputable sources who have the same message or are relevant to your business.

5. Pocket

screen shot of pocket queue for managed by rita

Pocket comes with a browser extension that allows you to save articles from across the web for you to read later.

6. Facebook

screen shot of facebook pages feed for managed by rita

What is a better source for Facebook-worthy content than Facebook itself? Like pages with relevant content to your business that help spread your own message and visit your pages feed when you’re in need and share content you see posted there.

7. Repost app for Instagram

screen shot of repost app for instagram for managed by rita

Just as with Facebook, when you’re running low on content for Instagram, repost your followers’ photos/videos. It requires downloading the Repost app, as sharing within Instagram isn’t a feature yet, but the app has a free version with the opportunity to upgrade for more features. This serves a double purpose of driving engagement as well.

With all the tools available on the internet for creating content these days, there is no excuse to not be posting.


Interested in learning more about managing your own social media? Contact me today to set up your Social Media Bootcamp or for consultation about outsourcing work to Managed by Rita.

facebook live screenshot

I Went Live on Facebook and I Survived!

It’s been a feature for a while now, Facebook Live. Surprisingly, when I mention it to clients, though, I’m met with, “What’s that?” We’ve all seen it; you’re scrolling through your news feed, and you see a post with the red ‘Live’ icon

Screenshot of Facebook Live post in my news feed.
Screenshot of Facebook Live post in my news feed.

and the eyeball indicating how many people are currently watching the feed. At present, this feature is largely used by news sources as one more platform for them to share stories, but it is quickly being picked up by businesses and advertisers as a way to drive follower engagement.

Why? Because pictures are out, and video is in. Where a few years ago your social media strategists were emphasizing the importance of images – “Don’t even bother with a post if you don’t have a picture,” advice I gave many times over – these days video is the attention grabber. Literally. It grabs your attention by auto-playing the moment you scroll over the video. How can you not pause to investigate what the video is all about?

With it clearly being the way of the future and such a popular new feature, why then are some people holding back from using it? The answer is obvious. You’re live. On Facebook. For all the world to see. This idea, for a camera shy person, is a nightmare. Video is one thing, you can retake a video, and you can edit a video, but live is live. In the mind of a person with public speaking phobias, this is equivalent to a spot on the evening news with millions of viewers.

I am one such person. While I’m a social butterfly, my sociability is best in personal face-to-face interactions and online. I fail miserably at speaking publicly. In school, I was the student who adopted a monotone, spoke too quickly for anyone to understand, and ended up delivering nothing more than the solution to my classmate’s sleep deprivation. Now I’m being asked, by Facebook, to subject my online followers to this same deadening transmission?

In suggesting this new feature to many of my clients, I’ve realized how many people out there have that same fear. So, when many of them showed timid interest at best, I decided I’d practice what I preach. I posted my first Facebook Live post, dubbing it Social Butterfly Chats in the anticipation of making it a regular practice, and it was almost as awful as I suspected. Yes, I spoke monotonously and I stumbled over my words. True, no one watched it live (one great feature is that Facebook saves it as a video and posts it to your page, so if no one sees the live installment, people can watch it later). Absolutely, I felt insecure and self-conscious the entire time and for quite a while after. But, it was worth it.

I can now speak from experience when recommending the feature to clients. I can now empathize fully with their reservations about being on video. I now know and can promise them, as I [they] continue, I [they] will only get better.

If you’re considering Facebook Live posts as a part of your strategy here are some pros:

  • Popular
  • Relatively easy with a smartphone forward facing camera
  • Can do it anywhere
  • Takes less time than writing a blog post and then posting to Facebook
  • Still new, so lots of areas for creativity
  • Facebook is promoting videos more than images

Tips:

  • Keep it short – people have short attention spans, to begin with, but it will also help make it less intimidating if you’re someone who doesn’t like to be on camera
  • Experiment – give an idea some time, but if it doesn’t seem to be successfully getting a lot of engagement, try something new
  • Be somewhere comfortable
  • Practice what you’re going to say a few times before you go live – even take video of it so you can get an idea of what the final product will look like
  • Let people know in advance you’re going live until you have more followers

At the end of the day, always market your business in a way that makes you comfortable. If being on camera makes you so uncomfortable you’re driving followers away, find a way to shoot video that doesn’t involve you speaking. For instance, if you’re an event planner, show live snippets from your events. If you’re a cake decorator, show live videos of you decorating a cake. Get creative and have some fun. Facebook wants raw video of people engaging organically, so the live video of you just being you and running your business will do well.


Interested in learning more about managing your own social media? Contact me today to set up your Social Media Bootcamp or for consultation about outsourcing work to Managed by Rita.

man with ipad looking at graphs

Marketing, Advertising, and Sales, What’s the Difference?

“What are the goals for your social media plan?”

It’s a question I ask all potential clients when I sit down with them in our introductory meeting. Without fail, I hear the same words fall from their lips every time.

“To get sales (or leads depending on the type of business).”

Why do I ask the question if I already know the answer?

I ask because their answer naturally leads me to my follow-up question, the important one.

“What’s your sales strategy?”

And just as I can predict the first answer, I know this question will be met with a cocked head, quizzical look, and a somewhat nonplussed tone as they respond, “That’s why I’m hiring you. To get more sales.”

And there it is, the number one misconception business owners have when it comes to marketing their business. Marketing is not sales. Neither is advertising. Each is a component of a successful business plan to generate profit for any company, but each plays a unique role, and when they’re confused, money inevitably ends up wasted, business owners become frustrated, and success rates decline.

Over the years, after many such conversations and after witnessing many clients throw in the towel on their social media because they just can’t see the value in it, I’ve realized this lack of distinction is at the root of so much confusion and disappointment. Working in marketing, I’ve taken for granted that not everyone is as versed in these terms as people in my industry, and I feel it’s crucial anyone interested in running their own business knows the difference. So let me break it down for you.

Marketing is the strategy you use to lead people to your business. These days we call it brand awareness, and if you Google that term you will be met with over nine million results, most of which are blogs and articles published by almost every marketing and advertising agency in existence. Your marketing plan is the strategy you put in place for people to learn about your business, peak their interest in your product or service, and make sure your information is accessible so that when people decide they want to give you money, it’s easy for them to do so.

Social media is one piece of a marketing plan. It’s up to you if social media will be your sole platform you use to spread the word about your business or just one of many. But, you should look at it as your digital presence. In days past, before Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard and delivered Facebook to the world, business owners would’ve hung a large sign on the front of their place of business. Preferably this sign would’ve been something large enough people could see it from a great distance and visually stimulating enough to grab their attention. In those days, they relied on their physical presence for discovery and the word of mouth of those who discovered them to help make more people aware of their business. Today, your Facebook page is your online sign post, your posts and the shares they get are your word of mouth.

Advertising is the process of paying to help generate your brand awareness and word of mouth activity. There are endless advertising possibilities out there. The age old billboards, phone books, newspaper or magazine, radio or television ads are still common and still expensive. Nowadays, you can advertise digitally in a myriad of ways, one of the most popular being to pay an affiliate company to place an add on their website. There’s also search engine marketing, which is paying to have your search result placed higher than the organic results. And, there’s advertising on social media.

Unfortunately, when it comes to social media marketing, many people are operating under an antiquated notion that you can sign up for a Facebook page or Twitter account, begin posting, and people are going to see your stuff. That just isn’t the case anymore. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, and all the rest found a way to make money – make companies using their networks pay to reach people – and they ran with it. 

Social media is now simply one of the avenues for advertising, and it takes money like all the rest. The advantage to advertising on social media isn’t that it’s cheaper – a misconception that leads to a lot of frustration –  it’s that it can be targeted. Unlike shelling out money for a billboard which may reach masses of people, but cannot possibly guarantee those masses are interested in your product, or for a television ad people tune out while waiting for their show to come back on, with an ad campaign on Facebook, you have the ability to dictate who sees your ad making every dollar reach further. Again, not to be confused with being cheaper.

Finally, this brings us to sales. Sales are the act of closing the deal. It requires interaction, engagement, and proactivity. It requires at least one person, a living breathing human being, who’s sole purpose is to sell the product. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest are not human beings. They are not your sales people. They are your market. You are your sales person. You cannot sell in an empty market, and you cannot sell if you don’t show up to the market.

They’re subtle differences at best, and it takes years of experience to understand them fully, but making that distinction is key to successfully marketing any business. Ignoring any one of these elements will ultimately lead to a low return on investment, and therefore low profits. If you have further questions about how I may help manage your social media as part of your marketing plan, or if you’re interested in signing up for my Social Media Bootcamp Basic Training, contact me today.

Rita of Managed by Rita photos with clients

Be Social On and Offline

Photo Caption: Left – Meeting Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer while attending an event hosted by Orlando magazine, a client of mine; Right – Meeting with Tracy from Tracy’s Total Wellness

I regularly meet with business owners and managers who are overwhelmed and daunted by the amount of work it is to maintain a social media presence. I can relate. Answering the simple question What do I post today? is befuddling and at times, exhausting to think about. When should I post? Where should I post? How do I post? What the heck are hashtags? Should I use them? Which ones? How do I stay on top of this? I need to post how many times a day? These questions often lead to exasperation, and the result is spinning wheels and getting nowhere, or feeling stuck. People end up frustrated with what seems to be little success. Why? Because the answers to those questions above come only with knowledge and experience.

How will you gain that knowledge and experience? Especially when you have limited time to learn? It is, in reality, easy. Begin with changing your mindset about the process. If you hate to play tennis, do you stand a chance of reaching an end goal to beat one of the Williams sisters in a match some day? When it comes to social media, if you think you hate social media and see it as pure work, you won’t reach huge online success either. Instead, approach it like a daily social event. Every day, you’re socializing with your customers in person, so approach your online social activity in the same way. You’re reaching out to the same people. You’re sharing the same information. You’re asking the same questions.

That is my number one piece of advice for people attempting to tackle their own social media presence, when they ask, “What do I post?” Be social! That’s it. Be as social online as you are offline. Find ways to incorporate the same offline personality into your online presence. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, and you deal with customers face-to-face on a daily basis, take note of your regular interactions and devise ways to translate them to the digital realm. When you’re asked the same question repeatedly, find a way to answer it online. When you’re hosting an event, introducing a new product, of promoting an existing product or service, announce it online [with enthusiasm].

If you work in an industry like mine, where the bulk of your work is done solo from behind a computer screen, create face-to-face interactions with your clients, customers, colleagues, other members of your industry, whoever it is that brings you business. Set up meetings to be held in person. Invite colleagues to lunch. Join an industry-related organization and attend their social gatherings.

Engage online the same way you would in real life. For instance, if a person came up to you on the street and said, “I like your hat,” would you ignore them and walk away? No. You would, at the very least, say, “Thank you.” Why wouldn’t you do the same thing on Facebook or Instagram? To that same effect, if you see a friend, and they’re wearing a new outfit, wouldn’t you say, “You’re looking good today!” When you’re online, socialize with your followers as much as, if not more, than they do with you.

This blog is an example of taking a common question I receive from clients and the people I meet at various social gatherings and answering it online for a broader audience. The question: how do I do this [manage social media]? My answer: be social. I’m using a regular social interaction I encounter in my real life as inspiration for content to post to my blog and then my social media networks. When you’re thinking of your social media, focus on the “social.” Once you have that part down, the “media” part falls into place. The experience you gain through regularly interacting on these networks will educate you so you can answer all those other questions.


Interested in learning more about managing your own social media? Contact me today to set up your Social Media Bootcamp or for consultation about outsourcing work to Managed by Rita.