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Do I need a social media manager or strategist?

social media strategist

So you need some help with your social media.  You are ready to up your game and play full in. Maybe you already have someone on your team managing your social media, but you aren’t getting results. Do you hire a social media manager or a social media strategist? 

Uh….what’s the difference?  And the magic question – how much do they cost??

Believe it or not, this is a super common question.  

But don’t worry. I’ve got you!

Maybe you didn’t even know there was a difference between a Social Media Strategist and a Social Media Manager or a Social Media Virtual Assistant (that’s a thing too!). No worries if that’s the case.  

Let me start by saying that one isn’t better than the other. They both have different functions and purposes. You need both strategy and management if you are going to get results on social media.  Sometimes you can find someone that does both and sometimes you use different people. 

My company provides both – we build the strategies and we provide management services (although we are full on the management side right now). We offer strategies one on one or we also have a membership group. 

Sometimes, you hire a social media strategist that will write the plan for you, then you have your team or VA implement it. Either way you work is fine as long as you are getting results on social media. 

I want to start by defining what these roles are, how they are different, how you know which one you need, and then we’ll even talk about how much they typically cost. 

And tell me in the comments – do you have a social media strategist or manager on your team?

What is a Social Media Strategist

This is my most favorite part of what I do.  I love the strategy side. I love taking a look at what works, what doesn’t, and making a plan to make social media and content effective.  Make sure it’s driving results.  Make sure you are increasing engagement.  We had a client that increased engagement 996% last month.  How you ask?? She had a plan. She stuck to it. She trusted what we told her to do and did it. And it paid off big time!

A social media strategist is the person responsible for the overall strategy of your social media and content.

They look at your social media from a big picture perspective. They are looking at what is working, what you are doing well, what your audience responds too. They are watching trends and news, so they know what’s important right now and what strategies you should be using. They are looking at posting times and how long people are watching your videos, reviewing your content, and giving you suggestions on improving all of those things. They are deep in your metrics figuring out how to improve them.  

It’s looking at your social media and how it plays into the rest of your marketing. How is it driving results?  How is it driving people to your website, email list, or new program?

Social media strategists will take your current social media posts and show you how to make them better.  Little (or big) things you can tweak to make them more effective. 

When we write strategies for our clients, they have a playbook (sort of an instruction manual) that they can then take and implement themselves, or hand to their VA or marketing team to implement. We give them content suggestions, posting ideas, and trends that may work for their business.

Here are a few other things a Social Media Strategist will help you discover:

  • Identify who you are talking to on social media (really the first step of a good strategy!)
  • What types of things you should post (does your audience like video or stories best?)
  • How frequently to post and on what channels
  • Suggestions on moving prospects through your funnel
  • Keyword and hashtag research

Again, they are building the strategy, giving you the playbook, so you or your team can implement the plan.

What is a Social Media Manager?

A social media manager is someone that is doing the day to day work.  They are taking the plan that the strategist built and doing the actual implementation.  

Most Social Media Managers keep up on the latest trends and changes in the social media world, but they don’t have the experience or expertise to look at a full blow marketing strategy.  They don’t understand how social media fits in with the other pieces of content and most won’t’ give you suggestions on how to make your marketing better.

They are focused on getting posts up every day, engaging with your audience, responding to comments in your group, and so on.  They could be creating posts for you.  And a really good Social Media Manager understands the value of content repurposing and is using that to create content for your pages. 

They are usually well versed in at least 3 or 4 of the major platforms. And sometimes they specialize in 1 or 2.  That is becoming more and more common these days.

Here are a few things that a Social Media Manager/VA could help you with:

  •  Posting content daily
  • Repurposing the content you are creating
  • Creating graphics
  • Finding third party content to share on your page
  • Keeping up on engagement (aka responding to all those comments and likes that you get each day!)

They should be sending you stat reports of some kind at least 1x/month.  Sometimes we are hired to review the stats each month because their manager is great at implementing, but not great at reviewing and analyzing the numbers.  (Y’all know how I feel about metrics!!)  So even if your manager is really great at getting things posted each day and responding to comments, they should be (or you should be hiring someone) who is looking at the numbers and tweaking the strategy and content as needed.

Which one do I need?

So now that you know the difference between the two, which one do you need?  A Social Media Strategist or a Social Media Manager? 

It depends on what your goals are, what stage of business you are in, and what your business needs right now.

Super vague answer, right?

If you know how you want your social media to look and feel, but you don’t want to do it – then you need a Social Media Manager.  They will take your vision and branding and implement it for you.  They will keep things running smoothly day-to-day so that you don’t have to spend your time focusing on that. You can focus on your customers and your zone of genius.

If you have been working with a Social Media Manager for a while, but aren’t seeing any sort of growth or ROI on your pages, then it may be time to look into a Strategist.  A Social Media Strategist will help define your goals and the big picture – then you can go back to your Manager to implement. 

Sometimes, you may even find a Strategist that will help do some training with your Manager. If you find that, take hold fast!

And sometimes you have a VA or Manager that you love; they work really well with you and your team; they learn quickly, and you want to keep them busy.  Then hire a Strategist to figure out a way to get your social media profitable and let your VA implement. That is totally an option. And depending on where you are in business, it’s a really good one!

And if you are thinking you are totally lost and have no idea what you are doing, no idea what you want to do, no one is helping you, then look for a Strategist that can help you answer some of those questions and build your next steps. That’s totally a thing too!  Don’t keep going at it alone and confused and stressed out. You don’t need to!

How much do they cost?

And now for the burning question, right? How much does all of this cost?  Again, I’m going to give you a pretty vague answer. 

A good Social Media Strategist will start around $1,500 on up.  They are doing a lot of heavy lifting and creating a solid plan to make your social media and content profitable. And really that’s invaluable.

A Social Media Manager is someone that you are paying a recurring fee too. They are doing the management of your social media every single day, so they charge a monthly rate.  A good manager starts around $500/month per platform.  The price is really going to depend on what your needs are and what their expertise is.  You can find some that are cheaper, but make sure they are keeping up on trends, creating graphics that match your branding, and keeping up with engagement.  

No matter who you hire to manage your social media, I highly recommend working with somebody who charges a project-based, monthly, recurring payment. Someone who’s got a contract, who is taking it seriously because that’s where you are going to find someone that is in it for the long run, investing in growing your business, growing your relationship, learning your voice, and executing at a high level. Versus someone who is just doing this as a side-gig and not fully committed.

Did you learn a thing or two about deciding who you need on your team right now – a Social Media Strategist or a Social Media Manager?

Join the conversation in the Facebook Group – Strategy Drives Results. It’s all about how to get your return on investment with social media.