Biz Mama: Should I Start a Social Media Business?

Biz Mama is a series where I’m sharing some glimpses into my life at the intersection of motherhood & entrepreneurship, you can read more here.

Aaah, the social media biz. It’s the call of young digital nomads all around the world. It’s also the ideal job for people who want a flexible schedule so they can be home with their kids and contribute to the family income, or want the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. The irony is; the same job that gives you the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, also requires you to be connected and ‘on’ pretty much 24/7 – that includes during beach vacations, holiday dinners, and family emergencies. Social media doesn’t stop. 

pink chai living {But first, let me take a selfie … we are a selfie loving family}

My entire life revolves around social media. I run a social media marketing firm  with my husband that currently manages 7 accounts ranging from a major shopping centre, a chain of ethnic grocery stores to specialized local retailers. Plus I also manage all the social media responsibilities that come along with being a blogger (tweet this, g+ that, create pin-worthy images etc.) So basically, I get what it takes to have a social media business and be a blogger. It is not the same thing. The work that goes into managing a campaign for a corporate brand versus a personal blog is very different.

Lately a lot of people I know have asked me; should I start a social media business? So I thought in today’s Biz Mama post I would share 5 things you must be willing to do if you want to work as a social media community manager. (This entire list is based on my opinions and observations, not scientific fact or a mashable study).

kids selfie{Those would be my kids – taking a selfie}

1. Screw work life balance

I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this and say you could prioritize your time, schedule your tweets, or delegate, but I don’t think so. Social media happens in real time. No matter how much I schedule, or how committed I am to my family time, I still have to check client feeds multiple times a day. When someone hires you to manage their social media, it is your job to respond in real time and not during a few set hours during the day. (Side note; we don’t actually work 24 hours – most of our clients purchase a 9am – 8pm package).

This means I check in on tweets while I’m out with my kids, hanging out with mom, and even when I visit my grandfather at the nursing home. On the flipside – I go on almost every field trip, regular lunch dates with my mom, and often slip out in the afternoon to go visit my grandfather because my office (my cell phone) goes with me. I love being a part of the social world that’s why I don’t burn out, but if you don’t want to ‘be on’ all the time, this might not be the right career for you.

Also, as much as delegation sounds nice; we are 3.5 years into our biz and just hired our first employee. In the beginning it’s all you (or you and your partner). 

2. Read/Research

Running a social media campaign is not just retweeting and sharing cute posters. A social media manager must be willing to consume, process, curate, or reject content in record time. Some mornings, I read through thousands of tweets (not exaggerated) to pull share-worthy content. Thank goodness I have a comfy chair, lots of chai, and love to read.

instagram selfie{Just taking a selfie with an Instagram cupcake – nothing weird about that!}

3. Track Your Results and Recover from Failures

Most businesses today are social media savvy enough to know that it’s not a soft metric. You must be willing to create detailed reports showing reach, interaction, traffic growth, and any other results that are important to the client’s marketing goals. It is your job to collect all these details and create weekly or monthly reports, comparative analysis and sometimes even competitive analysis. 

In the off chance that a campaign doesn’t work or results are not visible (not that this has ever happened to me – sic) you have to be able to figure out why it didn’t work, change gears, and produce results. 

4. Invest in tools and education

One of my biggest pet peeves with courses that teach you to be a ‘social media expert’ is that they never tell you that you have to invest in the business. There is this strange belief that all you have to do is hang up your shingle and you get business. 

Things I spent the most money on in the beginning were; courses, workshops, conferences and networking events. These days as our business is growing rapidly we are investing in a brand refresh, a website, and pro-tools that let us listen to conversations online, track trends, and provide detailed reports to clients. I love Hootsuite and use their pro version, but we also use several other tools that have a monthly fee involved. 

A personal note – please do all your research on the costs involved with running a social media firm before you start quoting prices. If you are doing this as a hobby or part time biz, don’t low ball on pricing, it doesn’t help anyone! Learn the industry standards before quoting, pretty please. 

5. Love connecting and chatting with other people

If you are thinking of starting a social media business just to make money, turn around and run now! However, if you love having deep conversations, learning about other people, and making strong connections, we’d love to have you in the industry. In fact, we need more people that are passionate about the industry and helping businesses use conversations for conversion to be out there championing social media. 

There you have it. If you are willing to do these 5 things then YES, you should start a social media biz! (I’m assuming you already have some experience in the industry that’s why you are considering it). If you have any questions around social media/digital business, I’d be happy to chat!

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. August 11, 2014 / 7:12 am

    GREAT post! Absolutely. I get people who don’t understand this is 24/7. I get people who want it to be 20/5 or 8/5 – Sorry. You can’t do that! Get used to checking in all the time and enjoy doing that. I agree although I have slowed down on the field trips because they frown on people taking calls and handling tweets etc when out watching kids at school functions (oddly if a dad shows up with his blackberry he is accepted but if a mom entrepreneur shows up with her iPhone checking in on her business she is not.) I agree with all of this. 100 %. Check the tools and the outsourcing also. I have some contractors I pay in other provinces to help execute parts of the job. So it’s important when quoting to be sure you add in all of that. No low balling. Also people often contact me and say well I live in a very small city and nobody would pay that so maybe I can start at this low rate and then they will pay me more when I prove it works. I am not a fan of that practice. I am 3 years beyond the prove it works starting point of social media marketing. (Paula Schuck – thrifty mom media @inkscrblr)

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