When we asked podcast creators what their 2020 resolutions were, we heard one specific response over and over again: building a team! Whether it's outsourcing your production or finally bringing in a graphic designer, we wanted to give you a how-to on how to build your podcasting dream team. First up? Social media managers.
At its best, social media for podcasts leads to an engaged fan base, willing to spread the word about your show, plus a healthy amount of social referral traffic, and a great share of mind. At its worst, it’s a Twitter bot you bought off of Fiverr that responds to every tweet with the words “podcast recommendation” in it with an “Check out my show!” and an Instagram bot that auto-follows and unfollows (and alienates) potential listeners.
And somewhere in the middle, there’s probably you, right? Between producing the podcast, booking guests, editing your show, and researching future episodes, you’re also scheduling Instagram posts, tending to your Facebook group, and maybe joining in on a topical Twitter chat on the off chance you have some extra time.
If you’re thinking about bringing someone on board to handle your social media promotions (and because you’re reading this article, we assume that’s the case)–we don’t blame you. Social media management can be (and is!) some people’s full-time jobs–like mine, before I came to Simplecast! That’s not to say that you need someone full-time, and there are plenty of amazing freelancers that can help lighten your load with just a few hours per week. Here’s how to find them.
What to look for
This might sound pretty obvious, but if you’re looking for a social media manager for your podcasts, they should know what podcasts are, and maybe even listen to a few of them! There’s a little more leeway here with someone you’re bringing in-house or on full time (since you’d have more time to teach them about the industry), but if you’re only bringing someone on for a few days a week, I’d recommend someone with knowledge of the space so they can hit the ground running. After all, we’ve seen what happens when podcasting brands make sweeping statements on social media and, consequently, tick off a big chunk of their audience. Especially if you’re looking for someone to do community management, it’s important to either ensure they already know the industry, or set aside some time and resources to get them up to speed.
To find the right social media manager for your brand, you’ll want to think about your concrete goals for the position: do you want to increase engagement? Are you really concerned with your number of followers? Are you trying to find new audiences, or grow the one you currently have? Are there some platforms you’re very concerned with, and others you could happily leave? “Social media” isn’t just one thing, and while there are plenty of generalists out there, myself being one of them, if you’re really looking to double-down on YouTube growth, I’m not the one for you!
Besides a breakdown by platform, or by paid vs. organic, you’ll generally find two specialties of social media manager: community managers, who can handle support issues and your current listeners, and people who specialize in audience development, AKA finding you new listeners. This might not be outlined on their resume, so it’s worth asking about on a phone call!
Where to find them
As Sailor Jerry (allegedly) said: “Good work ain’t cheap, and cheap work ain’t good.” Just as you probably shouldn’t go looking for discount tattoos, social media is one of those things that it’s worth shelling out for. After all, your social presence is probably the first thing a prospective listener will encounter when they’re trying to decide whether or not to listen to your show–do you really want to put that in the hands of someone charging you $5/hour on Fiverr? Another way to think of it: would you pull any random person off the street and put them behind your booth at a podcasting festival to reel in new listeners? Probably not! That’s why we don’t really recommend people use services like Fiverr whose main appeal is being able to pay someone pennies to do extremely valuable work.
(To orient your rates: when I first started freelancing right out of college, I was making $35-60/hour. Someone with ~3-5 years of experience will probably be $80-120/hr, with a minimum number of hours. I would occasionally do weekly- or project-based rates for larger projects, but at this point in my career, I’ll generally only work on retainer.)
There are several general-interest sites that focus on freelance jobs, like Upwork and Flexjobs, but we’ve also had good luck with posts in podcasting-specific Facebook groups (like Podcast Movement and She Podcasts)–just be sure to check the rules, first. You also may be able to place ads within industry newsletters. These both tend to pale in comparison to leveraging your personal network, though! Is there a show whose Facebook presence you love? Reach out and ask if their community manager is freelance–obviously be careful with this one, since you don’t want to look like you’re trying to poach anyone! If you’re still not finding anything within your budget, it might be worthwhile to reach out to a local college’s communications department to see if there are any students you could hire (though, yep, you still have to pay them!).
Vetting your hire
It’s totally within reason to ask for references when you’re looking for a freelance social person, especially if they’ve been working for a few years–chances are they have a few past clients who are super happy with their work and happy to tell you about it. Otherwise, you can always ask for them to send over some past work that they’re proud of.
Occasionally, some clients will ask for sample work–this has gotten a lot of pushback in the past, as it’s regularly abused by potential hirers just looking for free work. If you do decide to go down this route, there are two options that won’t scare a potential freelancer away: ask general questions about tactics or strategy (ex: “What platform do you think is under-utilized in the podcasting space?” vs. “After looking at our social presence, what platform do you think we should be on more?”) or ask them to do sample work that is a) within reason (ex: a sample post, not a whole campaign) and b) not something you could reuse (ex: a launch announcement for your past season, or a hypothetical situation.)
Being upfront with your social media manager can head off innumerable problems in the future. There are three big places where you’ll want to be proactive in setting expectations–we’ve outlined them below, along with some questions to ask during your interview process or your first kickoff meeting.
Communication & approval: You should hammer out how you and your new hier like to communicate as one of your first orders of business. Is there an expectation that they can be reached after hours? Are you a Slack team, or all emails? Is texting off limits? Will you have weekly check-in calls? These are all good things to ask, but you especially need to know what the approval process is for outward-facing social media before it goes live. Do you want to have final approval on everything before it gets scheduled, or do you trust them? It’s really up to you, and you can always change the process if it’s not working out for you.
Timelines: You should have a pretty standard schedule set up with your social media manager: when they can expect audio files from you, when your episodes are scheduled to go live, what each week’s social media calendar looks like.
Payment: Make sure to figure out how your new hire would like to be paid ahead of time! Weekly? Biweekly? Hourly? Via Paypal? Check? Cash App? There’s nothing that will tank the quality of your social media content faster than an unpaid employee!