Try Our FREE Content Analysis Software and Find Out Where You Stand Against the CompetitionGet started
September 10, 2021 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
Companies use social media to find new leads, increase brand awareness, and market products or services. While big corporations typically assemble their own social media teams, it may not be that simple for small businesses and startups. These kinds of companies look to social media consultants to help them establish a competitive presence in the digital market.
A social media consultant is a third party individual who helps companies with social media strategies and marketing. This means that the company pays them for their work, but they’re not actually a full-time employee of that organization. They typically work on a contract or project-to-project basis. Consultants advise clients on how to make the right social media choices for lead generation, marketing, and branding.
Social media consultants focus on strategies that help brand management, communication, and customer engagement. They work to integrate new content, understand trends, analyze the social media landscape, and navigate new updates and changes in consumer and software behavior. Duties can include:
Social media consulting focuses on giving advice and tips. These professionals guide thought processes and overall strategies. Unless they choose to specialize, most consultants don’t do the actual social media creation and tracking for their clients. Like a trainer or a teacher, they tell the company what works best, while the in-house or freelance marketing personnel handle more of the practical aspects of working with these channels.
Sometimes, the lines between consulting and managerial duties blur. Some consultants also offer managerial services such as scheduling, analytics, and post creation to increase their chances of finding clients or as a way to provide more complete packages. The biggest difference between social media consultants and social media managers, though, is that managers don’t typically engage in strategy planning, while consultants have the option to only work in strategy.
With billions of people on social media and 40% of users researching brands and products on these platforms, companies want to be involved online. Social media consultants can help businesses with:
There are many ways organizations can locate a social media consultant. Common options include networking, searching online, and receiving referrals from friends or business acquaintances. To increase your chances of connecting with a customer, you can focus on making your services present online through social media and websites. You can attend networking events, present at conferences, and ask clients to refer you to other organizations.
Consultants can also contact potential leads first. You can send cold emails and make cold calls to businesses to ask about their social media needs. It’s a good idea to research these leads first to determine if they’d be interested in hearing from you to ensure you’re contacting beneficial potential customers.
Social media consultants can set their own prices or negotiate fair rates with clients. To stay within a reasonable price range, consider your years of experience, niche, and location. According to HubSpot, those just starting in consulting with three years of experience or less can charge between $15 and $50 per hour. After three years of experience, rates may increase to between $50 and $100 per hour. Then, once you have an established portfolio, you might charge $120 or more per hour for your services.
The amount of money you make depends on how many clients you have, the projects you take on, and how much you can complete within a certain period. If you’re just starting your consulting practice, consider scaling your business over time. Start with just a few clients or projects and expand your offerings as you learn more and get more experience.
Many people choose to work in consulting for the flexibility it adds to their lifestyle. Social media consultants can set their own schedules, work volume, and wages. They can work from home, rent office space, or work remotely while traveling. As their own bosses, there is no managerial structure, so they only work to please their clients and themselves. Consultants also have the freedom to pick their clients based on projects, pricing, or topic. They can reject any offer that doesn’t fit their business model or doesn’t capture their interest.
Use these tips to help market yourself, find clients, and prepare for interviews to secure a social media consulting job:
Though it might sound like common sense, you should use social media platforms in your daily life if you wish to be a social media consultant. Create personal accounts on major channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and TikTok. Personal accounts can help you get used to the apps and their features.
Once you understand how these programs work, you’ll be better prepared to create business profiles or accounts for your consulting services. Business profiles may have more advanced features than personal accounts, such as data analysis tools. Seeing how these platforms operate from the business side helps prepare you to work with clients. You can also use your consulting channels to grow a following, test campaign strategies, and learn more about the industry.
The next step to building your brand as a social media consultant is to decide if you want to work as a general consultant or a specialized one. General consultants work with clients from different industries and do an array of work. Specialized consultants, on the other hand, work strictly for certain types of companies, like restaurants or publishing houses. Specializing can also mean providing services for just one social media platform.
If you choose to specialize, consider the need for consultation in that niche in your town, state, or country. This can help you decide if it could be profitable to work with just a specific set of organizations.
Many consultants give advice about strategy and platform choices, but some may offer additional services such as:
Offering more services can be helpful if you want to maximize your clients or potential income. But as just one person, consider how much you can reasonably do at one time. This can help you figure out which services to offer and which you might add in the future. You can also negotiate to add services on a client-by-client basis.
To show off your expertise, it’s a good idea to publish your own content to show your experience in the social media field. Create a blog, try guest posting on another website, appear as a guest on a podcast, or create a social media community. The way you market yourself is a continuous example of how you can help other businesses. It also grows your brand, gets you more visibility, and may help you find more leads.
Networking both online and offline can help you meet new people. This is an excellent strategy for establishing yourself in the industry, learning from people who have skills in other areas, and discovering clients. Building relationships can give you name recognition in relevant circles, which may lead to new opportunities. Some ways to start building relationships include participating in online forums and chats and attending industry events or conferences.
For consulting to work best, both parties have to understand the expectations of the project. The client wants to make sure you can provide value to their social media strategy, and you want to make sure that the partnership is the right fit. To find clients that may work well with you, research businesses and their leaders before the first meeting to learn more about them. Make a list of questions you have about their products, social media models, or projects, and take those with you to the meeting. This can help you get more clarification and see if the partnership will be a positive one.
Setting goals and boundaries for things like the price of your services and your work hours can help with contract negotiations as you solidify partnerships with clients. Being able to provide companies with these expectations can help them determine if you’re a good fit for the project. Consider if you would charge extra for overtime or special services. When communicating with the client, be as clear as possible in stating what you expect in circumstances like these.
To assist with this, you might consider creating an ideal start-to-finish client plan that addresses the most important areas of a partnership. You can account for items such as:
Create a digital portfolio to share with potential clients. These websites or blogs can show your experience as a consultant and prove your knowledge and expertise. You can use live links, screenshots, images, videos, testimonials, and other media to display your work. Pick your most engaging and successful campaigns to highlight, as this can help grab a potential client’s attention.
Though not required to offer consulting services, you can turn your business into a limited liability company (LLC). This may help you structure your organization legally and make it easier to do your taxes. The costs for forming and maintaining an LLC vary by state.
As you search for social media consulting jobs, it’s helpful to prepare for common interview questions. Many of these questions focus on your skills and work experience. Some questions you may encounter include:
Companies ask this question to learn about how you market yourself and handle your own social media accounts. How you market yourself may demonstrate how you’ll market their company. Before you answer this question, consider that your interviewers may have already looked at your social site. They may look at how often you respond to public inquiries and to see if you post appropriate and noncontroversial content.
You can also speak about how you curate content, which can give interviewers insight into how you make sure people see your posts. To learn more about content curation or to get ideas about how to discuss it with others, explore CopyPress’ free eBook about the curation process and strategies.
Clients will want to know that you understand their industry and target audience. Interviewers may ask industry-specific questions to gauge your knowledge. For example, a company in the fashion industry may ask your thoughts on the latest trends or designers to see what you know. If you have a history of working with that industry or target market, you can bring up examples and tell stories of work with past clients in the niche.
Influencer marketing is popular on social media, so companies may ask this question to see if you can connect them with new brand representatives. Your interviewers may check your followers and friends lists on social media before a meeting to get a better idea about your connections. Consider preparing a list of influencers you’ve worked with to share at your first get-together.
Organizations may ask for references to vouch for your work. This can also allow them to assess whether you’ve worked with their competitors or other groups in their niche. Consider asking certain clients if you can use them as references. You may also ask them to provide feedback or testimonials to share with new clients.
When asking for references, be sure to ask permission before giving out names, email addresses, and phone numbers, and notify your references when they may hear from leads to ask about your work. This way, they can be prepared to speak positively about you when someone contacts them.
Clients may ask to see samples of your past work to see if you use the kinds of strategies they’re looking for on social media. This is where your digital portfolio can help. Once it’s created, you can either bring it up on a device in an interview or send specific links to the interviewer.
Companies with some experience in social media strategy may already use certain programs to track their performance metrics. Interviewers may ask this question to see if you’re experienced with the same programs or similar options. To answer this question, explain which programs you use or if you have a special tracking method of your own, and identify why your chosen method gets results.
Many companies want to learn about your campaign ideas before they hire you. While you don’t have to give away all your secrets, having one or two suggestions ready can help them determine if you’re a good fit for the project. Consider discussing tactics like Twitter hashtag campaigns, Facebook ads, or TikTok trends. Explain the purpose of these campaigns and how you’d implement them into the current company framework.
Some businesses may look for help with certain social channels, but not others. Interviewers may ask this question to see if you’re familiar with the kind of social media they want to use. You can use your portfolio, references, and stories about previous jobs to back up your expertise on a platform.
In public relations (PR), a crisis doesn’t always mean a career or business-ending mistake. It often just means bad press or an incident to fix. Because social media is interactive, there’s the potential to experience negativity online, such as a critical review of a company’s product or arguments in the comments section of a post. Talk about the efforts you put in place to avoid these kinds of situations. Also, if applicable, speak about instances where you’ve encountered these problems and what you’ve done to fix them.
Potential clients may ask this question to learn if your services can fit into their budget. You may discuss how you expect to get paid, how often payments are due, and if you charge fees for late payment. You can also negotiate discounts and contract periods. Consider bringing a pricing sheet with you to the meeting to serve as a starting point for negotiations.
Working as a social media consultant can be a fun, flexible, and rewarding career. Learning what to look for in yourself and potential clients can help you transition into the role smoothly and sustain future opportunities.
More from the author: