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Should You Hire A Social Media Coach?

I teach social media and blogging classes here at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. In these classes, I explain to writers how to write a great blog post, how to market their services through their blog, Facebook and Twitter, how to create a community of enthusiastic fans of their work, and how to manage their time, so that they aren’t spending all of it marketing work that hasn’t yet been written.

But writers are busy. Some are too busy to take my classes. So they ask, “Can I hire you to do my social media for me?” My answer is no. I will be happy to work as your social media coach. I will be happy to set up your website and your blog, to build your Facebook page, and to get you started tweeting (I did this with a client this morning). I will be happy to add all the bells and whistles to your blog and sit down with you to compile a long list of topics that you can blog about. I will be happy to show you how to improve your SEO (search engine optimization) and how often and when to tweet. But I can’t do it for you. For one thing, it would cost a fortune. For me to write your blog posts and post updates to Facebook and Twitter every day as well as respond to blog and Facebook comments, retweet and @reply people, and follow (or not) people back on Twitter would take several hours per week—at $75/hour. Do you really want to spend $300+/week, or $1200+/month, for someone to do your social media networking for you? We could cut the cost down a little by posting one short blog post per week and simply sending that to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ in addition to advertising your readings and publications. We could skip responding to blog comments, reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, retweeting and @replying people—but you wouldn’t gain many followers that way. And you certainly wouldn’t make any friends. The whole point of social media is to connect with people, and the more strongly you connect with them—through regular correspondence, online interaction, or, better yet, in-person interaction—the more likely they are going to champion your book when it comes out—to retweet that article you wrote for, or congratulate you when you win that PEN award. Your readers want to connect with YOU, not with your social media coach. They want to hear YOUR opinions on writing, they want to read posts in YOUR style of writing, they want to learn more about YOUR life.

If you’re a company with a product to sell, or if you’re famous enough that simply having a web presence is all you need to win friends and influence people, then by all means, hire someone to blog and tweet and post status updates to Facebook for you, so you can spend more time selling products or writing. But if you’re a midlist author, a beginning author, or an unpublished writer hoping to connect to your audience, you’re not going to do yourself any favors by hiring someone else to do it for you. You can hire a coach to get you started and guide you along the way, or to help you take your game to the next level if you’ve been doing social media for a while, but then it’s up to you to take the helm and steer your ship—off into the social networking sea.

What about you? Do you know authors who hire other writers to blog for them? Tweet for them? Post to Facebook for them? Would you ever consider hiring someone else to do your social media networking for you?

15 comments to Should You Hire A Social Media Coach?

  • Kristan

    I wouldn't hire someone to do all that for me, in large part because I enjoy doing it myself. My online life isn't a career, but it's slightly more than a hobby.

    That said, I can see why some people would want to outsource the work, and I do know “social media managers” who do it for a living. They tend to work for firms who are hired by publicists or publishers, though.

  • KLM

    It's kind of like managing your kids, right? You can hire a nanny but you can't hire someone to be you. No one can really take your place, and why would you want anyone to?

    But I guess people don't want to hear things like, "It takes time to build an audience." Actual interaction is time-consuming. Some folks want to just check the social media boxes and not do the work. I don't follow anyone on Twitter who follows me just for an auto-follow. And if their Twitter bio is "Buy my book on Amazon!" with a URL link. Blech. It's like someone handing out their business cards at a Christmas party. Of course we're all out there to self-promote but fer god's sake, try to be cool about it.

    • KLM – I love your last line, "Of course we're all out there to self-promote but fer god's sake, try to be cool about it." It bugs me when people pretend that's NOT why we're doing this. I mean, I love blogging and I enjoy writing posts and interacting with people, but I also love a lot of the things I give up in order to be online consistently, like rock climbing and lying on the beach.

      And the nanny analogy is perfect. And some people would rather hire full-time child care than take care of their kids (or have to, for financial/career reasons). Personally, I like the balance of having some freedom to do other things but also the joy of doing it myself.

      I think what's most important for people to understand is that if you DO hire someone to do it for you, it's either A) Going to cost a fortune or B) Not going to be very effective or C) Both

  • I totally agree that most of us shouldn't hire anybody to do this stuff for us. It's fake and readers will see through it, for one thing. On the other hand, I've been followed by some fairly big name authors whose publishers obviously told them to get on social media, but they never wrote more than one or two tweets. Worse than no social media at all. So if you have a name and are told to get on social media and don't want to, do hire somebody instead of hanging out there in cyberspace like a dead person.

    • Good point, Anne. Better to hire someone to do your social media for you than to do it poorly or not at all. And the big name authors can probably afford to fork out the money to pay for it.

  • I've seen non-big name authors follow me just for the hoped-for return follow. I never follow them back. Why would I? They haven't engaged with me at all. I have no idea who they are and they haven't said two words to me.

    No matter where you are–beginning writer, published, big name–engaging with others is key. I think a big name author could hire help, but I don't think they should remove themselves entirely from the process. I have followed one big name author–my favorite one–and even though she professes on her blog to love Twitter and Tweet all day, she didn't reply to a hello. It was disappointing. Maybe she's overwhelmed with responses. That's where hiring some help might be in order. Seems like spending a few hours to reply back to obvious fans might go a long way. It's like a book signing– how much does it cost an author to say hi, how are you to a fan who has reached out to connect with you? I can't tell you how many book signings I've gone to where the authors has been tired, short, and not into hearing my adoring greeting. How disappointing.

    • Sierra – That's unfortunate about the books signings. I haven't had any of those bad experiences. I don't think it's fair to expect a big-name author to respond to every comment, though. They would never get any writing done. I know it's disappointing. I've been disappointed, too, reaching out to authors on their blogs and Twitter. But we have no idea how many mails they get, or how little time they have to respond to fans. I just have to assume the best – that they would respond if they had more time.

  • At first I thought blogging was some techno gizmo that was over my head, but now I realize that Social Networking is like being at a dinner party, you talk to your close friends you know first and then listen in and make a few comments, ask a question and suddenly you are sharing and learning about things that connect you. This is what I have learned from my writing coach at!/pages/Karen-Van-Etten

  • […] Should You Hire A Social Media Coach? by Meghan Ward – “But writers are busy. Some are too busy to take my classes. So they […]

  • I have come to understand what you are pointing out and now I know the reason why many people are hiring their social media coaches. i hope many will be able to see the relevance of your post.

  • I totally agree! The problem with businessmen is they treat social media as simply just another marketing venue. But they completely missed the point. The purpose of social media is to establish a more personal connection between business owners and end users.

  • mainecharacter

    I get how one might not feel skilled enough to set up a blog and all, but if they're going to hire someone to blog for them, why don't they just hire someone to write their book as well, and wait for the reviews to come in?

    What makes great posts and tweets is personality – that same voice and unique spark that drives the best books. And that can't be manufactured.

    • meghancward

      I agree, but I think there are big wigs out there who can afford to hire someone and who are too busy writing, lecturing, etc. to tweet, etc. I imagine nonfiction writers could get away with it much easier than a novelist could.