Do I Need A Social Media Strategist or Social Media Manager

Welcome to episode 379 of Hit the Mic with The Stacey Harris.

Alright. We’re answering a question today that does not get asked enough, but is usually misunderstood. We’re talking about the difference between a social media manager and a social media strategist. Let me preface this by saying one is not better than the other. They’re simply different roles and really one can’t exist without the other. You need both strategy and management, so there are some people who provide both. Maybe they have a strategist that also has a team who handles the management. Maybe there’s somebody who is a strategist and a manager who can also do your strategy ongoing. I did that for a very long time.

It’s not necessarily going to be two different people, but in many, many, many, many, many cases, it will be. For example, I am a social media strategist. We don’t do any management for clients anymore. We do have a couple of existing management clients that we’ve had for quite a while, but we don’t take any new management clients at this point. As those clients no longer needs us, then they’ll go someplace, but until then, I love them and they’re staying. We don’t offer that service on an ongoing basis. However, I do social media strategies all the time. It’s a big part of what I do. It’s my favorite way to provide a service at this point. I enjoy teaching and Backstage. That’s probably my favorite part of my business as a whole, but I love doing the strategy stuff from a service-based kind of side of things. That’s what I do.

When I’m done with a strategy though, I’m not going to manage it. What we do is we refer that out. Generally speaking, I would say 9.5 times out of 10 we recommend Admin Ease, who’s actually my virtual assistant team. Several of my strategy clients also work with Admin Ease now because they’re fantastic. There’s a link to them in the show notes, but check them out. Kristy and her team are wonderful. They do management. They don’t do any of the strategy stuff. It’s just they don’t want to keep up with it. They don’t want to have to know that. They don’t want to have to do that. For their clients who they do manage social for, they’ll refer them to a strategist to get started, because again, your social media is only going to work as well as your strategy sets it out to. You kind of need a playbook to be working from. Again, it might be one person, but it might also be multiple people. It might be that you need to go to two separate places.

What is a Social Media Strategist?

I want to start by really defining the roles, and then we’ll talk about when to hire, like when you need either of these or both of these people on your team. First, let’s talk about social media strategist. That’s what I am. That’s what I do for a living. I look at social media from a big picture perspective. How does it play into the rest of your marketing? Then I actually build plans for people. What I’m doing is I’m actually building a document. They range somewhere between 15 and 25 pages usually, which is a lot of text, let me tell you. It lays out exactly what to be doing content-wise, email-wise, and social media-wise.

Depending on the client, obviously, and their needs, sales funnel suggestions, content tweaks, and then we actually take social media posts that they’ve already posted in the past and tweak them, say, “This is what we could have done to make it better.” On the flip side of that, we also go in and say, “These are the kind of things I would suggest.” We’ll give examples from other pages. Sometimes I’ll just write examples. Essentially, what you can then do with that document is just use it as an instruction manual. It is your guide so you never run into the “I don’t know what to post. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to send” ever again because you just refer to the document and it tells you, “Okay, here’s what we need to do.”

For some clients, we break them down on monthly basis, so they actually have, based on what they’ve got going on in January, February, March, this is what goes out. Sometimes they’re more big-picture strategies. Again, it just depends on where the client is, but essentially, the deliverable is just an instruction guide. I’m not actually doing any of the social media work for them.

It all starts with a social media review of what they’ve got going on. We dig into their analytics, both on a social side and email side, but also Google analytics for their actual site so we can see what’s working. We’re digging in and reviewing ad campaigns. We’re sitting down and talking about what their business goals are, what their product launch schedule looks like so that I have as much information as possible to build them a plan. From there, that’s what I’m doing. I’m mixing all of that information, sprinkling in my knowledge and my expertise and my experience, and building them a plan that’s going to get them results when executed.

That “when executed” part is when a social media manager would come in. We have built strategies, or I rather have built strategies, in the past for clients who didn’t have a social media manager or a VA team on staff. Those are the only clients who didn’t see results from their strategy, and it’s because they never used it. It just never got open. It never got used because there was no one to take that next step and do that work. Now we pretty much require there be a team in place, somebody who we know is going to be doing this.

For our corporate clients, it’s usually pretty easy because they’ve got somebody on staff that’s been doing this. They need somebody to come in from an outside perspective and say, “Here’s what’s going well. Here’s what’s not going well. Here’s what to do”, but for our clients who are online business owners, like you are, it really comes down to, “Okay. Who’s going to do this? Because you are already wearing 47 hats and feel like it’s too much. Adding this is not going to be helpful.” There’s more clarity because you know what to do, but still, getting it done just feels like one more thing. We usually require them have either a social media manager or a virtual assistant who does social media management. They could be going by many titles. We usually require they have someone like that in place or we set them up, like I referenced earlier, with Kristy and her team with Admin Ease because we know they do a great job. We set that up as part of the strategy development, because again, the implementation of your strategy is what makes it work, not my creating it for you.

What is a Social Media Manager?

From a social media management perspective, what does that mean? A social media manager is somebody who’s doing the day to day work. They’re taking that strategy, either that I created or someone like me created or maybe you created for yourself if you have that expertise and you’re comfortable doing that, and they’re actually creating the content, posting the content, finding the other people’s content, creating the graphics, responding to comments, engaging with people in your Facebook groups or your LinkedIn communities. Whatever it is you’re doing in your strategy, they’re actually executing that for you.

They should also be sending you stats reports of some kind. Some teams are more comfortable with this than others. I have had clients who hire me to come in to do their evaluation for them once a month because their manager’s great at executing, but they’re just not great at reviewing and analyzing the stats. They can put together the doc, but they can’t tell them what it means. I’ll have clients who have me as a strategist come in and do that so I can give them tweaks for their management team, but more often than not, your manager will probably be comfortable enough getting the information together for you and giving you some suggestions, “Hey, this did really well. Hey, this didn’t do as well”, so that you two can work through any tweaks or changes or evolutions together. That’s when you go back to the stat document and you say, “Okay, so do we need to test this longer? Do we need to make a change? What can we do to really make sure we’re seeing a result from what we’re doing?”

Which do I need?

When you think about it, the strategist is big picture. Your social media manager, they’re day to day. That’s your major difference. Really it comes down to planning and execution. Strategy, manager. Planner strategist, execution manager. Look at who do you need on your team. Do you have a strategy? Are you comfortable with the strategy you’ve created? Do you know, “This is what I really want to do. This is how I want to make it look. I just don’t want to actually do it”? Then you probably just need a manager.

On the flip side of that, if you have a VA who is great at executing, or maybe you have somebody who’s doing your social media right now who’s great at executing and creating content, but you’re kind of stalled out, like nothing’s really happening as far as growth, you’re not seeing the ROI you want to be seeing, then it might be time to bring somebody in with the expertise of a strategist to give you some direction towards growth and some direction towards better results. I highly, highly, highly recommend looking at where you’re at right now and figuring out who you need.

If you’re totally lost with the whole thing and you’ve got no idea what you’re doing, no idea what you want to do, and you have no one helping you, so it’s probably just not getting done, then it’s time to call somebody who’s a strategist and can help you build your picture and build your strategy and figure out what’s going on and can either then take that next step and handle the execution for you or can outsource, or recommend to you rather, a manager that could come in and help you. Don’t keep going at it alone and confused and stressed out because you don’t have to.

How much will I pay?

The other part of this, when I explain this to people and when we start these conversations, it comes down to price. Here’s the deal. As with everything, it’ll run the spectrum. You can pay whatever you’d like. In most cases, I will say you get what you pay for. For me, I’m more than some and less than others. Our strategies start at $4000. The big difference with strategists and managers are generally, like in the concepts we talked about today, again, there’s going to be differences, there’s going to be somebody unique who does something different, but you pay me once, I deliver a strategy, and it’s done. If you want to re-engage with me for an update or for tweaks or for some consulting later, that’s an additional fee, but it’s all project-based. There’s nothing recurring from it. With a manager, you’re going to be repaying a recurring rate every month, so you’re going to be paying for that service every month because they’re doing on-going work for you.

That’s kind of your biggest price difference or payment difference. Again, with managers, you’re going to run the spectrum price-wise. You can pay somebody $100 a month, you can pay somebody $2000 a month. It depends on what your needs are, it depends on what their expertise level is, and it depends on what they price. I think we’ve all learned that in this online space, prices on everything can run the absolute gamut.

I will say, I really, really, really discourage you from working with somebody who charges out hourly. In my experience, and again, there are unique cases, there’s I’m sure somebody who’s going to get upset about this and email me and I can’t wait to read it, but in most cases, I find the really top quality social media managers are working on a project base. They’re charging you per network. They’re charging you per amount of updates. They’re charging you on a project basis, not an hourly basis. Realistically, if you are any good at this, you make more money on a project basis than you do on an hourly basis. I really, really, really encourage you to work with somebody who works on a project basis.

The flip side of that, and the reason I can’t think of anybody I pay hourly or any experience I’ve had paying someone hourly that I enjoyed how it all worked out honestly, I like knowing what my invoice is going to be every month. When it’s hourly, I don’t know. Maybe one month it took you four hours and maybe the next month it took you eight hours and now I’ve got a double the price invoice that I wasn’t anticipating. I don’t like that. I highly recommend working with somebody who charges at project-based, monthly recurring, somebody who’s got a contract, somebody who is taking it seriously because that’s where you’re really going to find somebody who’s A, in it for the long term and can really be invested in growing your business, growing your relationship, learning your voice, and executing at a high level, versus somebody who is just kind of doing this to make some cash. Alright? That’s my soapbox on pricing.

That’s kind of the breakdown for strategists and managers. If you have any questions about this, head over to the Facebook page. That’s really a great place for us to have this conversation. I look forward to hearing from you. Whether you think this was the best episode ever or you want to disagree with everything I said, all comments are welcome. If you want to learn more about getting a strategy, I’m absolutely happy to talk to you about that. If you go to the show notes page for this episode, which is at, I’ll have a link to the page where you can learn more about strategies with me.

Whether you do it yourself or you hire somebody or you hire me, do take some time to start planning your social media, start thinking ahead. The worst time to do your January social media content, email, and social planning is in January. Maybe it’s in February would be worse, but that’s not going to be beneficial. It’s really hard to put together a solid, executable, reliable, working plan when you’re in the thick of it. Get some help.

Is there another option?

Even if you’re comfortable with it, look at working with somebody who … Honestly, this is why we have the one on one coaching, the one hour one-off sessions, is because I want people to have the opportunity who are comfortable enough building up their plan, and maybe they’re not financially in a place where they can hire me to build their whole strategy for them, I want to be able to sit down with them and help them clarify some things, work through some things, hand off things to their manager with more ease. Look at something like that, whether it’s me or another strategist you respect. See if you can book just an hour with them to get some consulting.

I know some strategists do half-day planning sessions. That’s something I’ve thought about doing. We haven’t put them together yet. If you’re interested, you can ask me and we can figure out what works, but it’s not something we have on the books as of now. Oftentimes, the one hour sessions are enough. I do have some clients who, when they got a little sticker shock over this price of the strategy, what we did is they did monthly one on one calls with me. We did those for two months, four months, six months. It’s varied client to client. What’s awesome about that is we connected monthly and they got some clarity, they got where they were going, they had some growth, and then they were in a place where they could financially invest in me actually full-on building a strategy for them. I would definitely check out what works for you. Alright? Okay.

I’ll stop rambling on now. This one’s gotten a little long. If you have questions, head over to the Facebook page. Otherwise, I will see you next week.

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