This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
According to a recent MerchantCircle survey of 8,500 small businesses across the U.S., more than two-thirds of small merchants are using social media to market their business.
At the same time, one-third of these companies say that lack of time and resources is their top online marketing challenge. Together, these two data points underscore a growing need for social media support among small businesses.
But hiring a social media consultant may not be as straightforward as hiring other types of professional service providers, such as a web designer or an accountant. For one, you may not be clear on the value or immediate impact of social media relative to other marketing channels. You might already be handling this yourself and aren’t sure if it makes sense to get help. And unlike one-off projects such as a website redesign or tax preparation, social media support is typically an ongoing monthly expense.
Here are four questions to consider when deciding whether to outsource your social media:
The costs for social media support can vary widely — some social media consultants charge a flat fee per month for an agreed-upon scope of work, while others charge by the hour, at rates varying from $50 to $100 or more per hour. Whatever the cost, the bar for success will be set much higher when you’re actually paying someone to do it. Make sure you’ve established some measurable goals to ensure that your social media spending is moving the needle for your business.
Examples of common social goals and ways to measure these include: