Is this social-media/SEO specialist taking advantage?
September 16, 2018 12:14 AM   Subscribe

I work for a small family-run business (<10 employees). There is a friend of one of the employees who was hired for their marketing/SEO experience to establish and maintain our social media accounts, and manage SEO on our website. I was informed what this person is billing and wondering if this sounds fair.

We updated our outdated website 2 years ago, to a simple Wordpress site that could be updated in-house by myself and a couple of other employees. The only changes we make to the website are to add a new discount offer to 1 page, once every 2 months.

After the site update, a friend of one of our employees was hired to establish and maintain our social media accounts, and to manage the SEO of our website. They established LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts for our company, but the only regularly updated page is our Facebook. Our FB reposts content from another industry customer's page once or twice every week. No new content is created. We don't seem to be gaining any followers.

They claim to be optimizing the SEO of our website, but aside from sending out analytics reports, I'm not sure they actually do anything.

This person was initially billing us $2500/month for their service. After some questioning from the owners, they are now billing us $750/month.

I don't think the SEO on a site that is so infrequently updated requires much regular maintenance, but I might be wrong. I'm also told from other people that reposting other content on FB requires very little time.

Is this person taking advantage of the fact that we're all a bit clueless? How are these services typically billed - are the bills itemized?

Thanks for the help.
posted by anonymous to Technology (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Those are crazy numbers for what you describe. Your assumptions about the behind the scenes situation are correct. Stop this arrangement ASAP. Talk to someone else about driving your social media presence.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:33 AM on September 16, 2018 [18 favorites]

I agree with humboldt32. Stop paying this person as soon as you possibly can, they are taking advantage. It is highly likely that they aren't doing anything to your site to "optimise the SEO".

I don't imagine that you are gaining $750 (never mind $2500) of extra business a month for what this person is supposedly doing...
posted by chr at 1:16 AM on September 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

If you want to make sure that your website SEO is doing what it is supposed to be doing, get the Yoast SEO plug in for your wordpress website, install it, and go back and work on each blog entry or page until you see green lights.
It is that easy.
This person isn't doing ANYTHING that you could not do yourself with a modicum of effort, especially once you're all caught up with the Yoast plug in, that would take 5 minutes a day.
Stop paying this person ASAP.

(Edited to add) Also make sure that they handover all passwords, and you change them immediately and make sure that all recovery information (email address, backup email address) points to YOU and not to them. You don't want them to have access to any of your social media accounts or website once this is over, as they might be a bad breaker upper.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 3:31 AM on September 16, 2018 [20 favorites]

Regardless of how much SEO this person is / isn't doing - if they were prepared to drop their price from $2500/month to $750/month without a total renegotiation of what they were supposed to be delivering, then they're skinning you. Anyone who's prepared to make up numbers like that has no clue (or worse: thinks YOU have no clue) about the real value of the service they're providing.

If you ever ask any supplier to drop their price - the only correct answer they can give is "I can do it for X, but only if I don't include Y". If they come back with a lower price for the exact same thing, that's a red flag - either they were trying to screw you with the original price, or both numbers were pulled out of the air.
posted by rd45 at 3:55 AM on September 16, 2018 [24 favorites]

Social media management is often done on a price-per-month basis, rather than hourly billing, but there should be a basic service level included. A minimum of X posts per day on this social media account, Y posts per day on that social media account. Z level of engagement with those posts (in the aggregate, not every post lands). A% increase in followers by date B.

The level of engagement you describe is very, very minimal for the price you describe.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:57 AM on September 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Have the analytic reports indicated that you're getting significantly more traffic, and is that amount increasing? I agree it sounds like the "maintaining your social media" accounts part of this deal is pretty much nothing and not worth the money, but I'm curious if the company is seeing any results that have made someone think it must be worth it? Because on the face of it, this seems like a scam.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:17 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

lol, you're being had. Simple as that.
posted by turkeyphant at 9:05 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Exactly, as gideonfrog gets at, you're not paying for monthly analytic reports, the reports are supposed to show you what you're paying for. I suspect they show you're paying a lot, for nothing.

If you makes you feel any better, I think that this type of thing is actually a pretty big sector of the market. Lot's of hocus pocus and and middlemanning out there. I get clients who don't quite understand my "honest guy" approach sometimes.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

nthing all above, but should add that every wordpress site needs more care and feeding than adding content every couple of months. When you're looking for a replacement for your social media manager (which is really what this position should be), look for one with a decent understanding of keeping the security on the site up to date.

When you do find new guy, and change all the keys etc., you probably also want to do a clean install on a new server instance. If you haven't kept up with the security updates, your site is likely compromised by now, and that might be one of the 'seo' things your previous guy was doing - ie putting links on your site to benefit his other clients / sites.
posted by cfraenkel at 10:35 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the person in question is probably doing about one or two hours of work a month. People who are very good at this stuff can command up to $100 or so an hour, and it sounds like this person isn't very good.
posted by 256 at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2018

I work in social media and web content, not in SEO.

We pay what something is worth to us. If the business can afford it and they're seeing results they like--and these should either be tangible end-of-funnel results or closely linked--then it's all right to pay a lot. Perhaps the SEO work is increasing visits from the kind of people who the business wants to engage, and they can show clearly for example) the +15% of traffic is made up primarily of people who go through the customer journey to make a purchase, sign up for an event, etc.

That said, it's an astronomical price. I don't know what they're doing on the SEO side, but the other work you described would take me an hour or two per month, max. Updating an analytics report, if I've set it up well, could take 15 minutes. And Facebook allows you to schedule future posts. Sharing two posts on Facebook would take me literally as much time as it takes to fry an egg.

There are free and cheap schedulers that allow you to post the same original content to all three of your platforms. That would still not be my best work, since ideally images will be sized differently for each platform and, in some cases, included in the code of the webpage they link to (if it's a page you manage).

SEO and social media can be tough because interpretation is sometimes needed to show the value. For example, the number of followers may not be as important as the engagement rates, or the number who click through to subscribe to the newsletter. So I want to be cautious of saying that not getting one particular result, on one timeframe, means nothing of worth is being done. This is why part of the contractor's value should be helping you understand the value SEO and social can have for the business, right now, and what reasonable expectations look like over time.

Which is the reason paying a bunch sometimes makes sense--you're paying for the person's skill and expertise for delivering results. But, see above, you either aren't getting meaningful results or you aren't getting meaningful interpretation of those results.

If they'd like to keep working with this person these are my social media-specific recommendations:

- Agree on goals, timelines and indicators of those goals, i.e., engagement rates (if they give you follower numbers as the only metric, cut them loose on that basis alone) and business-specific ways to know if the social media work is getting at company goals
- Agree on the activities what will lead toward those goals -- ask the contractor to provide a list of what will be produced, i.e., content types, number of posts, contact lists, post promotion budget
- If the company needs some support to understand the goals and activities the contractor is working toward, have the contractor provide interpretation
- Ask the contractor to train a business employee or allow them to shadow so the business can build internal capacity; this also lets the company see exactly what's happening
- Ask more of the contractor, e.g., their monthly fee now includes the budget for promoted posts and graphic design
- Get documentation of all logins and passwords; make sure the emails are owned by the company, not the contractor, i.e., no [companyname]@[contractorURL]. Make sure the Facebook page has a company employee in the top role. Test out all the logins. If you decide to drop the contractor, change the passwords before notifying them

The main impact of these is to shine a light on the contractor's work. If they've got a long-term plan, you'll find that out. If they don't and are being ridiculous, you'll find that out, too.
posted by rockyraccoon at 7:25 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older How to be a good art jury?   |   Recommend a toddler-proof bluetooth speaker? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.