In order to reach international audiences, you need to speak their language—both literally and figuratively. That’s why working with local community managers is so important. They’re native speakers in the market you’re trying to reach, with essential localization and social media skills. Perhaps most importantly, they can provide priceless cultural insights to help you tailor content to your target audience.

If you’ve ever managed freelance community managers, you’ve probably noticed that they quickly become an extension of your in-house team. After all, they work with you on an ongoing basis, have access to all the necessary platforms and social media pages, and are often the ones who develop your brand’s tone of voice in their own language.

At VeraContent, we often manage local social media accounts for major international brands. This requires us to work closely with freelancers based in each target market in order to ensure that their messages resonate with regional audiences.

5 tips for building relationships with local community managers

Local community managers aren’t like other freelance writers or translators who you might outsource work to every now and then. They’re much more involved in the content process, making them harder to replace—so you’ll want them to stick around for as long as possible.

If you’re hoping to assemble a strong team to support your international social media operations, we’ve got some advice. Check out these tips on how to maintain successful relationships with local community managers.

How to build successful relationships with local community managers

1. Get to know them

When you’re onboarding a new team member, you probably schedule an initial call or arrange a meeting to introduce yourself and find out more about them. Why not do the same with a local community manager?

Even if the onboarding process could easily be done through email, a meeting is a great opportunity for you to get to know each freelancer’s personality and working style, and anticipate any potential challenges that might arise. It will also make them feel valued, and create a personal connection that’s crucial in any long-term professional relationship.

See also: How to build meaningful client relationships with long-lasting results 

2. Set clear expectations

Make sure that each community manager knows what you expect from them, not only in terms of the actual workload, but also in terms of availability and responsiveness. They probably have other freelance gigs going on, but if they accept the role, they need to understand that they’re committing to an ongoing collaboration.

Ultimately, the goal of the relationship is to faithfully represent the brand in each market, and to meet your business objectives. This should be clear right from day one. If the community manager knows that you’re working together toward these objectives, they’ll probably be more inclined to go the extra mile and deliver their best work.

A freelancer holding up her phone and taking a selfie in front of her computer

3. Put yourself in their shoes

You should always be aware of what your freelancers are dealing with, even if they live on the other side of the world. Are they working crazy hours to make up for a difference in time zone? Are they juggling several part-time jobs? Are they taking care of their kids while working from home?

You don’t need to know every single detail about their personal lives, of course. But it’s good to be aware of anything that could potentially interfere with their performance or availability. Encourage them to be open about these things, so that if something does come up they’ll feel comfortable talking to you about it—rather than delivering sub-par work with no explanation.

4. Be prepared to be flexible

It’s easy to expect freelancers to be available at all times, especially if they have a long-term agreement with you or your company. And many community managers may in fact choose to work on weekends or holidays, in order to prepare or get ahead on all the small daily tasks their job entails.

However, just because their schedules are flexible, that doesn’t mean they’re available 24/7. There are bound to be periods of time where they’re unable to fulfill their responsibilities: vacations, family emergencies or even other urgent projects. You have to be ready and willing to adapt to these circumstances, and to find alternative solutions.

Remember: If you’ve already built a solid working relationship with them, most community managers will do their best to give you as much notice as possible before taking time off. 

Two local community managers looking at their phones together at a desk

5. Continue to communicate

The final key to successful relationships with community managers is ongoing communication. Whether you talk via email, Slack, Zoom or text message, make sure your freelancers know when and how they should expect to give and receive updates. It’s vital to set up a good flow of communication that works for everyone.

Another thing to consider is exactly who your freelance community managers will need to speak to. Maybe they only need one point of contact, or maybe it would be helpful to introduce them to multiple team members. At VeraContent, we sometimes even connect our freelancers directly with our clients—a step that both parties tend to appreciate.

Invest in your relationships with community managers

Just like in your personal life, building long-term relationships with local community managers requires a significant investment of time, energy and effort. But if you do your best to make these relationships work from the start, it’ll pay off in the future.

The primary goal is to encourage open communication and make freelancers feel like an important part of your team—because they are!

Download our free guide to finding and working with freelancers—including questions to ask when hiring, steps to take when onboarding, and tips for maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.

A free guide and checklist to hiring freelancers and maintaining long-lasting work relationships with them. Created by VeraContent.

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