By Darren Gilbert
Earlier this year, the entrepreneur and digital marketer revisited her idea.
Let me introduce you to Social Pod. Launched at the end of August this year, the platform aims to connect brands with social media specialists. It’s also a South African first. “A year-and-a-half ago, I noticed there was a very big gap in the market for brands, agencies and companies who needed to be connected with social media managers,” explains Hobson. “But on a part-time basis rather than full-time.”
“Brands were regularly contacting me and asking if I knew anyone who could help them,” says Hobson. For her, this was understandable; in-house social media is a big commitment for brands. They can’t simply dip in and expect results.
Rather, brands need to invest time and effort if they want to get social media right. And they don’t necessarily have the necessary knowledge or the skills to do this. “It’s thus much easier to outsource these skills,” points out Hobson, “And as more and more brands approached me, I realised that this could be a business opportunity.”
At the same time, though – and this needs to be noted – Social Pod is more than just a business venture. For Hobson, it’s more than just helping brands to do a better job with their social media. Social Pod is also a tool for social media specialists looking for freelance work. In fact, according to Hobson, it is first and foremost about the freelancers. “This is really about building up the freelance economy,” she says. “As a freelancer myself, I know that if I had had something like this, it would have made things a lot easier for me.”
You only has to look at the way in which Hobson has set Social Pod up to see why. It has been built on the notion that quality work opportunities will attract quality social media freelancers. And brands win every time. “This is not like an eLance-oDesk service,” stresses Hobson. “There is quality involved.”
So, instead of a faceless robot allocating briefs to untested or untried ‘freelancers’, you’re getting Hobson, an eight-year veteran in the marketing business, vetting all candidates. This means that she is able to connect the right people with the right brands.
“Once I receive a brief from a brand or agency, I’ll send it out to the database,” explains Hobson. The current database sits at 250 people and it’s constantly growing. “It’ll have the dates and the times and requirements.” In other words, the social media specialist will know exactly what is expected of them. If you respond and meet the requirements, you move on to phase two: a more in-depth interview process. “Depending on the brand, I can also set little tasks as part of the application process,” adds Hobson. She then draws up a shortlist with her recommendations. Ultimately, though, the brand has final say.
If the brand does pick you, it doesn’t mean Hobson’s job is done though. She won’t simply step back and move on to the next brief. Nor will she let you deal with the brand or agency by yourself. Instead, she acts as the median between brand and freelancer. “I find there is an unfortunate tendency for agencies to abuse freelancers,” explains Hobson. Freelancers will go in for one briefing, which ends up being three or four different meetings spread across a few days and it’s unnecessary. “By acting as the interface between the freelancer and the agency, all that gets taken away.”
This, in turn, means that the freelancer can focus on what they’ve been employed to do. It also means the brand gets what it needs. Every time.
There is no knowing exactly where Social Pod will end up. Or what it will ultimately achieve. But Hobson knows what she’s doing. She has a plan. And one thing can be said with certainty: there are at least a few people – brands included – who are grateful she didn’t give up on her initial idea.
For more information on Social Pod or to sign up to the database, visit socialpod.co.za. Alternatively, connect with them on Twitter.