The right social media strategy can not only improve brand visibility and recognition, but it can also have SEO benefits. The bottom line is that it’s important to have a social media presence. Once a company has accepted that fact, the next step is to decide on how that presence will be created and maintained. Will the social media be carried out by an in-house staff or should it be outsourced? As with anything, there are pros and cons to either strategy.
Perhaps the biggest reason to outsource is to save time. In order to execute a social media strategy well, it takes more time than is typically expected. Many companies (especially small businesses) simply don’t have the time. Their days are already swamped doing other important tasks. Surely, other business responsibilities should never be forgone to spend time on social media marketing?
Another reason to outsource is if the company simply has no working knowledge of social media and how it can work for business.
It’s one thing to sign into Facebook to see what your friends are up to or tweeting the odd time to keep your followers happy. However, creating a social media strategy as part of your overall digital marketing plan is a completely different story. Outsourcing social media ensures that it’s being handled by someone that understands the ins and outs (or at least they should!) of digital marketing and where social media sits in the kaleidoscope of digital media.
There also exists some reasons to not outsource to consider before signing up for social media services.
First, it results in a lack of authenticity. Social media is about making connections with other people. Followers, fans, and connections may feel betrayed if they found out that instead of following the person or company they thought they were, they are actually following Mary the Social Media Expert from Social Media Expert Agency that is posting, tweeting, or commenting on behalf of their favourite brand. Worse still, if this Social Media Expert begins retweeting other brands, it creates a brand endorsement. This may be their own personal opinion but is perceived to be the endorsement of the company.
Second, social media experts/agencies don’t have time to learn every detail about each of their clients. If the product or service is a niche or is specialised and the audience uses lots of industry jargon outsourcing might not be the best plan of action. You’d never want to make a mistake or be “caught” by your target audience.
I have created a list of the 21 (and counting!) things you should think about before you outsource your social media to a social media expert/agency:
- Surely experience and demonstrable knowledge is important? Ability to execute is nothing without a workable strategy?
- Is the Social Media Expert using the same twitter style as their personal account?
- Are they talking and tweeting to fit the company profile?
- Have they legitimately used images on your social media sites or are they stolen (or not paid for stock) images?
- Is the Social Media Expert being too familiar with your users whilst trying to portray a corporate image for your brand? Do they know them from previous clients and make contact with them as if they already interact?
- Are they familiar enough with the company and its industry in order to provide quality, relevant information related to the brand?
- Have they outlined a social media strategy which fits in with the company’s digital marketing plan and overall strategic objectives?
- Have you looked at the twitter account of who you are outsourcing to and have you done a background check? Do you like what you see?
- What happens if they make a mistake and it ends up costing you money? Or worse still, costs you the brand which you have worked hard to establish. What happens if they offend someone on your behalf? Is there a procedure in place?
- Is your brand consistent across all platforms?
- Who is ultimately responsible if there is damage done? There really is no point arguing after damage is done. Have you got terms and conditions that clearly lay out your needs and how the outsourcer will deal with problems if they arise.
- Are they creating a quality fan base? Remember 50 good followers who are interested in your brand and interact is far more valuable than 5,000 that rarely interact or don’t trust your brand.
- Are they targeting the right niche? For example, if your target is local there is no point in having hundreds of followers in another country – is there a follower development plan in place?
- Are you involved in the process? Do you monitor what they are posting on your behalf? As the brand owner, you have a responsibility for content shared.
- Do you have informative scheduled tweets and interaction when you can? Yes? Then isn’t this far better than having random unrelated, spam like content that gives the wrong impression of your business?
- Have you heard of the Ratner Effect? You don’t want that happening now do you?
- Have you considered that social media is not just a fad, it is not just an add on to your business… it requires a strategy and careful planning.
- Remember the Starbucks tweet from the Irish twitter account: “@StarbucksIE, said: “Happy hour is on! Show us what make you proud to be British for a chance to win. Don’t forget to tag #MyFrappucino.” Are you happy with your message that is going to thousands of people?
- Think you are fooling your customers? People are very quick to pick up and run with a bad story or mistakes, grammer is very important and of course correct use of punctuation can have a positive or negative impact on your business!
- Do you have the contact details for all of your followers and fans? Consider how valuable these “fans” are. Would your business survive if social networks disappeared in the morning?
- Are you confused about whether to outsource your social media? Do you feel lost in the noise of social media? Don’t forget there are lots of people out there feeling the same, and there are also lots of genuine social media advisors who are ready and willing to advise as best they can. Just ask for help and advice!