Outsourcing Social Media – Is It Worth It?

Guest Post On Outsourcing Social Media From Matt PowersToday’s guest post comes from Matt Powers, who is an Internet Marketer at Blue Soda Promo, an online promotional products company.

I appreciate Matt taking the time to share an interesting experience he had with outsourcing social media management!

If you’re thinking about turning over the keys to your social channels to a 3rd party agency, read Matt’s post and think carefully about who you choose.

In today’s economy, every company is always looking for new and more cost effective means of doing business. Outsourcing responsibilities that may be performed “better” by an outside agency or cheaper by contractors overseas is appealing to any business, but is it worth it? Whether you are looking to outsource your blog writing and social media to an outside agency either because they claim they are experts with a proven track record or because it simply costs less than hiring another employee, you should carefully consider the three main points below.

Control

Having social media in-house means you have complete control over what you do and when you do it. Running a special sale/campaign and want your followers to know about it? Want to make a comment about a hot topic that is trending right now? If you were to outsource your social media, you would have to email or call your agency every time you wanted do something specific.

Outsourced help may be ‘experts’ in their field whether it’s writing, design, social media, SEO, etc. but they aren’t necessarily ‘experts’ when it comes to your business. The effort it may take for someone in your company to relay the appropriate message with specific details time and time again may be more unbearable than doing it yourself or training a new employee.

No one knows their own products and audience better than you, yourself. People can be turned off if something has too much jargon, or the complete opposite, if the content is too simplistic. This information is only gained by the experience businesses get by developing relationships with the customers and clients they work with every day.

Brand Management

Does the agency you work with fully understand your brand name, voice, history, product and demographic? They’ll definitely act like they do, but like I said before, nobody understands it better than you. Keep in mind that these agencies typically have hundreds of different clients, with each account manager possibly working on dozens of accounts. It’s nearly impossible for that person to really “know” your brand, so they might not be reaching the demographic that you want.

Putting your social media account in the hands of others outside the company can be a big leap of faith. They really become the voice of your company. No matter how much input you give, agencies or outsourced help always have final say because they are the ones pressing send. And remember…bad customer service via your social channels can have significant impact on your business.

<table style="width: 100%;"> <tbody> <tr> <td>Thanks again, Laura, for sharing your thoughts and experiences with how/when to engage with customers. Some companies are hesitant to dip their toe into the social space, for fear of what their customers will say, how they will engage, and how much time/energy it will take to listen, analyze, and maintain. The reality is, however, that engaging in social media is becoming a cost of doing business, like having a customer support telephone number or having a Website. Those companies that choose to ignore the social space will lag behind their competitors, risking potential perception issues in the eyes of their customers.Have thoughts, feedback or experiences with companies that choose not to engage or those that are doing it well? Leave a comment!Cheers!--Sean</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

While outsourcing may free up some time for others to focus their efforts elsewhere, people lose track of these people. One wrong statement on Twitter or Facebook can quickly ruin a company’s reputation with certain customers, clients or vendors based on a stupid statement you hired to speak on your behalf.

With over 170 million tweets sent per day, a tweet here or there may slip through the cracks, but in the same respect there are SOOOO many people on twitter that nothing goes unread.

Are they really working?

While it may be nice to pawn off our social media duties on others, it also makes it hard to measure what they are really doing. Which then brings up the question, is what we are doing worth it? Of course agencies tell you that’s numbers are up, they’re seeing great results and you’re just as beautiful when you wake up than before a night out on the town, but that’s only so you continue paying them.

That’s because when companies hire outside help the ability to monitor their daily tasks becomes incredibly difficult. Websites such as oDesk, Elance, Guru and PeopleperHour do a good job at being a meeting place for freelancers and contractors, but keeping a close eye on their task at hand can be time consuming as well.

Take for example the situation we had recently with someone we asked to run one of our social media campaigns.

We hired someone through oDesk. They seemed like a trustworthy person and the price was right. In only a few weeks’ time, we began to see some pretty good results which we were happy about.

At this point we could have logged into our account on oDesk and paid them for a job well done. But because we never had a chance to actually see what he was doing we checked on his activity (when a freelancer clocks in on oDesk, oDesk will randomly take a screenshot of their computer screen every so often and measure they clickability during that time period).

What we discovered was disturbing. During his time ‘working’ on our social media campaign, they had decided to take a break to relieve some stress and hit up some of their favorite adult entertainment sites.

Yes unfortunately for this person, oDesk caught a glimpse of one of these websites and their clickability had come to a screeching halt (I wonder why). Luckily for us we caught them in the act, reported the incident to oDesk and revoked our payment.

Outsourcing can have their benefits. It allows other in the office to focus on more pressing matters and continue to have an online presence in social media, however it isn’t the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow everyone is looking for. Businesses must have trust, confidence and a little bit of faith in anyone they decide to hire outside the company.

Thanks again to Matt for sharing his experience with outsourcing social media. I completely agree with Matt that you really need to make sure that any organization or agency that your partner with truly understand your goals and the needs of the community that you are engaging with. There are too many companies out there that think social media engagement is just about monitoring, tweeting and posting and they forget that social media is about connecting…and connecting takes a lot of time, understanding and commitment.

Have similar experiences with outsourcing your social media management? Leave a comment and let us know how it went.

Cheers!

–Sean

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