Social media: Should I do it myself, or outsource?
I have several social media pages for my business, and it's quite a lot of work to maintain. Should I hire a social media expert to improve or maintain them, or should I just work on them myself? What are the pros and cons to hiring a social media expert? My main concern is that a freelancer I hire may not get as good of a grasp of the ins and outs of my industry and what makes my particular business unique. What are your thoughts?
This is a tough question Zack, a lot of business owners are asking the same thing.
They are also asking, how much should I spend, are we going to do video marketing, article marketing, image marketing to engage with our followers. How much is that going to cost financially and our time. How are we or our outsource person going to respond to our community and stay on top of all of our social sites.
Dana brings up some good points about hiring a social media experts, they also have to understand content marketing, SEO, Video marketing, your demographic, cultural and so much more.
If you have a 6 month to 1 year of a budget to hire on a social media expert. Also you don't have the time to do mange your social site yourself because your business needs you in other area's I would say yes go hire a social media marketing expert. But before you do educate yourself on your community and social media marketing.
I have my own marketing agency out here in Toronto and the number one challenge when it comes to social media marketing is this, how are you going to build and retain relationships with your past clients, current followers and new followers who are interested in you/your business?
People throw out the terms KPI (key performance indicators) ROI (return on investment). Which are great measurements but if your Social Media Marketing Expert isn't focused on building relationships so that your community knows, likes and trust you/your business. It doesn't matter how many KPI's they want to implement you are not going to get any growth in your business if you don't create that fundamental relationship and become an authority in their eyes.
My recommendation is this
1) Go to YouTube and search Gary Vaynerchuk. Watch every video he has to understand how Social Media Marketing is changing how we do business.
2) Connect with your clients and followers to see what they need inlines of content (video, images, text, articles) and how much engagement are they looking for. This will help you strategize your social media marketing plan and who needs to be part of that team. People use the term campaign, social media is on going, yes you might have campaigns of product promotion but your social media marketing is always going.
3) Keep it simple. People think of having their brand out there on every social site. I am going to be the only social media person here to tell you. Focus on one and be an expert on one. Then grow it out, once you see the system is working then move to the next social site and build that one out. This is not a sprint it's a long distance race where you want to provide quality vs. quantity. I know you have multiple social sites and my question to you is which one do you see the most activity on and get the most business engagement with. That will tell you which one you need to focus on.
i hope this helps Zack.
Running a successful social media branding or campaign takes time and skill. You could do it yourself, but would it be great? How long would it take you? That's time spent away from doing what you do best and generating revenue.
Hiring a social media expert - social media is what they do and it's all they do. They know how to properly use hashtags and keywords, how to optimize any content, they track trends, they follow industry news, they watch your competition - they know what to post, how to post and when to post it for maximum benefit.
If you choose to tackle social media yourself, there are several tools available that will help you manage your social media pages. These can be useful because they will save you a lot of time and energy. There are disadvantages to maintaining your own social media, and one thing to keep in mind, is not all social media platforms work for all types of industries. I have some resources compiled that may help you understand, I will share with you if you like.
A social media expert is a great resource. Typically they understand the nuances of each social media platform, when the best time to post is, what type of content is appropriate, etc..
Also, they can help you manage the fact that you must respond to all comments on social media which can be an overwhelming task. If you work with a reputable person, they will spend some time with a discovery phase to learn about your business, the industry, etc...
Hello! It depends on how active and what your social media goals happen to be!
Like nature vs. nurture I say you need to hire someone who knows what they're doing to help you out but you also need to maintain some activity with the content because, in the end, it is your name and your business.
1. Create a document that describes your goals and your "voice" on social media. This way you give your SM manager clear guidelines on how you want your posts to sound and what kind of content you want to see. This will also be useful to have because SM can have high turnover so this is a simple way to make sure your voice has continuity even if you have to have multiple people contributing.
2. Be sure to send links to sites that might have great content/sites you frequent to start your SM manager off on the right track with the kind of posts you'd like to see. Any SM manager worth their salt can give you input on what type of content makes sense on which platform.
3. Anything industry specific published--blog posts, comments--should really come from you. Social media isn't just something to throw content onto--it's a place where your clients get to know your company culture and get to see you as an expert in your field.
4. Have a specific goal in mind for ROI: is it likes? Engagement? Transactions? Anything you put forth needs to have a trackable goal or there's not way for you to discern what's working and what isn't.
5. Metrics, metrics, metrics: Make sure you understand or know someone who understands how to use the metrics/insights for your platforms. Don't rely on a freelancer to tell you how things are going--ask for monthly updates from them but also make sure you're keeping track of things on your end.
I have some blog posts on my site about what social platform is best for what kind of content: http://www.michellecourtright.com/news/
Good luck in your search! I'm here to help if you need it!
Your "main concern" reveals the answer. It is best to handle your own social media marketing program. You know your business and industry the best and can engage in social conversations in the most authoritative way that a freelancer cannot. That being said, can you "farm out" your social media to a third party? Yes, to a degree. They can place general posts and updates across your social networks. When it comes to engaging in the conversations, then it would be time for you or someone within your organization to get involved.
I know that business owners would rather concentrate on what makes their businesses successful. Social media networks serve a variety of functions: customer service, relationship building, meeting prospects where they live online.
If you are feeling that you cannot effectively utilize all the social channels you currently have, it would be best to pick the ones that serve your goals the best. I would concentrate on using those social channels where your prospects live online and then those where you customer reside. Too many times I see businesses utilize a social channel just because it is big; A B2B business generally does not need to be a Facebook, their prospects are not on Facebook looking for solutions to their problems.
I think the real question what are you trying to do on social media? I think some answers before me referred to that as "Strategy". I think the trend is towards a social business, not just a social media strategy.
It is not just about posting or monitoring - it is really about why your posting, and why are you monitoring. What type of engagement are you driving. In most cases, I would suggest hiring some type of assistant - but only after you've created enough social media activity - people are already talking about your work on social media.
If you are just thinking of posting links to your work, or other cool stuff you found on the internet, use tools like Hootsuite.
Really, you need a social business strategy - a way for business activities to create a culture of online, social media responses - positive or negative. Until that is in place I wouldn't spend money on a "Social Media Expert" to help you.
I think Dana hit the nail on the head -
What I tell all my clients is that Social Media is an investment of time, skill and creativity - if you have hardly any time to devote to your Social Media campaign it will strongly reflect on your image, efficiency and ultimately your efforts may be all for not.
Then again Social Media can be done by anyone - in the sense that if you have time, dedication and a small budget to advertise it can be done.
My company focuses on Content Marketing, not just tweeting/posting status updates and bland text, we focus on genuine content creation, curation and building strong meaningful relationships with our client's audience/customer. This is in my professional opinion the best way to go about a Social media campaign, but it is extremely time consuming, even more so if you're on a tight schedule and need to cut corners just for the sake of posting/tweeting.
Outsourcing your Social Media campaign to a professional would be a smart investment, and quite frankly when you choose a solid company to do it for you on a reasonable budget it makes all the difference.
So my answer is YES to outsourcing your Social Media, but try and get a group that incorporates Content Marketing.
On the note of you worried the group might not understand your niche - if you go with a professional group, a savvy one who perhaps has a wide variety of different clients with just as much success as the next you can get a sense of how effective they can be. If they are REALLY good they'll learn your market and adapt to it - the top Social Media Marketers are usually very savvy when it comes to understanding a market niche and capitalizing on it - community managers on the other hand, who just regurgitate status updates, with no creativity and minimal effort, just for the sake of posting, aren't nearly as effective.
And just to be clear that's not to say anything bad about CMs as it is an essential role, but there are many posers out there that claim to take your Social Media platforms off your hands for a ridiculously low price and you really get what you pay for with very low quality work and minimal results.
I hope this helps, if you have any questions feel free to contact me on my website jsusolutions.com
Best of luck
SMM is all about making a connection with your target audience; market or collective. This connection is purely behavioral; it is an emotional link that an effective SMM manager establishes with your audience through ALIGNED messaging.
So the first thing you need to do is make a solid effort in getting to know your potential social media marketing manager. WHO he or she is. Do your values align with him or her? This is all about messaging and the SMM is the conduit to get your message across. Unless your values are aligned, your purpose and vision for your business will not resonate in messaging and there will be no emotional connection. Remember, consumers do not patronize a product or service by rationalizing the "why" or the "what". Their decisions are purely emotional; they focus on the "who". If they recognize your purpose they will move in to engage.
The second thing you have to consider is time. How much time can you allocate for social media? This is a consistent endeavor and there are nuances you must be aware of in order to maximize the visibility of your posts. These nuances include the timing and frequency of your posts. For our clients, we average 5 posts per day for all their social media. We design a SM calendar based on the business or industry of the client. The posting times are varied. It depends on the area of focus of the client.
Third, you have to make an honest assessment of your writing skill and/or ability to engage. How you write is important in order to generate an audience and build followers. Key words are great but in the end, it will all come down to whether your content is interesting enough. Engagement is a very important aspect of SMM because this is where you may have a very warm lead for your business. If you don't have the time to attend to your SMM, you may miss out on these opportunities.
Should you outsource? It will come across as self-serving because I am in BPO but yes, you should at least consider it.
I am based in the Philippines and I have a number of clients from Canada. In addition to giving my clients cost advantages, the time differential works in our favor because when they are starting their day, we are ending ours. So all pending issues, concerns, engagements are addressed and covered on time. It's like 24 hour SMM.
The Philippines has a 94% literacy rate and English is our primary medium of instruction. In fact, 75% of our population are considered proficient in English. We are among the world leaders in FB usage and text messaging.
Keep it simple, if social media is not your business, outsource it.
Only focus on your core business, don't try to do something else.
Then hire really really slow, because everybody can do social media.
You should look for a social media expert that asks you 2 questions: what is your goal with your business? How can we measure progress?
@zack, what do you sell?
Zach, great question..
Working in Social Media myself, I always tell people there is no such thing as a "Social Media Expert".. the landscape in the industry is constantly changing, there is always something new to learn, and the "rules" change. And, really it is such a new industry, it's too new for "experts". I would seek out people like myself who refer to themselves as "specialists".
There is no way to really verify someone is an "expert" either. While there are companies that offer certification, not all Social Media Specialists have taken them, nor see a need to be "certified" especially when some of the issuers are not all that well known anyway...
As for doing it yourself... there are tools to make it easier and manageable. You can use tools like Hootsuite or SocialOomph to schedule your posts for you, pull in RSS and send out those posts, etc. But is that enough to get the results you want?
It might be more economical to do it yourself, but you will lack some industry knowledge that a specialist would know and could be more expedient in getting you results. A specialist should be looking out for your best interests and can employ many tools and techniques that you are not aware of.
Hope my answer helps!
There are two key things to remember about social media. 1) Social media is a dialogue/conversation that is ongoing - it is a direct interaction with your customers, associates, and community. 2) Social media does not require that you be in all avenues/portals--meaning, u can have a FB page and Twitter, Instagram, etc. and not be on Pinterest, or Yelp, etc... ONLY be on social media portals if that is where it makes sense for your business to be and where your customers are! Understanding those key points should help with your focus, understandings of how/when to engage on social media. Second to those are your level of expertise to actual perform the duties and realize the benefits...if you aren't comfortable with it, don't truly understand all the keyword/hashtag/connectivity to grow your business/customer base, and find that it is taking too much of your time, you can determine if you truly need a social media pro. Use your energies where they will be most effective and let a sm professional take the reins for your sm program.
I hope this helps--good luck!!
Managing social profiles oneself is well and good, if you have sufficient time to sit back and post your updates, responses. When there are several pages to go, it'd be hard enough for you to make a quicker and active response, and the time frame remains surplus. Hopefully, the best option is to hire a social media manager.
Hiring a social media expert indeed does the same of what you do, but still they keep updating the happenings in and across the platforms, and makes it higher with the engagement, researches, marketing, etc. Knowing that social media pays the dividends to any sort of business, experts do understand how to make posts, how to increase the engagement, what could be done.. and what not?
Certainly, you could get along with what you want on hiring experts.
One more consideration is Legal:
The statements on social media can be used against a business when it serves the opponent. Depending on the nature of your business and the high legal risk areas of the business, there may be a subset of the social media material that needs some filter for those legal risk areas. That subset may or may not need a lawyer to review but should have someone with a particular training in the risk area.
It is a very good question. When it comes to Social Media and managing it, it can become a full time job. Because you are the knowledge expert of your business, you know your market and competition at first it appears that self-management might be the way to go.
Outsourcing Social Media management, can save you time, but you need to find the expert that understands your business and the vision of how you want to manage it.
My advice is start talking to people and ask them to see a portfolio of their work. The idea you want to make sure, if you hire that person they are going to deliver the most for your investment.
Zack, with the great answers you've gotten you can see what's the best and worst thing that could happen with either decision. I think the recent American Apparel event is an example of exacerbating the problem while trying to recover from a social media issue.
On July 3, "stylized" artwork based off the infamous picture of the 1986 explosion of the American space shuttle Challenger was posted on American Apparel's TUMBLR with #clouds and #smoke hashtags.
Within hours, American Apparel removed it and apologized on TWITTER claiming it was insensitivity of on an "international" employee born after 1986. That, in turn, opened them up to further criticism on several fronts:
1) Why does American Apparel have non-American employees? More relevant than their name is their own emphasis on "Made in USA".
2) Why were the reins of their social media accounts in the hands of someone so clueless?
3) Why sprout an excuse as weak as "it happened before they were born and in another country"?
https://twitter.com/americanapparel/status/484834097051598848/ apology tweet
http://goo.gl/I3Vv19 a MediaBistro story with more details of the incident.
I get this question all the time. As someone with a background in social media in a corporate setting, outsourcing your social media to someone else could mean doomsday for your business. That being said, a lot of business owners I know don't have an interest in managing their social media profiles and want to focus their time on other aspects of the business. The bottom line, you should not outsource UNLESS the person taking over your social media strategy 1) really knows what they are doing and (just as importantly) 2) knows your industry and your business inside and out. They need to know the lingo and the current events that fall under your business niche so they can properly align your content strategy with what is being discussed online. I recently wrote a blog post about why you shouldn't outsource your social media if you're interested. Great question and a question I get a lot! 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Outsource Your Social Media & What To Do Instead: http://buff.ly/1T2sRRt
It depends on the type of business in question. If your work is very personal, people will use social media to find out about you - deciding whether you're the kind of person in whom they can place their trust.
There are programs such as Hootsuite that can help you coordinate your efforts. Others, like MailChimp incorporate feeds into their program so that your newsletter also gets posted to your networks upon publication to your subscribers. This can streamline your efforts, making less work for you.
One way to reach out to your public that takes less time and effort involves looking for articles relevant to your clients, and hitting all the social media buttons that come with the articles, so that your people get that information. Not all of it has to come directly from you!
If you are going to go with an expert, take the time to interview them, and look at their work for other clients. How well do they grasp that individual's personality and offerings? I've stopped reading emails from service providers I respect, simply because their email headings were disingenuous and clearly written to be provocative rather than engaging and caring.
The one primary factor that will answer your question is defining how much your time is worth to you. Time is finite whereas money is not.
If you feel your time would be well spent doing it then do it, if not, don't. Only you can really answer the question. Good luck with it.
Use a social media expert or marketing company to give advice and audit what you are doing. They can often help with some of the admin style tasks.
However for many businesses the message given by social media is strategic and should form part of your core sales or customer facing work, so in-house may be better.
The real question is are you putting in the correct amount of work? If it is useful then investing in this work is worthwhile. If not you need to reduce what you are doing or do more efficiently.
Hi Zach ~ This question is asked all the time by many of my clients! My question back to them is "would you pull your own teeth or operate on yourself"? Sounds funny but true! When outsourcing your Social Media profile to a professional you must research their experience and professionalism.
If you do your selection carefully, interview them as if you were going to hire them as an employee, ask for references it will work.
The one question you did not ask, "how much should you budget for"? That will be a longer conversation which I am happy to have off line if you are interested.