Outsource Social Media to Social Media Agencies – good or bad?

We’re a Social Media Agency from London – would we ever say outsourcing Social Media Marketing to us is bad? Of course, we would, we want to deliver a good job and we also want to keep our good reputation. Also delivering low-quality work and not being successful with it is just not fun…

Social Media Accidents Do Happen

social media accident
Click to enlarge

Recently (March 2011) an outsourced agency consultant tweeted on behalf of Chrysler the tweet on the right. This cause some irritations and the person who tweeted said he confused private and company (client’s) account. He got fired anyway. However this could have happened to internal as well as external staff, it’s more a matter of using social media management tools the right way.

Do you have a Social Media Strategy?

This point can’t be stressed less. A proper social media strategy has to be in place and needs to outline your social media marketing plan as well as your social media policy. You need to be aware of what you want to achieve on the social platforms if you want to decide whether to outsource social media or execute it with your own internal resources. You’ll need to know what you need to provide, e.g. what content to provide to succeed with your particular social audience; blog-driven inbound marketing strategies require different resources than viral marketing video campaigns (or any high-quality audio or video), etc.

Benefits Of Outsourcing Social Media

There are clear benefits of outsourcing:

  • Speed: New to Social Media companies can get connected faster and easier and shorten the learning curve.
  • Social Media Training + Experience: You’d get all the experience from a social media expert built up over years
  • Social Technology + Social Desing: Setting up social media can be technology-intensive and often requires expert skills, the same can be true for designing your social media channels or producing content
  • Social Strategy: the most prominent point here – a social media consultancy can put together a best practice strategy tailored to your needs, audience and industry.
  • Social Media Campaigns: campaigns with wider and more complex content needs such as good videos etc.

What parts of Social Media can’t be outsourced?

outsource social media marketingIf you’re responsible for marketing in a big corporation and you’re interested in a more corporate social media style you might even outsource the conversations. This seems feasible for social media accounts for customer services. Also for producing social media content you can use creative ideas from your social media agency. I am talking about B2C areas, in B2B marketing you want to bring across your thought-leadership and domain expertise and the content needs to be created by your company’s experts and can’t (or less) come from the agency.

In general, a social media trend is certainly that brands are replacing the obsession of how their image is projected to how well they engage with people, how well they can help customers and make them happy and eventually loyal.

In order to follow that approach companies need to engage in daily conversations, the heart, and soul of Social Media Marketing, and this has to come authentically from you and your staff. No doubt these conversations require some skills too but it is important that organizations begin to acquire them directly, rather than mediating through third parties. You definitely want to avoid to lose authenticity by outsourcing.

Outsourcing Social Media – good or bad?

Social Media Phases
Social Media Phases – Click to enlarge

We see social media implemented in phases. Most companies start with a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account and build up from there. Hence our outsourcing advice is: “it depends“…

Getting started in social media is daunting for most brands, so in the first phases of a social media implementation companies can certainly benefit from the expertise of social media agencies. A strategy can be created and implemented by external sources. Also, more technical or analytical tasks such as Social Media Monitoring can (and should be done) be provided by an agency. Also when crisis management is needed the first time, you might want to fall back on the best practices of your agency who probably dealt with these issues before. When entering new phases of social media or dealing with new technology (which is plenty in social media), e.g. Social Media Advertising, Social Apps, or other mobile services they should rely again on the proven knowledge of an agency.

In the long run, though we recommend companies to build processes to streamline with their existing marketing (for instance implementing a Social SEO strategy) and incorporate social aspects throughout the organization.

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