Outsourcing social media might make sense for your business right now, given all the disruption in retailing and changes in consumer shopping habits.
Social media is a powerful tool for businesses big and small, and it can exhaust a lot of resources that are needed elsewhere. If you can’t find the time to create content, maintain an online presence and be active online, you should consider outsourcing your social media.
However, having been in this space for over twelve years, I know all too well what can go wrong when an organization off-loads their social media to an outside vendor.
Let’s examine the pitfalls of outsourcing social media.
Now that social media has matured and the platforms have shifted to advertising and data collection models, it’s not nearly as simple to succeed as it once was.
Connecting to your followers in meaningful ways is crucial. Retailers are realizing now that they have a core group of “raving fans” and want to continue to connect and build rapport within their immediate community, rather than trying to reach thousands of disinterested users.
Reaching people beyond the constant cacophony of content.
There are thousands of distractions that capture your customers’ attention today and the bottom line is you’ve got to be noticed amongst all that noise. Most outsourcing social media agencies know this but can only go so far with their approach because they are not you.
Consider this: If something really great happened to you, would you want to tell the story or would you outsource it to another person? Of course you’d want to tell it, but take a moment and ask yourself why. After all, it’s so much easier to let someone else tell your story. The reason is that others don’t possess your enthusiasm and can’t truly communicate the emotions that make your story so compelling.
There’s no substitute for the real thing.
Online or off, people can tell when the message is forced or inauthentic.
If it doesn’t feel right to outsource your storytelling then doesn’t it stand to reason that leaving your business’ reputation to someone else is risky too? You’ve invested blood, sweat and tears growing your business and building your business relationships, and these assets are to be treated with reverence.
One of the greatest things you can for your business is to OWN your social media.
Today, people (ie: your customers) are expecting so much more from retailers. They want to see content from you that means something and it’s very rare that an agency can achieve meaningful engagement with your customers. Over the years, a wedge has been driven between retailers and their customers by agencies, “gurus”, and the manufacturers, and it’s time to fight back!
If you want to bring customers closer (and you do, right?), you need to bring your social media management closer, which means doing at least some of it in-house.
Are you struggling with social media? My proven strategies will get you on the right track! Click below to learn more.
Yes, I need help!
But outsourcing social media may still be your best option right now.
Realistically speaking, in certain cases, you’ll need to trust a vendor to deliver your message.
Many companies outsource their social media and most have really good reasons for doing so. However, they (and you) can easily fall into a false sense of security when they’re paying for a service on their behalf and it falls off of management’s daily radar.
Here’s how to avoid the pitfalls of outsourcing social media when it’s the best solution right now for your business.
1. Avoid the “set it and forget it” mindset.
Today, all social media is truly a collaborative effort. Whether it’s a collaboration between you and your customer, you and your employees, your employees and your customers or all of the above, interaction is essential.
If you’re outsourcing social media, and you want to get noticed, then your vendor should be collaborating with you on social media strategy. They need to provide you with a layout of how they will enhance your profiles, engage customers and deliver results.
2. Map out your content strategy before outsourcing.
Life has changed for most of us and especially during these unprecedented times, the ability to connect with companies online has never been more important.
Someone or something reminds us regularly that, “You better get on social media because you’re missing out!” Wherever the message comes from, social media likely sounds like a really good idea to you. The trouble is, if you’re not a regular user of social media, there’s a lot about it you may not know.
Before you jump into social media, before you give it the green light (ie: expend resources), develop an in-house process for content creation. Designate someone inside your organization to recognize opportunities for content, be a good storyteller, and curate a body of content that communicates your business’ value.
Social media is a place where companies win and fail, sometimes on the same day. In today’s social environment, advertising is important, but so is having a “social champion” to stir engagement on social media posts.
Quality content stands out. It’s what brings people back and creates a sense of community. What gets people’s attention are the stories that occur on a daily basis within your organization. Simple shifts within your operation will allow you and your employees to capture and document those stories.
Hyper-local content from employees and customer advocates is the most engaging, impactful and lead-generating content you can provide.
3. Enforce accountability.
Don’t leave your social media in someone else’s hands without retaining control over the results.
If there’s one thing you take away from this post, it’s this: Require your outsourcing social media vendor to meet with you regularly (i.e.: weekly at first then twice a month) to talk about specific goals and their approach to achieving those goals.
Look for success markers along your social media journey. Defined within your social media strategy should be:
- Goals you want to reach
- Timeframe to reach them
- Roadmap of how you’ll achieve them
- Definitive metrics to measure progress
Additionally, review your billings each month, especially if you’re supplementing with social advertising. Require the vendor to fully explain the results you’re getting for your money.
4. Refrain from having a “stand-in” try to build your relationships.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no substitute for the real thing. A vendor will help you with your social media marketing but that often does not include building relationships online.
If you’re going to outsource, make sure you have a solid engagement strategy in place.
- How will you respond and interact with followers?
- What scenarios can you see happening that will warrant a response?
- When is the best time to take a sensitive conversation offline?
- What guidelines do you have in your social media policy for employees?
- Who responds to online reviews and what is their process?
It’s a best practice to have someone within your organization monitor and enforce your policies with your vendor.
5. Don’t necessarily leave all your social media marketing to one company.
Consider the reasons why you’re outsourcing social media. Typically, it’s to fill-in the spots where the company doesn’t have specific resources. No vendor can be all things to all people and you may want to consider a handful of the individual solutions available.
You may have resources in some areas but not in others. For example:
- You may have the ability to collect valuable content but just don’t know how and where to publish it. Solution: training.
- You may have time for Facebook but not for a blog or newsletter. Solution: hire a content creator to do your blogging and newsletters for you.
- You may have a social media manager but your content isn’t getting results. Solution: hire a social media coach.
- You may have a negative online reputation that doesn’t tell the true story of your customers’ experiences. Solution: hire a vendor to streamline your process and help you capture your happy, loyal customers’ opinions online.
- You may want to create more video content. Solution: designate a space onsite, equipped with good lighting and camera, dedicated to video production. Also, train salespeople on subject matter and video composition.
- You may not know what to do or even where to turn. Solution: consult with a social media advisor to design a roadmap for your success.
By dissecting your social media and/or line marketing needs, you can easily tap into your own talents while utilizing a vendor’s contributions to build your in-house social media team over time.
Social media demands participation.
I often witness a disconnect with companies who outsource social media and inevitably see no results. If you want results (I know you do!), you’ve got to participate (not watch from the sidelines).
When making the decision on outsourcing social media, use these 5 critical guidelines to avoid the common outsourcing pitfalls and you’ll find that you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing you’ve made the right choices for your business.
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