Social media once gave retailers access to do-it-yourself marketing, and it worked for a while, but today social media is more complex than ever and this leaves business leaders wondering whether social media in-house or outsourced is best for their business.
Now that social media has matured and the platforms have shifted to advertising and data collection models, it’s not nearly as easy to succeed as it once was.
Many “social media experts” from the early days have faded from view and moved on to their next great adventure. Today’s trainers and consultants have evolved into highly sought after people who can decipher the social media ecosystem and translate actions into sales.
The big question still remains for a lot of confused business owners:
Social media in-house or outsourced…which is better?
I was talking with a prospective client recently and she was truly concerned about how to approach social media operationally. With digital retailing becoming the norm, it’s become clear that social media should be considered and added to an overall operational shift. Many retailers like her understand there’s a need for restructure to adapt to their customer’s shifting expectations.
Many like her also wonder…”Should I hire someone in-house or should I outsource?” The decision has been weighing heavy on her mind. She’s tried a few “solutions” and none of them have worked very well.
Let’s break it down.
As I always do, I suggested a short phone conversation to find out more about what a good solution looks like. After learning about her challenges, we examined the positives and negatives to both in-house and outsourced social media. Together, we were able to figure out what made the best sense for her business at this point in time. I could feel her sense of relief as we made plans to move forward with designing their strategy plan.
Her sense of relief inspired me to share my experience with you.
I got to thinking…there are probably many other business owners who have the same quandary: Should we do social media in-house or should we outsource it? If this is a quandary for you, then you’ve come to the right place!
Social Media In-House
In all the years I’ve been a social media strategist, and no matter the size of the client’s company, I’ve always encouraged clients to manage their own social media.
Today, people (ie: your customers) expect so much 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 it in-house.
Positives of Social Media In-House:
- You’re able to grow your own. Someone (or a group of someones) who works within your organization, who knows your product, who interacts with fellow employees and customers, is very well suited to manage your social media. They are often a conduit between the company and the public, and that’s someone you want in your employ.
- More control. There are certain talents and skills needed for social media and the hiring process reveals a lot. You know your business better than any outside vendor and your employee will too.
- More nimble. If something comes up that needs immediate attention (a special offer, sale or a crisis) your in-house team can adapt to changes quickly, in real time. A vendor simply isn’t equipped to move that fast.
- There is support available to help you hire the right candidate. You’ll never know as much about a vendor as you would your own employee. We often help our clients through the hiring of a social media manager.
- Your content is higher-quality. Quality content drives everything on social media. With those daily interactions with employees and customers, the content is richer, more helpful and dials right into customer questions, concerns and issues.
- Saves you money in the long run. Social media, unlike traditional media, can be a smaller financial investment. Where the real costs are for social media is in human resources. Paying for outside, often disconnected help is more costly in the long run and you’ve got less control.
Negatives of Social Media In-House:
1. The biggest challenge for most retailers is not knowing for sure if their social media manager is performing well. If you’ve been contemplating hiring someone to do social media in-house, these questions might sound familiar:
- How do I know if the person I hire will do the job?
- What is their job description?
- Which goals do I set for them?
- How much do I pay them?
- What am I getting for my money?
- How will I know if they’re doing a good job if they know more than me?
The remedy is to obtain expert advice from a veteran social media advisor and have them oversee things for at least six months. Having an expert’s eye on things delivers peace of mind and ensures that your investment is bringing a return.
2. The other important component to having social media in-house is that unless you have a Facebook ads mastermind on staff, you’ll still need to outsource Facebook ads management.
Yes, the simpler Facebook ads can still be managed by your in-house person but Facebook ads have become very complex for most people. I advise Kruse Control’s clients to consider a trusted vendor to perform the more advanced lead-generation tactics of Facebook advertising, using the client’s own written content strategy as a guide.
Social Media Outsourced
The pieces to the puzzle that must fit here are whether or not your business, your brand and your goals are suited for outsourced social media.
Positives of Social Media Outsourced:
- You’ll have a presence on social media. Some retailers still have little or no social media presence or follower participation. Outsourced social media may be a good first step to take as you’ll learn more as you go, But you’ll want to continue to make informed decisions and having been in this world for over a decade, I find that most end up hiring someone in-house.
- Facebook ads are managed for you. Facebook advertising is essential to successful lead generation. Facebook ads management requires great skill. You can outsource this portion of your marketing more easily than you can content creation and publication. It’s a more “linear” job (“If you do this, then you get that.”) than the highly creative job of content.
Negatives of Social Media Outsourced:
- Your content will suffer. Unless you designate someone inside your organization to collaborate with your provider on content strategy and creation, the content you publish will be less successful.
- No one watches your brand like you do. Social media requires daily attention. No matter what the vendor’s salesperson says, you and your employees are more connected to your customers and are in a better position to engage them. Outsourced providers are looking to scale, and social media is not scalable.
- Your are not the vendor’s #1 focus. Social media providers are interested in scaling their services, which means they won’t sit with you to discuss, educate, set goals and define strategy. They take your control away and leave you with a promise to deliver. That’s where things get murky.
- It’s more expensive. If you’re able to find a provider with integrity and a quality product, it will be more expensive. Successful social media takes a lot of resources and you definitely get what you pay for. Do your due diligence: check references and certainly consider getting advice from an objective 3rd party social media advisor.
When it comes to social media in-house or outsourced, your decision is a crucial one.
The more good information you get, the better you’ll feel about your decision (which is why I wrote this post). After so many years recommending doing social media in-house, and getting lots of push back from large vendors, we’re finally seeing a shift to where doing social in-house is less costly and more effective.
When you do talk to vendors, remind yourself that they can say many things and make it seem like their solution is the right one. But no one knows your business like you do so stand your ground and don’t say yes to anything until you’re sure.
In order to be sure, talk it out. Get the answers you need, then take the actions that make you feel excited and happy.
If you need help making the decision, I’m here to help. Get in touch with me HERE and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.