Social media has changed the face of marketing forever. For brands, it’s been the most disruptive innovation of the last 15 years and its popularity shows no sign of slowing down.
For B2Bs and B2Cs alike, it has been a game changer, offering unique channels for teams to use to interact and target customers, while opening up creative new ways to present and share brand messages.
The meteoric rise of social sites has created huge opportunities for businesses, and these opportunities have not gone unnoticed. Check out these stats compiled by Brandwatch:
- 91% of retail brands use two or more social media channels
- There are now 40 million active small business pages on Facebook
- 65.8% of US companies with 100+ employees use Twitter for marketing
- Over 3 million companies have created LinkedIn accounts
- 66% of content that users Pin comes from brand websites
Effectively using social media
While most social media channels are free to access and use, managing them effectively takes considerable amount of time and commitment. If you’re to get the most out of it then all activity needs to be driven by a strategy and with clear objectives. It should sit alongside all other marketing plans and be subject to the same level of critical review, analysis and ongoing improvement. Most teams now recognise the power of social media and that it needs as much focus as any other marketing – so it’s not something that can just be dumped on the office junior and left unmonitored. It’s a voice for the company that could get in front of an audience of millions!
The golden rules when using any channels of this nature are: to keep them up-to-date, to keep them active with regular, interesting and relevant posts, and above all to be responsive to customers.
Who should manage social media?
When it comes to managing social media – from devising a strategy, to creating content plans, interacting and responding – businesses have a number of options:
Manage it all in-house – it may be managed in-house by an individual or team, depending on the size of the organisation, with the function sitting as part of the marketing/comms department
Outsource it all to a specialist – the management of social media can be outsourced to a specialist consultant or agency
Take a hybrid approach – or it could be handled as a mixture of the two, for example driving the strategy and content internally then having external support to manage and monitor time outside of normal office hours
What needs doing?
There are many individual elements in the process for which outsourcing could be considered. Whether these elements should be shipped out will always need careful consideration. They include:
Creating an effective strategy – this is a relatively easy one to outsource. You may hire an experienced, specialist consultant who is kept on retainer and can develop and evolve a strong strategy for you
Creating a content calendar – you may choose to get support for creating a content plan and drafting posts. This will usually take the form of a calendar with the social channel, dates and times for publication all detailed, so content is distributed at the most impactful times
Content distribution – you may enlist help to then distribute approved content, for example help with the scheduling of planned posts
Community management – social media is by its nature social, so specialist help may be bought in to help with managing the community, from monitoring to interacting, responding and picking up on relevant trends as they happen
Analytics – monitoring social media is an important part of the process but can be a time heavy (and potentially cost-heavy) activity, so outsourcing may be used to provide regular analytics and reports
Key things to consider
So what do you need to think when making a decision on whether to outsource all, or part, of your social media management?
Budget is one of the main issues to consider. The time needed to plan and execute social media activity well is considerable, even if you just focus on 1 or 2 platforms that are the best fit for your goals and target audience. That means dedicating resources, or buying in adequate support.
Begin by being clear on what expertise you already have in-house and what manpower and ongoing support is going to be available. Think how you would manage cover for evening, weekends and holidays – as if your customers are likely to be using social media in those times then you should be too. For both in-house and outsourced, also consider how you would manage any unhappy customers and complaints. You’d need a clear process in place for either scenario.
Think what your overall goal is for social media and how much of your total marketing mix it will be? How big a role will it play in driving business growth? The bigger deal it is, and the more important, the less outsourcing you may want to do. And another consideration is finding the right person or agency. This may in itself take time but is vital to get right.
Advantages of outsourcing
- Experience and broader expertise due to working with a variety of clients
- Up-to-date knowledge on the latest platforms, tools, trends and changes
- Can work out more cost-effective
- Creativity and the benefit of fresh external eyes to spot new opportunities
- Existing network that can mean establishing a social footprint is quicker
- Relieves the internal time and resources needed
Disadvantages of outsourcing
- May take a while to fully understand and speak with your voice
- Finding the right agency can be tricky
- Doesn’t mean you won’t have work to do
- Won’t have in depth knowledge of your company, employees and services
Access to content and company data can be more difficult
Ultimately, the answer to the question ‘should you outsource your social media management?’ will really depend on your individual business and its circumstances. There are advantages and disadvantages to all options, it’s about finding the right fit for you. The main thing is to ensure you’re using any social channel to its full potential, to help strengthen your results.