When most businesses look at social media, they have a few common misconceptions. First and foremost, they think that they have to be visible on every single social network in order to be credible; secondly, they think they have to be active on every network. The problem? Most businesses just don't have the time to be active on any social network. What businesses often end up doing to bridge the gap is to pass their social media management onto a social media agency who offers to take over all of their social media - for a hefty price.
Agencies in general can do a lot for businesses. Digital marketing agenies in particular can use their collective expertise in social networks to advise businesses on the best practices for approaching marketing. But no one should never completely take over your social media presence for the following reasons:
1. You are the experts. Yes, agencies know their way around marketing and, depending on the agency and what they specialise in, they may have a leg up in knowing a bit more about your market than you do. But people don't follow businesses on Twitter or like anything on Facebook so they can get marketing analysis. They follow and trust brands for their own expertise in what they do - which only you have. Sure, an agency will be able to learn from you and know how to respond accordingly, but you are by far the most qualified to talk about your brand in a real conversation - which people are on social media to have. The below tweet by Abel & Cole is a good example of utilising their expertise to respond tro customers quickly and effectively.
2. You are a human. Imagine you've scheduled some time with your mates to go to the cinema. Instead of your best friend, some replacement arrives instead. It's offputting and difficult because the replacement has absolutely no idea what conversations you and your best friends have had throughout the day, but insists on behaving as if they are your best friend. They start discussions about things they obviously know little about and randomly bring up things that somewhat relevant. Does that sound like a way to interact?
The above is a tweet from MOO, a company that manages to work tone effectively and include images like this to give a personal touch. In my experience, the strongest and most successful social media precenses of business have a human face. You can see the team and know the team. You know you're talking to a person. And that helps create a real relationship between you a customers that can be based on empathy. If you can't personally be involved as a higher up, then you may have to hire someone to be involved. That approach may not necessarily work for every single brand, but it's another reason to have someone in-house to handle your social media.
3. You are quick to respond. Agencies have their place in social, and that's to suggest or provide content you can tweet about. They can handle the day to day tasks of getting tweets out there, if you'd like regular updates on your website and social feeds. But most people who are managing the public profile of any client will want someone from the head office to check over something before it goes public. That's a smart strategy for anyone to employ. It just makes sense. But it's not a strategy that works best for social.
The above tweet is an example of an accidental tweet sent by someone from the Red Cross, a potential PR slip up that they handled excellently. Could this be attributed to having an in-house social team? Perhaps. But it proves that in the case of a PR emergency on social, you need to respond quickly and promptly. Having someone in-house who's at least connected with the Twitter account is crucial in order to respond to these issues. Even in emergencies, an outside agency is likely going to want to at least run by an approach before making it live. Avoid that middleman step by having someone who's right down the hallway from you working your social media.
4. You are physically there. It doesn't sound like it matters much, but it does. The best types of stories to share on social media can often be the simple, funny stories we share around the office. It's those day to day interactions that can make for great ideas for things to post on social and continue to build on point number two. Having someone physically in your office, physically at events, physically present to witness and take part in the culture of your office ensures that your social have have that personal touch. And just from a practical standpoint, someone who's in the office is probably going to know more about the events you're running, going to, or the things you're doing than anyone else. The below is a good example from RNIB of physically placing themselves at an event and giving a human face to the organisation.
Now, this all isn't to say no agencies have a place in social media. I think digital marketing agencies can provide that expertise needed to help businesses realise that, no, they don't need to be on Pinterest. Effective digital marketing agencies can provide you with a more holistic approach to social - not just completing mandates for [x] number of tweets per day but looking at your website analytics, your sales goals, and your inbound lead cycle to make social media actually do something for your business rather than just being a huge time suck that may yeild good PR once in awhile.
If you can't find it in your budget to pay someone to be invested in your social media precense and website, then perhaps you need to make the harsh decision to not be on social media. After all, if you're just on social to be on it, you don't have any KPIs or goals you're targeting so, in the end, paying an agency to completely take it over doesn't do anything but burn more money. If you want to put that money to good use, put it towards training someone in your office or hiring someone new. Don't just pay off a social media agency to take over your whole precense with no strategy or anything else in mind.