In previous posts I've shared strategies and methodologies behind outsourcing social media marketing. While social media purists would decry the term "outsourcing" being used anywhere near the social web, managing social full time and in house isn't always a good fit for companies. That's why social media services are one of the fastest growing sectors in the web marketing field.
According to the "2012 State of Social Media Marketing Industry Report," the outsourcing of social doubled between 2010 and 2011, and is likely to reach 32% by the end of 2012. The top choice for outsourcing social was design and development - but coming in third at 10% was social media content.
We've covered a lot of different social media outsourcing areas in this column - but social media writing deserves a closer look. It's the foundation of successful social marketing. Without the writing component, even the best marketing strategy will fall flat.
Let's look at what social media writing is, how to evaluate your need for outsourcing and how to begin outsourcing this crucial marketing task.
The Essentials of Social Content Creation
Social is now an established part of successful web marketing - and it gets more so with every Google search engine update. Social media writing affects your fans and followers, but with every update you're also increasing the likelihood of search engine results. With consistent social content creation, you're able to attract the two biggest sources of web traffic.
Social media writing is shareable, clickable and directly in touch with your target market's needs. It shares the same basic principles of great web copywriting, but with a few twists to make it a unique animal.
- It communicates your brand - Social media writing needs to blend with your company's existing voice and tone. If there's too big of a difference between your perceived brand image and your social updates, there will be a resistance from your audience.
- It obeys the rules of the road for each particular platform - Not all social platforms behave the same way, and your followers on Twitter are going to engage your brand differently than your Facebook fans. Smart social media writing takes the platform into consideration as well as the message.
- It gets people involved - Far too many companies use social as a broadcast platform, rather than a tool for connecting with their audience. Great social media writing sounds like a conversation rather than a one-sided blast.
Is it Time to Outsource Social Media Writing?
Obeying the rules for social media writing is essential - but it's also very time intensive. It can't be faked. It can't be thrown together at the last minute. It needs to be developed strategically and professionally.
Although you know your business best, there are many challenges that can keep in-house staff from getting social media writing just right. The business owner or executive team knows the business best - but their time is being spent on all of their other duties. Marketing directors are another possible match, but they may be juggling too many other projects to spend time writing. Interns and other social networking savvy younger employees may have the skills to know what it takes to get attention on Twitter - but their marketing knowledge and expertise might leave a lot to be desired.
The general rule of thumb is that if a task is taking two to three hours with your staff, and it's not essential that you do it personally, it is more effective to outsource it.
Working with a social media writer from an outside firm, or outsourcing social media content development to a marketing company, can help bridge the gap between your content needs and your in-house capabilities. With the volume of content that is being published online each day, it's essential for companies to develop and implement a consistent content strategy. Copywriters and social savvy content specialists can help fill the gap.
How to Begin the Social Media Writing Outsourcing Process
With so many platforms and projects to choose from, you need a step by step plan to dipping your toe into outsourcing social media writing. In addition, finding a social media writer who can connect with your audience and capture your brand's voice can be a challenge. That's why it's so important to start slow and build upon a strong foundation.
Begin by screening freelance social media writers or content creation agencies. Ask for writing samples and references before moving forward with a large content project. Just like with any industry, there are tons of providers out there who may miss the mark and leave you frustrated with outsourcing. A great social media writer should not only know how to engage your followers, but he or she will also know how to create content in your voice.
Once you've developed a list of potential candidates, start with a blog post or two. Blog posts are the cornerstone of social media writing - and if a writer can produce an engaging, fresh blog post on your industry they'll be able to carry over that same fresh and interesting voice to your social updates. Try a few different writers at once to find one (or more) that can convey your brand.
After you've found a social media writer that works for your company's blog, expand your outsourcing and have them create updates and short campaigns for your brand pages. In no time at all, you'll see increased engagement, more clickthroughs and all the other benefits that can come from social media marketing.
Have you outsourced your social writing efforts before? Any other advice that you would add to the above?
This monthly Social Media Outsourcing column is contributed by Courtney Ramirez. Courtney is a content marketing consultant and SEO Copywriter. As owner and head copywriter at Six Degrees Content she creates optimized web pages, blog posts and other online content pieces for companies in both B2B and B2C industries.