In an ideal world, every marketing department has an unlimited budget and endless time to spend on social media but that's not really a reality for most businesses. Outsourcing sometimes gets a bad rap but it's often the best strategy for businesses who want the most bang for their limited marketing buck.
We'll get to what to look for in an outsourcing arrangement in a minute, but first let's talk about what outsourcing is not. If you want to use someone outside the company to manage your social media, make sure you don't:
- Put your accounts in the hands of someone in a drastically different time zone than your target demographic. You want to rapid responses to questions or comments from your fans and followers; an hour or two at most during standard business hours. That's unlikely to happen if your social media managers are snoozing in Australia as you start your workday in Seattle.
- Overlook cultural nuances that are important to your customer. Celeb Boutique posted this unfortunate tweet during the horrific massacre in Aurora, CO simply because the #Aurora hashtag was trending.
They later apologized but the damage was already done. The potential for blunders like these are high when you use a team that's not plugged into the hot topics and breaking news happening where most of your customers are located.
- Ask your landlord's wife's sister's cousin to oversee your social media channels because "she's on the internet a lot anyway." Social marketing is a critical component of your overall business plan and should be handled by qualified professionals with a proven track record of success.
What to look for when outsourcing your social media
There are several key qualities to look for when you're ready to bring in an outside team to manage your social media channels. Make sure they're:
Responsive -- Is the team available during the hours your target audience is most likely to be online? As we already noted, it's critical to respond to social media messages in a timely manner so customers feel they're being listened to. Be sure the team has permission to answer basic questions on your behalf to avoid wasting time getting every response vetted by 14 middle managers and a board member.
Aware -- Is the team up to speed on internet culture? Do they understand the subtleties of your industry enough to interact with your audience? Can they walk the line between professional and engaging without being too dry or too cheeky? For most companies, family-friendly updates are the ideal while risque or polarizing political messages should be avoided.
Effective -- Does the team have a demonstrable history of providing the results you're looking for? Whether you're looking to grow your followers on Facebook or encourage people to join your LinkedIn group, the most effective social media managers are able to show they've been down that road before and know what it takes to help you reach your goal.
Reliable -- The best Twitter updates in the world won't mean a thing if the people behind the curtain are sporadic in their content placement or erratically available to monitor your accounts. Effective social media management means constant vigilance and a willingness to pivot quickly when an opportunity to promote your business presents itself. Oreo absolutely nailed this concept during the famous Super Bowl blackout of 2013.
Despite what you may have heard, social media isn't a "set it and forget it" affair. For real results, you need a team that can handle the heavy lifting of consistent and dynamic messaging across several channels. Outsourcing your social marketing frees you up to focus on the parts of your business that need you while knowing your customers are still getting the attention they deserve.
Image credit: Evan P. Cordes