Is Outsourcing Social Media Management Worth the Cost?
Nearly 97% of all Fortune 500 companies use at least one social media network, such as Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, in order to establish a good communication line with stakeholders and advocates.
Moreover, McKinsey & Company reports that over 70 percent of companies surveyed are trying out social customer care as a way to further connect with and support their audience. And, they’re reporting significant benefits from using these platforms.
If you run a business of any size, you likely don’t have time to manage all those social networks yourself. In fact, you likely don’t even have time to manage even one channel. So, should you try manage it yourself? Or should you outsource social media management?
In-house vs. outsourcing social media management
Many businesses decide upon the do-it-yourself method of work. That would be absolutely suitable, if it wasn’t so badly executed. Namely, it’s common that companies approach the social media marketing with a few ground mistakes.
They will decide upon posting news on social platforms only when they have the time, which is usually during working hours.
- This is wrong for many reasons, one being the fact that most social traffic comes in outside business hours.
They will post only what they want to sell.
- Social media isn’t about sales, but rather building a strong communication and feedback system that would lead to sales, if done correctly.
They will delegate this to someone in-house or to an intern, both of which have other responsibilities to handle.
- When I say in-house, I mean someone who will do this for barely 5 hours a week, which isn’t really enough, is it?
The truth is that no one should run your social media marketing better than you can. But the question you should ask yourself is – can you? Can you really? According to a Forbes article, for a medium-sized company, managing a single social platform could take roughly 32 hours a month.
This is alarming, considering the fact that, for example, the majority of Facebook page owners do not reply to customer comments on their pages. And who would blame them? Their business certainly won’t run itself.
This right here is the sole drive to outsource something. To delegate certain parts of your business in order to achieve a greater purpose, a purpose that would benefit you, i.e. your business, long-term. The goals of successful social media marketing can be divided into three separate categories.
- Brand impression: The thing that makes your brand “pop out.”
- Brand reputation: Knowing how far your brand extends in the public’s eye.
- Trust development: Creating positive feedback, a productive connection with your audience.
Outsourcing your social media management can bring you closer to these goals, while still freeing up your time. Here are seven reasons to consider it for your business.
Seven benefits to outsourcing social media management
When you outsource anything, one of the greatest outcomes is gaining expertise that isn’t currently available to you. This is especially true when you’re considering outsourcing social media management.
Social media managers should have marketing or public relations experience, an aptitude for communications and a passion for connecting with people. They should thrive for a challenge and understand the digital landscape better than anyone.
They must also have a great understanding of the various platforms and be able to predict upcoming trends. Finally, the ability to generate genuine content that the public wants to interact with is key.
Many people who use social media for personal reasons may think they possess these skills. But social media for business has its own rules and knowledge base, so hiring a professional is often the best way to go.
Outsourcing social media to a professional means that they understand how businesses can utilize the platforms to promote, test new ideas and create new connections every day. They also likely know how to measure and improve business performance of social media.
As this is a professional service, you can expect a high quality of output, backed by the expertise that person has gained over the years.
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2) Platform-specific knowledge
Most people no longer see social media as a flash in the pan. It’s been around for years, and experienced consultants have been there to watch it rise.
Some social media agencies have found the platforms they deeply understand and get value from, and go all in. They will then specialize in Twitter or Facebook, for example.
When you’re considering outsourcing social media, you’ll want to ask your prospective vendor which platforms they’d recommend. You can likely get a good idea of where they excel through that conversation.
Other agencies choose to stay ahead of platform trends, so instead of becoming Facebook specialists, they create comprehensive digital campaigns or strategies.
This can be helpful, especially if you’re unsure of where your prospective customers currently reside.
3) Knowledge of useful tools
One reason that social media may be taking up too much of your time as a business owner is because you aren’t using the right tools. Social media consultants and agencies have tried out software for managing content, writing, designing and publishing, so they’re likely using the best of the best.
Taking on the challenge of scouring the internet for apps, trying them out and then comparing features could easily take a couple hours each week (if not more).
Social media consultants have the processes and software in place that save them time and money, which in turn, saves you time and money, as well.
When you’re too close to the business, it can be difficult to see things from the perspective of a new customer or client. This can even keep you from communicating your ideas to your audience in a way that they fully understand and appreciate.
An outside agency or consultant can take the time to get to know you, your business and your customers, while adding a fresh take or perspective. A professional can tell confusing jargon from casual conversation, and know when each one is appropriate.
And then there’s social media etiquette. Outsourcing social media management often starts by establishing some ground rules, or addressing situations that may come up.
Agencies often implement a sign-off system to avoid such errors whether those are grammatical errors or off-message posts that do more harm than good.
How you behave online should be the same way you behave with your staff and your clients. Although old habits die hard, mistakes are made and the odd comment here or there could completely devastate your social media efforts and brand.
Having an outlined process for responding to negative (and positive) feedback will save you time down the road, and make sure you avoid unnecessary tension.
One of the most important things to remember is that most people use social media for education, fun and entertainment. Hiring an agency or consultant to manage your social media should be fun for them, and fun for your audience.
Establishing your company’s own unique voice is something that agencies excel in, so if you’re not sure where to start, outsourcing can help. Professionals can also consult on how to balance the fun with the informative so your feed has a healthy dose of both.
The hardest aspect of hiring freelance or contract social media managers is finding ones that you can depend on.
Of course, from a quality of work perspective, but also how available they are. If you have a change of plans and need to communicate with customers quickly, will they be able to handle it? Or, will that be one of your responsibilities?
Establishing expectations upfront can help identify how much notice is needed and how available that person or agency is at any time.
If you’re going with an agency, you’ll likely have multiple people who can step in and assist in a pinch. You’ll likely pay more for an agency than an individual consultant, but if your business is one that needs to respond in real-time, it might be worth the investment.
Now that we’ve covered the greatest benefits to outsourcing, we’re back to where we started: Is it worth the cost?
Hiring a qualified social media manager will cost in the region of $50k-$70k per year, according to the Content Factory. They will likely have a degree, and/or years of experience, and will be embedded in your business and team.
There are benefits to having someone fully engaged with your customers and building your loyal followers. However, hiring someone full-time might not be right for you.
Agencies offer monthly rates for social media management, which can vary from $1,000 to $20,000 per month. Factors that influence this price include amount of hours, scope of the project, size of the business, which services you’re looking for and more.
If you do decide to outsource social media management to a freelancer or contractor, not only are you guaranteed a professional who knows the ins and outs of social media, but the cost is more flexible as you can decide how many hours are needed each month.
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