The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Social Media Marketing

outsourcing social mediaIf, like me, you find yourself dedicating more and more time to social media, you’re certainly not alone. In a recent survey by our sister website, 56% of business owners claimed to be spending at least 5 hours a week managing their social media profiles, and a staggering 28% are spending over 10 hours a week!

That’s a quarter of an average working week just spent tweeting, sharing and posting.

Is this Time Well Spent?

For a small business that’s an awful lot of time to be spending on marketing that for many remains unproven and broadly speaking unmeasurable. The challenge though is that even if you are ploughing hours of time into social media, you may not necessarily be the right person for the job.

Of course, you know your business better than anyone, but just like other forms of digital marketing, social media is something of an art form and perhaps one that is best left to those with the right knowledge, experience and most importantly, enough time.

Should Your Manage In-House or Outsource?

So, to give your social media marketing the best possible chance of success, should you a) hire an in-house social media marketing manager or b) outsource to a social media consultancy?

Keep reading then as we examine the pros and cons of both solutions and offer advice to help you make the right choice for your business.

The life of a social media manager3 Reasons to Outsource to a Social Media Consultant

  1. You’re Lack of Time
     

    The first and usually the most common reason for outsourcing social media, lack of time is always an issue, particularly for small or new businesses.
     
    The responsibility for tweeting and posting to Facebook will usually fall to the business owner who of course will almost certainly have less time to spare than anyone else which usually leads to a situation where you find yourself tweeting on the train between meetings and posting to facebook while you’re on the loo.
     
    This approach is unlikely to make much of an impact on your competitors.
      
    Social Media is a form of advertising and as such requires thought, creativity and genuine consideration. You need to understand what makes your followers tick to successfully engage with them, to keep them coming back for more and most importantly of all, to encourage them to share your message.
     
    Click on the image opposite to get an insight into the typical working day of a Social Media Manager. Still think you’ve got time…?
     
  2. Greater Knowledge & Expertise
     

    Let’s pretend for a moment that you do have time to manage social media for your business. After all, its your business so who better right? Well perhaps, but ask yourself, do you possess the right skills and experience to know what works in order to build your social profiles
     
    Consider these 5 questions:
    • Which Social Media Platforms will work best for your business? There are many more besides Twitter and Facebook
    • What are the very latest Social Media Platforms? Are you up to date with all things social?
    • What type of information should you post? How will this engage your followers?
    • What is the best time of day to post? Are some days better than others? Should you be posting at weekends when you’re “not at work”?
    • How do you know if something works or doesn’t work? Can all this be measured?
       
  3. It’s Cheaper & ‘Safer’ than Hiring In-House
     
    For a small business, hiring an employee can be risky and expensive, particularly one that is dedicated to a task still deemed by many to be more about brand awareness or customer service than lead generation and sales.
     
    With recruitment costs, overheads, National Insurance and pension provisions to consider, not to mention ensuring that you get the right person for the job, many deem outsourcing social media to a proven Consultancy to be a safer option and in most cases should cost considerably less than a full time employee too.

4 Reasons to Manage Social Media In-House

  1. To Retain Comfort & Control

    If the idea of outsourcing the management of your social media profiles to a complete stranger sounds terrifying, then a safer, more comfortable option might be to hire someone to manage it in-house.
     
    Working in this way will allow you to meet regularly to discuss strategy and objectives, to have final approval on the messages your company puts out and to better handle difficult situations should they arise. 
     
    Be careful here though, the reason you’re employing this person is to take the weight off your shoulders so ensure you delegate and give them enough freedom and responsibility to fly. If you’ve hired the right person you shouldn’t need to approve everything they say online.
     
     
  2. Sincerity & Transparency are Crucial for Building Relationships
     
    If you developed your social media communities from scratch you’ll almost certainly know many of your friends and followers well, perhaps having done business with them. It’s really important that these relationships are maintained and this isn’t always possible when an outsider takes control because they simply don’t know your history.
     
    With that in mind, having someone working with you in-house gives you the opportunity to train them and guide them and of course for them to get to know you as a person. This is important if they are to convey the same business message that you’ve worked hard to build.
     
  3. Better Value for Money & Knowledge of Your Business
     
    If you employ someone to work in house, you can be sure that, aside from the odd sneaky post on their own Facebook page, they will spend 99% of their time working on your social media. The same of course can’t be said for a Consultancy who will no doubt be working for many other clients besides you.
     
    Whilst this may simply come down to working out “What you’re getting for your money”, the output of an employee is easier to monitor and will without doubt provide you with more work for your money. The question of course is whether this extra work benefits your business and this will really depend on the quality of the person you’ve employed. Read my tips for hiring a Social Media Manager below.
     
    One thing’s for sure though, working in your business rather than outside it will, in time, mean they are far more knowledgable about your products and services which will surely help them to better promote you online.
     
  4. Improved Timing & Integration 
     
    Like much in life, success with Social Media relies on good timing. Your ability to respond instantly to world events, competitor promotions and even customer complaints will make you appear up to date, responsive and caring; all qualities people or companies look for when choosing a partner or supplier.
     
    Hiring in-house employee provides better scope for this level of responsiveness that a Consultancy may not be able to offer. After all, they can’t work for every client at once can they!?
     
    Furthermore, if other parts of your digital marketing are also handled in house,  your website or email marketing, for example, it will be much easier to share files and information between your ‘digital departments’ and it will also enable them to integrate with each other e.g. making sure the right content is in place on your website before your social media campaigns kick in to action and if necessary to quickly tweak things.

Tips & Advice for Hiring a Social Media Manager

Whichever solution you go for, it’s important that you hire the right person for the job. So to help, we’ve put together a few tips below. Most apply directly to hiring in-house but don’t be afraid to ask a consultancy the same questions.

  1. Use Psychometric testing to help ensure the person will be a good fit in your company
  2. Ask the same questions of them that I prompted you to ask yourself at the beginning of this post
  3. Check their own social media profiles. How active are they? Which ones do they use? Can they spell!?
  4. Ask for references from a) previous employers b) previous clients c) check their LinkedIn profile
  5. Get them to look at your business’ social profiles and ask them to tell you what’s good and bad. If they tell you that they’re great then you’re interviewing the wrong person. What you’re looking for are ways in which they would improve them.
  6. Tell them about an upcoming (or imaginary) event or promotion that you’re planning and ask them for ideas on how they would promote it using social media

 

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and that it’s provided you with some good information on whether or not you should outsource your social media campaigns. Be sure to let me know how you get on.

The Hectic Schedule of a Social Media Manager Infographic courtesy of SocialCast.

avatar Name: James Briggs
About: James is a Digital Marketing Consultant with over 12 years of design, development, search engine optimisation and project managment experience previously fullfilling a number of senior roles for two of the South's most well established and successful digital marketing agencies before setting up WebSafe Solutions Ltd in 2009. In his own words..."I've planned, designed and developed countless websites and am proud to have helped hundreds of clients to get the very best from their digital marketing campaigns. Some would say I have an unusual blend of knowledge, skill and experience and for my sins I'm an absolute perfectionist!"
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