If your child came to you with a story or issue, would you outsource it to another person?
Of course not. But ask yourself why outsourcing your child’s issues would be wrong. After all, a lot of people probably know the answer to the problem or would like to hear your child’s story.
You undoubtedly see this notion as absurd and dangerous. It’s a bit facetious, but I’m using this scenario to illustrate that there’s no substitute for the real thing. Online or off, people can tell when a message is forced or inauthentic.
If it’s wrong to outsource parenting, then doesn’t it stand to reason that leaving your business’s reputation to just anyone can be risky, too? After all, you’ve shed blood, sweat and tears to grow your business and build relationships.
But we must be realistic. Sometimes you have to trust others to deliver your brand’s message.
Many companies outsource all of their social media marketing, and most have really good reasons for doing so. However, they (and you) can easily fall into a false sense of security. We all get busy and, after all, if you’re paying someone to do something, why should you have to babysit him?
To avoid the pitfalls of outsourcing social media, consider these five important tips:
1. Don’t “set it and forget it.”
All social media marketing is collaborative. Whether it’s collaboration between you and your customer, you and your employees, your employees and your customers or all of the above, interaction is essential.
If you outsource social media, you must collaborate with your vendor to provide valuable content that drives leads and sales. “Set it and forget it” just won’t cut it.
2. Develop an in-house process for content creation.
Nobody watches your brand like you do. Quality content takes time, skill, effort and a budget. Sometimes that’s more than you have.
What you do have access to is hyper-local content (i.e. the stories that occur daily within your organization). Simple changes within your operational goals will allow you and your employees to capture and document those stories. Hyper-local content is the most engaging, impactful and lead-generating content you can provide your customers and prospects.
3. Don’t give someone else control of your message.
In the same vein as “set it and forget it,” require your outsourcer to meet with you regularly (weekly at first, then twice a month) to talk about goals. You should have specific key performance indicators (KPIs) your vendor will need to answer for. Growth of audience, engagement, reach and number leads are some of the KPIs we use in my business.
[FREE GUIDE: 6 steps to crafting an internal social media plan]
4. Don’t let a stand-in try to build your relationships.
As we discussed earlier, there is no substitute for the real thing. If you’re going to outsource, make sure you have a solid engagement strategy as well as a voice for the brand-someone within your organization who will monitor, respond, ask questions and lead the prospect down the sales funnel.
I see a huge disconnect with companies who outsource social media and see no results. If you want results, you have to participate—not watch from the sidelines.
5. Don’t leave all your social media marketing to one company.
Outsourcing social media can be the best option for your business. Consider why you’re outsourcing. Maybe it’s a lack of time and resources. Perhaps you don’t fully understand social media, or you think you lack the creativity. There are individual solutions for all of these issues.
You may have resources in some areas but not others. For example, you may have:
- The ability to collect valuable content, but just don’t know how and where to publish it. Solution: training.
- Time for Facebook, but not a blog. Solution: Hire a creative content writer to blog for you.
- A social media manager, but your content doesn’t get results. Solution: Hire a content strategist.
- A horrible online reputation that doesn’t tell the true story of your customers’ experiences. Solution: Hire an expert to help you capture your happy, loyal customers’ opinions online.
- No idea what to do or where to turn. Solution: Hire a social media consultant to design a roadmap for success.
By dissecting your social media and online marketing needs, you can easily tap into your talents while using others’ to build your in-house social media team.
The decision to outsource social media is a difficult one. Use these five critical guidelines to avoid the pitfalls, and you’ll sleep better at night knowing you’ve made the right choice for your business.