For SMBs, social media is a leading point of customer contact, but most aren’t well equipped to carry out a comprehensive social campaign with videos and advertising. In these cases, the optimal solution is to outsource social media to someone else, rather than trying to keep it in-house.
The Demands of Social Media
“Digital marketing has become more than just generating website traffic,” Marion digital marketing agency explains. “It takes great care, knowledge, and attention to detail to, not only generate the right website visitors, but to turn visitors into customers. It takes a multi-faceted approach across multiple platforms to nurture a visitor through the various stages of the process in order to convert visitors into customers and actualize your revenue goals.”
A decade ago, social media was totally manageable in-house – even for smaller businesses that lacked robust marketing departments. Even five years ago, you probably could have handled most of the tasks on your own and then hired a freelancer to tie up the loose ends. Today, it’s almost impossible for a small business with limited resources to deal with the demands of social media.
Modern social media poses two main problems for SMBs. Not only are there more platforms than ever before – including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn – but there’s also a proliferation of noise, which means you have to make a significant commitment to content creation in order to have any chance of standing out. Social can’t just be about connection anymore. SMBs needs to emphasize innovative, platform-centric content, as well as meaningful transitions from social to onsite content.
In response to the heavy demands of social media, some small businesses just avoid it. In fact, 24 percent of small businesses have no social media presence whatsoever. But even among the 66 percent of small businesses that do, there’s a hefty percentage of companies that don’t give enough attention to social media. For example, what does your SMB know about rich content for social platforms? If you’re wondering what rich content even is, then it’s time to bring external support on board.
It’s easy to let the high-pressure demands of social media make you feel hopeless, but that’s not necessary. Just as social media is blowing up and becoming too much for small businesses to handle, there’s a simultaneous rise in digital marketing professionals and firms who specialize in helping businesses manage the demands of social media through outsourced relationships. As Jeremy Goldman of Firebrand Group notes, larger businesses will staff their social teams with multiple experts, including content writers, photographers, or illustrators, video production specialists, and more. For SMBs, though, the answer to hiring multiple individual experts is usually to contract with an outside company. They can spread your account across a range of experts, part-time, so you get all the content you need at a price an SMB can afford.
How to Outsource Social Media With Success
There’s clearly immense value for small businesses in outsourcing social media. The question is, what does the process look like? And how do you find the right social media manager or firm?
- Choose Based on Reputation, Not Price
The first key is to avoid evaluating social media managers and digital marketing agencies based on price. Sure, price is a practical metric that will come into play, but don’t let it be your guiding force. You typically get what you pay for. What you should be looking for is someone with a good industry reputation, a proven track record, and plenty of positive referrals.
Pay special attention to companies that already work with a lot of SMBs in a similar financial bracket to yours. This can give you a sense of what kind of content they can provide within the scope of your budget. Look at those brands’ accounts and assess what the social team is bringing to the table compared to what you’re doing independently.
- Clearly Define the Scope
“This might seem obvious, but any successful outsourced project always starts with a clear statement of what you are hoping to accomplish,” entrepreneur Keith R. Crosley explains. “Define your project requirements up front.”
Do you want your social team to provide blog content or craft infographics? Can they subcontract that to other writers? How many social accounts do you want them to handle and how distinct should each be? When you provide the scope up front, a social media manager will be able to tell you how they can help and what sort of work will be required.
- Work Closely With Your Partner
There’s a difference between outsourcing and being completely hands-off. You never want to remove yourself from the picture when it comes to your brand’s social media. While the outsourced social media manager will be doing all of the dirty work – like creating and publishing content – you need to be asking questions, offering feedback, and helping with the strategy.
Be direct with your social team – don’t make them guess what you want. If there’s specific content you need for your blog or social accounts, tell your team directly so they aren’t guessing, and give them whatever reference materials you have. If there’s something you want to keep in-house occasionally, don’t be afraid to do so. This is still your business. Just because you hired external help, doesn’t mean you’re at their mercy when it comes to social content.
- Set Measurable Objectives
Just as you would with any employee on your staff, an outsourced partner should be regularly evaluated based on performance. And if you want to evaluate properly, there should be measurable objectives in place. Figure out what these objectives are on the front end and discuss them frequently and openly. This will ensure things continue to move in a positive direction, or will let you know when it’s time to cut ties.
Don’t Compromise Your Voice
Handing off social media to someone else is great, but there’s one huge risk that you face when outsourcing such a significant component of digital marketing: losing your voice. In digital marketing, the brand voice is everything. You know your company’s brand voice because you live it and breathe it every day. Heck, you created the voice. When you hand it off, the challenge is getting your new partner to truly grasp and embody what your brand represents.