Everything You Need to Know About Social Media Outsourcing
Without a doubt, in recent years, Social Media has increased drastically in popularity.
It has been the game changer in almost everything that surrounds us.
According to Statista, the number of Social Media users worldwide increased from 0.97 billion in 2010 to 2.34 billion in 2016!
And these figures are expected to grow.
It is estimated that, in 2018, there will be around 2.67 billion Social Media users around the globe. In 2020, the predictions indicate 2.95 billion users.
What do these "billions" tell us?
The answer is clear: If your business is not yet on Social Media, then it should be ASAP!
There are various social platforms available and it takes several hours a month to capably handle a single Social Media platform.
Just imagine how many more hours you need if your business is on more than one platform!
Therefore, if you don't have the time or resources to manage your company's Social Media, Outsourcing is the solution for you.
In this blog post, we are going to outline all the pros and cons of Social Media Outsourcing, and explain what it actually involves.
Before we start our guide on Outsourcing, we are going to give you a brief overview of the most popular platforms. This way, if you still haven't decided which one(s) to choose for your company, you will have an idea of those that are more appropriate for your business.
Feeling excited already?
Then, let's go!
Most Popular Social Media Platforms
Like we said before, there are many Social Media platforms around. However, we are going to discuss the five most popular ones.
And your company should feature on at least one of these platforms to increase brand exposure, amongst other benefits.
Market leader Facebook was the first social network to surpass 1 billion registered accounts and according to statistics gathered in April 2017, it had 1.97 billion monthly active users.
By June 2017, it reached 2 billion global users! Impressive huh?
Facebook provides an extraordinary medium for your business to connect with your prospective customers all around the world.
Furthermore, from an advertising perspective, Facebook allows for the best possible targeting.
So, needless to say, each and every business should be on Facebook! It's by far the best platform if you want to reach more customers, gain more traffic on your website or increase brand exposure.
As of April 2017, YouTube had 1 billion active users.
Owned by Google, YouTube is a video-sharing website and it's the second largest search engine.
Therefore, when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), videos are more likely to appear in search results than other websites.
Due to its popularity worldwide, many businesses post videos on YouTube to promote their products. Other companies just use it for adverts – they pay for ads to be shown on the videos that are shared.
Instagram is a highly popular photo-sharing platform launched in October 2010 and it was acquired by Facebook in 2012.
According to the latest statistics, Instagram has over 600 million monthly active accounts.
In August 2016, Instagram added Stories – a new feature, similar to Snapchat's capabilities, which allows users to post disappearing stories for a 24-hour period.
In less than a year, Instagram Stories surpassed Snapchat's rate and, as of June, this feature alone has 250 million daily active users compared to Snapchat's 166 million.
So, you can easily see how powerful Instagram is!
Many businesses use Instagram for advertising purposes, given that these can be created with the same tools used to create Facebook ads.
Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, aka "tweets", restricted to 140 characters. Registered users can post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them.
Twitter sits in 10th place in the most famous social network sites worldwide with more than 319 million active users.
The true value of Twitter can be seen when posts go viral – the more people share your posts by "retweeting", the more followers you will attain.
Hashtags, such as #social, are also very important in Twitter. When a hashtag becomes extremely popular, it will appear in the Worldwide Trends area.
As of April 2015, Twitter was mostly popular in Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India. USA, for example, was in 18th place!
In Malta, it's not as popular as Facebook. However, certain companies like HSBC, do use it frequently.
You can advertise on Twitter as well, of course, but it's not as good as Facebook's.
LinkedIn is the least popular in our list with 106 million active users.
Obviously, there's a reason for that.
LinkedIn is a business- and employment-oriented social networking service – therefore, it's mainly used in a B2B (business-to-business) field.
On the other hand, the social platforms we mentioned above, apart from being used by businesses, are also used by a very large number of normal users sharing content – like photos and videos – with their friends.
LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for companies because it allows them to connect with business professionals in any industry and build new relationships with key prospects, for example.
Like all the other platforms mentioned above, with LinkedIn you can also create ads to promote your business or vacancies available within your company.
And that is the end of our review of the most popular Social Media platforms which you can use for your business.
Next up .... Outsourcing 😊
Bring it on!
What is Social Media Outsourcing?
Like we said in the introduction of this blog, if your company is not ready or able to commit the kind of time and personnel to manage your business's Social Media channels, then you have to Outsource it.
And what is Outsourcing, you may ask?
Outsourcing is when businesses find outside experts to help them run or completely manage their Social Media, instead of managing it internally.
Now that you know the true definition of Outsourcing, we are going to list the pros and cons of this decision.
Pros of Outsourcing
The biggest and, most obvious advantage, is that Outsourcing will give you more time to focus on your core business activities.
This is even more relevant for small business owners who are involved in all aspects of their company.
Secondly, by assigning the responsibility of your Social Media to a marketing professional or a Social Media consultant, you will definitely receive valuable expertise.
By working with a consultant or agency, you get access to their knowledge and expertise about Social Media marketing, which you can apply to your business.
Third, turning to an agency or Social Media consultant, ensures that someone is paying attention to your social accounts and your audience.
What does this mean?
We will give you an example to understand better.
Your business has a Facebook Page that was created a couple of years ago and, because of time restrictions or a lack of personnel, you haven't posted on the Page for a long time.
Apart from that, many current and prospective customers have been commenting on your posts and/or messaging you via the Page but you never found the time to get back to them.
Now you tell me – what does this mean for your business?
Yep, you guessed ... it definitely means that your company is getting bad publicity.
Because all those customers who are trying to communicate with your company, by using the most popular and widely used Social Media channel, aren't getting any feedback from you.
You're simply ignoring them!
And what will they think or say?
Without a doubt, they will judge your company by the lack of response (or no response at all) that they're getting.
They will say: "This company couldn't care less about my questions or comments, imagine the type of After-Sales Service that I will receive if I buy from them!"
That means that you're losing customers!
Keep in mind that mistrust expressed by word of mouth and through Social Media can take years to repair.
If customers are angry or frustrated by your lack of communication on Social Media, they will vent their fury both by word of mouth and on Social Media.
As Sophie Elizabeth Smith says, in her Digital Marketing Institute blog, Social Media IS a customer service channel – whether you like it or not!
Apart from being a place where you can connect with family and friends, Social Media also provides a platform for potential and existing customers to reach out to your company and seek help when they have queries, issues or concerns.
Therefore, if customers make the effort to contact you by means of Social Media, they expect a response!
This is why the third advantage of Outsourcing that we mentioned earlier is very important.
By trusting a Social Media consultant or an agency with the responsibility of your Social Media, you can put your mind at rest that your social accounts and, most importantly, your audience are being given the attention that they should get.
After all, that's their job.
You will pay them to manage your Social Media channels and they will do so every day, for a minimum of 8 hours a day, week in week out.
This way, your Social Media platforms will always be updated and your audience are being treated as they should.
Some might argue: "Oh well, they can always call us or visit our shop / offices!"
But then, why did you create a Facebook Page, Twitter Account or any other Social Media account in the first place?
To attract more customers and promote your products, brand or service – no?
So what's the use of having an outdated Social Media channel with no communication at all with your customers?
It doesn't make sense.
As a result, if you want to keep attracting more customers from Social Media but don't have the time for it, leave it in the hands of professionals.
Cons of Outsourcing
Like everything else in life, Social Media Outsourcing has some disadvantages as well.
Each business is authentic in its own way, with a certain style that sometimes is difficult to copy.
When you give control to someone who's not actually part of your company, you might lose that authenticity.
Obviously, by time, the agency or consultant managing your Social Media will become almost a "part of your company".
However, in the first few weeks or months, the agency or consultant might fail in their bid to try and mimic your business's voice and style.
That is a risk that comes with Outsourcing .... and also, disadvantage no.1!
Disadvantage no.2 ...
Sometimes, Outsourcing creates a wall between yourself and your audience – your current and potential customers.
What do we mean by this?
If a customer has a query or a serious concern, they have to go through the agency or consultant first. If the consultant has no idea how to respond to that query – because he or she is not part of your company and thus, doesn't know the procedures, policies, answers etc. that are required – then, the query must be forwarded to you (or someone within the company) to be handled appropriately.
And that results in a slower response rate which, in turn, can also lead to bad publicity.
Source: Freerange Stock
Needless to say, this can be resolved by keeping this customer interaction in-house.
That is, you or someone from your company will take care of queries etc. received from customers, while the agency or consultant will manage all the other aspects of your Social Media.
As we will see further below, this is something that will have to be discussed with the agency or consultant the first time that you meet to negotiate Outsourcing.
The last disadvantage is very much related to the previous one.
Social Media is about the conversation. The best way to build your Social Media strategy is to connect and engage.
As Jason Falls suggests in this interview, the benefit of Social Media is in the conversation.
Source: Freerange Stock
If you just broadcast and don't interact with your audience, you will lose followers because they will get the feeling that you're ignoring them or don't care about them.
You might recall that this is also related to the example we mentioned in the Pros section, where we outlined the consequences of having an outdated Page.
What are we saying here?
Simple: Outsource the technical parts of your Social Media platform but stay involved.
Dedicate a few minutes throughout the day to check your Social Media feeds. Retweet, share, reply to your audience's comments and messages – get involved and engage with people.
Always keep in mind that:
- Social Media conversations are dialogues and even “multi-logues”, where others listen to your 1-on-1 conversations.
- Social Media is about building long term lasting relationships with customers by interacting with them.
- You should listen for and respond to both positive and negative comments. This multiplies the good vibes around your brand or company.
When deciding whether to Outsource or not, remember that people do business with people they know, like and trust.
By interacting with your customers on a regular basis, you are definitely earning their trust!
What Does Social Media Outsourcing Involve?
We've reached the point where you must decide who shall be responsible for your Social Media channels.
Of course, it's not a decision to be taken lightly.
You must ensure that Outsourcing will not harm your brand or company and that it is truly successful.
The Social Media agency or consultant that you will choose will be creating messages for your brand.
Therefore, anything they say on your behalf might be the first (or last) thing someone sees from your company.
With this mind, you will want to hire a consultant that you can trust.
How do you do this?
By following these guidelines:
- Create a shortlist of the Social Media agencies or consultants in your area.
- Find out more about them by checking their website, Facebook Page etc.
- Schedule a meeting with those that fit the bill to see what they offer and if you can trust them or not.
After the meetings, you should ask yourself: Do I want to allow these people full control of my Social Media or only partial?
Full Control of Your Social Media
By full control, we mean even customer interaction like replying to comments and messages.
As we said earlier, this is not always recommended because it is advisable that you engage with your audience.
Having said that, if you feel comfortable with the consultant that you chose and you think that he / she can do a good job (maybe he / she knows your industry very well) – then go ahead!
BUT, still, you should dedicate a few minutes a day interacting with YOUR customers!
You can't just assign an outsider with the task of managing your Social Media and completely forget about it!
As we will see in a while, you must also monitor your consultant's work – otherwise, it could lead to trouble.
With full control of your Social Media, the agency or consultant will obviously manage everything – posts, analytics, marketing strategies, comments, messages etc.
The whole lot.
However – sorry if we're going to repeat it (but it's important) – you must find time to engage with your audience, even if the agency or consultant has full control!
And, even though the agency or consultant has full control, you must ensure that you have Administrative privileges on your Social Media platform.
Let us use Facebook as an example.
In Facebook you must make sure that your personal profile has an Admin role on the Page. This way, you can see and do everything – after all, it's your Page!
Note: To create a Page on Facebook, you must have a personal profile. You can't add a Page without a personal profile. Then, your personal profile will be assigned to the Page you created and can be used to manage it etc. The posts created on the Page will use the Page's 'profile'; that is, your business's name.
Partial Management of Your Social Media
If you're uncomfortable with having someone else interacting directly with your customers, then you can always opt for the partial package.
In this scenario, the agency or consultant will manage the publishing of your posts, monitor insights and analytics for audience reach and engagement, and take care of ads.
Your job would be to get involved with your customers via comments, messages etc.
This way, the most important part of Social Media – customer interaction – will be your responsibility.
The Setup and Strategy Only Approach
There's also another option, if needs be – the Setup and Strategy Only approach.
If you believe that you're capable of managing your Social Media channel(s) but require assistance to set them up and use them, then you can hire an agency or consultant to help you with this.
The initial Social Media setup includes signing up for Social Media sites, configuring profiles, designing custom Cover Photos and/or Background Designs and setting up Social Media management tools, if necessary.
Usually, these are the biggest hurdles to getting started with Social Media.
After the initial setup and configuration, spend some time with the Social Media consultant so that he / she can show you the basics of Social Media including:
- Facebook – how to write and schedule posts, check your Timeline for customer posts, reply to comments and messages, use the data in Insights and configure Facebook ads.
- Twitter – how to monitor brand mentions and industry discussions, write catchy tweets in 140 characters, check direct messages, use Analytics and configure Twitter ads.
As soon as you feel comfortable with the basics, you can then ask your consultant to prepare a Social Media strategy for you.
What is this?
It's a plan that, first and foremost, must highlight the goals that your company wants to achieve with Social Media.
After setting up goals, the strategy should include things like how often you should update your channels, what types of posts to publish, when to use marketing campaigns, and the types of ads you should publish; amongst others.
Discussing The Terms of Outsourcing With The Chosen Agency or Consultant
By selecting either the full control or the partial management package, you have decided to entrust the Social Media agency or consultant with the task of being the voice of your brand through Social Media.
Therefore, at this point, you have chosen the agency or consultant that you want to use and the type of control that you want to give them.
Next step .... set up a meeting with the 'chosen one'!
In this meeting, you will:
- Inform the agency or consultant what you want from them – whether full control or partial management of your Social Media.
- Negotiate the price for their services.
- Schedule regular meetings (ideally once a month) to discuss the plans for the next 30 days and any other issues.
What plans, you might ask?
It's the same Social Media strategy that we mentioned a few seconds ago ⤴️
Let us explain.
Although you're not going to actually take care of your Social Media, you still want to dictate what must be posted – right?
So, these monthly meetings will be sort of brainstorming sessions.
You will start with the setting up of goals and then discuss ideas about your future Social Media posts, the time in which they must be posted, their frequency etc. with the agency or consultant you hired.
Furthermore, the meetings are used to provide the consultant with any business-related information that he / she can use in your posts, and the consultant will furnish you with reports about how your Social Media channels are performing.
Why are these meetings important?
Well, first of all, it's your Social Media channel and you decide what must be shared.
You will feed the information to the agency and then, they will use their expertise to transform it into Social Media posts.
Needless to say, the agency will offer their suggestions as well and you must never ignore them.
But, ultimately, it's your business (and your Social Media channel) – so you have the final decision.
Secondly, if for example your business is legally regulated and cannot say certain things, you will need to make sure that your consultant knows those things before allowing them to start updating on your behalf.
Makes sense, huh?
Finally, you will keep yourself updated about the status of your Social Media channels by evaluating the statistics issued by the consultant or agency.
As you can see, irrelevant of the option you choose – full control or partial – you still need to work closely with the agency or consultant.
This also means that the agency or consultant must provide you with immediate support (via e-mail, phone etc.) should you, for example, have questions about your Social Media.
Monitoring Your Social Media Consultant's or Agency's Work
This is very important!
Why is it important?
We will answer that with another question: What if the consultant is uploading posts that you think are somewhat irrelevant to your business or brand?
Yes, you have discussed what must be posted but maybe, for some strange reason, the consultant isn't following your guidelines.
Maybe your consultant doesn't have a firm understanding of your business and your industry as yet.
Therefore, you must monitor everything that's posted to make sure that he / she is posting according to your satisfaction.
And what about mistakes?
Everyone makes mistakes of course.
So it's extremely important that you check for mistakes – something as simple as a misunderstood status update could create major havoc with your Social Media account!
Another thing that you should check is whether the Social Media updates are being uploaded at an appropriate time.
Needless to say, consultants will check analytics to see at what times the majority of your audience is usually online and post accordingly.
However, if the consultant is not posting at the right time, then your Social Media posts are not reaching your audience.
What should you do?
Monitor your consultant's or agency's work continuously and take action by informing them about your concern immediately!
Regardless of how hands-on or hands-off you want to be with your Social Media, you must always monitor your consultant’s work.
Everyone agrees that, nowadays, the world is totally dominated by Social Media.
From a business perspective, not being on at least one Social Media platform, means that you're lagging behind.
You're losing customers.
Because marketing is shifting from Traditional to Digital.
And if you want to market / promote your products or brands to attract more customers, your company must be online – including Social Media.
It doesn't mean that Traditional Marketing has died – far from it.
But, Digital Marketing has become far more popular and beneficial. In fact, most businesses depend solely on it!
As a result, if you don't have the time or resources to manage your company's Social Media, Outsourcing it can be a great boost for your online marketing strategy.
Like we said in this blog, Social Media is about the conversation.
So, if you're going to Outsource your Social Media, keep in touch with your current and prospective customers.
Engage with them.
Show them that you care.
By interacting with your customers on Social Media, you are earning their trust .... and the trust of their families and friends.
You are gaining more customers. Good publicity travels fast too, both by word of mouth and via Social Media.
You see how powerful Social Media is? 😉
Here at Digico, we offer Social Media Services as well. Take a look at what we offer.
No worries! Get in touch with us by clicking here or on Facebook and we will gladly assist.
Do you know of any other pros and/or cons of Social Media Outsourcing?
Did you or your company ever try Outsourcing? How was the overall experience?
We'd love to hear your feedback ... let us know by commenting below 👇🏻