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21 Jun 2010

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Social Media Marketing

Have you ever considered outsourcing your social media marketing campaign to an Internet marketing company? Here are some pros and cons to doing so, as well as some ways to ensure you get the best social management for your business.

The Pros

Here are just a few of the many pros to letting social media marketing experts handle your social media campaign.

Skip the initial learning curve.

By outsourcing your social media marketing, your business does not have to invest in time and money for learning the tools and technologies involved in marketing your business in social media. Outsourcing social media to a knowledgeable company means that they will handle the ins and outs of the different social networks in terms of selecting the ones that will be best for you, finding the right contacts, spreading your message, and monitoring your brand using the various tools that are available.

Learn from the best.

Ok, this sounds like a contradiction since the first pro was skipping the initial learning curve. But what you can do that will take less initial investment is to watch what your social media specialist does for your company. Which networks do they use? What tools do they use? When do they tweet? What content do they post to your wall? Who do they connect with?

Since most of the social media activities that your outsourcing companies provide will be public knowledge, it will be easy for you to observe what they are doing and see how it benefits your company. In the long run, simply monitoring what they do will help you learn what you could eventually start doing for yourself.

Going beyond just advertising.

There are times that you may need social media for more than just simple marketing and advertising, such as when your company has a crisis, which could be anything from your website being down to something that may seriously damage your reputation.

Social media can play an important role in crisis management. Having your social profiles and networks already setup and running smoothly prior to your crisis will help you be able to send an upfront message early on in the crisis to an established audience. Your campaign manger can also help you in figuring out the best way to respond to any mentions of your brand to help shed positive light on a bad situation.

The Cons(iderations)

I don’t want to say the following are cons of outsourcing your social media strategy so much as they are things to consider when you are asking someone else to handle your social networking.

You know your business best.

Social media companies are going to be experts at social media and Internet marketing, but they are not necessarily going to be experts in your industry. The exception would be if you happen to find someone who only does Internet marketing for your industry, but that can also lead to some serious conflicts of interest if they are working with you and your competitors.

Someone else is creating your first impressions.

The first contact a potential client will have with your company may come via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or another network. This means that it will not be you, but your social media strategist who will be making the first impression of your company for you.

Their hours are not your hours.

Social media is real time. Let’s say that you have a retail store that is hosting a huge event on a Saturday afternoon, and you have a nice sized fan base that may start asking questions about your event starting Friday evening through Saturday morning on Twitter. Most Internet marketing companies work the traditional Monday – Friday, 8 – 5. Who will be answering those questions?

Alleviating Possible Cons(iderations)

So you’ve read some of the few pros and cons, and you still know that the best way to go is outsourcing, but you want to make sure that the cons do not have a negative affect on your company. Here are some ways you can alleviate these, and other cons, from becoming an issue.

Help your social media strategist get to know your company.

You know your company, your industry, and your customers better than anyone. Help your strategist get to know these aspects as well by sharing information with them. This includes sharing your company’s history, where you get your industry news from (magazines, blogs, etc.), and telling them about your targeted demographic for traditional media. This will help your strategist send the right message about your company and industry to the right people online.

Keep your social media strategist "in the loop" of what is going on with your business.

When your company has a sales promotion, it is easy to remember to tell your traditional marketing staff in advance so they can prepare mailers, flyers, brochures, etc. Another person you need to include on this notification list is your social media strategist. If you have a huge sale, promotion, new product or service introduction, and so forth, be sure to let your social media strategist know too so they can help you promote it to your social networks.

Coordinate and schedule updates in advance.

If there are times that you want specific times that you want tweets sent out on your Twitter profile, let your campaign manager know. There are tools that can help them automate your account to send a message at any time you would like.

Have access to your social media accounts.

Make sure that you have your social profile information, including your usernames, passwords, and email addresses associated to each account. This can come in handy for many reasons, including if you see something that you would prefer not to be on your social profile (like a status update that may be questionable to your followers) or if you want to access your account to answer a question or send out an update during your social media manager’s off hours.

Make sure your outsourcing company knows what they are doing.

If you don’t know much about social media, then it may be hard to decide which outsourcing company to go with when you are choosing one to represent your brand. There is a great post on 52 questions that you can ask when hiring a social media company. Even if you don’t fully understand the answers, they can come in handy if you ever want to take over your social marketing in-house.

Your Thoughts on Social Media Outsourcing

What are your thoughts on outsourcing your social media marketing strategies? If you have done it, what has your experience been? If you provide social media marketing services, what information would you like to get from customers to help you provide them with better social networking strategies?