Big news lately as giant companies such as Nike are ditching their agency or consultant relationships and bringing social media in-house. While every situation is unique, I strongly believe that social media should be outsourced regardless of the size of the organization. I do not believe this only because I am a social media consultant and community manager.
Why should you outsource your social media?
I know my business best
Exactly! You’re in the business of what you’re in the business of doing — not social media. A social media specialist can (and should) work with you to determine what your goals are, which social media channels may benefit your organization and how (and how much) you need to interact within those channels to be truly effective. Be good at what you’re good at. Social media is both an art and a science and trying to master it while still doing your original (more than) full-time job is a slippery mountain path towards disaster.
Okay, so I'll hire a specialist in-house
That is, of course, an option. But when someone becomes an employee, they become entrenched in the company/brand mission and culture. That is good, it's what you want in an employee! However, you then lose the very valuable perspective of what people "on the outside" want to know about who you are and what you do. And remember, it's your audience (and their dollars) that are also "on the outside." The right social media specialist will take the time to get to know your company and will be invested in your success (after all, your success is their success as well), but they don't live and breathe what you do every single day. This unique, educated perspective can lead to an amazing creative collaboration and results.
I’ve got people here, it’s easier to just have them do it
You hired your current employees to do a specific job and their skill sets may not include a great understanding of social media. Also, as you may have noticed, when you give an employee yet another task to do, sometimes that task ends up on the bottom of a to-do list. So…that might be why your Twitter account is only updated around quarterly review time. When you work with a social media specialist, simply and clearly define resources and roles. “If there’s a customer with an issue, here’s who to contact,” for example. Or, “We’ll handle X, if you’ll handle Y and Z.” You can then remove these time-consuming activities from your plate. Schedule regular, brief check-ins and reviews and your social media specialist will take it from there.
But we have a company/brand voice
When it’s too close to home, the voice of your company/brand can be flat — filled with jargon and inside baseball. Also, large organizations tend to be very risk averse and even a simple message can take three weeks to go through legal and compliance. The specialist you work with will have enough distance and knowledge to take smartly calculated risks quickly — a MUST with social media. But because they’re not involved with proprietary information, you don’t need to worry about accidental disclosure. Follow and communicate clear industry guidelines, lay out best practices and work with someone you trust to build and maintain an innovative company/brand voice.
Whether you work together on strategy and tactics or come up with the strategy as a company then outsource the tactics, as long as you know and trust your social media consultant, you’ll likely save money and time while enjoying an innovative outside focus and perspective that ultimately informs and drives your customers to take action.