If you did a double-take when you first read the title, then you’re one of the people that know that I recently got hired at a social media agency. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I was interested in applying at a company like Prodigi is that I never got the idea behind it, so what better way to learn than putting myself dab right in the middle of one? And I love it. I now know that there are hundreds of reasons why a company might want to outsource its social media efforts, but I want to highlight today five reasons that aren’t.
1) You don’t “get” Social Media
A local saying in Jordan goes “Leave the bread to the baker”. Social media is a young science, if it can be called that. For young to mid-sized companies, it’s best defined as the missing link between marketing and sales that everybody has been looking for. It is also a very effective branding tool. I always thought that it should be an integral part of any company’s structure in order for it to be effective at all, but more on that later.
The bottom-line is, if you don’t know why you need social media, you probably don’t. The downsides of having a bad or no social media strategy outweigh the benefits of simply having a social media presence. If you’re a strategy setter wherever you are, make sure you try and “get” social media and what it means to your business and brand, before you embark on any social media effort.
2) It’s cheaper to outsource
You probably don’t afford to have a dedicated social media department in your company, or thought you could cut some corners by simply outsourcing it. Sure, that might seem like a good reason to outsource, but how cheap can you go? It takes a lot of effort and time to run social media campaigns, and if you couldn’t afford to do it on your own, don’t expect that a social media agency can do the same exact thing for much cheaper. You will always get what you pay for, so keep that in mind when picking an agency or deciding to do it in-house.
3) It worked for competitor X
If you honestly don’t see why you need social media, and you’re just giving in to peer pressure, then you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. You can’t really measure ROI and success in traditional ways with social media. Sure, there are lots of numbers, and many PR and social media agencies won’t hesitate to show you these numbers, but these numbers can often more delude than inform. You can spend years playing catch-up in fan numbers with your competitors, but is that really what you need?
Having a highly loyal, and highly authentic online following is priceless, and they’re also things that you really can’t measure easily, especially from the outside. Try to focus on making it work for you, and if you’re doing good, stop worrying about competition. Just keep that in mind before deciding to outsource or not, and who to outsource to.
4) You’ve tried social media and failed
Again, this is very similar to the first reason. Before deciding to hire a social media agency, or even starting a department of your own, you really have to see how well they integrate into the existing structures in your company. Your social media channels can be the cherry on top of a comprehensive marketing campaign, and they could also be the spark of a huge sale, so make sure that whoever is handling your social media is both trained, and briefed on when to take over from your marketing team, and who they can handover in your sales team, and how to identify those opportunities.
5) I Just want a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
With social media brands have something they’ve never had before. Your target demographic are having a big party, inviting their friends, and you’re invited. Don’t mess it up. You have to decide how you want your brand to be represented. You don’t want to be the guy going around saying, “Be my friend. Why do you like them more than you like me? They suck!”.
You can be a broadcaster, with a whole crowd of people around you listening to what you say, or the engager, talking to everyone and switching from conversation to conversation, or you can even be the guy who lurks and listens, only talking when he’s talked to. There is no right answer for everyone, just make sure that it’s you making that choice as part of your overall strategy, and any really good agency should be flexible enough to give you that.
Don’t take this article as a general warning against Social Media agencies, just make sure that when you decide to outsource, that you pick a company that “gets” Social Media right.