Outsourcing your social media

Posted on 23 Jan 2017
Reader Question:

Doctor Digital, I’m really struggling with the growth of my business - I can’t keep up with everything that needs to be done! Is outsourcing social media an option without compromising my brand?

Doctor Digital Says:

I’ve always been an advocate of managing social media with a hands on approach, especially in the early set up and development of brand, voice and community. You not only need to set the tone, but you will also get some invaluable insights into what your community wants and how they respond to your products and services. For new businesses this should be seen as a precious resource rather than a chore.

However, I may be softening my stance, as I’ve seen evidence enough now that it is possible once the voice is established to get others to be able to sensitively replicate your messaging and continue to grow your community. The question is, how can you do it in a way that will not harm your brand and ensure that it is truly successful?

Choose a consultant you can trust - One of the most important things to remember is that your social media marketing company or consultant will be creating messages for your brand. This person isn’t just handling your account, they are performing your brand everyday and there is no room for them to mess up their lines. It is a specialist skill, and you want to make sure that they are up to it. So check out their own social media sphere, their website, testimonials. What you see here should fill you full of confidence that they are able to respectfully and faithfully manage your brand. Another great way to find a good consultant is to simply see who your industry peers are using. Reach out your social media channels and professional channels like Linkedin to see if someone else in your industry has a great referral for you that they can vouch for.

Work with them as part of your team - If you do want your social media consultant to handle all of the work for you, thus being the voice of your brand through your social media outlets, you will want to work closely with them. You need to put in some effort managing the relationship and setting up the work to make sure it is delivering. This will be a work in progress for a period of weeks as your relationship develops and the brand is successfully colonised. There are a lot of different things that can come up on your social media accounts that a consultant might need you to deal with, or at least needs to work with you to deal with. Responding to specific customer complaints, for example, is something that you as the business would need to possibly respond to yourself so you can research the problem and find a solution.

Monitor your channels - Regardless of how hands-on or hands-off you want to be with your social media, you are going to need to monitor your consultant’s work. Look at the updates they send to ensure they are timely and relevant. Be sure that your consultant seems to have a firm understanding of your business and your industry. The big one is to check for mistakes – something as simple as a misunderstood status update could create major drama with your social media account. Tone and language are subtle but critical when it comes to social media, and a single word can be devastating. You don’t want that mess left on your profile for any length of time, so working out how you are going to monitor your social media will be part of the process.

Measure the efficiencies and the options – It sounds great at the outset to outsource, and it can be a really good way to get yourself freed up for some more high value work. Do not underestimate the time it will take you to actually manage the outsourcing, and the more critical it is to your business, the closer scrutiny you will need to pay to the contract, consultant and their work. Perhaps before you go down this road you need to more fully explore automation and scheduling (check out the blog on that topic here) and see where you can keep some efficiencies in house. Another option would be to train a staff member or get a casual person within your business to look after your marketing. A junior or fresh graduate could benefit from the experience and you will have someone who is exposed to the brand daily and has a vested interest in growing it, rather than it being one of a suite of products. This may turn out of be a cost effective option too, when your time and the premium of a consultant is factored in.