Social Media - How Do I Keep Up?
With the rapid rate of change within the digital social spectrum, more small businesses are beginning to ask themselves two questions, “how do we keep up, and should we look into outsourcing our social media efforts?”
The day-to-day tasks of running a business are challenging enough for the average owner and CEO. Social media seldom rises to the top of the priority list. As I heard one CEO explain it, “when you’re fighting alligators, it’s hard to focus on the gnats.”
Social media marketing is its own unique animal. It requires special attention and a level of creativity and analysis. As many business leaders are discovering, it’s not just an extra task to be assigned or something to be ignored.
Before making up your mind to outsource your social media marketing, consider the following four questions.
1. Do I Have The Skills to Create And Manage Our On-Line Presence?
Social media isn’t an excuse to hide behind a computer and not actually talk to anyone. You still need to talk to your followers.
There’s is an art to being socially successful online. Not everyone has the requisite skills. If you truly don’t have the energy, creativity, or drive to be a virtual social butterfly, then don’t. You’ll do more damage to your brand than not engaging within the social media spectrum at all.
If you have a fair amount of time, there are endless resources to teach you how to connect and engage with customers virtually and drive your brand in a positive direction. However, I don’t know too many entrepreneurs and CEOs who have this kind of extra time.
The most valuable pieces of advice I can give you in this regard is to know your audience. Be where your audience is. If they are on the more popular pages such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, be there also. Mimic your customer, talk like them, create content they relate to, and don’t overtly try to elevate yourself above your audience. If this makes you nervous, look to a social media agency who has experience working with and communicating within your industry.
2. Do I Have The Time To Devote To Managing My Social Media?
This is the biggest reason many businesses look to outsourcing their social media activities. It’s much more than just scheduling periodic post and developing some content. You must be strategic, devote time, be intentional, and produce well thought out brand content.
Not to mention; tracking and analyzing your social media, monitoring your brand on-line, growing and engaging with your audience frequently, monitoring conversations, monitoring competitor social intelligence, and most importantly – protecting your brand. Did I mention, this all needs to be done 24/7!
This is not something that can be accomplished a few hours a week. The time you invest in your brands social presence is both time-consuming and profitable. If in doubt, simply search for popular brands you are familiar with. Look at their social messaging, frequency and delivery methods for content. If this isn’t enough, look at your closest three peer-competitors and their brand presence on-line.
If you are one of those small to medium-sized businesses who think, “I don’t have thousands of followers, so I just post now and again and that’s ok,” that couldn’t be further from the truth and you are likely doing more damage to your brand than helping.
Growing your brand following is not as complex as you may believe. However, it does take diligence, consistency, and commitment. It’s not a one and done proposition.
3. How Do I Established A Brand Voice?
Establishing your Brand’s voice or messaging, is everything within social media. As stated earlier, you must know your audience, but you must also know your brand and how it resonates with your customers. You must make an emotional connection, which goes back to understanding where the audience is and why your brand will appeal to them.
How are you trying to connect with your audience? Are your posts funny or sassy? Are you bombarding your audience with calls to action? Are you giving them something for free or possibly appealing to their emotions with a story or blog.
The bottom line here is:
a. If you have an existing brand voice, a good social media agency will be able to multiply this effect quickly by integrating it into a larger strategic methodology.
b. If you’re still looking to create a brand voice and in the early stages, now may not be the best time to outsource your social media. A caveat here is, there are agencies that are very adept at helping you articulate your brand voice, connect it to your company strategic vision, and develop foundation-building milestones to get your brand where it needs to be in a shorter period of time.
c. Finally, If you’re going to outsource, hire a social media agency that is analysis driven in approach. By this I mean the agency should not only get a good understanding of your strategic vision, but also provide you with analytics prior to beginning any social media campaign. Remember, analysis driven, not merely analysis reporting (after the fact).
4. Will My Budget Allow Me To Outsource?
Well, I can’t answer that for you, but I can give you a few things to factor in when making the decision. All social media agencies, independent contractors, and/or content creators come at various price points.
Often times, the outsource price range is much less expensive than an in-house social media manager over the course of a year. I’ve seen social media costs range from $600 to tens of thousands per month. Most depend on these simple factors:
a. Type of outsourcing – freelance, agency level, or an enterprise solution
b. Type of deliverables – posts, content, creativity = higher price
c. Length of contract – longer contracts = lower price
d. Social medial tools – will the agency require you to purchase user accounts?
e. Advertising – it’s well documented that simple organic posts only reach 1-2% of your audience; what else will be provided?
If you determine to support this with in-house social media management, consider these costs:
a. Employees (salary, benefits, etc.).
b. Social media tool subscriptions (can be expensive annual costs).
c. Content creation (time and talent)
d. Social media advertising (frequency, messaging, brand protection)
e. Strategy development and measurement (time and tools).
At this point, the real question is likely, “what should I do?” As a business leader, this is why you get paid the big bucks, as they say. So many factors play a role and some may just be unknown at time.
You may already be overwhelmed with the current “to do” list and need more time carved out for other things so your head doesn’t explode. Been there, done that. If this is the case, do yourself and your sanity a favor…outsource. Even if you only outsource these activities for 12-months, think how much you can focus on the day-to-day growth of the business and at the same time increasing your brands awareness and following.
Obviously you want to do your due-diligence. What will be the expect ROI (how measured) that I can expect with outsourcing? Don’t forget to include the value of time that can now be expended elsewhere. There are always pros and cons to managing your social media in-house or outsourcing.