Let’s face it – managing social media for your business can be time consuming. In our recent social media survey, we found that 43% of small businesses spend 6 hours per week or more on social media. That’s precious time for a small marketing team (or army of one)! Given the investment of time required, and the need for someone with expertise, many companies opt to outsource their social media marketing to a consulting agency or individual. In this post, we examine the pros and cons to hiring a consultant vs. keeping your social media marketing in-house, and provide tips for making the right choice for your business.
Why Hire a Consultant?
Staying on top of social media news and updates can be a job in and of itself. For this reason, consultants offer the advantage of having insight into what works and what doesn’t. If you’re a small biz with just a few employees, or just yourself, you may not have the time necessary to devote to staying on top of social media best practices. Here are a few questions a social media manager has to answer on a regular basis:
• What are the new social media channels and are they suitable for my business?
• How often should I post and what time of day gets the best engagement?
• What’s the best type of content to share?
• How can I track social media success?
• How can I increase followers and traffic to my website?
Ever read something that really grabs your attention on Facebook and think, “Wow, that’s clever!”? Odds are, it took the person who posted it a bit of time to come up with it. It’s a type of advertising, after all, and good advertising takes careful consideration. Sure, you could share a discount or offer on Facebook, link it to your webpage and be done, but that may not get the best results. For the highest engagement, posts need to be witty, appropriate, and considerate. Balancing the business needs and tcommunity needs is an art that requires time for creativity.
Consider the difference between these two business posts from Starlite Vineyards. Which do you find more appealing? Clearly the second example garnered more engagement and comments. That’s what you’re going for.
3. Save Money
Yes, you can actually save money by hiring a consultant. By hiring a consultant, you may save the cost of hiring a new full or part-time employee for your staff. Also, if you have, or are thinking of having a current employee manage social media (and by manage, we mean really manage – not post once a week), consider how much that individual is being paid, and what other tasks managing social media is pulling them away from. What is the value of those trade offs for your company?
Why Manage Social Media In-House?
1. Access to Content
Any social media manager you hire will need the support of someone inside your business to access new content and learn about new updates, events, and the like. However, when you manage social media in house, there isn’t a relationship to manage nor lag time to share new updates or content.
Are you at an event and want to share photos? Take pictures with your smart phone and post them directly to your Facebook and Twitter pages in real time. Did you just receive and an award and want to shout about it? Shout away! By managing social yourself, you can get the word out instantly.
Yes, sincerity. Who can be more sincere about your business than the people who actually work there? No one! When you know your business and your customers well, you can express news and updates with a genuine sincerity that is hard to mimic for even the best social media managers. Social media communities appreciate sincerity and transparency.
Add a post to your Facebook page today thanking your customers for something they’ve done, whether it be a good review, a donation, or even just a purchase. Or try sharing some humor that relates to your industry and add commentary. You’ll be amazed with the number of interactions you can get.
Good social media engagement requires a personal touch. Who better to give that than you? Here’s an example:
3. Marketing Integration
If you’re managing your social media in-house, you can ensure it’s well integrated into your email marketing, website, events and other marketing channels. A link from Facebook back to your website only works well if that webpage is updated and current. An email subscriber can only share your content to their social networks if the email gives the option to do so. Integration is key in your overall marketing plan. Typically, when you have an update for your website (ex: a new press release), it’s something you also want to share on email and social media. By managing them all together, you make sure all the channels are updated and working in harmony.
If you do choose to hire a consultant, do the research and compare your options. If you’re a small business, you probably don’t need a big agency with heavy fees. You could try a small business social media services provider, like our VerticalResponse Plus program. And, you may decide to keep your social media in0house. If so, be sure to have a clear social media plan, place someone in charge of doing it and allocate the time necessary to achieve your goals.
Do you plan to keep your social media marketing in house or outsource it this year?