Should You Be Outsourcing Social Media?

The answer is yes and no – depending which  part of the social media program you’re talking about.

Mark Evans wrote this week in the Sysomos blog

Here’s something that has surprised me in recent months: the number of companies that want their social media tactics to be handled by an external agency – public relations, advertising, digital or pure social media.  These companies want to do social media but they don’t want to do it themselves on a daily basis. Instead, they want to create a strategic plan, and then have a partner do the “heavy lifting” such as running Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts.

About a month ago there was a flurry of conversion on this subject on Twitter and people on both sides of the argument have strong views.

Before you consider outsourcing your social media activity and scripting the content read The Cluetrain Manifesto. And if you read it ten years ago, then read it again.   This little book  predicted exactly how what we now call social media would evolve, and how corporations would react.

And it would seem that some companies still haven’t got that all-important clue that markets are conversations and that the conversation is between the smart people in your marketplace and the smart employees inside your company.

Those smart people out in your marketplace are not looking to engage in pre-scripted messaging with an agency.  And you don’t have to be a genius  to know that you’re not having a real conversation with someone  inside the company.

Your agency can do a lot of preparation and support. They can do the listening and analysis of the conversations.  They can guide your strategy.  They can find evangelists and detractors.  They can help you to encourage these evangelists to spread the word on your behalf.   They can identify the right bloggers and other influencers for you to talk to and even reach out to them to start the relationship. They can set up the Twitter account and the Facebook page.  They can build the blog for you.  They can assist you with the development of an editorial calendar and guide your choice of good content that will spark conversations.

But the conversation needs to be a genuine interaction between the people in your marketplace and your employees.

It’s quite understandable that  some  company execs find that a scary prospect.  They’d much rather have an agency to do this work.  How can we possibly give our employees free rein to speak for us, they wonder.   In fact, a large majority of firms give ‘lack of skills’ as the reason they don’t want to engage.

The solution is to have an agency help you prepare. Create social media policies and procedures and then put your team through social media training so they become your company’s best, and most trusted, conversationalists.

Follow me on Twitter

Image Credit  ShashaW on Flickr