Outsourcing Social Media: Good or Bad Idea?

One of the big concerns about using social media for business and marketing is time. Social media activities do pose a risk of drawing you in and taking up a huge amount of your day just interacting with people.

Add that the technology is changing all the time.  It can seem impossible to keep up with all the tools, software, techniques, etiquette, and social media best practices.

It’s hardly surprising that people are looking to social media consultants, agencies and contractors to take on their social media activity. But should you? Let’s explore this.

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Social Media

Getting outside help is a good idea, especially if it keeps you from making blunders which could negatively impact your image and reputation. It can also help you short cut the route from absolutely square one to gaining the benefits and return on investment that you look for.

There is a danger though in that many companies are not just looking for help but offloading all their activity onto an outside agency who is not integrated into the company but still representing them in social media.

This might seem strange to see coming from a social media consultant. You would think perhaps that I would be all in favor in social media gurus getting more paid work. Actually, I see it as a problem and I think it is the consultants job to help clients draw the line.

Consultants, I feel, should focus on training you or your in house staff, or helping you recruit someone with appropriate skills who can join the company and learn its culture and processes. In my view the consultants job is to get the company to the point where the consultant is hardly needed any more, apart from to be on call when there is a question or issue that needs their help, or when there are new developments and changes that need to be brought to the clients attention.

Get help, coaching and advice? Yes, of course. Would I suggest you Outsource everything? No.

Now, don’t get me wrong, not all outsourcing is bad, and I am fully aware that your time is likely precious, scarce and in demand!

Points to Consider:

  • External people do not have all the facts – There is a limit to how much you can train someone who is outside your organization and more than likely sat in an entirely different building. If they are constantly checking information and requesting answers, how much time are you going to save?
  • You could be locked in or even held hostage – The deeper you get into outsourcing the harder it might become to extricate yourself and take it in house. Can you be sure that if the relationship with your outsourcer goes bad that you can continue as if nothing has happened? You might find your following is not your audience at all, or that with a few clicks they can make you look very bad indeed.
  • Outsourcers are not empowered to make decisions or take action - If someone contacts someone within your organization with a problem they can usually get the issue sorted pretty quickly. An outsourcer on the other hand might have limited options or be little help outside of their “script”.
  • Company culture should be communicated accurately – It is hard to communicate a company culture that you are not part of.
  • Internal staff have more motivation – When you work for a company you feel more ownership and loyalty than someone who is outside and detached.
  • Industry terms and details can confuse outsourcers – Customers of the company, media contacts and real niche geeks will all use the industry jargon and shorthand. How much of this can the outsourcer pick up, and will they be convincing?
  • A large benefit of social media is networking – If someone is only there to look like they are engaging a niche, then your company will not get the full networking benefits that social media provides. Do you hire an actor to go to industry events and exhibitions for you?
  • You might risk your brand on the communication of a freelancer - Can your outsourcer be trusted to say and do the right thing when it counts?

OK, it might seem like I am being overly negative and pessimistic, but there are some areas that are pretty safe to outsource provided you monitor and manage the situation well:

What Can You Safely Outsource?

  1. Content formatting and editing – You might not be the best when it comes to grammar and design, but have something to say. That’s fine, get someone to take on the polishing provided you communicate using your own voice.
  2. Friend Requests – There is nothing wrong with having an assistant filter out the obvious junk from your following, lists, friend requests, networking contacts and so on before you give them the final approval.
  3. Research Content – You might find an outsourcer can find information faster and higher quality.
  4. Bookmarking Submissions – Repetitive tasks where you are not dealing with people can be handled by an assistant or software, providing you stick to the service rules and only contribute good valuable content.
  5. Audio and video editing – If your multimedia abilities start and end with hitting the big red record button, no worries – get a professional to tidy, enhance and add effects. They can advise you on how to make the best of what you have too.
  6. Content uploads – Your time is best served adding to your bottom line, not watching progress bars!
  7. Brand monitoring – Rather than sit watching reports and streams of search results, have someone else monitor your brand mentions and jump in to respond as and when necessary.
  8. Transcriptions – If you work best with your voice rather than writing, speak and record and get your content transcribed. The audio can be used as a podcast and the written version can be used in blog posts or as social media responses.
  9. Blog and fan page housekeeping – Deleting spam, checking links, handling competition entries, and so on, can all be given over to an assistant.
  10. Software and IT management - Get someone with technical skills to look after your software upgrades, data backups, security, and so on and you will be able to relax knowing it is all taken care of.

Bottom line: Avoid outsourcing your relationships.

Where outsourcing works best is when a personal response is not necessary, when anyone can follow a simple system or where the task is taking your work and enhancing it. It is at its worst when the experience feels fabricated, deceptive or dismissive.

So what is the answer?

In my view the best answer is to either train someone in house in social media with ongoing support, or bring someone in with the appropriate skills, a passion for your product, service or niche, and make them part of your organization with important contacts on speed dial for when anything out of the ordinary happens.

Do you outsource any part of your social media activities? Perhaps you perform outsource services? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below…

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About the Author, Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is co-author of the book Problogger, professional blogger, Internet Marketing Consultant, new media industry commentator, writer, coach, speaker, trainer and web geek. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.webuildyourblog.com/ Andrew Rondeau

    I outsource my article directory and blog carnival submissions plus a fair amout of IT software set-up. You do have to explain in great detail exactly what you want your outsourcers to do. But once you do that, it’s just a matter of repeating over and over again.

    This has enabled me to free a fair bit of my time and create my first IM related product.

    Andrew

  • http://www.olindaservices.com/ Lisa Olinda

    As a virtual executive assistant I do social media work for several non-profit groups. The challenge that is faced with the non-profit groups is changing leadership and no infrastructure to handle the social media. I have developed their online presence and maintain that presence. I agree that it is great for someone in-house to handle social media but there are instances where small organizations with limited staff which are elected offices that change yearly need to outsource.

    In the non-profit cases I do not speak for the client, I respond to a reply or DM if needed after speaking with a staff member. I incorporate blog entries into their social media stream and incorporate relevant news from other groups with similar interests.

  • TKMVirtualServices

    I am a Virtual Assistant that specializes in Social Media. The base of what I do is the creation of social profiles. but from there I also offer monitoring services. I often use information from my client’s websites as items to tweet about and help direct traffic to the site. If the client has upcoming events, I can easily create a posting for the event and share it with their contacts. It’s also fairly easy to screen incoming e-mail. I also add to networking because I can send follow up nice to meet you messages or add them into any of my client’s social media sites. I have a dozen or so clients I work with either on short term or long term basis and have had great success. It’s amazing how much time the little things here and there add up. My clients can now use that time to work more directly on the things I can’t do. Also, be sure to check around. There are hundreds of different types of Virtual Assistants – some specialize with realtors, lawyers, marketing, etc. and social media A great resource for different types of Virtual Assistants is http://www.virtualassistantforums.com/

  • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

    I’m pretty negative about outsourcing the “personal” presence points, like Twitter. I don’t mind as much for articles, but why bother using a personal social media tool to build relationships and then just hand that off to someone.

    Best parts to outsource: listening and content marketing.

    My take, at least.

  • http://www.gennextmedia.com/chris-marentis Chris Marentis

    I think certain content creation and writing can be outsources and well. Agreed you cannot abdicate the relationships or even the content focus or messaging. But with good workflow tools and downstream communication, you can create efficiency. Not with the goal of removing yourself from the process, but with the goal of being able to do more by being more efficient.

    Great post and Happy Holidays!

  • http://www.badcreditloan-now.com/ Steve Benedict

    Chris,

    I was a CEO in a corporate environment for 15 years. Small company, but big enough to have a solid corporate culture as part of our mission. I couldn’t agree more about NOT outsourcing social media. If you’re big enough, bring in someone for SM that becomes sensitive to the heartbeat and intrinsic values of the company. If the company isn’t large enough for that, develop a tight knit group that can rotate through the week doing social media. Bring them together for a planning session and discovery retreat at a nearby hotel suite. Get everybody on the same page about where you’re going with social media and how to get there. Maybe bring in a SM expert to help facilitate some of discussion. Then…keep it in house. Ask others in the company to each monitor a single facet of your SM and give suggestions and critiques. Then, rotate those people through other areas of your social media for critiques. Everybody get a chance to play, but no overload on anyone. The critiques will keep you on your toes and fresh new ideas will come.

  • http://davidhorneis.com/ david horne

    Trying not to sound redundant. I agree with utilizing an outside resource to help listen, provide effective strategies and content, and then train the relationship holders is a good idea.

    Giving the relationship management over to an outsider may come across as insincere and robotic. People want to know YOU care, not someone pretending to be you.

  • http://twitter.com/JessicaCRB Jessica Braun

    I completely agree with you Chris. If you’re going to participate in social media and want to really connect with people on that level you aren’t connecting with them when you’re outsourcing. The article mentions that you don’t hire an actor to network in person, the same should go with your online personal connections.

  • http://www.chilesadvertising.com Lawton Chiles

    Yes, i think listening should be done via outsourcing or at least showing them how to set up good content, and then you can go in and add content as well. Payment structure? I got no idea.

  • http://twitter.com/rightclickos Sara Carbaugh

    I’m a virtual assistant as well and I work mainly with creative clients (actors, authors, artists) so a lot of times, for example, an author doesn’t have the time to sit and manage their fan page or Twitter replies because they should be finishing a new novel so I am able to monitor those for them while they get to work! I am also of the mindset that training and teaching is a great way to start helping people learn the ins and outs of social media. It’s so much fun and it comes easily for me so why not try and help teach others how it works and if they still want to hand off the less than fun parts I’m cool with that as well!

    That kind of stuff I love to do but I have had several people want to hire me as a ghost writer and I have never been comfortable writing AS someone else on their blog or social media sites. If they give me the content and then want me to add it to their site that’s completely different.

    So I agree that the relationships should not be outsourced, just the less than fun parts that they may not have the time to do themselves. : )

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Chris – Thanks so much for stopping by and posting! Great points about building relations

  • syedakram

    First impressions matter, and they are often online today. Your internet presence is becoming more and more important nowadays. I don’t mind to outsourcing as long it must include more personal touch in it because we still need human touch no matter how good we are in tech.

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com/ Tish Grier

    Great post Chris, and something I’ve been thinking of recently vis a vis my own social media consulting business. I refer to myself more as a strategist: I go in, pick your company apart, see what it needs, help develop it, and get the moving on the types and kinds of social media they can handle. Far too many companies believe they have to be in every single aspect of social media–from blogs to Twitter to Facebook, and other niche communities–when this might simply be social media overload, and completely unnecessary for them.

    I’m also very offended by the “virtual assistants” who think it’s ok to be doing someone or some org’s Tweeting, etc. because they’re just “too busy” or don’t have the staff. What the assistants are doing is making jobs for themselves–perhaps an enterprising goal, but not always a good, nor prudent, decision for the client. When someone else is managing your twiter, LinkedIn, etc, the person isn’t managing social media–the person is managing something that should be taken far more seriously. Maintaining social media profiles isn’t like handing a business card to one’s secretary or telling “the girl” to make a phone call for you. Having worked back in the day when that’s what secretaries did, it’s far less labor intensive for someone to also steal a whole bunch of contacts and information from you than it was in the past, when everything was on paper in the office. While there are analogies to the old ways of doing things, there are a lot of security and identity loopholes that could easily be compromised by someone on the outside of an organization.

  • http://blog.catchfiremedia.com/ Katie Miller-Smith

    As someone who helps organizations develop long-term social media strategies and campaigns, I couldn’t agree more with your post. If a company is going to be successful implementing social media – whether the purpose is to help improve customer service, drive a promotion, or create a raving fan – the communication needs to come from someone inside the organization. Bringing in a strategist can help refine and optimize the message to ensure it makes an impact, while still fitting the company’s culture. A social media consultant should be their client’s Sherpa, not their mountain climber, i.e. be the expert leading them along the path and doing the heavy lifting, while they remain the face of the accomplishment.

  • http://www.olindaservices.com/ Lisa Olinda

    Thanks so much addressing the “virtual assistants”. I won’t speak for the group but as a VEA I work very much like a personal executive assistant. The only difference is I work from my office rather than the clients. I sign confidentiality agreements and can be held legally responsible if I “steal a whole bunch of contacts and information from you”. I work to build the trust of my clients just like I did when I worked for Fortune 500 companies.

    I take my work and the non-profits that I would for very seriously. I work hard to maintain a positive image for my clients and monitor their brand very closely. I see no difference between what I do and what an in-house assistant does.l I agree that there are security issues but those issues would be present within an organization as well.

    I am always open to hearing other opinions and respect your thoughts on the matter.

  • http://davidhorneis.com/ david horne

    great sherpa analogy.

  • http://twitter.com/robinana Robin Bright

    You couldn’t be more “on target” with this one. I am a freelance writer and ghost-blogger who is the voice of many high profile individuals and CEOs. I only have a small number of clients and I make sure that we are on the same page as far as voice, perspective, and opinions go. Several of my clients give me absolute free reign over their blogs and what I have to say. I even respond to comments. This may be tricky for some, but I only do so with the clients who I feel “absolutely on the same page” with. For the most part, I take on clients who share my moral values, hobbies, generation, and industry knowledge. I have weekly, or at least monthly phone meetings with them in order to stay in the loop. I am very capable of taking on their views because they are my own. I do tread lightly though and am constantly aware of the trust that has been placed in my abilities, as well as my judgment. I would never feel comfortable solving client complaints or concerns and would certainly never agree to fully representing my clients on twitter or Facebook…….But I do think that Co-tweet is an excellent way for someone in my shoes to get the promotional and valuable things out there while still allowing the “real” person to represent themselves with their own wit and opinions. http://writers-elite.com

  • http://www.ottawa.edu/ Annie

    I agree. I worked in a social media agency and now work in house doing social media. Now that I work in house, I don’t want to do any more social media in an agency. I really see my role as being sort of a reporter trying to get the inside scoop on things happening around my company for the enjoyment of our fans and followers. Social media is so much more sincere this way. However, I believe there are certain types of clients that can outsource social media, one being movies because there is no previous customer relationship to maintain. I also think that some social media agencies do a great job, for example Brains on Fire and their campaign for Fiskers. But, for me and the way I like to approach social media, I want to stay in house for the time being.

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com/ Tish Grier

    Robin–are you aware that your “ghosting” shows when someone like me encounters one of your CEO clients, and that CEO has absolutely no idea what he/she is doing or has said on his/her blog, Facebook page, etc? I’ve busted a fair number of CEOs and have left them chagrined and red-faced. Not to mention that whenever people have asked me about their companies and services, I’ve given them a thumbs-down for customer relations…

    oh, and love the way you spammed the comments with a link to your services. That’s really a very ham-handed thing to do in blog comments.

  • http://twitter.com/marioOlckers marioOlckers

    Thought-provoking article and very helpful for all consultant types. I think this is kind of common sense and has been the case for all the projects I did for clients so far. Go in, see what their needs are, go over the appropriate modalities with them and their need/use/utility for it, set it up and configure it, train staff or make them familiar with the processes of keeping their social media profiles up to date and then step out of the way.

    I actually sometimes have to draw boundaries myself when someone expects me to run their social media profiles FOR them and I have to explain that I am not intimate to the company culture as an outsider and cannot take on their role. I do however find that content creation and uploading and all the heavy lifting behind the scenes, i.e server and database configuration, WordPress plugin install and configuration and researching relevant industry thought-leaders and possible networking partners/page Fans etc is something that can be a recurring stream of projects/income for freelancers and frees up a lot of time for clients.

    @Katie Miller-Smith Agree with David, great sherpa analogy, recently heard that in relation to the low-level delegates at climate conference who had to go before and thrash out most of the “paperwork” and agreements before heads of state came in and “seal the deal”

    Greetings from South Africa and happy holidays to everyone :)

  • http://www.OnlineMarketingIntro.com monicamcpherrin

    I too agree with you Chris. As someone who offers social media support services to my clients I always tell them that I can help build, support and maintain their networks though submissions, postings and updates but I can’t be their voice. That they have to do themselves but by me doing what I do it greatly reduces the amount of time they have to spend online. I also remind them that they have to nurture the online relationships created with their own thoughts and opinions.
    If there is something I monitor that needs their attention, I alert them and I will let them address it.
    Thanks for pointing out what part of the working relationship is theirs.

  • http://www.ryanmalone.com Ryan Malone

    I think it is perfectly acceptable to outsource the outreach and monitoring – these are things that any marketing communication program really requires to get scare. However, I don’t think it is appropriate to outsource the interactions and the responses to the outreach. We’re talking people-to-people here, so outsourcing that communication is not genuine.

  • http://emotionalintelligenceaus.com Jenni Wright

    It’s amazing how many times I follow someone on twitter and receive a generic thanks for the follow. I find that mildly irritating. Whenever someone follows me I send them a direct message thanking them and using their name. I have had many comments on the fact that I send the messages personally. I think what we need to remember is that it is SOCIAL media.

  • http://thesavvyva.com/ Kathleen, The Savvy VA

    Excellent post and advice Chris.

    I don’t believe anyone else could speak in my voice or speak for me. This is the danger and I think it will come back to bite eventually.

    Editing, yes, uploading stuff, yes, accepting friendship, sure, but speaking for me. No.

  • http://twitter.com/urevrythngsvcs Deb Lamb

    What a discussion! I too am a virtual assistant primarily focused on writing and internet marketing. I have clients that have me do some of their twitter postings, along with blog postings and writing in general. Similar to what Robin does.

    Robin, you described it perfectly! What may work for some may not work for others. Most of my clients will typically create a “twitter sheet” so to speak, or I may create one for them for their approval. It is information they are interested in posting on twitter, FB or LI which is anything pertinent to their industry or company they want to share. Of course, I have free reigns as to what I post as well and it seems to be working very well.

    I also agree with what Lisa said, you have the same sort of risks whether it be in-house or outsourced.

    I prefer to write more than anything and my clients have chosen me because of my creativity and abilities. They know they can trust me and know that I’m going to represent them as if their company were my own.

    Just my two cents worth.

  • http://twitter.com/AJGerritson AJGerritson

    Hey Chris, Great post with some excellent points. I think many companies (the ones that get it) already see the value of bringing social media in-house even if they are feeling uneasy about taking on these responsibilities 100%. I have definitely noticed a shift in what services companies are asking for from our agency (451). Those services these days fall under one of three categories – social media trainings, strategy development, and development of corporate protocols. In each case, the notion that more and more companies want to take the “execution” of the activities back in-house is supported.

  • csabbarese

    Chris, thanks so much for this post. I was in the midst of putting together a blog on this subject as to whether or not outsourcing social media makes sense. This confirms my approach is indeed on track.

    There are elements that can be outsourced (monitoring, content, etc.) and those that can’t (the relationships). I agree with your post and many of the other comments made here.

    As for in-house vs. outsourced social media, there are also risks associated with bringing on someone in-house. I’ve come across many cases where businesses bring on someone to manage it and do it poorly. Now a business has spent time and money to put someone in place, and the results are less than what they expected. So then what? You’re stuck with a haphazard social media plan and a warm body that doesn’t contribute to your business. Not to mention the negative impression a business has on the effectiveness of a social media plan.

    Suffice it to say, a business needs to understand what their social strategy should be first and how they will measure its success prior to allocating resouces to it. Case in point, a post made today on “Soshable’s” blog about Mazda, http://bit.ly/8xZeT7. An outside consultant’s role should be putting a good strategy in place then working with them to bring on the right person to manage it.

    Great post!

  • http://www.contentandmotion.co.uk/blog/social-media-agency/ Roger Warner, C&M

    Spot on Chris. There are some things which belong in-house. The ‘outsource relationships’ idea doesn’t really work when it comes to customers. Trad marketing can outsource its key relationships because they are few in number and they have professional structures in which to house them – PR/advertising… all run via a select bunch of mediators and a set of highly defined mechanics. But people/customers are loose – and they’re things you really ought to own… and a good agency ought to be able to help you do this without needing to run the show…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621908108 facebook-621908108

    This was great information. As a business coach and consultant one of the strategies I recommend for my clients is to outsource as much as possible. As an business owner you want to be spending your time on the highest income activities. Saying that I have seen people go to far when it comes to social media. I believe the reason why you have $300M+ people on Facebook is because it feels the human need for connection. I also see a shift with the consume in their demand for authenticity and wanting to know who they are doing business. The days of the Wizard of Oz are over and it is time to come from behind the curtain.I love your recommendation on what to outsource these are great rules to follow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/henry.elliss Henry Elliss

    I’m in complete agreement – here at Tamar we concentrate on educating and training internal staff, as well as developing strategy and helping to streamline activities. It’s very rare for an outside agency to know your business inside-and-out, so you should be managing the “message” and sentiment of your activities internally. We have clients we’ve worked with for over 10 years, but I still wouldn’t feel comfortable imitating them in a social environment – it’s just not worth the risk if it were to get out, either…

  • chrisgarrett

    Yup, personal always works better, unfortunately spammers are getting more cunning so all DMs are getting less trusted.

    (hopefully this isn’t posted about a gajillion times … Disqus sucks)

  • chrisgarrett

    Exactly, smaller companies can share the roles out, and most social media tasks can be more effective when shared anyway :)

  • chrisgarrett

    Thanks Chris – great point as always.

    I think the key part about the listening is it should never be just listen and report, just like in real life the best listening is “active” listening.

  • chrisgarrett

    Get your systems right and it is all easier, yeah. Outsourcing things like tech to me make total sense, it is just like outsourcing accounts and legal stuff IMO (providing you use all the good checks and balances), and there is a large element of social that can be seen as tech, the problem is people fixate on the “media” rather than the “social”.

  • chrisgarrett

    The “news feed” content being outsourced I can get behind. My worry about responding on behalf of an org is that it A) delays the response B) adds “noise” into the communication (messages need to be transcribed EXACTLY, especially when the communication is technical or international) and C) can come across as inauthentic.

    It takes a lot of skill to work around these issues, and in house + support is far easier to implement as a long term solution for most organisations.

  • chrisgarrett

    Yes I think where it can work is when the message comes from within the company but the delivery is moderated by someone with the skills (Obama/10 Downing street obviously don’t tweet but have lackies do it!). Just like having emails transcribed by your PA is ok, having your PA buy wedding anniversary gifts not so much. There are still problems, not least speed of reaction and how you present the situation, but with skill and authenticity they can be worked around.

  • chrisgarrett

    Exactly, and they would rather know it isn’t you than be fooled by a ghost social writer

  • chrisgarrett

    I recently heard of someone using a model to stand in for her official headshot photograph and nobody noticed even though she networked heavily as herself … I wonder if people get away with that then this means people really do hire actors to stand in at networking events? ;)

  • http://twitter.com/mhillaert Michelle Hillaert

    When it comes to social media consulting or optimization services, a company who represents themselves as such should offer several packages, because it really isn’t a one-size-fits-all business. Some businesses would benefit completely by just having a consultant come into their office and train owners/staff on how to use social networking to their advantage. Others, however, may save time and money by outsourcing.

    As far as maintaining relationships through posts and comments, a social media company would need to make sure that they performed all the necessary legwork of knowing the company’s story, goals, force that drives them, etc. In addition, there should be a point person within the company that the social media consultant could then contact with either questions or for reviews and input. With that combination, a social media strategy could be put into place that would eventually bring success.

  • chrisgarrett

    I think the difference is you work exactly like you would if you were in house, just from a remote location. Most outsourced social media folks do not and it is more of a ghost writer arrangement. The problem is, organisations would find it very difficult to see where the line is drawn if people who work in social media find it difficult to see where we fit along that spectrum?

  • chrisgarrett

    I think the natural trajectory of this stuff is in-house, but a lot of consultants reject the idea because of fear of losing work. Fact is, the consultants who focus on putting clients first are the ones who get the long term success.

  • chrisgarrett

    Bringing in house has its own dangers but they are mainly around timing, planning, recruitment and training I think – but not much different to the dangers and benefits of bringing marketing, technology or design in house. You can either be adding an asset or creating a liability ;)

  • chrisgarrett

    I think clients and agencies have kind of gotten used to agencies running the show as you put it :) I call it “check book marketing”, in that they think “I write a check, in a few weeks ‘good things’ happen”. Unfortunately social media requires *gasp* communicating with the public (ohnoes!)

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com/ Tish Grier

    Steve,

    The team-building thing is exactly how I work with small and micro-businesses (10 employees or less) It’s highly rewarding for me to see a group work together to make their social media happen. Then my role is more as a coach–checking their progress via stats, dropping hints on how to improve what they’re doing, etc. Clients have surprised me with their creativity and their business growth. And I certainly don’t feel any threat by them taking on the soc. media because I’m still the one that guides what they’re doing by keeping them on top of the latest changes in the field–something they really don’t have time for.

  • http://www.mybusinesspresence.com/ Karen Clark

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for your insightful post and telling it like it IS. This is the stuff that is effective and REAL and this is what will build trust, respect and loyalty over time.

  • jasonmblumer

    Great article! Answers many questions…

    In my industry (CPA firm), so many firm owners are “jumping on the bandwagon” without doing the due diligence as to the value and use of SM. Many “older” practice owners hear that SM is a good idea in a CPA continuing education venue and then assign the task to the young IT guy back at the firm. What a mistake.

    The voice and passion of the owner of the firm is difficult to replicate in the SM world without proper consideration and delegation (and brand brain-washing!). I would say there are parts you CAN’T sub out to anyone – “relationships” as you say.

    This article clears up so much. One more question, How much time should I spend on SM before I know it’s time to start delegating pieces of it out to my team? There may not be a good answer, but am interested in what you have to say. Thanks for this excellent piece.

  • http://www.communityorganizer20.com/ Debra Askanase

    Chris – bottom line is right – don’t outsource your relationships! I just want to add one more, very obvious thing, which is that social media is all about transparency. Transparency = trust. As Trish writes earlier, she has “busted” several CEOs and left them red-faced. What company wants to risk its image and public trust by outsourcing social network relationships? I am a social media strategist (primarily for nonprofits) and I always approach the client with the idea of training and coaching them to use social media themselves. After all, if a nonprofit can’t form real, genuine relationships using their own staff, then how can they expect to connect with their stakeholders (donors, members, etc)?

    Great post, and one that NEEDED to be written!

  • raymasssie

    The idealism here is contagious. In today’s economy, I am certain every business has the ability to add extra people to handle all the details of social media. We have an issue in SM in determining what or how to measure ROI, and the discussion thread appears to say “damn the torpedoes, hire more people”

    Business owners hear the need for SM and want to participate at their own rate. I hear the jargon complaints, I understand the real need for transparency.

    In an ideal world, business would understand SM as we do–a requirement for communication in the going forward. The reality is they don’t. Making it more complicated and onerous is just asking for nothing to happen. My VA “niche” has companies that don’t even have Twitter accounts, and post on their FB once every 12 days or so–if they are lucky. They think they are in SM.

    Outside help is the only way many companies can do SM. Slamming it as a problem, just gives these companies another reason to not try.

  • http://fb.com/larna.pittiglio Larna Pittiglio

    Absolutely agree with this article Chris….. will certainly be sharing your thoughts

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauramsterling Laura Sterling

    Hello Chris,

    Thank you for your additional comments. If you don’t mind, could you define “Listening and Content Marketing” as it applies to social media?

    With Admiration
    Laura Sterling

  • Marie

    My company has created recently a twitter account, a facebook profile and a linked in group. They’re also considering blog.
    Appart from the Linked In group, all of the above are handled externally.

    Though I understand the wish to create a community and the business needs and advantages, there are a few things worrying: as handled by a consultant to produce a few times a day contents related to our market, our accounts have a huge part of the links redirecting out of our site (no basic SEO actions done on our social medias) + each of them are completely disconnected from the other (visual identity as well as content).
    I’m pretty sure they created these hoping that great results in addition to the consultants’ high costs will force the board to consider adding one headcount to handle social media.

    However, will we be able to take our community over the consultants, especially with a medias segmented strategy like this?
    Do we have a second chance in social media?

  • Marie

    My company has created recently a twitter account, a facebook profile and a linked in group. They’re also considering blog.
    Appart from the Linked In group, all of the above are handled externally.

    Though I understand the wish to create a community and the business needs and advantages, there are a few things worrying: as handled by a consultant to produce a few times a day contents related to our market, our accounts have a huge part of the links redirecting out of our site (no basic SEO actions done on our social medias) + each of them are completely disconnected from the other (visual identity as well as content).
    I’m pretty sure they created these hoping that great results in addition to the consultants’ high costs will force the board to consider adding one headcount to handle social media.

    However, will we be able to take our community over the consultants, especially with a medias segmented strategy like this?
    Do we have a second chance in social media?

  • http://www.easyrecovery.co.uk/ data recovery

    Social media has officially become a business. Many in the industry would argue that it’s been a business for years, but until recently it has been very hush-hush and hidden in the shadows.

  • http://www.gucciwebbag.com gucci web

    I do however find that content creation and uploading and all the heavy lifting behind the scenes, i.e server and database configuration, WordPress plugin install and configuration and researching relevant industry thought-leaders and possible networking partners/page Fans etc is something that can be a recurring stream of projects/income for freelancers and frees up a lot of time for clients

  • http://www.magicmelt.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54&Itemid=56 Brioche

    In my view the consultants job is to get the company to the point where the consultant is hardly needed any more, apart from to be on call when there is a question or issue that needs their help, or when there are new developments and changes that need to be brought to the clients attention.

  • http://www.philwebservices.com/outsourcing-services.html IT Outsourcing

    there are really pros and cons in business outsourcing. the only thing is that entrepreneurs must give also benefits to their employes especially the cost benefits.

  • http://www.philwebservices.com/ Web Hosting

    thanks for the very useful article you have shared with us. As well as the option in doing safe outsourcing.

  • Pingback: Should companies outsource social media? | communicatto Calgary social media agency

  • http://twitter.com/DonFMitchell Don Mitchell

    @chrisgarett:disqus, now that your article is nearing 2 years of age, are there any things that you would change in your article? 
    I agree with you and most of the comments, the best way to do social media is in-house, but, only if it is a senior person who can cross the PR, customer service, and marketing silos. If you are going to hire an intern or a new hire the learning curve (on the brand, mission, products, etc.) will be the same as an agency so why not go with the experience?

  • http://www.headfield.com/ Recruitment Outsourcing

    The out sourcing social media is a good idea because it will gives the guarantee of employees,and company can concentrate on their work.

  • Pingback: From the Archives: Outsourcing Social Media – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly « Amy Stephan







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