What You Need to Know About Outsourcing Social Media

social media how toLet’s face it—we’re all looking for shortcuts to help manage our businesses and social media interactions more efficiently and effectively.  One of the best ways to make your social media activities run more smoothly is outsourcing—having someone manage certain tasks for you.

But when it comes right down to it, there are certain things that shouldn’t be outsourced, and there are really good reasons why “you” need to be a part of your social media strategy.

In fact, if you’re thinking of hiring someone to manage your social media accounts and handle your online networking, you may want to think again, because you might end up with exactly the opposite of what you’re after.

This article will look at social media tasks and what should and shouldn’t be outsourced, to see maximum results for your small business.

What Should You Outsource?

The short answer to this question is: You should outsource anything technical that doesn’t require your personality or involvement. Let’s look at some specifics:

Profile Setup:

Your profiles across social media platforms generally include the same standard details.  Your name, a short bio, web address and a standard-size photo. Provide your assistant with a short bio and a picture of you, and he or she can edit your image to the right size for each platform and set up your profiles pretty easily.

Twitter Background and Facebook Programming:

TwitterTwitter allows you to set up a background image on your profile (like the @smexaminer one shown here). This background image is valuable real estate for branding and traffic generation.

Facebook allows you to set up custom programming in FBML on fan pages, giving you the opportunity to share more about your business, express your branding, draw more traffic to your website and increase your subscriber list.

This is something you can easily outsource, and if you’ve got a solid team in place, it shouldn’t be too challenging for your designer and web developer to whip up something that expresses your branding, coordinates across your website and all of your social media profiles and captures leads.

Getting Listed:

There are several online Twitter directories where you’ll want to be listed to maximize visibility. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you’ll want to find groups that align with your business interests and the interests of your target market. Your assistant should be able to find these groups and sites, know which ones make sense for you and set up your listings.

Automated Status Updates:

There are some status updates you want automated, and others you don’t. You definitely want your blog updates automatically submitted to social media sites. It just makes good sense to automate your blog RSS feed, so each time you add a post to your blog, it gets fed into your social media accounts.

As long as you’re providing valuable, authentic blog posts (versus salesy junk), broadcasting your blog will be seen as sharing interesting and useful content.

I’ve also had my assistant set up automated status updates and tweets for specific purposes. For example, during a product launch, we’ll schedule two or three automated posts at strategic times throughout the day to direct folks to the product site. We’ll include some other scheduled tweets with relevant, useful information that’s of interest to my followers.

But since this represents “broadcasting” (sending information into the Twittersphere and other social media without actually engaging), these automated tweets do not represent a substantial percentage of my overall tweets or status updates.

Automated Tasks:

Specifically related to Twitter, some third-party applications like TweetAdder allow me to research my target market, locate them on Twitter and automatically follow and unfollow various people.

Even though this is a relatively easy automated process, I don’t really want to let it run on its own, which means that I would normally have to check in now and again and tell the application to start and stop these processes. This is certainly something my assistant can handle.

So What Shouldn’t You Outsource?

conversationThere’s no big list here. The bottom line is that social media networking is about the conversation—so don’t outsource that!

The best way to build your social media networking strategy is to connect and engage. And you just can’t do that with by broadcasting an “I want to hire someone to do it all for me” mentality.

As Al Ferretti and Skeeter Hansen (of TwitterWatchdog.com and TweetFormula.com) (and similarly, Jason Falls in this interview) suggest, the benefit of Twitter (and likewise, of social media in general) is in the conversation, and if you simply broadcast without interacting, you’ll blend into the noise and lose followers when they get the feeling that you just don’t care about them.

robot

Your followers and fans aren’t doing business with a computer or a feed, and you don’t want them to get the sense that you’re not really even there.

If you’re looking to economize your time, make your social media activities more efficient and see real results in the form of increased web traffic, brand visibility and lead generation, then automate everything but the part where you interact and engage with people.

It’s actually quite simple—automate the impersonal technical tasks, but spend 10-15 minutes two to three times throughout the day checking your Twitter and Facebook feeds, retweeting, sharing, replying to what people are putting out there and having conversations.

Share your followers and fans with other people and connect your followers to each other. Get involved and engaged, and get to know the people who are following you.  It’s all about the interactive experience, the conversation and engagement.

So when you look at your social media strategy, before you decide to hire someone to manage your social media accounts for you, remember that people do business with people they know, like and trust.

What are your experiences with outsourcing and automating social media? Have you tried having your tweets and status updates outsourced? What was the result?

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About the Author, Susan Baroncini-Moe

Susan Baroncini-Moe is a small business advisor to coaches, consultants, and experts. She publishes the e-zine No Suits Allowed! and hosts "The Experts Series" Other posts by »




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  • http://www.socialmediamercenary.com Leslie A. Joy

    Thanks for this post. I’m a virtual assistant specializing in social media and it seems like sometimes people have a hard time figuring out exactly what they should outsource. This is a perfect list. I’ll definitely pass this along.

  • http://www.stayonsearch.com Mark Thompson

    Susan,

    Some excellent points about what can and can’t be outsourced. I totally agree that the only thing you can truly outsource is the initial account setup, design and development work. If you try to outsource the execution of the daily interaction, you are missing the boat.

    I actually wrote a post titled Can You Really Outsource A Social Media Strategy? that’s discusses this topic further. Feel free to check it out.

    Thanks for the great post.

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

    Also we took a good look at what percentage of social media marketers are currently outsourcing in our just released Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

    Check it out here:
    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2010/

  • http://twitter.com/AlFerretti Al Ferretti

    Happy Friday~

    You make great points and articulate so well Susan.

    You crushed it when you said..
    “The bottom line is that social media networking is about the conversation—so don’t outsource that”

    We couldn’t agree with you more Susan.
    We’ve received a good number of requests from people asking us to handle their entire Twitter account which we politely decline and because of what you said. People must become part of the conversation.

    One tip we provide is…… instead of seeing these social venues as a place to broadcast, see it as a place to engage, building relationships and provide value.

    Thank you kindly for the reference to Skeeter and I.

    Can we get your autograph now?
    You’re even a bigger star being on Michael Stelzners site :-)

    Have a Great Day~

    -Al Ferretti
    @AlFerretti

  • http://twitter.com/howdoimarketbiz Joann Whetstine

    These are great points, but, when the owner of the company does not have time to manage his social media brand campaign, there should be a dedicated person in the office who will and that is the voice of the social media sites.

    Most branded sites will even say they are the company brand, and the voices behind it are Susie and Jan (for example).

    I act as a social media “proxy” if you will for many brands who don’t have time to manage their social media efforts. I am their voice and get involved in the conversation on their behalf. Its a combination of customer service and marketing all rolled up into one.

    Social media marketing efforts take time, and many companies just don’t have the bandwidth to bring it in house. That’s where I can help.

  • http://www.getlucid.net Kim Phillips

    It would be a bad idea to outsource social media willy-nilly to vendor who is not an integral part of your team. But there are some situations where outsourcing may make sense. Some companies aren’t large enough to afford a full time (or even part-time) social media manager. Even bigger companies have become so streamlined that they already outsource huge chunks of critical functions like marketing. If you have a vendor who is really a partner and totally gets the brand–and is able to integrate it with your other forms of communication–it can be great. And, it’s not necessarily a given that one employee of a company can be the face of a brand any more than one really good external partner can be…depends on the situation. Now… if you’re a celebrity or single-person brand of some kind, do your own Tweets. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

  • http://getglobalassist.com Claudia Guzman

    Thanks for sharing some inspirational points about outsourcing social media. It is very substantial.

  • http://twitter.com/kathyswanson Kathy Swanson

    All I have to say is RIGHT ON! Would you ask someone to go a IRL networking event and portray you there? Of course not.

  • http://www.realtor.com/advice/for-pros Suzanne Roy

    This post is right on the money! I completely agree with not outsourcing the networking aspect – I mean, would you send someone else to a live event and try to have a conversation as if they were you? Never! There really is no difference when it comes to social media and networking online – it has to be authentic.

    When it comes to those tasks that you suggested outsourcing, I would also include the creation and content building of self-hosted blogs. However, I always encourage my clients to include their own articles to their blog to on a regular basis so that they can give their own opinions and informational slant on the content being produced too. Some just “don’t have the time”, while others will give the writing task a wholehearted effort, which is better than no effort at all.

    Suzanne Roy
    http://www.vawork.com

  • http://www.thesaleslion.com Rich McElaney

    This is a great post and the start of a much-needed discussion. I agree that the more mundane, technical, repetitive tasks can be easily outsourced. I also agree that there has to be lots of human interaction or the process isn’t really social. The real challenge is getting the person (or people) that represent the brain trust (they hold the really valuable knowledge or expertise in the business) to commit to the minimum participation that moves the organization towards their goals with social media. Even though they profess to “get it”, they really don’t make the connection between the effort and the pay off. Or they get it and are consumed by working in their business but not on their business. I’d love to hear how other consultants or agencies are effectively dealing with this critical obstacle to social media success.

  • steveborowski

    A lot of my clients who are small business owners do not know where to start in the Social Media world so getting them started with a strategy and help them carve out the time to do this is really helpful. Thanks for the guidelines. One of the best organizations that we have found out there doing this well is http://www.smartyva.com started by Starr Hall. She really gets it and has great success for her clients.

  • Aorora111

    Similar to you, I help clients manage their online presence, and begin engaging and helping them build new followers. But my number one rule is this: Even if you hire me to manage your day to day social media accounts to engage with followers/customers, I recommend that you sign in at least once a week and personally engage. No amount of work I can do will replace that. I really recommend three times a week, a half hour, or once a day for 15 minutes. The owner is the best spokesperson for the company, and if they aren’t willing to invest the time to promote their brand and engage, why should I, or why should the customers care?

  • ACBCreative

    I’m a freelance writer who does this for my clients. I’ve moved from just writing articles for blogs to helping my clients add value to their business by acting as a ghost social media manager. I think that it takes aligning yourself (the owner or business), your brand and your social media person in a single strategy to do this successfully.

  • http://www.consultingwoodworker.com Ralph Bagnall

    As one who makes money by handling the social media for others, I have a different take.

    I work with woodworking clients. I’ve been in the business for 20 years, know the field and know woodworkers both professional and hobbyists. It is VASTLY important that the people you outsource to know your target audience, the work you do, and the market you serve.

    But my being an “outside” person tweeting for my client is no different than having a full time employee doing it representing the company. Many of my clients know the value of keeping their social media efforts vibrant, but simply do not have the internal resources to do it.

    I also provide content writing services, how to articles, product demos and the like. We use these as social media “fodder” giving us something new to discuss and providing value to our community, and it brings web traffic in.

    I am comfortable working within the fielld I know, but would NEVER try to work a social media campaign in another industry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mainstreetmarketing Dan Hahn

    I feel like I’m back in college again. A professor stands up and describes Utopia and all the other professors clap. I then get out of class and walk through a blighted neighborhood stepping over the homeless on dirty streets. It all sound great and in a perfect world it would be done the way you propose. It’s soooo early and we need to spread the good word in stages. I’ve been creating 4 articles and 3 announcements for small businesses to put in their emailed monthly enewsletters. As a create an article I post it to on their social media properties for the “first look” at it. They send me 2 blogs posts via email and I post them and they are automatically distributed to all social properties. I have the owners join linked in groups in their target marketing and submit the articles to those groups as news that goes to a link on their website (that I created). I also produce videos and photos for them and post them. Work with the owners to post polls and start discussions. I tell them the best thing they can do is grow their networks with true friend and associates they will see in person once every couple of years. We then leverage their networks to grow attendance to the Facebook page. I do a whole bunch more but you get the point. Small business owner may be able to make posts to a blog but the ones I know just don’t have the time. I think the author should be very, very carefull poo pooing outsourcing so quick as to just technical stuff. A true trusted outsource partner is so much more that she eludes to. I like 99% of what I’ve seen on Social Examiner but not this. Way too general and under thought for my taste. Too much head in the clouds and not enough feet on the ground.

  • ElizL

    I’m in the same boat as Ralph. Companies who don’t have a social media specialist – or don’t have time, outsource to us. We aren’t a bank of computers who shoot out the latest “special” our clients are offering, we specialize in humanizing their brand. Sometimes I think the word “outsourcing” gives companies a bad wrap. I am the social media account manager for three major companies in St. Louis. I work solely with them and have developed great relationships with the owners. I manage their social media sites and write their blogs. We are constantly in contact and if I feel there’s an opportunity to express themselves on a platform I give them a call or email to get their own words. What I do is very much a conversation – that’s my main goal…to engage people (jeez I’m getting tired of that word.) It all depends on the company, in our case – we’re all very well educated in the industry, both from a university and experience.

  • http://twitter.com/Emarketed emarketed

    I’ve been thinking about this lately and you bring up some good points. I always feel iffy at the thought of outsourcing too much as you can lose the personal touch.

    It can be tempting to automate everything but I think your insight is spot on. We will definitely keep this in mind and pass it along to our clients!

  • http://www.reportcontentwriter.com/ Rachel Agheyisi

    In addition to preserving the freshness of my own personal participation in the social arena, as a small business owner I take a more pragmatic approach when it comes to outsourcing (social media or any other marketing): benefit versus cost. If the benefit outweighs the cost, then I will consider outsourcing; if not, I do it in-house. The learning process is part of the investment I’m making in my business. Perhaps, some (small) businesses with a sizeable marketing budget tend to overlook the value of knowledge accrued from learning-by-doing. The fact is most of the things we’re talking about are so tech-enabled these days you don’t need to over-study them to gain proficiency. And know-how grows quickly from doing.
    No offense to freelancers who specialize in outsourced social media consulting.

  • http://twitter.com/Heike_Miller Heike Miller

    Looking at some of the replies I find that Social Media is indeed moving into the field of PR when you let the agency take over all the Social Media communications. I haven’t made up my mind about it yet, I guess it’s one of those things that happen.

    And maybe it’s also niche-specific, as in the case of the woodworkers I guess it is hard for some industries to represent themselves in the Social Media realm and outsourcing has its place.

    If you are an online coach or entrepreneur I think it’s easier to engage your clients yourself with your authentic voice.

    Interesting angles on this in this thread with lots of food for thought.

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    This has been a raging debate for some time now. Andy Wibbels wrote about it in February in a post entitled “Ghost Blogging is Fraud.” I disagreed and here is my response that appeared in LinkedIn’s The Bloggers’ Bulletin:

    Andy Wibbels writes a well-read blog “Small business blogging for instant global impact.” In one of his latest posts he stirred the pot when he stated that “Ghost Blogging is Fraud.” He received quite a few comments, both pro and con. I added a comment after a lot of thought.

    In reviewing what I wrote, I stand by what I said, but made some tweaks. I think this is an important topic and would like to hear from our bloggers and readers. What do think? Here is my point of view.

    The word “fraud” is much too strong in my view. Having worked with CEOs and other top executives over the years on their communications, I never met one who simply let a writer take off expressing his own thoughts and POVs.

    Ideally, the CEO and the writer discuss the general theme and POV of the article and the key messages to be communicated. Sometimes the CEO does a first rough draft that the writer whips into shape.

    The key is this: is the POV, language and voice the CEOs? In the case of employees who are thirsting to hear more from their leader, then it is more important that they hear from the CEO, whether every single word was written by her or she got an assist from a writer.

    We keep talking about the messenger (the CEO or her ghost writer). What about the recipients? What are their information needs? Isn’t consistent communications that reflects the CEO’s heartfelt opinions (possibly put into words by a writer) the objective?

    I do believe times are changing, and that more CEOs will start giving credit to writers, especially in social media like a blog, which is no doubt a more personal expression. Maybe at the bottom of the article, something like “Written with John Smith.”

    On other hand, if you are a writer/blogger as I am, it would be foolish to have some one write my blogs: they are my work product and go into my portfolio. Besides, I enjoy the writing.

    There seems to be agreement that ghost writing a speech for the CEO, or a byliner or op-ed piece for a newspaper is OK, presented as written by the CEO. They supposedly represent that leader’s views.

    So why is a blog different? Why does social media make it different? Does your CEO, if you work for a company, or your clients, if you are a consultant, ask you to write their blogs without giving you credit? And is it honest?

  • http://www.marveena.com/ MarVeena Meek

    Thanks Susan, I always do my own tweeting and messages. I do have a great VA that helps me with my tech stuff.

  • http://convergent1.com Chris Jones

    Our clients outsource everything to us usually, but we engage in conversations on their behalf throughout the day.

  • annesweeney

    In a perfect world, you are right – but as a PR consultant who has set up and now maintains several social media pages for clients, I can tell you that the average restaurant owner, hotelier, retailer, doctor, non-profit organization, etc. does not understand the most basic principles of social media and many of them don’t want to know. I have clients who don’t fan or follow their own pages. People are too busy to learn the technology and they do not understand that social media has to work in synergy with your web site, that it has to be current and that it cannot be entrusted to the bartender, the intern or your brother-in-law. I had one restaurant owner who let customers set up and maintain his twitter and FB pages. It was a disaster. Another TWICE had the password stolen by disgruntled employees. Ideally, a savvy business owner will hire a marketing/pr person to set up AND maintain a social media site and will him/herself be involved in the postings. Once a business owner gets into it, they can go solo. But my bet is that I will be doing a lot of this work for some time to come.

  • http://www.thesmartbusinessnetworker.com Brenda Thomson

    Thanks Susan great post. After all you wouldn’t hire someone to attend a networking event for you so why would you hire someone to network for you on social media sites!

  • http://www.ReciprocateLLC.com/ Karen Emanuelson

    Susan – Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    Effective use of social networks requires a partnership between a business owner and his/her social media communicator. A social media communicator who understands the nuances, advantages, and disadvantages of the various social networking sites can help a business choose the most effective and efficient platforms to use. A social media communicator who then educates the business owner as to the whys and hows of these choices and encourages the owner’s participation in social media efforts exponentially amplifies the value of these efforts.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hi Heike, even after businesses understand the value and nature of social media, some business simply need help in doing it.

    But I do think they need to work on transitioning to either allocate someone inhouse or at least spend time regularly with the person who’s doing all the work for them. Both the company and the person doing their social media need to get involved and communicate closely with each other.

    If they don’t, they’ve just made it very easy for their competitors to create stronger relationships with their clients on social media.

  • http://dkwebconsulting.com/ eric diaz

    Pretty lame article. You can definitely outsource the conversation, thats what keeps alot of small businesses (such as my own) busy. The key is you have to build a rapport with the company who is managing your fan conversations.

  • Maxiosearch

    So interesting Susan, I have never read an article like this before, focused on what services could be easily outsourced by an expert on social media looking for building the next small business. It could be an interesting idea to discuss further on startups.com Q&A and see what other think about!

  • http://www.barrypublishing.com Stephanie Watson

    Thank you for the list, that’s awesome. As a Blog Consultant I often have to explain to my clients these very issues. I appreciate the list.

  • ravekrishna

    Hi Susan, I liked the focus of your article – which is Social media is all about engaging your customers through genuine interaction. I am the Chief Blogger for Vericle by proxy (vericle.blogspot.com) and also create and execute outsourced social media strategies for my clients from India. While I understand the merit of this argument, the same holds true if you are a true partner for your client, understand their personality and “proxy” for them by great content that conveys exactly what the client wants to, but in a nicer way!
    Outsourcing no longer means clients are throwing away the baby along with the bath water, but engaging experts who can do it better for them while they focus on what they do best. But for all that to happen, the client has to understand the merits and demerits of outsourcing and engage constantly with the “expert” and make him/her a true partner so the strategy is implemented well.
    I’d like your comments on this, please.

  • ravekrishna

    I totally agree. Businesses never do everything on their own – they constantly outsource pieces of their marketing – PR, Ads, Websites, Event Marketing etc. and outsourcing Social Media is just another piece. The key is that intense coordination is needed to ensure everything falls in place for the total online marketing. My company runs the blogging for KeralaIt.org and we ensure we constantly communicate with the client, his team, his PR and Ad agency, and 3 other software parks to ensure the best blogs get out there.
    I like your spirited comment!

  • http://tweetsbyus.wordpress.com/ Vince Yuen

    This is an excellent post Susan. You do a great job separating the different aspects of social media and the tasks that separate them. I am in complete agreement that outsourcing of tasks, especially ones that can be automated, are essential. Especially if your time is much more valuable doing other things.

    However, where I disagree is that in many instances you are able to outsource the networking and social interaction component of your social media strategy. Check my companies blog to see how we represent companies and engage their followers: http://tweetsbyus.wordpress.com/. We work intimately with our clients to understand what their goals are in using Twitter, then we help them create a voice and manage the conversation with their followers. There are many instances where our clients have no clue about what to say.

    But again, this is a very well thought out and written post. Keep up the good work!

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Aw, Al, you’re funny! Autograph, LOL!

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Suzanne,
    You make great points. However, my clients tend to be solo professionals and authors, and I’m not a big fan of small businesses outsourcing content (including blog content) unless:
    a) you’re a terrible writer, in which case you can still do podcasts,
    b) you can find a solid copywriter who can adequately represent the unique “voice” of the brand and get the content written accurately,
    or,
    c) you can find someone who can interview you once a week and write the blog content in your “voice.”

    Larger companies can certainly have someone on staff to manage content creation or hire a trusted outsourced partner to manage content, as long as the partner is able to speak in the “voice” of the brand.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Exactly, Kim. You really do need a solid writer who gets not just the brand, but the “voice” of the brand, whether it’s an employee or an external partner.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Joann, don’t you think it depends, in part, on the size of the company and its brand? For example, if you’re a company with a tangible product (say, toothpaste), the strategy’s going to be different than if you’re an author or a coach or something. I suspect that it’s more appropriate for the former to have one or two people who manage their social media, whereas for the latter, I think for the sake of authenticity, the actual person should be writing their own content and engaging in the conversation.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Ralph, that’s a really interesting perspective, and I agree with you, to some extent. I’m curious, though….would your strategy would be different if you were working for, say, a jigsaw manufacturer versus, say, a small, family-owned custom furniture builder?

    Early in my career, I worked for the company that publishes Woodsmith and ShopNotes, and one of the most important things I learned from that company was that the “voice” of one’s writing (and by extension, of one’s brand) is critically important. Along the same lines as my earlier question, I wonder if Rockler’s voice is distinct from Woodcraft, and as such, should the writing for their social media be different?

    As a branding expert, my take is that they should be distinct, and each brand should have its own unique “voice,” but there are so many companies that don’t understand this (that’s why they hire me, LOL).

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    I respect your opinion, Dan, but I think you misunderstood my intent. I come from a strong branding perspective, where each small business needs to carefully analyze how their branding comes across in all media. Unfortunately, far too many small business owners have a poor understanding of just how important branding really is or how to implement it.

    As I’ve said in my other comments, if a company has an outsourced partner who truly understands the brand and the “voice” of the brand and can adequately represent the company in that way, then I have no complaint with that. But far too often, I see companies relying on generic articles for their enewsletters, stuff that one could read anywhere. That kind of effort simply doesn’t engage the reader in the same way that it would if there was a clear “voice” that was consistent with the branding, nor does it inspire customers to be loyal and excited about the company.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Heikie, great to “see” you here!

    You make an interesting point that it’s easier to engage your clients as a solo professional, but I think sometimes those folks struggle a bit to figure out how to leverage social media the “right” way and engage, rather than broadcast. And, I think that’s the group that NEEDS to engage more.

    I suspect that the more clear a business is about its target market and niche, the easier it may be to engage with the customer and client base.

  • http://simplystatedbusiness.com Cathy Miller

    Jeanette:

    Funny how the timing of posts just seem to come together. I just published a post entitled Is Ghost Blogging Unethical? I guess I’m not the only one asking, huh? :-)

    I do think there is a balance needed. For example, as I noted in my post, I ghostblog posts for clients but I don’t ghostblog comments. I likened it to a networking event where my client has no problem responding to a comment or question. But, some of the greatest speakers struggle with putting their ideas and passion into writing. That’s where I come on. I see it as using my skills to communicate their passion. The words and the ideas are my clients’.

    Like so many things in business, it’s the quality of the work. If you automate tweets ad nauseam or post blogs with little regard to the message or voice of the company, you are shooting yourself in the foot & probably the wallet.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Anne, I’d worry a little about what it says about a company not to fan or follow their own social media pages. These days, social media represents an important part of a marketing strategy, and for a company to completely outsource something like that and not even bother to check (at least once in awhile) and make sure the outsourced professional or company is representing the brand properly? That could really come back and bite you, if you hired the wrong team.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    ediaz33, it really does go beyond building rapport with the outsourcing company. That company has to be able to adequately represent your brand effectively, which means they should know and understand the target market and their needs, as well as the “voice” of the brand.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Maxiosearch, I write on this topic quite a bit in my own blog at BusinessInBlueJeans.com as well as other sites. It’s not just about what social media tasks you can outsource, but what small business tasks in general. There’s a TON more that can be outsourced, freeing up valuable time for the business owner to do more revenue-generating activities.

  • annesweeney

    You are absolutely right, but this is happens a lot and it is not just small businesses that are so clueless. At first glance, I would say that older clients are the more reluctant to get involved wit Social Media. On the other hand, one fan page I administer – pro bono – is for World Wings International, the organization of former Pan Am flight attendants. We have a very active Facebook Page and 50% of our fans are females over 55! The page has a very high participation level and gets about 800 visits per week. It’s basically fun and nostalgic but we use it to increase membership and raise money for our charities which includes CARE, Most, but not all, of the officers are fans.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Hi ravekrishna, I think you make an excellent point. You know, there are some really wonderful outsource professionals, virtual assistants, social media experts, and online business managers out there. I think part of the problem, though, is that there are also some duds out there. If a business owner is savvy and clever enough to sift through the duds and find the great pros out there, then they can do very well with outsourcing.

    That said, I’m a small business owner, a business and marketing consultant, and an author. And while I have outsourced of the tasks I mentioned in my article, I would be very reluctant to outsource my blog postings or tweets – my authentic voice is simply too important to my work. If a “personality” is involved, then I think there are certain limits to how much social media should be outsourced. I would outsource a long list of other tasks first.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Vince, thanks for the compliment.

    What you say your company does sounds good on the surface, but I wonder if your clients shouldn’t also be consulting with a branding professional, if they come to you needing help creating a voice. A corporate voice is a part of the brand and shouldn’t come through just in social media, but in every aspect of the business.

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Anne, that doesn’t surprise me. Research shows that the fastest-growing demographic in social media is 55+. :)

  • http://businessinbluejeans.com Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Jeanette, you make some interesting points. You mentioned the issue of what the readers want, and I have to say that in most cases, what the readers want is different from what you mentioned. You mentioned “employees who are thirsting to hear more from their leader,” which I would suspect is probably not nearly as important as, say, employees who are desperate to be HEARD by their leader.

    That’s what makes social media different from speeches, books, op-ed pieces, etc. Social media isn’t intended to be a broadcasting medium like public speaking or books. It’s intended to create a conversation, and as such, the authenticity of the conversation matters.

    For example, I don’t much care about what British Airways is doing in the improvements or new routes – I can easily go to their web site and find that information on their news page. But what if I’m annoyed at British Airways for losing my baggage on my last trip and told me to go out and buy replacements and they’d reimburse me, but never did (true story, btw)? If I’ve tried to communicate with them via phone and e-mail and gotten no response, I might be likely to use social media as a way to communicate my displeasure with the company and hope that someone does something about it.

    Or, if I love the book Jack Canfield just put out but I have a suggestion or comment for him, I might use social media to share those thoughts, as one of the coolest things about social media is that it makes previously unaccessible people accessible.

    If, on the other hand, those social media accounts are outsourced, it’s likely that my comments, concerns, fears, frustrations, annoyances, and compliments will never be heard by the intended recipient, unless the outsourcing company has a relationship with the original company to relay that kind of information back.

    Fraud seems like an overly harsh word to use. A more appropriate descriptor would probably be “problematic,” at least from a customer service perspective.

    Blogs and social media are different because they’re intended to be different. They’re not intended to be a broadcast, they’re intended to be interactive.

  • http://socialmediadiary.tumblr.com/ annienoll

    I used to work at an agency that did solely social media and now I work in house. I can’t even begin to describe how much easier it is to do social media in house. I don’t have to get anything approved, I feel like I have developed an actual voice for my company and I can get a lot more personal.

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    Thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree more that employees want to be heard by management. Communications is two-way street and I wish I had said that in my post. Yes, social media is meant to be interactive — but all internal communications were meant to be interactive, way before the Internet changed how we communicate and do business in the most profound way.

  • http://twitter.com/ajevacom SShah

    I love the tips you presented here. I’d definitely keep these in mind in my social media campaign. Yes, I agree that keeping the conversation matters most. We just don’t like being ‘shout at’ or bombarded with spam marketing messages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/egbertoostburg Egbert Oostburg

    Leslie, Are you looking for new clients?

  • http://www.socialmediamercenary.com Leslie A. Joy

    Actually I am. Is there any way I can help you?

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    Hi Susan. A well composed and thought our article – thanks for sharing. The tips are great for people starting out and indeed those of us who have been on for a while.

    Social media in-house is an absolute must – especially for smaller businesses who can project their own personality into the engagement that can/does make their company seem more engaged and real. I suspect some may fear starting off in case they “make a mess of it”, but we all learn as we go along. Again, it just makes us human. While I am not suggesting just to lash into social media without some thoughts, if mistakes happen as part of a constructed social media approach, people will forgive and forget.

  • http://www.heal-the-healer.com Michelle Mayur

    This is really useful information. I had been struggling with just how much or how little of my Twitter tasks to outsource. This makes it much clearer.

  • monmmontana

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Montana

    http://pianotutorial.net

  • http://www.collectiv.es @gregormckelvie

    Hi there. Great post and great site. I posted a question on Linked In not so long ago asking “are there too many social media consultants?” – to see what the general opinion is. I’ve summarised my thoughts and the responses in this post: http://www.collectiv.es/2010/05/14/are-there-too-many-social-media-consultants/

    I agree with this post entirely. I don’t think you can outsource how you communicate.

  • http://www.infinit-o.com Audrey of Infinit Outsourcing

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for the great read. I would just like to point out that although it would be preferable for companies to maintain ‘conversations’ in the social media sphere within the company, most of the time, this does not happen. It could be because of lack of time, manpower, etc. Would that then mean that the company can just forget about engaging their community through conversations? It shouldn’t. Social media engagement, although not a primary requirement for a business to function, is also very beneficial. Thus, in cases where companies are not able to manage their own conversations, this is where outsourcing can come in. It is not the idea of outsourcing that would be an issue. Outsourcing to someone several miles away versus someone else with in your company is still not you. What is vital is exercising proper guidelines and maintaining effective communication to ensure that your social media engagement remains effective. For us (we are an outsourcing company: Infinit-O), the question is not whether you should outsource, but who should be your outsourcing partner. That’s just my two cents on that. Kudos!

  • http://www.texient.com/ Sunil

    For business, to keep their followers engaged, there should be some promotional offers or events published through social media like what Samsung does for their Galaxy mobile(giving away free mobile for their followers!). But it is pain to manage multiple accounts, keep on tweeting, replying to mentions etc. Some business use tools like CoTweet(web), TweetTwain(desktop) for monitoring and managing multiple accounts. Some outsource to third party service providers to reduce the cost(but taking risk on quality).

  • http://woodworking-books.org woodworking project plans

    I love the tips you presented here. I’d definitely keep these in mind in my social media campaign.

  • http://www.redfez.com.au/ Irish Jardine

    I definitely agree, it depends on the individual client. I have clients that have been in business for 30+ years and are technophobic, so I handle their entire online presence top to bottom. Instead of direct engagement, one particular client has an escalation process where important information (negative feedback etc) is immediately sent to them for instant attention. However, expecting them to ‘get on facebook and post updates’ is just never going to happen. The trade-off is that my presence on their pages is the constant variable and I become the default spokesperson. Keeping it personal is the key, not automated feeds and bots, but it doesnt need to be the CEO.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Kens/100002910769729 Mark Kens

    Nice and fruitful article for all Social Media Experts.
    Online Reputation Management Outsourcing

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  • http://www.seooutsourcingshop.com/ Aprajita Kohli

    You have put huge knowledge in a single post. You are right at the point that the only thing you can truly outsource is the initial account setup,
    design and development work. If you try to outsource the execution of
    the daily interaction, you are missing the boat.









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