Outsourcing Social Media: What Can and Can’t be Done
January 24, 2017 by Andrew Symes
If your organization wants to participate in social media but lacks the internal resources to make it happen, there’s good news. Social media programs *can* be partially or completely outsourced to a third party.
Through the social media management work we’ve done with clients, we’ve learned that there are certain tasks that lend themselves well to an outsourced approach, but others that don’t. Every company is different, and the degree of social media management you’ll be able to outsource will be determined by your goals, your activities, your internal structure, and your relationship with the third party.
Tasks That Can Be Easily Outsourced
No matter the size or structure of your organization, external social media experts are ideal to help with several important tasks related to social media. These include:
- Research: An experienced third party can answer some of the important “big picture” questions around social media, such as:
- Is your target audience using social media?
- What are your competitors doing and saying on social media?
- Which platforms should you use?
- Strategy & planning: An external expert can help you map out a custom strategy that meets the needs of your organization and speaks to your particular audience(s). We can answer questions like:
- What are your goals for your social media accounts and how will you measure success?
- What should you talk about on social media?
- When should you post, and how often?
- How can you ensure that you have enough material to use on social media?
- Account setup: Before you can post, you need to reserve your social media identities, create professional-looking pages, and capture all relevant login/password information. Outsourcing this to someone with experience is an excellent idea but it must be someone you trust, and you need to ensure that the person who sets up your accounts notes and shares all of the relevant login and password information with you. We’ve previously provided this guidance to make sure this stage is taken care of properly.
- Scheduled posts: A third party can use software and tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to create, schedule, and send social media posts on your organization’s behalf. Your social media manager can run these posts by you first for approval or simply post them directly.
- General posts & re-posts: A third party social media manager can keep your social media channels current and relevant by curating and posting third-party content on agreed-upon themes, as well as content that is already created and approved for your website – such as blogs, news, and more.
Items That Are Not Easy to Outsource
Much of the activity on social media is “in-the-moment” and it can be difficult for a third party to learn about, post, and respond to unscheduled or unanticipated events. If your organization requires very frequent and/or real-time interaction with your audience, an internal resource is best to handle those activities – or a third party with the ability to “embed” a resource.
We’ve also noticed that there are many recurring (or new) activities that are simply taken for granted within a company and rarely conveyed to external social media managers. It’s very difficult for a third party to acquire the “water cooler” knowledge that flows within an organization around specific customers, the status of new products, sales activities, and staff changes. This information must be consciously conveyed to your expert on a regular basis, and remembering to do so is harder than it seems!
For outsourced social media to work effectively, you need to establish a formal communications channel – with processes for communication and quality control – through which your social media manager can interact frequently and reliably with you and other employees within your organization. In addition to recurring information transfer, you will also want to build out a monthly editorial calendar for scheduled social media posts, and assign someone to pass along any unplanned news (no matter how big or small) as it occurs.
Even with a formal process in place, it can be tricky to successfully outsource the following items:
- In-the-moment events: If your organization has a lot of spur-of-the-moment activities that you want to share via social media (such as social events or internal gatherings/meetings) you’ll need to assign internal employees to capture these events – especially if you want to share photos and video. These employees will need to communicate the events immediately to the social media manager, or post the messages themselves.
- Corporate culture posts: It’s possible for a social media manager who does not work within your walls to feel and understand the unique culture of your organization. But it’s not possible for them to report on the specific instances and experiences that occur every day as part of that culture. If you plan to use your social media channels to reflect your corporate culture and speak about it in an authentic voice, assign an internal “reporter” to gather photos/video and share the writing of posts with the social media manager.
- Posts from multiple locations/offices: If you’re part of a large organization with satellite offices that need to post individually about their businesses, you should assign local social media “champions” that will either proactively feed information to your social media manager about their particular activities, or post the information themselves.
Build a Custom Strategy
No two social media programs are alike and you may need a mix of internal and external help to build and maintain a successful presence online. At Kaszas Marketing, we research and develop custom social media strategies for our clients, and occasionally also recommend against them! We also provide content development and social media management services to companies looking to outsource some or all of their activity.
If you’re looking for help with a new or existing social media program, contact us!