Is there a need for outsourcing social media help?

Social media is a valuable tool

We all know the impact of social media has been huge; not only on our lives, but on businesses too. There are now agencies which focus solely on advertising on Facebook; and there are social media consultants which are being outsourced to look after company social media accounts.

There’s no denying what the likes of Facebook and Twitter can do for your company; the business leads it creates and the unfiltered connection to your customers is unrivalled; but my question is, are these ‘specialists’ which have emerged from a growing trend, really necessary for an effective company?

So what’s the problem?

According to a recent MerchantCircle survey of 8,500 small businesses across the US; more than two-thirds of companies are now using social media to market their business, but a third of these say that a lack of time and resources is their number one issue when it comes to online marketing.

Not only this, but with the growing influence of Facebook advertising, companies are finding that Facebook’s in-house system for buying ads is too complicated, and doesn’t allow differing texts and images to be sent to various target groups, greatly reducing the scale of audience a company can reach.

This is where it becomes difficult for companies, as many feel that looking after their social media doesn’t require full-time assistance; but it’s too much work for small companies who can’t find those vital few hours a day. Along with keeping on top of the continuous social media updates, companies can find using this platform more of a hindrance to their productivity than anything else.

This is why outsourcing social media services has become popular; but it’s hard to gauge a ROI when it’s all based on comment and opinion. Mashable.com have come up with four social goals to measure the level of success your social media consultant or agency is delivering:

  • Hitting 1000 fans or followers over a set period of time.
  • Getting 50 redemptions per campaign on social media offers.
  • Adding 200 names to your email database per month.
  • Achieving 20% participation by your fan base.

Hiring a social media consultant or specialist agency isn’t as straightforward as drafting in an accountant, for example. There’s no clear price list or timeframe in which to achieve your social media objectives, and so you could find yourself paying much more than you need to, this is why you need to be clear of your objectives before taking on this platform.

Could social media help your company?

It’s important to actually look at how, or if, social media would make a difference to your company. If you already know it’s a significant company tool because you’ve looked after it yourself, but you just don’t have the time to continually update it and engage with fans; then it sounds like some outside help could be what you need.

Once you take that leap into the social media environment, it’s important to keep on top of updates and reply to fans. Effective social media takes time; days, weeks, months sometimes, to even generate a result. You need to respond to any queries quickly, monitor for any complaints, and acknowledge those who are trying to connect with your brand.

Executed well; and social media can dramatically increase your brand reach and generate efficiency within your business. Being able to connect with your customers direct is a valuable resource, and can provide you with a wealth of knowledge about their needs and what improvements you can make.

Before investing any money into social media; assess whether you can afford to wait some time before seeing any return, and whether your target audience will be using these platforms in the first place. Think about what you’d want to achieve from the investment, and whether it’s something you would benefit from.

Looking at the options:

For advertising, specialised Facebook agencies have emerged to sell marketers the ability to manage the buying of thousands of different versions of their ads, with varying texts and images. This makes it easier to target niche groups of consumers; based on age, location, or interests.

They also offer tools which can track the performance of an ad campaign, letting you know just how effective the advertising has been (however, this is also a tool which most digital agencies use).

Social media consultants take over the handling of your social media channels, and spend the time engaging and growing your fan base; freeing up your time to run your business.

The benefits of introducing your company to social media are obvious, but does it really warrant spending thousands on drafting in a specialist agency to seize full control of your brand outlets?

As the agency or consultant is focused solely on one media, they may measure their progress on generic goals, such as a certain amount of friends or comments. Without directing their techniques at your specific company objectives; these friends or comments aren’t guaranteed to be from your target audience, and so have little chance of making a difference to your sales.

However, this social media help is also provided by digital agencies, and is often an important element of web development. Because it’s considered as just one aspect of a bigger project; digital agencies can integrate social media seamlessly throughout the development, working towards the project’s end goals by targeting the specific audience and channel, established through the research.

When it comes to cost, a digital agency will include the price in the final fee, often making it cheaper than being an individual service. Specialist agency’s will ensure the job is on-going, whereas a digital agency can charge a one-off payment and you’ll receive a dependable social media platform, which you’ll be familiarised with to ensure you can update it confidently and efficiently.

Conclusion:

From experience within an award-winning agency, I can confidently say that the level of care from a digital agency is unrivalled; the extent of technical planning that goes into organising a development means that every single aspect is driven towards meeting the client’s end goal, rather than our own.

Working within the digital industry, you soon get used to the ever-changing environment; keeping ahead of various technical updates and trends. Although the popularity and influence of networks such as Facebook and Twitter have been cemented for some time, there’s no knowing what could be ‘the next big thing’, so creating specialisms for such a narrow subject could prove unwise.

Having such a diverse range of web talents; digital agencies can evolve with the fluctuating environment, and pick up new techniques quickly. Limiting themselves to one focused area; social media agencies will take more time to become expert in new platforms.

Being their only source of revenue; social media agencies and consultants will charge a lot more for this help than necessary, and without fully understanding the web presence objectives and the inner-workings of a company’s web development; specialist agencies cannot implement social media platforms to compliment this.

How Branded3 can help:

Because Branded3 is such a highly-acclaimed digital agency, everyone within the company is an expert in their own field of web development. There is a specific design expert, development expert, SEO expert, and importantly, a social media expert.

We all work together to merge our talents and ensure every process is undertaken with the next stage in mind, resulting in a flawless and effective web development.

If you want to begin a web presence from scratch; we can intertwine social platforms throughout the development, and make it easy to manage. Or if you want to introduce your existing website to social media, we can work with your current brand values to implement a social media presence which is completely in-keeping with what you have.

If you want to embrace the social media world and find out what it could do for your company, get in touch with us today, or come and visit us at Internet World 2011 (stand E5062) for some impartial advice, and valuable experienced knowledge.

By Felicity Crouch. at 9:03AM on Friday, 15 Apr 2011

Felicity is Branded3’s Marketing Manager and develops and executes a creative marketing strategy for the agency to encourage new business. With a background in journalism and digital project management, Felicity manages a large number of marketing channels effectively to raise Branded3’s profile and facilitate the growth of the company. Follow Felicity Crouch on Twitter.

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