Outsourcing social media

Outsourcing social media by Tom Fishburne

With social media catching the attention of more and more companies, it seems that many are opting to outsource some or even all of their efforts to third party agencies.

Is this a good idea?

Well, it depends. It depends on what you’re looking to outsource and to whom. For a lot of companies, social media is a daunting new area and it is understandable that some may require assistance. If an agency can help with education, training and the development of blogs and social media channels, as well as monitoring, measuring and reporting on activities, then this can add a great deal of value and help ensure that the client company is using social media correctly.

However, if an agency is expected to take full control of the entire social media process – from concept to day-to-day management – then this is where problems can arise.

Collaboration is key

If you’re going to use a marketing or PR consultancy to assist you with your social media marketing then it’s important to have a clear idea as to how the process between you (the client) and the agency will work.

An agency’s role should be to help the client shape the social media strategy and develop a clear operational plan. It’s important at this stage for the agency and client to work together and reflect on what the company is hoping to achieve at a corporate level. A crystal clear understanding of the brand, the company’s position within the market and its business objectives is an essential step in the creation of an effective social media marketing plan.

Authenticity is paramount

Once a company and a supporting agency have defined how social media will be used, the client should assume full control of content creation.  Authenticity is crucial to establishing trust through social channels and is not something that can be mimicked by others. In addition to the risk of appearing insincere, allowing someone else to tweet, blog or post for you is essentially telling the world that anyone can imitate your brand identity, culture and everything it stands for. Surely you’re worth more than that?

Social media is about developing relationships and creating a two-way dialogue between real people, not logos and brand names. It’s therefore important for you – not an outsourced consultancy – to lead the conversation and form a genuine connection with your customers and online constituents.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you outsource any of your social media efforts?