If you are just starting on your social media journey, you may be wondering if you should outsource it to an external party who knows all the ins and outs of this malarky. Or you might have a social media presence already, but finding it is taking too much time and so are considering other options including outsourcing. Or maybe your team is growing and you want to evaluate a different operating model such as using an agency or consultancy.
Here are 6 reasons why you shouldn’t outsource your social media presence:
1. No-one knows your business like you do (or your team). On social media, the community can throw all kinds of curve balls at you. If these need to be filtered by someone external, sent to you for a response, you craft a suitable reply, send it back, it gets reworded, then finally it is posted on Facebook, Twitter or your blog…. well you get the idea. The moment will have passed and depending on the situation either your reply will seem very out of context or you’ll have a ‘situation’ on your hands. Your social media community management team needs to know and understand your community – so they instinctively know what is relevant and useful – and what is not.
2. There’s no substitute for informal communication – or what is also known as the office grapevine. A conversation exchanged at the coffee machine about something that is happening elsewhere in the organisation or with your customers, may uncover a great opportunity to share that story on your social channels. No meeting with external parties to be arranged, no brief to be written. You can be faster and more timely when you use an inhouse team, and social media is all about timeliness.
3. Social media platforms change more frequently than some people change their underpants. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are constantly making changes (often without warning) which will affect how you engage with your community. You need to have someone that is knee deep in how your posts look after platform changes are made, and understands what that means for you – they must be experts in how Facebook EdgeRank works for your community. If you are using an external party, chances are they won’t understand this to the same depth as someone from inside your organisation who is living and breathing this each and every day.
4. The day your organisation has a crisis – whether it be industry related, a natural disaster, a technology meltdown or supply interruption that impacts your customers – this will be the day that you find out you need an inhouse team. They will need to be able to listen for any issues bubbling up on social media that could be quickly headed off, provide updates to the community about the situation at hand, and rapidly respond to questions that are posted. Remember that in all likelihood your phones will be ringing off the hook and customers wont have the patience to wait in a call queue – they’ll just write on your Facebook Wall or tweet your Twitter account for everyone to see. Take a look at the Qantas Facebook page after their planes were grounded worldwide to get a feel for what might happen.
5. Do you want someone else having conversations with your customers? If you’ve encountered an organisation that outsources its Call Centre to another company, then you’ll know how that feels when you are at the end of it. If your community takes the time and effort to communicate with your brand, they will feel cheated if they find out its not actually your brand that is responding. At the most basic level, it’s not honest or transparent and that doesn’t go down well on social media.
6. A good community manager is worth their weight in gold. They will know who your brand advocates and influencers REALLY are, because they talk to these people each and every day. They wont be people picked out of a report generated by some software tool based on their follower numbers or their Klout score, they will be the ones who go in to bat for you whenever someone in the community asks about your brand. A good community manager will be able to tell you off the top of their head who your top 5 influencers or brand advocates are, and they will have a relationship with them. Would the same apply for an external party?
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying that external parties such as a social media consultancy or agencies can’t add value – not at all. Some of my favourite people fall into those categories and I respect their opinions and expertise. Reaching out to them is a good way of providing some third party weight to an internal decision making point, or for getting a wider view of the industry or trends when you are developing your strategy. They can be a powerhouse when working with you on a defined piece of work, or as part of a wider multi channel campaign.
But there is no substitute for a team that knows and understands your organisation, your customers and your products or services and is passionate about your brand. This is especially true when it comes to 2 way communication with your customers. These people are your brand storytellers. Embrace them if you can