If you’re considering social media outsourcing, we get it.
After all, the expertise and time required to run social campaigns involves more than most companies can handle in-house.
This is especially true for smaller marketing teams struggling with social growth.
That’s why outsourcing social media is so common for brands big and small.
Because putting your online presence in experts’s hands ensures you’re seeing actual returns for your investment in social.
This guide breaks down the benefits, challenges and key considerations for anyone on the fence about social media outsourcing.
The biggest benefits of outsourcing social media
Defaulting to doing social in-house might seem like the right move.
However, consider these key benefits of contracting out your social marketing we’ve outlined below.
Instant expertise and more scalability
Much like you’d hire an SEO expert to improve your search rankings or a sales rep to close more deals, seasoned social experts can produce meaningful results for your business.
Although some critics might label social media an “easier” channel that any marketer can handle, they’re mistaken. Given social’s importance when it comes to lead generation and customer retention, you can’t afford to treat your presence as an afterthought or leave it in inexperienced hands.
Through outsourcing social media, you can:
- Identify opportunities and shortcomings from your current social presence
- Produce specific outcomes such as more leads, faster replies and greater brand awareness)
- Grow your presence on specific social platforms (think: getting more Instagram followers, managing a community on Twitter)
Seasoned social media experts have the resources and know-how to accomplish all of the above. With instant access to their abilities, you can scale your business faster.
Working with an agency isn’t just the work hours being allocated so your specialists can focus on business growth, but it’s also the tools, expertise, and knowledge. Particularly with social, it’s an intersection of design, writing, storytelling, and community management. Not to mention the platform-specific knowledge and nuances. All these moving parts come together as an ongoing conversation with your audience. As it changes and evolves, it can be hard to understand what’s lacking or where to go when you are too close to the business.
Social Media Marketing Specialist, NVISION
Access to premium marketing tools
Another added bonus of social media outsourcing is the chance to take advantage of some seriously powerful digital marketing tools.
For smaller brands, premium analytics, reporting and advertising tools are often out of reach. That’s because they require either a big budget or specialized knowledge to manage.
On the flip side, agencies rely on powerhouse tools, including Sprout Social, to encourage their clients’ growth. When you work with an agency, those tools become “yours” in a sense.
Gain crucial insights into your social presence
Piggybacking on the point above, agencies can provide invaluable insights via reporting and analytics tools such as:
- Where your most valuable social leads are coming from
- Top-performing content and social platforms
- Opportunities to optimize your audience targeting
Working with an agency gives you a sort of gut-check and a second opinion on your social strategy at large. They can tell at a glance what’s working and what’s not.
Increase your social media response time
If you don’t have the bandwidth to handle your customer questions and concerns, outsourcing social media can help manage these relationships.
Increasing your social media response time is essential for customer retention and standing out against competitors. Rather than let your most valuable interactions go unchecked, agencies have the ability to handle real-time concerns and set up automation to follow up with customers.
Free up time for your in-house talent
If nothing else, social media outsourcing can remove time-consuming and stressful tasks from your marketing team’s plate.
We get that marketing teams often juggle a variety of roles. That said, being an expert email marketer or content creator does not make you an expert in social media (and vice-versa).
It’s important for the sake of employee engagement that your workers focus on their strengths.
5 questions to answer before outsourcing social media
Let’s be clear: not every company needs to outsource social media.
Managing social in-house is obviously fair game for teams with the right talent and processes in place. Also, consider that outsourcing means much more than just handing over the proverbial keys to your social presence and expecting results.
Even if you’re fairly confident in your decision to outsource social media, make sure you answer the following five questions first.
1. “How much time does my business have to devote to social media marketing?”
Chances are you’re interested in outsourcing due to time or resource restraints, right?
But agencies aren’t mind-readers or miracle-workers. For starters, you should expect to provide them with:
- Brand assets and creatives
- New pieces of content
- Guidance in terms of goals and KPIs
Remember: as a brand, you’re responsible for establishing expectations and empowering whoever you hire.
2. “Have we defined our brand voice and values?”
Agencies work with clients of all shapes and sizes.
But how social experts approach any given client in terms of messaging varies wildly from brand to brand.
For example, a fashion brand targeting Gen Z on Instagram is going to be totally different than, say, managing a community of older small business owners on Facebook.
To establish your mission and uniqueness and to make any new hire’s job easier, defining your brand voice should be a top priority. So should hooking up your agency with a style guide that highlights how to talk to your target audience.
3. “What are our social media marketing goals?”
Simply put, you need to figure out what your end-game of social media outsourcing is.
Brand awareness? Better customer service and support? Leads and sales?
There are no wrong answers here. That said, your answer will ultimately influence both your budget and the strategy of the agency you hire.
4. “How much of our social media strategy is documented?”
Keep in mind that there are different degrees of social media outsourcing.
Sure, some brands might need an agency to brainstorm their social presence from scratch.
But others could benefit from integrating a freelancer into an existing workflow or approval process. The more you already have documented, the better.
5. “Has our social presence plateaued? Do we need a fresh perspective?”
The answer here should be pretty straightforward.
That is, are you moving the needle on your most important metrics of KPIs? If you’re not sure what those even are, you probably need a helping hand.
The challenges of social media outsourcing
Again, outsourcing social media isn’t as easy as flipping a switch.
And we’ll bite: hiring an agency can be a headache (but it definitely doesn’t have to be). Let’s quickly break down some of the struggles that businesses face when working with an agency.
Finding the right talent (at the right price)
There’s no shortage of agencies and freelancers out there.
But there’s a huge difference between hiring a freelancer on Fiverr for $15/hour and working with an established agency. There’s likewise a massive gulf in the required social media budget to see positive results from outsourcing.
Digging through profiles is daunting. When browsing agencies or freelancers, stick to the following pointers:
- Look at their portfolio, testimonials and track record
- Assess their specialties in terms of platforms and brands they work with
- Establish a realistic budget (but be wary of the lowest bidders)
The fact that businesses are spoiled for choice in terms of talent means that you can afford to be picky.
Maintaining your voice and values
The importance of conveying your voice and values to an agency can’t be stressed enough. This is particularly important if your hire works in any sort of frequently client-facing role.
Having someone speak on behalf of your company is a massive responsibility. Getting your voice across represents a collaborative effort and both parties need to be on the same page.
The ability to communicate what your brand is all about might seem straightforward to you. However, an agency bouncing between several clients can benefit from some much-needed direction on your part.
Delegating without micromanaging
Ideally, you can work with an agency in a positive, proactive way. That means clear communication and expectations.
Establish upfront how you’ll manage the relationship and what discussing feedback and expectations will look like. Whether it’s working via email, Slack or face-to-face meetings (or a combination of all of the above), you should ideally be able to delegate and communicate minus any micromanaging.
How to choose an agency (or freelancer) for social media outsourcing
Let’s say you’re ready to outsource your social media.
Excellent! So, where do you find your talent? And how do you choose?
Firsthand experience and recommendations can help you hone in on top-tier talent quickly. Ask around your own network on social media, for starters. You don’t have to look hard to find recommendations for agencies on LinkedIn.
When you’ve got your list of candidates, pay close attention to their areas of expertise and testimonials. If someone feels too much like a generalist or can’t back up their claims, you can likely move on.
If you’re just starting on your social media outsourcing search, look no further than our own Agency Partner Program that can match brands with agencies based on budget, skillset and necessary tools.
How could social media outsourcing transform your business?
Outsourcing social media may very well be your best route to scaling fast.
Whether you’re struggling with your own presence or simply don’t have the time or talent to budget in-house, there are so many social media experts out there that can help.
Just make sure that you take the time to document your strategy and define your social media goals so you get the results you’re looking for.