Top 5 Things to Consider When Outsourcing Social Media
There’s no question social media marketing is time-consuming. As a small business owner you’ve got your hand in many pies and properly managing your social media presence might be low on your preferred business activities. If social media is your business nemesis, you might consider hiring a social media consultant to help with the work.
Social media consultants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from virtual assistants who simply schedule content you provide, to social media strategists who can build a social media strategy that works in tandem with your overall marketing plan. Here are a few things you should consider and discuss with any potential social media consultants before signing the contract.
How does their current client portfolio look?
Similar to hiring any in-house staff, checking references is important. You should talk to a couple of their clients to see if they are happy with what this consultant is doing for them. Keep in mind, what the consultant has been tasked with for one client could be very different from what you’re looking for, so don’t try to compare apples to oranges. It’s more important to find out if they are delivering on their commitment to the client.
Scroll through the consultant’s own social profiles to ensure they’re well used and look professional, and check for the same on their client accounts. Is there a good amount of interaction? Are they overly promotional or are they conversational? Do each of their clients maintain a unique voice or do they all look and feel like clones of each other?
Will you be hands-on or hands-off?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Some business owners don’t ever want to touch social media and hire a consultant to handle it all. Others like to add spontaneous posts and respond to questions, but don’t like the daily planning and prep to get the conversations going. Communicate clearly to your consultant how much you will personally contribute to the strategy. They need to plan their posts around best times and around times you are likely to be posting. Neither of you wants to post two minutes after the other, so a hands-on relationship takes a little more coordination and communication.
You’ll also want to be completely honest about how much content you will be able to provide for the strategy on a regular basis. Over-promising and under-delivering will only slow everything down and frustrate both parties. If you aren’t willing to write a weekly blog post, send regular pictures or do monthly Facebook Live videos, don’t agree to them simply because the consultant thinks they’ll be good.
Who else is on the team?
Can this agency handle everything you need them to do or will you be required to deal with multiple freelancers and manage it all yourself? If the plan is to create unique graphics or videos, will they be creating those in-house, outsourcing them to another agency, or asking you to provide them? Any of these options can work, but you need to know up front how many people you’ll be managing. Most likely you only want to deal with one person, so make sure this agency can do what you require.
The number of business owners who don’t even think to check out a social media agency’s social profiles is astounding. Taking the time to do this one thing can give you a lot of information about the consultant you are looking to contract.
How long is their learning curve?
Just like any employee you might hire, a social media consultant will have a learning curve getting started. Don’t expect them to remember how to answer every customer question within the first week. If they are working remotely, expect a lot of communication in the first two to three months as they learn about your business and customers. It’s ok to ask them how they deal with this learning curve, what processes they will have in place to minimize it and how long they expect it will be until they are running at full speed.
How much automation will they employ?
Automating social media work is a short cut you don’t want to take. Allowing programs to choose what you post, and when, simply allows too many opportunities for inappropriate content, broken links, and being off-brand. Automation is very different from scheduling content, however. Most social media managers will use programs to find and schedule content and that is perfectly ok. Vetting every piece of content that is shared on your behalf takes more time, but it’s time well spent. Creating unique content like blog posts, videos and graphics for your business takes even more time. If you want a personalized social media strategy that fits your unique business, expect to pay more than $99 a month.
Outsourcing your social media work can be liberating for the busy small business owner. It can also be very profitable as a knowledgeable social media consultant will be able to improve brand awareness, increase revenues, build customer loyalty and help you grow your business. The only trick here is finding the right consultant for the job and that starts with knowing what you need from them.
About the Author
Anita Kirkbride hatched Twirp Communications when most people were still trying to figure out Twitter. In addition to helping small businesses grow their social presence, she shares her social media expertise on her blog and at workshops, training sessions, and conferences. Anita has trained over 300 entrepreneurs to manage their own social media, managed as many as 16 Twitter accounts concurrently, and engineered seven times ROI on Facebook ads. Anita loves cilantro, sushi and Oh Henry bars.