Advances in computers and internet technology have made it possible for small business owners to do many things they once outsourced. For example, updating websites, designing marketing materials, and bookkeeping are all things that were once the domain of specialists that can now be done through easy-to-use computer programs and web-based software. On the other hand, business owners risk doing a substandard job due to insufficient training, or they may end up neglecting other responsibilities by trying to do too much. Business owners find themselves facing a similar dilemma when deciding on a social media marketing strategy. This article will explore several factors a small business should consider when deciding whether or not to hire an outside firm to handle their social media efforts.
The time it takes to handle social media is probably the greatest determining factor for business owners who are deciding whether or not they want to hire an outside social media marketing firm. When a company first starts their social media marketing efforts, it’s easy to do because content is easy to find and there aren’t as many fans to respond to yet. But the longer an organization is on a social media channel, the harder it becomes to find content that wasn’t used previously, and monitoring and responding to page activity takes much more time.
Business owners have to decide for themselves at what point it becomes more efficacious to hire an outside firm to handle the social media, so that the business itself can deal with more important issues. There’s little reason for an organization to squander its skilled labor force by having them perform tasks that can be accomplished by an outside firm for significantly lower costs. Social media is certainly important for an organization, but it is probably not be the most important thing a business owner and others in the company can be doing. Hiring an outside agency for social frees up resources that may be sorely needed elsewhere.
The way an organization chooses to engage their customers, the way customers interact with a company’s social media, and the demographic of the target audience are all factors that should be considered when deciding to hire an outside agency for social media marketing. Organizations that plan to use an aggressive strategy such as utilizing contests, promoted content, and website integration, hiring an outside social media firm is logical because it’s important that these techniques are used properly and effectively to ensure the best use of advertising dollars.
If customers often interact with a page by asking customer service related questions, then the organization needs to be sure they have someone on staff who can reply to such questions or are readily available to the social media marketing agency that handles the page. On the other hand, if fans respond to content they like by simply sharing or making comments that don’t require replies, then it’s much better to hire an agency with a content writer who can continue to produce the sort of content that the fans respond to.
Hiring an outside agency for social media marketing is also appropriate when there are differences between the business owners’ and the target audience’s demographic. If an older business owner is trying to target a younger demographic, using a social media marketing firm can be helpful in producing content that resonates with the target audience.
The complexity of the industry of the small business is another factor that should be considered. Social media marketers often employ good technical writers who can write just about any subject, but there are still some cases where it’s better to have a subject matter expert, such as someone from the organization, handle social media content. For example, while NASA may outsource other marketing and public relation duties, the person producing their social media content clearly must be knowledgeable about the history of the organization, the state of current projects, and the relevant scientific information. Since NASA wouldn’t want the negative publicity that would come from telling their 2.1 million fans that they posted inaccurate information, it makes sense for them not to outsource all of their social media marketing duties, even if it means hiring someone to remain on staff.
In some ways, the usefulness of technology can be a two-edged sword. Business owners may be so engulfed in trying to cut the competition by reaching people through social media that they don’t realize that they are also cutting themselves by not using their time wisely. A house painter who spends so much time promoting their business on social media that they paint fewer houses does more harm than good for their company. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when a business owner should handle the company’s social media themselves, but it does mean that they should weigh the relevant factors carefully and make a decision that’s best for them and their organization. If not, business owners risk becoming the proverbial Jack of All Trades who is the master of none.