Business Magazine

Should You Outsource Your Social Media?

By Stacylrust


I get this question all the time… What’s the best way to include social media when marketing a business?

  • Should you do it all yourself?
  • Should you bring someone onto your staff to handle it?
  • Should you outsource it altogether?

And, once you do start using social media, how do you use it effectively to generate more customers and sales?

After all, nobody wants their employees sitting around on social media without seeing any real business results.

First off, social media is an incredible tool for businesses. No matter what industry you’re in, it’s important that you join the online conversation.

The internet has made room for international business relationships at the click of a mouse. No longer do businesses need expensive ad campaigns to communicate with prospects worldwide, social media has lifted the obstacles that used to stand in the way.

Through social media, businesses can chat directly with customers worldwide, and build connections and make sales 24/7. The internet has created a truly global marketplace for almost every industry.

Because of this, consumers across the world are given more options than ever before. Gone are the days when your only option for buying shoes was from the shoe store down the street from your house. You can now buy shoes from anywhere in the world, in any color, style, and size, all from the comfort of your living room.

This is incredible. But, it also means that customers are getting picky.

With a seemingly endless list of companies to work with, customers are far less willing to buy from a company that doesn’t meet all of their needs. These needs span from product selection, to customer service, to social and environmental responsibility. We, as consumers, are beginning to hold our companies to higher standards in all areas.

  • You don’t pay your employees fair wages? Ok, we’ll shop somewhere else.
  • You pollute your local environment? No problem, we’ll click a different link and purchase from your competitor.
  • You don’t provide good customer service? Adios.

Customers around the world want to know more about the companies they choose to work with. They want to know who they are, what they stand for, and how they are different from competitors.

This is why social media has grown so quickly in the business space. Customers now have a direct line to the companies they are considering working with. Prospects can jump online and ask anyone at a company anything, at any time. Customers can Google every business name, and any CEO, and find out anything they want to know.

  • Does your product really work as well as you say it does? I’ll just hop over to Facebook, ask a few friends, and find out.
  • How much money do you give to good causes each year, is philanthropy a priority? It takes only a couple of seconds to Google that information.
  • Will I have to wait in a long line at your store to get help? I’ll pop over to Yelp and see.

Social media holds the space for these conversations. And customers want businesses to participate.

So, as business owners, we must take the opportunity that social media provides to connect with our customers and have meaningful interactions with them. This is the relationship they are looking for. They want us to chat with them and answer their questions. They want us to demonstrate our commitment to service and customer satisfaction by showing up where they are already hanging out.

Rewind a few decades… The businesses that succeeded before the internet were those who created real relationships with their shoppers. If there were 2 bakeries in town, one who remembered your name and your order, and the other who didn’t, who would you spend your money with? Why do so many people have the same stylist for years? Because, there’s a relationship there. There’s trust and friendship.

Thanks to social media, you can create that same dynamic with customers all around the world. This opportunity is absolutely unprecedented. You can create friendships from across the globe and nurture loyal customer relationships.

Even if you run a local business, you have an opportunity to connect with your customers wherever they are. No more waiting for them to step through the door, the conversation is always open.

As the market evolves, social media will become a non-negotiable part of customer communications.

So, social media is essential for businesses, but should you outsource your social media activities, or should you do it yourself?

My answer is no. And, here’s why…

Authentic connection and true, transparent conversation is what your customer is looking for. By putting someone in the middle, you are bypassing the true purpose of this medium.

Customers are looking to connect with YOU, not your social media agency representative.

I always tell my private clients “when in doubt, behave as a celebrity would”.

No, I don’t mean crashing a new Ferrari.

Here’s what I mean…

Katy Perry has held the #1 spot on Twitter for a long time. She currently has over 50 million followers.

What do those followers want? To talk to Katy. They want to hear about what she’s up to. They want to see pictures of her life, to hear about her music, to keep up on her career.

The reason Katy Perry has such a loyal following is because Katy is active and engaged on Twitter. She tweets to her fans, chats with them, re-tweets them, and lets them into her world. She’s genuine and authentic.

So… what would Katy Perry do (#WWKPD)? Would she hire someone to manage her social media for her as some celebrities do? Probably not. She would undoubtedly lose some of her influence (and likely her #1 spot).

Treat yourself as you would if you were Katy Perry. Recognize that your customers want to talk to YOU. They want to get to know YOU. They are looking for honest, transparent engagement. They want your humor, your pictures of your dog, your grumblings about your morning flat tire. They want the real you. Not some corporate, stiff, highly optimized, outsourced version (what the internet will interpret as spam).

I’m not suggesting that you abandon all professionalism. Of course it’s important to keep a business perspective when using social media for business purposes, but just remember that your customers want to see you for who you really are, morning coffee and all.

I wouldn’t recommend outsourcing your social media for 2 big reasons:

  1. Your customers won’t like it because it’s not the real you.
  2. It will likely cost you a lot to outsource, and social media is free! It’s amazing that something so powerful is without a cost. So let’s not slap a price tag on it, let’s learn how to use this free tool to our advantage.

So, how do you do it right?

How do you effectively manage your social media without wasting time? What does it take to see real results?

I have 3 tips to get you started on the right track…

  1. Schedule important business posts in advance. Use a system like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule and automate your social media posts. Sit down at the beginning of each month and plot out what you’d like to release on social media (business news, promotions. announcements, photos, contests, etc.). Set it all up in advance so your social media posts go out like clockwork every single day. This should only an hour or so, once a month.
  2. Set aside time every day (I recommend 15-20 minutes) to chat and network on social media. Everyone in your office should fit this into his or her daily schedule. Social networking should be a team effort. I like to do this first thing in the morning while I eat breakfast. Answer customer questions, respond to your audience, and chat for a bit. Pretend you are the manager at a restaurant. Stop by a few tables and ask how everything tastes, thank your customers for their business. Make small talk.
  3. Track your activities. Most social media platforms have incredible free tracking tools available (but most businesses don’t use them). You can see in-depth analytics showing you exactly what works and what doesn’t online. You see, every audience is different. What works with my social media followers may not work with yours. So, make it a habit to check your stats and you’ll discover what works so you can ditch what doesn’t. You’re a business after all, and you can’t be wasting time posting things that your audience isn’t responding to. Check your social analytics regularly to keep your team on track.

On the surface, outsourcing your social media seems like the smart thing to do. But in the long run, you’re much better off learning the ropes and communicating with your customers yourself. After all, that’s what they’re really looking for.

Join the conversation, share who you are and what you stand for, and your customers will thank you for it.

photo credit: JefferyTurner via photopin cc

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