social media

Businesses understand that social media is a lot more than just updating their Facebook page, or sending out a couple tweets. It has the power to turn prospects into customers and people into brand evangelists. It directly impacts the bottom line and makes or breaks a marketing plan.

So, what is a business to do? How do they handle their social media strategy, accounts and growth?

Let’s look at two popular options: in-house social media support vs. hiring out social media support. Then I’ll offer my “third” scenario.

Bringing It “In-House”

An example of a large company that has brought their social media in-house and met great success doing so is Zappos. They created Zappos Labs – their experimental Digital Marketing arm.

Using this example, we can see just how successful the management of social media can be when curated and built within an organization. They have mobility, access to company resources, and easily align with other marketing initiatives and “arms” of Zappos. This fully functioning, brilliant team absolutely works for Zappos. They are leaps and bounds above the majority of large companies using social media.

Is this right for you?

Probably not. An immense amount of resources is required to pull this off. People, time and money. When you bring your social media in-house, you have to assess which teams will manage it. Within those respective teams, you must ensure that they have the appropriate amount of expertise in social media and digital marketing.

These qualifications go past the typical assumption that the youngest person in the office can handle it since, you know, young people just “know” social media. I say this a bit “tongue in cheek” as there is a great deal of benefit in having an internal community manager and I do recommend having one. But there will come a point where your social media efforts require additional strategy to support growth, or the expertise of the community manager doesn’t meet the new and always evolving social media landscape.

Here are some things to remember:

  • When bringing social media in-house, it is recommended to ensure the teams responsible for the digital marketing have the adequate experience. This will most likely mean you will need to hire a social media specialist and supplemental team members.
  • Along with the team comes the resources. Social media requires a great deal of successful metric tracking and evaluation. Will your company be looking to build their own social media dashboard and analytics tracking system or purchasing software from a vendor? If the latter, will your team require training on how to use it?
  • In-house can work. You just need the resources and a very clear plan for the roll-out and execution.

“Hiring Out” Your Social Media

This means that you hire a social media agency or consultant to manage anything from creating your social media strategy, to setting up your accounts, to managing the whole package.

Is this right for you?

It is my belief that getting any help from a social media consultant in some capacity is well worth the investment. They can even help you figure out how you could best manage your social media efforts, and work with an agency or consultant.

Think of legal counsel these days. Most companies don’t have them in-house – they are consultants. Sometimes even entire sales teams are hired out. This is done because you are hiring a company with the direct expertise that you do not have to manage that aspect for your business.

A social media agency will have teams of highly trained individuals whose sole purpose is to work with and manage social media. They have the systems, processes, tools and “equipment” in place… and they know how to use it.

The Best Case Scenario?

A blend of both in-house and hiring out. What I mean by this is, delegate a community manager within your organization. Find a person who understands your brand and is able to communicate it effectively. Then have that community manager work closely with an agency or consultant you hire. That “inside person” knows your company intimately. They will help ensure your brand is always communicated properly, and have a quick reaction time to organizational changes, promotions and approvals.

When I consult with clients on their social media efforts, I am able to help them identify specific goals and to then reach those goals faster. Here are some tips that I always share with them:

  • Bring in the help when you need the help.

  • Start small, and scale from there.

  • Learn as much as you can at first. It helps to eliminate any fear around using social media, makes your hand-off smoother and empowers you to make creative decisions.

  • Focus on what you do well, and get help on the other “stuff”.

  • Get the help you need in the beginning, since that will allow you to build a solid online platform.

How do you manage your social media efforts? Do you work with a social agency, or do you prefer to keep social media in-house?


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