Few things have caused me to cringe in the past year more than hearing or reading about businesses hiring amateurs to run their social media platforms. I also cast a dubious eye on agencies which outsource so-called 'social media experts'. Without naming names, many of us have seen a certain slick post on Twitter with the headline: Love Facebook and Twitter? There's a job for you. Oh, really? There is, I'm certain, a pervasive mentality which insists that anybody who likes social media can run a SM campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why do companies hire outside agencies to run their social media? Primarily it's because social media is an immensely time consuming project, but not one that usually merits a full time salary. It's also a position which needs some attention on off hours, like nights and weekends, to respond to customer complaints and breaking news. You need a dedicated employee to monitor for unforeseen issues, and that person might not be available at 10 pm on a Friday night.
However, if you think that hiring an agency to outsource your social media sounds like a good idea, consider the risks.
Your social media manager can't just come in off the street and handle your accounts. The ideal social media marketer must have a grasp of
- Your marketing goals
- Your clientele
- Your voice and message
Let's begin with the fundamental principle behind using social media for business '- There must be a strategy. Why would you proceed with any marketing without a plan for how to make it work? Yet, so many businesses only know that they need a social media presence. Retailers may hire a niece on a part-time basis to post pictures and videos of their products and check for nasty comments on Yelp. Agencies might take on an intern to broaden their following, check in on client activity, and post seemingly relevant articles and infographics. Trust me, that's not a strategy.
We've covered building a social media strategy in this blog before. Assuming that you've focused your outreach on which platforms your ideal client spends most of their time, you then need a proper message, a calendar to track the topics you're posting about (you want to cover a variety of subjects), and pay attention to news and events which matter to your target market. This is the most public expression of your brand. Is this really a job for your neighbor's son?
There is still the matter of content, much of which still needs to be generated in-house, if you hope to have any credibility with the people you hope to reach. Keeping the finger on the pulse of your company's brand is your responsibility. If you have a copywriter working for you whom you trust, that person should also have a hand in your social media strategy. They will probably be responsible for the editorial calendar, so they know what to post and when. The Content Editor and Social Media Strategist should have a symbiotic relationship, and that can't happen if your Twitter account is managed by some faceless contractor across the country.
Finally, there are the numbers. What posts got the most attention? Did the LinkedIn update that went out at 7 pm get as much play as that Google+ post from the afternoon? Study the analytics and shift your approach as circumstances demand. If your Marketing team is working inside your office, including the social media strategist, then changes to your strategy can come at a moment's notice.
Anybody can Tweet and post to Facebook, but only professionals that you trust should be doing it under your brand.