There comes a time in all online entrepreneurs’ lives where we question the inordinate amounts of time we spend managing our social channels.
Sourcing, posting, engaging…and doing it all over again the next day.
Most of the time, we love what we do.
But sometimes, we get tired.
Online tools like Bulkly can help alleviate the constant pressure of having to keep up with daily sourcing and scheduling, but there are times when the idea of outsourcing your social media marketing sounds like the way to go. Especially when a new project is consuming our time and energy.
Have you ever considered outsourcing your social media management?
If you have, you know that there are many points and factors you’ll need to have on your radar in order to make the right decision. Costs, logistics, consistency, time, control…
Sorting it all out is a job in and of itself.
But you can gain some major benefits by hiring an outside agency to handle your social media channels. You can transfer the time you spend engaging and monitoring into building out a new tool or putting greater focus into writing fresh content for your blog.
Hiring an agency team also affords you more hands on deck, while avoiding the costs of benefits and office accommodations required when hiring new employees.
An agency may even have more or different skills to offer your team, in areas such as photography, design or copywriting.
But are you really ready to hand over the reins to an outside agency? To give up control of your business, your brand, your baby?
I’m sure you hesitate when faced with that question. Chances are that your mind goes everywhere all at once.
But I’m going to do you a solid – I’m going to outline and explain the major factors on the table when making the decision to hire an agency and push “go” on outsourcing the management of your collection of social media channels.
Here’s eight things to consider before you sign that agency contract to outsource social media.
1. Do You Have a Budget to Outsource Social Media?
How much do you have to spend?
Let’s be honest. At the end of the day, it’s all about the money.
Yes, time is money. But money is money, too.
So you need to consider if you even have the resources to invest in a whole other team of outsiders to take over your daily social duties. Granted, hiring an agency is more affordable in the long run than hiring the same number of internal employees, as you won’t need to consider certain additional expenses such as benefits, office equipment, larger facilities, etc.
But if what you’re wanting from an agency is outside of your budget, you may need to consider keeping things in-house for the time being.
Another consideration would be to hire an agency to take the edge off your daily social duties by only taking over management of one or two of your channels. This way, you could hand over of say, the posting of photos to your Instagram and Pinterest accounts, while devoting greater focus to your Twitter and Facebook posts and investing the time saved into your blog.
But don’t settle. And beware of discounts.
There’s a reason why a certain agency may be offering discounted services. They may have less experience. Or a bad reputation. Or management that is overworking their employees.
All of these circumstances will end badly for you and your business if you blindly jump into a relationship with an agency you can afford over one that may be priced a bit higher, but has the experience, reputation and staff to keep your social channels running smoothly.
2. Can You Give Up Control of Your Social Media Accounts?
With the right budget in-place to cover the fees associated with hiring an agency to manage your social channels, it’s time for some soul-searching.
Can you really let go?
You’ll need to decide if you’re actually ready to train and meet up-front and then allow a new team of people to take over posting and engaging for the business/brand that you’ve fostered from inception. You’ll have to let them make some decisions for you – you can’t approve or oversee everything.
Otherwise, what’s the point of hiring an agency to save you time, when you’re just going to spend it rechecking everything they do anyway?
Take a step back and decide if and how you can potentially turn over your social channels to an agency team. Trust will be a major factor in your decision.
The more time you invest in researching and interviewing potential agencies, narrowing down your list and meeting with their team members to get to know them, the more you will understand their strengths and weaknesses and how close of a fit they are with you, your team and your brand.
Spending time builds rapport, which builds trust. Trust will make it easier to give up control.
If you’re struggling to turn things over, investing more into your agency search and interviewing efforts may help make the transition of management of your social channels easier.
3. Is There Enough Time To Consistently Meet With Your Social Media Agency?
You hired an agency to help save you time by managing your social channels for you…but do you actually have the time to spend talking, meeting and planning with them?
Affording an agency control isn’t just about handing over the key and saying “Sayonara!”
You’ll have to spend time up-front to get to know the new agency team with initial interviews and meetings, and then, once you hire a team, you’ll need to invest in thorough training sessions to teach them the ins and outs of your business, customers and brand voice and persona so they can manage your channels in an appropriate and consistent fashion.
You’ll also need to be available to meet with them periodically to go over new campaigns, give new direction, approve new initiatives – whatever process and responsibility-sharing agenda you outline with the agency in your contract.
Having the time to keep in regular touch with your outsourced team is necessary to ensure your brand remains intact in new hands.
4. Are Your Social Media Efforts Currently Organized?
How organized are you?
You can’t just give your new agency team a confused mess of paperwork and random instructions and expect them to sort it out and get it all right when they take over.
You’ll need to make plans well in advance for how you want your social channels managed. These plans will need to cover not only your overarching social media strategy, brand persona, general audience and brand voice, but also daily instruction when it comes to every channel you own.
How many times do you Tweet per day? Do you know the best times to tweet? What kind of photos do you want posted on Instagram? How do you maintain balance between internal and external posts on Facebook?
You need to decide when, how and how many of these things will be outlined and communicated to your agency…and which ones you’ll allow your agency to handle with minimal to no direction.
5. What is the Age of Your Business?
How old is your brand or business?
It seems somewhat irrelevant at first, but the degree to which your brand is established can make all the difference in how it will be managed by an agency touching it for the first time.
If your brand is well-established, you have the benefit of being able to turn over your social channels with a typically hard-and-fast game plan for how to speak to your audience. But keep in mind you’ll have to keep a watchful eye on the content and verbiage used by your new agency to ensure your brand persona and voice stay intact.
If your business is relatively new, you have options.
Do you want your agency to have a hand in directing your brand’s focus for the future? If so, your involvement may be only to give approval or light direction. If you prefer to be the one making the decisions, you may need to build a closer partnership with your agency team and plan to invest a larger amount of time working with them.
Or, you may want to hold on to the controls longer to establish your brand a bit more before letting go.
6. Is Your Industry Unique?
How specialized is your business?
If teaching an agency, or any outsider for that matter, the slang and “essence” of your brand and the industry you’re in is a major undertaking, you may want to rethink the option of outsourcing.
Consider a business that specializes in professional skateboarding gear. The fans and followers will be using terms for their techniques and competitions that you, as the business/brand owner, understand to a degree that may be almost second nature.
The amount of time you’ll need to invest to train your new agency team on how to speak to your audience in the right tone and language may be more of an uphill battle than having an internal member of your company (or yourself) continue to manage your social channels.
Even if you are able to transfer this knowledge successfully, hard-core followers will likely be able to sniff out an imposter trying to engage in a familiar way, but seriously missing the mark.
Sometimes, agencies have a certain “type” of client that they manage. They might focus on companies in the restaurant business, food industry or sports.
If your brand is specialized and you’re dead-set on hiring an agency to take over your social accounts, consider searching for an agency that handles a collection of clients in your field or industry. If you can find a close fit, having a specialized business/brand may not be a factor in your agency search.
7. Do You Need a Local Company to Outsource Social Media To?
Many businesses have regular events or opportunities to generate brand awareness and engage with their customers face-to-face.
Will you want your agency to be a part of these events? Or will you or an employee attend instead?
The distance of your agency from you will make all the difference on how on-site photos, press events and potentially new store openings will be handled.
Most of the time, you’ll want to be posting live from an event, sharing photos and engaging with fans, which is more genuine and timely when you have a representative on the ground interacting, gathering photos and feedback and posting to your social channels. In real-time.
When you’re working with an outside agency and you or they don’t have the funding to pay travel costs to send an agency representative to your events, you’ll need to have a streamlined process in place to send photos back and forth for posting and ensure that a member of the agency team is available at their office location for real-time posting while the event is going on.
Working with an agency that is far away or in a different time zone will create challenges when it comes to travel costs and management of events on social that occur during off-hours.
8. Does the Social Media Agency Have Bandwidth For Your Company?
When you hire an outside agency to manage your social channels, you’ll need to ensure that they have the right sized team in place to take on everything expected of them. And the time available to do so.
In a perfect world, you would be your agency team’s only client or their top priority.
But most likely, they’re managing a collection of different companies and brands and you’re just one within the mix.
How many other companies are they managing? How do they decide what client gets priority over another? Do you have a certain team member assigned to your account or are responsibilities shared?
These are all considerations you will need to discuss with an agency up-front before deciding which one most closely meets your expectations when it comes to managing your social media accounts.
Should You Outsource Social Media?
Your business/brand is your baby and no matter what, giving up control of all of your social channels to an outside agency is going to be a challenge.
Planning, meeting, training – you’ll have to decide if the effort and time invested initially is worth the time potentially saved.
No agency is perfect. No business owner will ever be fully ready.
But with these eight considerations in mind, you’ll be well on your way to making a decision that’s right for you and your business/brand.