Should small businesses outsource their social media?

Thinking of outsourcing your social media? Please read this first.

People in the digital marketing world have been debating back and forth over the last couple of years whether outsourcing SM is acceptable – but I find a strange lack of online information discussing the small business in particular. So here we go.

Firstly, it is notable that there is a difference between Social Media Consulting and Social Media Outsourcing.

SM Consulting

Consulting is when someone like myself comes into your business and gives you advice on how social media can benefit you. It is essentially a crash course, but tailored specifically for your business. Consultants also discuss appropriate strategies and techniques for the future. Often it is appropriate for consultants to set up new channels, tidy up your Facebook profile, choose your Twitter background and redesign your blog.

Basically, the consultant should leave after giving you a good kick up the backside and getting the ball rolling, so to speak. (As shown by the incredibly simple graph.)

Social Media Consultancy for Business

SM Outsourcing

On the other hand, outsourcing is when you hire someone to take care of your social media communications on a more permanent basis. And this is what I am arguing against.

Why outsourcing doesn’t work as well

Imagine giving a stranger – or myself – access to your Twitter account and asking me to tweet on your behalf. Do you think I would know the ins and outs of your business? (Would I totally grasp your brand’s USPs, tone of voice, product details, staff personalities, weekly priorities?) I’d say no.

Even if I am an intelligent human being with experience in social media (which I am), I will never replace you, or one of your staff, with my knowledge of your company. I can’t answer your customers or other industry members accurately. I will not know who “Dan” is, the bloke who tweeted at you regarding your awesome customer service on Friday.

No matter how clever I am, your audience will see through me. It is the same whenever a celebrity has a PR person tweet for them. It is disappointing. (Hear hear, Britney.)

Getting you and your staff involved

Now imagine giving one of your dedicated staff – or yourself – access to your Twitter account. Or rather, imagine doing so after investing in some special social media training for them with a consultant. Can you see the difference? They are passionate about your products and know the business inside and out. They can answer all questions put to them online. They even know Dan.

In fact, it’s great to get your staff involved because they will in turn encourage – whether consciously or not – those around them to join in. This includes your customers and other industry members who they speak to on a daily basis via phone and email.

Why is this so important for small businesses?

Because they don’t have anything to hide behind. All of the above is magnified for the small business, where customer service and communications are even more essential to success. And the personal touch is probably one of your USPs, right?

But why do businesses outsource?

The most popular reason, as cited by numerous other blog posts, is time. Personally I feel that this is no longer an acceptable excuse for the vast majority of small businesses. Social media needs to be accepted as a vital part of a company’s marketing and worthy of a couple hours a week. After all, that’s all it takes.

So I would suggest this: hire a consultant for a week, allow them to set you up and give you some training – but then take the bull by the horns. Your online audience will appreciate you that bit more for it.

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