Previously we have discussed the importance of branding and building authority through social media through using a hands on approach. But some businesses are not ready or able to commit the kind of time and personnel to managing a full-force social media campaign for their brand. This is where outsourcing comes into play. Businesses can instead find outside experts to help them run their social media. The question is, how can you do it in a way that will not harm your brand and ensure that it is truly successful?
Choose a Consultant You Can Trust
One of the most important things to remember is that your social media marketing company or consultant will be creating messages for your brand. Don’t think of it as someone who is just “handling” your Twitter account. Realize that anything they say on your behalf might be the first (or last) thing someone sees from your brand. With these things in mind, you will want to hire a consultant you can trust.
So how do you know you can trust them? My first suggestions would be to find their customer testimonials in the following ways.
- Start with their website to see if they have a testimonials page.
- Search Google for the company or consultant’s name to see if you can find mentions of them across the web – if they’ve done a bad job, someone might have already complained about it.
- Look for their business in Google Places by visiting Google Maps and search for their name or website domain to see local reviews.
- Find the consultant on LinkedIn and read their reviews, both for the main company, the company’s owner, and the employees within it. An additional bonus would be to find the profile of the social media marketers working within their company and read their reviews.
Another great way to find a good consultant is to simply see who your industry peers are using. Reach out on LinkedIn Answers to see if someone else in your industry has a great referral for you.
Consider a Setup and Strategy Only Approach
If you’re uncomfortable with someone else becoming the voice for your brand through social media, then your next be would be to have the outside consultant help get you past the initial social media setup including signing up for social media sites, configuring profiles, designing custom background designs (Twitter & YouTube), and setting up social media management tools such as HootSuite. Usually these are the biggest hurdles to getting started with social media for any business.
After the initial setup and configuration, have your social media consultant spend a few hours with you to show you the basics of social media including:
- Twitter – how to monitor brand mentions & industry discussions, send status updates, check direct messages, formulate great messages in 140 characters, and additional Twitter marketing strategies.
- Facebook – how to check your Facebook wall for customer wall posts and replies, use the data in your Facebook insights, add status updates to your wall (including photos, videos, and links), use Facebook as your page, and additional Facebook marketing strategies.
- YouTube – how to upload new videos, create playlists, and comment on other videos.
- Google+ – how to use your personal profile to build brand awareness through updates and interacting with others in your industry plus additional Google+ getting started strategies.
Once you are comfortable with navigating your way around the main social networks, you can have your consultant come up with a basic social media strategy plan including how often you should update, what types of updates to send, and how to integrate social media into your online marketing campaign.
Work Closely With Your Social Media Consultant
If you do want your social media consultant to handle all of the work for you, thus being the voice of your brand through your social media outlets, then you will want to work closely with them. This doesn’t mean just a monthly meeting to discuss your plans for the next 30 days. This means having someone that you can email when you have questions about your social media.
There are a lot of different things that can come up on your social media accounts that a consultant might need you to deal with, or at least needs to work with you to deal with. Responding to specific customer complaints, for example, is something that you as the business would need to possibly respond to yourself so you can research the problem and find a great solution. If your business is legally regulated and cannot say certain things, you will need to make sure that your consultant knows those things before allowing them to start updating on your behalf.
Monitor Your Social Media Consultant’s Work
Regardless of how hands-on or hands-off you want to be with your social media, you must always monitor your consultant’s work. Look at the updates they send to ensure they are timely and relevant. Be sure that your consultant seems to have a firm understanding of your business and your industry.
The big one is to check for mistakes – something as simple as a misunderstood status update could create major havoc with your social media account. Nikon learned this the hard way by posing a question that implied photographers are only as good as their equipment. Someone who understands photography and the way photographers work would know to steer away from this kind of comment.
These are just some considerations and ways to ensure that outsourcing your business’ social media can be a great boost for your online marketing strategy. What other suggestions do you have for choosing a consultant and making sure things run the way you want them to?
About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.