How to Successfully Outsource Social Media for Your Business

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.

  1. Trust, strategy and performance. Great points. If you going to trust a company with your online image, you better be sure they have a great online image!

  2. I am always curious about how to measure the performance of the social media marketing. And based on which factors to pay for the consultant.

  3. Hi Kristi, Great suggestions and insights. I very much agree that completely outsourcing social media marketing can be a pretty clumsy approach. Things work much better for us when the client is actively participating, especially in terms of engaging their social communities. Agencies/consultants are indeed useful on the strategy and consulting end of things. Social media best practices change rapidly and it’s difficult for in-house marketers to keep up.

    • I always suggest the approach of consultants guiding in-house marketers to the right setup and strategies, but not necessarily handling it 100%. I think it works best that way.

  4. Hi Kriste, being a Social Media consultant myself, I always try to optimize the way I work with clients. This post definetly gave me some food for though. Thanks for sharing, keep it up!

  5. Clients come to us all the time to outsource social media. My problem is they just don’t get it.

    Even after hours of explanation and overview – they literally just want to hand you a check and “do it.”

    The problem being: they don’t understand being social.

    They don’t have their own voice, passion, or vision to run their own brand. Because of this, we’re pulling out of doing outsourcing and doing more training. It just fits better.

    • I think a lot of businesses just feel like they don’t have anything to say. I had one client that was like that, but after awhile, she just took over everything and has been doing a fantastic job at it.

  6. Kristi, I’m sure there are people wondering whether or not it’s a wise idea to offshore or Odesk your social media efforts. Even for very simple tasks and upkeep. What are your thoughts on this?

    • I think you just have to go with someone you can trust and who can fully understand your business. My personal experience with offshore hasn’t been a good one – I’ve seen companies use vendors where the people were not native English speakers, and there were lots of little misunderstandings that arose from the way they would write articles on the client’s behalf or send email requests to partners. In the end, it was just painfully obvious that the US based businesses were using offshore people to represent them, and I didn’t think it was a good thing at all.

  7. I personally believe that hiring a personally consultant or out media group should be very limited. I have done consulting work myself but I will never run their campaign for long because I believe that community management should really be done in-house. An in-house person will bring a more genuine and personal feel to every message and can be held at closer check.

    • I agree Eric. I think a lot of businesses could utilize in-house talent for their social strategy as opposed to expecting it to be done perfectly by an outsider.

  8. Nice post. The key to success in hiring the right social media marketing consultant for your business is to find one who is as passionate as you are about what you do. You have to find a “believer” who shares your vision, one who becomes an extension of yourself. The rest follows.

    • Definitely Mike! If the consultant believes in a business and its values as much as the owner does, then you’re set in the right direction. If there’s any kind of mismatch in that area, you’ll be in trouble.

  9. Kristi, thanks for the rock solid information as always. So far I’ve not felt so comfortable in outsourcing the work involving social media presence and promotion. Although, I do feel overwhelmed at that work. But I’m certainly thinking about it!

    • I think it’s a little harder (if not impossible) when you’re considering finding someone to represent your personal brand vs. represent your business. I know of one blogger that started outsourcing their comments, and it was pretty obvious it was not longer him writing them, even though it was his name and email attached to each.

  10. Good luck with your new venture! To your post, a firm’s decision to bring in-house or out-source skilled expertise — like PR, Accounting, Legal, HR, Sales, or Social Media, or whatever other key specialty — has much to do with a firm’s strategic planning, practical business planning, long-range budgeting, marketing investment utilization. A good, smart, and honest social media marketing & management firm will assist a firm in making the best decision — on behalf of its stockholders or owners, customers, and constituents. Thanks for your post!

  11. Kristi, Thanks for the excellent post. We’ve developed an online tool currently in Beta that supercharges your social media marketing (http://intigi.com). The tool monitors your preferred online sources, delivers the most relevant articles to you (i.e., based on your specific interests), and then facilitates quick re-publishing (e.g., via Twitter). The tool is ideal for companies, individuals, or social media consultants looking to boost their social media presence within a field. I hope you find the tool useful!

  12. I believe that a social media consultant must be attuned to the company goals and aspirations if he or she is to represent them on their social media channels. I also think that outsourcing social media marketing is a good idea for a company looking to specialize in their core business. In any case, most businesses outsource marketing and advertising and I don’t see why social media marketing should be any different. You just need to be actively involved to ensure that you are represented in the way that you want.

  13. Great article about accountability. It’s honest, to the point, and not horribly biased, which is refreshing.

  14. thanks Kristi,excellent information it’s important i think that you have the right people working with you and that everyone is on the same page with a common goal.

  15. Social media consultants find the places on web where your profile can get maximum exposure .Every upcoming online business requires exponential flick of social media .Such consultants are creative analysts for business grow.

  16. Having a outsourced for social media with trust and proper strategy with the informed statistics only that can be the way we can go.

  17. Very nice and helpful article.Thanks for sharing,

  18. I absolutely agree with your thought to outsource social media marketing.
    Best wishes for your idea implementation.

  19. Definitely! Spot-on with this post – absolutely agree.

    The trickiest part, from an agency perspective, is when the client hires you to consult with them and execute on their strategy, but the communication is nonexistent. It’s an issue we see time after time. Clients simply can’t take an entirely hands-off approach – there has to be ongoing communication, content development and support each step of the way.

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