Why You Should Never Outsource Social Media

Why You Should Never Outsource Social Media

Many businesses like to outsource their social media activities rather than handle them in-house. There are many reasons for this: they’re not comfortable with the new marketing method; they don’t have time/money to train up or hire someone; or, they feel that their PR agency knows more about it than they do. However in most cases businesses are better placed than PR agencies to run their social media activities. Here are three reasons why:


They’re fake

Social media is all about human connection. It works as a marketing tool because it allows consumers to form relationships with the people involved in the business and foster bonds of trust. If you can become a casual friend to your customers – like the corner shopkeeper who always greets you by name and sometimes drops a few extra apples into their bag at no charge – then they are more likely to trust and seek out your opinion when they need assistance.

Relationships take time and PR agencies by their very nature handle multiple clients simultaneously so the amount of time they can spend on your account is limited. Sometimes extremely limited. It might be as little as ten minutes per week. This can lead to two problems:

  • Scripted: Agencies like to script out what they will say and when. It’s more efficient for them to do it this way. They’ll even script responses. While conversation calendars are a good tool, too often only scripted activities are authorised. There’s little spontaneity and the calendar is often written months in advance. This means instead of a caring person your social media persona comes across as a broadcasting robotic drone.
  • Slow: Outsourcing also means that if your customers have a problem, or a question, it might be a day or sometimes a week before they get a response. Worse, there may not be any response at all because the agency hasn’t scripted one. Just imagine what your customers will think when instead of a helpful, casual friend they’re faced with stone cold silence.

    Like they would in everyday face-to-face exchanges, customers online will avoid dealing with someone that is aloof and seemingly not interested. They can sense a fake very quickly.

No passion

If you love your job it shows. Given half-an-opportunity that passion will pour out of you. It’s not just what you say it’s how you say it. The same goes for your business. The way that you and your staff talk about the various elements of your business when compared to how an agency says them is going to be radically different. That level of passion is very hard for an agency to replicate especially when you’re just one of many of their clients. Having a dedicated, passionate staff member handling your social media management will produce a much better result that outsourcing it to an agency.

Poor Crisis Management

Within agencies day-to-day online community management is almost always given to the most junior member of staff. This might even be an intern. Not only do these staff members usually have little or no experience, they lack confidence and authority to make and implement decisions. This can be devastating in a crisis. Too often there has been no forethought about what to do if a crisis does arise. They have no guidelines about what to do if something goes pear-shaped. Even when they do have guidelines agencies have a tendency to react slowly.

During a social media crisis situation you might only have a matter of hours before your reputation is dealt a serious blow. For example having search engines pick up the story without any input from you can lead to these negative instances being ranked first when someone inputs your brand name.

If the day-to-day management of your social media activities is being handled by someone inexperienced and poorly guided they might panic and do something rash. Just like what happened with Nestle.

While agencies might appear to offer a way for you to embrace it social media is not a hands-off solution. Unlike traditional marketing social media works best if those involved are intimately involved in every aspect. And if you do choose to use an agency check out their own sites to see how they’re doing. If they haven’t bothered to establish presences in any of the social networks, if they rank lowly in search, and they’re not able to combat their own online crisis what makes you think they know what to do in your business’ case?

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.


He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.


Connect with him on Twitter or Google Plus.


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Post Under Advice, Marketing, Social Media December 13, 2011