June 10, 2012 Harold Tor

Social media marketing: outsource or inhouse?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

It depends on your sector, your target audience, what you want to achieve and what impact you want to make in terms of your brand image.

But let us weigh the two options:

 

Social media marketing: inhouse or outsource

If you are a big company, producing consumer goods or services and have always used agencies who vy for your marketing campaigns, and you have never ever meddled in social media, outsource is a great way to start.

As I have mentioned in a previous article, social media should not be mired in your company’s power structure (believe me, this shows up in your tweets) and perhaps outsourcing will get you that political approval or bypass the political struggles by engaging external experts. This is a good way for you to learn from the experts on how to engage your customers on a more personal level. When times goes on, you have set up a social media team in your company, comprising colleagues from marketing, sales, customer service, product design, you can take over and improve your company’s involvement in social media.

I strongly recommend outsourcing when you are already giving a particular campaign project to an agency. For example if you are selling pizzas and you are using the agency to do a launch campaign of a new flavour, the use of social media is imperative to be passed to that agency. That being said, a different social media profile could be used for that campaign, if participatory actions are involved, such as taking pictures of the new flavour and uploading it onto a social network so as to guess the new secret ingredient: a different Twitter hashtag or handle could be used or a different Facebook page, so as to enhance the participatory rate of that campaign by not using your company’s normal social media profile.

If you are a small company, I do not recommend outsourcing. Not only is it a large sum of money, it takes away that opportunity for you to interact directly with your customers, especially when you can be casual enough within your company structure to get different people involved. This helps build team spirit within the company which comes through your tweets. What is also good is such direct interaction allows room for mistakes: when there is a bump in your service delivery and your company makes a mistake and admits to it readily through your tweets for example, you get your customers to empathize with you rather than reprimand you for your mistakes. Compare this to large companies where because of the power structure, they try hard to cover up and when they cannot, they have to launch a press release as some kind of official apology, which does not really win any hearts anyway.

I am a big fan of the use of social media by Mobile Vikings, a Belgian mobile phone operator. They are a small company which has employed social media positively in their interaction with their customers. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook and you will see what I mean.

That being said, social media is about engaging in a fun way with your customers, not about upping your ranking on Google search or making people go to your website so that you can show your boss an increase in visitor rate.

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