Social media has officially become a business. Many in the industry would argue that it’s been a business for years, but until recently it has been very hush-hush and hidden in the shadows. If you were to count the number of people claiming to be social media gurus, experts, marketers, or strategists a year ago, it would have probably been in the hundreds.
Today, it’s in the tens of thousands. Scanning Twitter and Facebook alone is evidence of this, and they are only a small part of a true strategy.
As huge corporations, home-office startups, and everyone in between rushes to get into social media, the first question that they must ask themselves is, “Do I do it myself, hire someone to do it at the office, or outsource it to a social media marketing firm?”
It’s a good, simple question. The answer is far from simple.
Rather than go into a long description of each option, here is a simple “pros and cons” analysis. As part of a social media strategy firm, I am biased towards outsourcing. Our company is scalable to the point that we can handle any client large or small with tremendous success. However, this article is geared to be informative rather than being a sales pitch, so I will keep my personal goals out of it. Just the facts…
Hire a Person or People to Work Exclusively for the Company
— Pros —
- Direct control over the messages, branding, and promotions
- Dedication – an employee with one company in mind will be more interested in the success of that company than a social media firm with many clients
- Creating buzz around the campaigns and employees themselves – Mashable on Colonel Tribune
— Cons —
- Expense to search for, hire, train, and pay a full-time employee
- Sick days? Vacations? Accidents? Resignation?
- Lack of expertise – while there are exceptions, those who are good enough to truly understand and utilize social media to its fullest for business are not going to take a “job” when they know they can make more money as part of a team working with multiple companies and consolidating the efforts whenever appropriate.
- In the viral marketing aspect of social media, one person or even a small team is not able to compare to the clout on social news sites of a social media marketing firm.
- Bad press – Example: Jalopnik on Ford
Hire a Social Media Strategy Firm
— Pros —
- Leaving it to the experts – A few social media strategy firms really know what they’re doing. They’ve accumulated the resources, accounts, profiles and contacts to take campaigns to the top, to properly build company-related social media properties, and to get the buzz heading in the right direction.
- Cost – It’s normally less expensive to hire a firm to do social media marketing compared to hiring an individual or team to work exclusively for a company.
- Set goals and monitor result – For most companies, the convenience of being able to set the direction, sit back, and wait for results is extremely appealing.
- Changing landscape – Social media sites change their procedures regularly. What works today to get a front page story on Digg or massive retweets on Twitter may not work tomorrow. A company who is deeply embedded, who breaths social media every day, can be a tremendous benefit.
— Cons —
- There are thousands of companies and individuals offering social media marketing services who can barely spell “Digg” or “Flickr” the proper way. Trying to distinguish between the handful of quality firms and the thousands of low quality or scandalous outfits can be daunting.
- Lack of control – IF you can find a social media strategy firm who is really good at what they do, they are normally pretty stubborn. They know what works and it’s hard to tell them otherwise or send them in a different direction.
Do It Yourself or Add it to the Workload of a Current Employee
— Pros —
- Cheap – all it takes is time
— Cons —
- Cheap – all it takes is time, a lot of time
- Lack of experience – there are how-to guides, ebooks, and blogs on how to implement proper social media strategies. Some work. Most don’t.
- Poor execution – having a poorly run social media strategy is worse than not having one at all
Regardless of what you choose, try to stay flexible. It’s important to know when something isn’t working as well as it should be.
Soon, we will go into details about how to recognize a real social media strategy company versus someone who spams sites and talks about how good they are at social media marketing.
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Read more about this topic on this Social Media Strategy Blog.