If you're busy running a company, the last thing you probably feel you have time for is composing an eloquent, engaging and humorous anecdote in 140 characters or less. But, like it or not, social media is a big part of our lives and has become a near-essential way for companies to communicate with one another and their customers.
That's why more and more businesses are choosing to get help with managing their social presence; in fact, a recent American Express survey found that 'social media expert' was the most sought-after new hire category for small business owners. But as the Fast Company website recently noted, it can be more worthwhile to outsource your social media needs than hire somebody in-house. Here’s why:
It’s not always a full-time job
Obviously big corporations are likely to need some full-time social media staff - in fact probably a whole team of them (though many of them still outsource certain elements). But smaller companies will want to devote less time to their social media marketing, perhaps 10-20 hours per week. While this is too much to load onto one existing employee, it's not quite enough to hire somebody extra - at least at first - so outsourcing means you can choose the exact number of hours you require.
More manpower - at the times you need it most
Unfortunately social engagement isn't a 9-5 responsibility, and some of the busiest user times are during weekends, holidays and out-of-office hours. This means that a member of your staff would have to respond to messages and enquiries on a Friday night. And, even if they were happy to do so, it’s not without certain, ahem, pitfalls!
A specialist company, on the other hand, will have those times covered. What's more, when your social media services are being delivered by an external specialist you won't be left stranded if your in-house expert is off sick, on holiday or one day decides the grass is greener elsewhere.
Experience = value
As it's still a relatively new channel, many companies make the mistake of handing social media duties to young interns. But social media is a lot less simple than it may first seem; having a couple of hundred Twitter followers, consisting mainly of college buddies, doesn't really cut the mustard when it comes to managing a key component of your brand presence. A social media company will have proven experience in all aspects of business communications and will ensure that there is a strategy behind every tweet or post.
In fact once the total costs of full-time staff are taken into account, many companies find that it actually costs less to employ an external social media specialist than it does to add yet another body to the payroll. And remember, it doesn’t have to be an ‘either or’ decision. Many companies opt to get the best of both worlds by hiring an outside specialist to work alongside an internal team member. That way they can keep the cost of outsourcing down to manageable levels, while the staff member gets to benefit from expert mentoring.
There’s no right or wrong answer. The main thing is carefully to weigh up the pros and cons and decide what will work best for your business.
So…are you in or are you out?