Uh oh…here we go.
Outsourcing social media is a big taboo topic. Like paying players in college football, there are way more people doing it than admit to it, and if you’re found out to be doing it in a negative way, everyone piles on to you like you’re the worst person in the world. For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that you have considered outsourcing your social media and just don’t know how to do it effectively. Before we begin, here’s the reasons that outsourcing is a terrible idea.
You don’t control your message
This message is more to newer brands than existing ones.
Now that that’s over. If you’re still thinking about outsourcing your social needs, then you should at the very least obey these commandments:
Thou Shalt Be Transparent
You can’t fool everyone forever. To be honest, the best community managers need to function (almost) as a part of your organization. If you’re going to go with an outsider, then don’t try to fool your community into thinking that they are a aprt of your organization. Just as the CEO of Apple doesn’t manually build every iPhone, it’s ok to have employees and contractors help you reach your business goals, but don’t let them pretend to be you, especially if you’re a smaller brand (1-5 people).
Thou Shalt Require Regular Metrics Reports (NOT Friends/Followers/Fans)
Too many times (per day) do I see brands asking for X,000 followers/fans/friends to be added to their profile. I’ve already said that if you can’t handle the 3 people on your page, you probably can’t handle 30,000, but brands are painting themselves into a corner by requesting the “easiest to fake” metrics from providers that they are paying thousands of dollars to. Let me save you thousands of dollars in buying fans/followers/friends. I’ll tell you where to get them right now for free!:
Linkedin Connections: http://www.toplinked.com – This is a weekly list of people who love to be spammed by every business individual who doesn’t understand the true meaning of networking. If you want over 500+_ Linkedin connections in one day, just upload the contact lists here.
Facebook Fans: http://www.fiverr.com – there are companies who do nothing but create Facebook accounts (did you think there were 600 million REAL people on Facebook?). For ~$5 they will promote your fan page to their, some-fake/some-real friends, and your fan page count will grow. Once you request that they interact with you, they will then ignore you and you will be just as lonely as you can be with 10,000 fans. Good luck with that.
Twitter Followers: http://www.graphicsms.com/blog/863-100-top-twitter-followback-lists/ – This one takes more effort, but is free. There are 100 lists on that page where you can follow people from Twitter and they will follow you back. You should be able to amass about 35,000 followers is you use the list in moderation. Let me mention that tons of those accounts are on auto follow and the people will never acknowledge you or speak tyo you in any way, but you’ll look really cool to the people who are impressed by shiny things and follower counts (Oh, you have 20,000 followers! Let’s make out!).
Now that that’s over, you should be looking at some real metrics like interactions, and leads to your exit points as proof that something is happening. Make sure you actually review these reports as you would review reports for your business, and make the appropriate changes immediately. This space is all about evolving, don’t wait until you haven’t seen results for 3 months to make a change.
Thou Shalt Create a Social Strategy
Quick, what’s the best way to get from Chicago, IL to Moscow, Russia on foot? What? You don’t know? That’s weird, because tons of brands think they can navigate the social space and go from a brand new account to making millions of dollars on Twitter with no plan whatsoever (You’d have to walk through the Bering Strait to get to Moscow on foot, BTW). We’ve already lightly touched on what goes into a social strategy but the real thing you need to know is what are the milestones, or phases that you need to go through to get to your goals. Don’t try to exist on 400 platforms at the same time, figure out which ones your demographic is already using and dominate those first.
In short, get a road map before you go on a new journey, online and offline 🙂
Thou Shalt Not Ask Them To Close Sales
A sales team is a sales team. Your community manager is there to create conversations and then pass them off to your social exit points. If you’re expecting your community manager to directly sell for you, then you need to hire them as a sale rep and put them on staff. It’s not fair to expect someone to function as a member of your staff, and take on a revenue generating burden without being appropriately compensated. Even more, you should be wary of any community manager that promises you sales…it’s very rare in this industry that someone would agree to that, and the price…let’s just say that it’s not cheap.
All in all, allowing someone to speak for your business online is a risk for both parties. They are walking a tightrope knowing that they can hurt the company they work for by saying the wrong thing, killing their job, and you’re taking a chance in trusting them to create an identity for your brand that you approve of. It’s the ultimate relationship of trust, but like any relationship, proceed slowly, and trad with caution. Also like most relationships, the breakup can be much worse than you ever imagine.
What commandments would you suggest for those who are thinking to outsource their social media?