Outsourcing social media marketing is the most efficient and effective strategy for many organizations, and for many organizations the advantages of having an in-house social media team are compromised by the high cost building one. According to a July 2010 article in Newsweek, assembling an in-house social media team could easily cost upwards of $200,000. Social media marketing agencies have the knowledge and experience to work more efficiently and effectively than an in-house social media team, and can do an equal or better job for less. Outside agencies also provide perspective and objectivity that employees may lack. Additionally, when social media marketing responsibilities are diffuse within an organization, managers have a difficult time evaluating performance and making improvements accordingly. Professional outside agencies are held accountable to clearly defined goals and objectives, and are strongly incentivized to meet those goals in order to retain accounts and earn new business. So there may not be as many advantages of having an in-house social media team as you think.
No Reason to not Outsource Social Media
There is persistent myth that social media, as part of a brand, should not be outsourced because only employees can manage these channels effectively. In fact, brands outsource all kinds of marketing activities such as advertising and PR, and social media is no different. The cornerstone of the argument against outsourcing is that social media is a transcendent form of communication built on engagement and relationship building, and that the only way to build and strengthen a relationship is to have an employee as a spokesperson. In fact, most social media strategists and community managers are anonymous. No one knows who is actually managing Facebook or twitter accounts, or YouTube channels that are named after products and companies.
Outsourcing is a Sound Investment
Another common misconception that may make managers reticent to outsource – and that may lead them to overestimate the advantages of an in-house social media team – is that social media marketing is “free”. In fact, anyone who has ever attempted to manage social media for an organization knows that to do it right takes time, and that doing it wrong can be worse than not doing it at all. Just look at what happened to Solyndra Solar’s Facebook Page. Companies on fixed marketing budgets are realizing more and more that it makes sense to allocate more funding towards social media marketing and away from channels that are becoming less effective. Surveys indicate that expenditures on social media marketing are rapidly increasing. The majority of brand managers are planning to increase social media investments, and the American Marketing Association forecasts that spending on social media will triple to 18% of the average marketing budget by 2014. In any case, it is important to carefully both the advantages and disadvantages of building an in-house social media team before you decide how to allocate funds.
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