Outsourcing Your Social Media

by Stacey Alexander on May 3, 2011

in Social Media

Social Media Examiner recently published their Social Media Marketing Industry Report for 2011. The report covered value of social media for business, questions marketers have, and trends for this year. Here are a few of the factoids they unearthed.

  • 90% of marketers place high value on social media for their business.
  • Measurement and integration of social media efforts are top areas where marketers want to better their skills.
  • Social media marketing takes a lot of time, with 58% of marketers using social media for 6 or more hours a week.
  • Generating more business exposure is the number-one listed advantage of social media marketing.

With all this information, you probably wouldn’t expect that only 28% of businesses outsource some aspect of their social media marketing. But that’s what the report says. Outsourcing social media efforts is underutilized.

Morgan wrote a post a bit ago explaining the advantages of using an agency to handle your social media. I’d like to expand on that with some of the findings from this report.

Social Media Examiner provided a ton of great graphics to show that those who have been doing social media for a while spend more time on it weekly, and get more results–including lead generation, new partnerships, improvements in search engine rankings and increased traffic to their sites.

Then there’s this graphic:

This graphic represents those who are outsourcing parts of their social media marketing, and shows which parts are being outsourced. The overwhelming leader is design and development. That doesn’t really come as a surprise. Those who don’t know design and development know they don’t know design and development. It requires fluency in a completely different language–coding.

Tied for second are content creation and analytics. Monitoring, research, strategy and community management range 4-7% of companies using agency expertise. This is unfortunate in my opinion. Since these aspects don’t require learning a new language, there is often an attitude that one can figure it out through trial and error. How much time is that costing your company? How many leads, new partnerships, search engine rankings and site visits?

As an agency with a social media department, we already know what’s going on in the world of social media. We have to. We have the experience that proves efficient in strategy, analytics and content creation. We don’t have to go through the wasted time of basic trial and error when setting up your social media presence, growing your fan base, developing an engaged audience. Although each audience and client is different, we understand the fundamentals and tactics that enable us to more quickly establish and grow your brand in the social media space so that you can start seeing results.

We understand the ins and outs of measurement. What to measure, how to measure it, and how to tweak efforts based on the results.

Best of all, because we are performing social media marketing for several clients, we gain knowledge that we can use for your brand while working with other clients. That’s more efficiency on your clock.

Are you among the 28% outsourcing social media efforts?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan Siem May 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

It’s a really important point you make here, Stacey, that often times companies think they are saving money by handling their social media efforts in house. There’s a perception that if they’re not forking over cash to an outside agency for the service, then they’re somehow saving that money. Not so. They’re still paying someone to do it and what they’re actually paying for is for that person to go through a period of trial & error – a costly period for the company in terms of both resources and accountability. Why not pay an agency that can run the campaigns effectively and efficiently? It makes your brand look more professional and puts a positive boost on your bottom line.

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Stacey Alexander Stacey Alexander May 3, 2011 at 9:06 am

Exactly.

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Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard May 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I’d love to hear comments from in-house marketers that had social media tasked to them. In this economy, my sense is that budgets are tight, therefore someone in PR or Marketing probably just had to get a presence going. Even if that’s the case, a lot of times there are plenty of opportunities to utilize agencies simply for the “heavy lifting” and execution of your strategy while keeping the “voice” of the company unique to the in-house team running it.

I wonder if that 28% are firms that are exclusively outsourcing rather than sending bits and pieces… Regardless, thanks for the read Stacey!

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Alice Williams June 8, 2011 at 11:26 am

Thank you for bringing up this point and surfacing some interesting data on social media marketing. As an online strategist who used to serve as in-house communications director for nonprofits, I can definitely empathize with the 82% of organizations that are keeping social media in-house, and as Michael suggests, I think we need to fully understand the reticence to take on another budget item in order to make a compelling case for not only outsourcing, but the strategic importance of social media as a whole.

From my experience, many organizations see social media as something they have to do to keep up, without fully recognizing the positive impact it can have on measurable outcomes – which in my work with nonprofits, translates into things like fundraising, new sources of income, empowering advocates to advance the company’s mission, and other mission-critical tasks.

I think if organizations were able to see these concrete possibilities, they’d be more willing to invest the right resources in social media activities, whether internally or externally. (Internally, I see far too many organizations making social media the purview of less experienced, younger staff members because it’s assumed they will know the technology better. The key isn’t knowing the tools it’s knowing what to do with them to make this channel productive for the organization – which comes with experience, either internally or externally).

If you’re interested in hearing more of my thinking on this topic, I’d be happy to point you to a recent webinar I did, studying 2 organizations that amplified their work by an exponential level through successful social media work.

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Alice Williams June 8, 2011 at 11:56 am

Did I say 82%, I meant 72% :) Math was never my strong point.

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Stacey Alexander Stacey Alexander June 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for your comment, Alice. I agree with you! Social media can have a significant impact on the bottom line; it’s not just about cool things you can do. I love that you said it’s not about knowing the tool, but knowing how to use it for your business goals. That’s why our social team exists. That’s why it’s important to consult people who know how to do this for your business, instead of simply playing around with it when you have nothing else to do. It’s has to align with business goals just like every other aspect of marketing.

If you have a link, I’d love to take a look at your webinar. Thanks!

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