Wednesday, 19 March 2014

5 key points to consider when outsourcing your social media

If you're a really busy business person (or if you just don't like "doing" social media) then outsourcing is always an option. Here are 5 key points to consider when deciding which social media company to work with:

1. Who owns the feed?
If the company you are considering doesn't instantly come back with the reply "you do" then walk away!

Also, which email account will the feeds be tied to? It's vitally important to have access to that email account should you and the outsourcing company ever go your separate ways.

2. Who are you trying to reach?
If there's no discussion or advice forthcoming on this aspect you may want to consider if the company you're talking to is the right choice to handle your social media. They should be clear as to what audience they are targeting on each platform and how the content they produce will attract that audience.

3. How is the content to be generated?
A rough guide to this is that the cheaper the price for this element, the more automation is involved.

It doesn't take an experienced social media person long to set up a piece of software that trawls various newsfeeds for "industry related content" and then periodically spits it out on your social media platforms. Once it's set up, there's little or no interaction required by the outsourcing agency. Be clear what a monthly retainer fee actually includes for this type of service.

The risk with this much automation is that if the keywords used to select your content aren't well thought out then you can end up posting the same tired stuff that everyone else in your field does. There is another risk in that automated content pickers can occasionally be tricked into selecting inappropriate content. It only needs to happen once for your online reputation to take a major hit.

The more direct human involvement you have in your social media, the more it will cost you (as you'd expect). The benefits, however, are worth thinking about. If you'd prefer someone to handpick your content, select the most effective time for it to be broadcast and select the most appropriate platform then you'll be far more certain of attracting the right audience to your output. But I reiterate, it'll cost more.

4. How will the overall effectiveness be measured?
Here comes the science... Well, it should do! Many companies will send you a automatically generated file that their management software produces each month. Unless you decide, beforehand, what it is you're actually aiming for these reports can have little value.

Don't get too hung up on numbers of followers/likers/circlers. Here are a few ideas for you to track: mentions, retweets, website visits, customer footfall, awareness levels... and so on.

5. Service Levels
Nail down the specifics:
How accessible are the company to you if you have a query?
Exactly how many updates will you get on each platform?
Will the company talk to people for you on your feeds?
Do you want/need them to interact or will you do it?
Will those updates be identical across all platforms, or is some form of selection used?
Is the content generation entirely automated?
What happens if something goes wrong?

One last thought. Even if you outsource all your social media then take time out to check what's being said in your name. Your digital footprint is part and parcel of your overall reputation and you need to make sure it stays in tact.