Why Outsourcing Social Media is a Bad Idea

By: Karen PelletierSocial media manager is like a cell wall

There have been a number of discussions in the marketing forums about what it should cost to outsource a social marketing program.  This is a bad idea for a number of reasons.  Social media is like a cell wall membrane.  In this analogy, the cell is your company, and the cell wall is your social media effort.  It’s semi-permeable.  Everything outside the cell wall is interaction with the public, vendors, etc.

Too many companies want to outsource their social media effort to “get it done” without doing the work.  Social media though is about participation.  If you don’t participate yourself then it’s difficult to reap the benefits.

Here’s why I discourage outsourcing social media programs.

1) Product Knowledge:  I don’t care how well an outside agency understands your business – no outsider will understand your business as well as your internal people.  That’s why it’s important to have knowledgeable employees responding to questions in a timely manner, in a way that’s consistent with your company’s culture and policy.

2) Being the Conduit:  Your social media program is your permeable cell wall.  Information travels both ways, from customers or fans to the company, and from the company out to fans or followers.  Funneling customer input to the right people, internally, is half the battle.  Employees are more likely to know the right people to funnel the information to than outsiders.

3) Using Social Media as a Marketing Research Tool:  If you are trying to get feedback on alternate ideas among your current users or fans, social media is a great vehicle.  It’s fast and cost efficient, but not secure.  Assume your competitors are listening in on whatever you say.  Given that sensitivity, you may want to execute any research you do yourself.

You can certainly have outside agencies help you set up your social media programs.  They can (and we do) design custom business pages, set up promotions, etc.  However, the guts of a social media program is participating, listening, responding and engaging your customers.


About Karen Pelletier

Karen Pelletier is an independent Marketing Consultant. She has over 30 years of experience in consumer packaged goods, new product development, technology marketing, and Internet Marketing. She can be reached at kjpelletier@marketing-consultant-k-pelletier.com.
This entry was posted in Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Outsourcing Social Media is a Bad Idea

  1. Hi Karen,

    I agree that you have to be authentic on social media to communicate with your audience. However outsourcing is a very valid approach if you are working with a agency that is in ongoing communication with the company. Agencies can just be as effective as employees to get the job done, and because they are trained and usually far more knowledgeable on what works in social media, they are capable to generate more leads and engagement, then someone who is just hired to do the job. Without ongoing training, these newly hired social media people can get stuck and an agency has to come in and help the company achieve the goals.

    I might just be biased, as we are managing social media accounts for companies that have a much better fit outsourcing it to us, than scrambling to figure out how it works and do it themselves. There’s a fit for everyone. 🙂

  2. Marieke, thanks for the comment. I can certainly see your point of view, and outsourcing has a lot of merit, especially for small businesses. I just think that, in large organizations, having internal champions is so important to the integration of comments/criticisms from social media that I came down on the in-house side of the equation. Thanks again!

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