9 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make when Outsourcing their Social Media
Social media can be massively time-consuming to manage yourself. With so many other areas of your business to attend to, it’s natural to consider whether to outsource your social media to a specialist agency.
While there are plenty of benefits to this, such as the guidance and experience of someone more knowledgeable and the opportunity to take a bit of the pressure off, there are also a great many mistakes to be made when outsourcing your social media.
So where do clients go wrong? And how can you make sure you don’t make mistakes that are going to cost you time, money, and maybe even damage your business?
MISTAKE #1: Failing to Establish a Clear Brief
You have a plan. You know where you are now, and you have an idea where you want to be a little way down the line. But you fail to explain these projected outcomes to your agency, so you get frustrated when they don’t understand intuitively what it is you want to achieve.
Keep your agency in the loop when it comes to your needs, wants and desired outcomes as a result of your social media activity, and how this ties into your overall marketing strategy. Failing to do so will result in confusion and disappointment, as it not only prevents your agency from carrying out your wishes, but also prevents them from discussing with you whether these goals are the realistic given your resources or even whether there might be a more cost-effective way to achieve those results, without an increase in expenditure.
MISTAKE #2: Investing Too Little…While Expecting BIG Results
You have big expectations and big dreams for your businesses’ social media activity, but don’t have the cash to pay for the time and resources it will take to implement a comprehensive strategy.
Be upfront about your expectations and realistic about your budget at the outset, so your social media consultancy can advise you what is possible. They should be able to organise a plan which suits your needs, without breaking the bank. It might mean focusing on only one channel to start off with, or allocating resource in-house to help achieve your girls.
Listen to their advice. A good social media agency will be honest about what goals you can achieve, but creative about how to reach those goals.
MISTAKE #3: Spreading Yourself Too Thin
The moment you start to delve into the world of social media, you’re confronted with a whole host of different platforms you ‘should’ be part of. Everyone’s talking about Periscope. You have to be on Snapchat. Instagram is best for younger consumers. Pinterest is great for engagement with your female audience, if you’re serious about business you need to be on LinkedIn. Google+ will help with your SEO. You can’t forget about Facebook. Or Twitter. What about…. The list is endless.
All these social networks are seemingly crying out for your attention, demanding you set up a page or profile and start on the slippery slope of content creation, engagement and addiction!
It can be tempting to try to be everywhere, but is that really the best solution? In truth, it’s not a very cost-effective way to manage your social media.
Don’t get caught up in believing you need to be on every single social network. You don’t.
Depending on your business size and goals, consistent, targeted action on one or two (or at most two or three) social media networks, will be far more effective than mediocre activity on twelve different platforms.
Once you understand how much resource a new social media channel requires, and you have started to see the results of your initial efforts, there will be time later to build your presence on other networks.
MISTAKE #4: Not Establishing Your Tone of Voice
Your brand does not become something different because you are on Facebook or Twitter. There are new rules of etiquette and protocol, but your tone of voice on social media needs to communicate your brand’s identity with consistency and authenticity.
Your customers already have an idea of who you are, and your followers will quickly become familiar with your style of communicating. It’s not just a question of what you say, it’s all about how you say it.
In the excitement of launching yourself onto a new social network, it’s easy for these things to get overlooked.
Establishing guidelines for your companies’ tone of voice can be done quite simply, either in collaboration with your social media or digital marketing agency or in-house. But in our experience, the process is invaluable, and the results always justify the effort.
MISTAKE #5: Believing everyone is a Social Media Expert
Having a Facebook account or tweeting once a week does not make someone a social media expert. There is a great deal more to social media management than meets the eye, and a great many people label themselves social media ‘gurus’, ‘ninjas’ or experts with very little evidence to support their claims.
Do your homework, and be wary of whose advice you buy.
Social media management is a real skill which is developed through time and experience. Many social media experts have specialist qualifications in marketing, digital marketing and advertising. Your agency should be able to point to their credentials, their qualifications and the work they have done with other businesses.
Ask to speak with one of their current clients. What has their experience been? Has the agency been able to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk?
Choosing the wrong digital marketing agency for the job can be detrimental to your brand. Accept no substitutes!
MISTAKE #6: Playing the (wrong) Numbers Game
Digital marketing is all about data, and social media marketing goes hand in hand with numbers. It’s easy to become obsessed with benchmarking your efforts against those with 5,000 or 15,000 followers, or seeking a seemingly endless number of Facebook fans. But whilst it’s important to measure the success of what you are doing, you have to make sure you are measuring the right things.
Understand that these numbers are often arbitrary, (particularly when businesses are able to buy likes and followers) and may not be helpful in understanding whether you are being effective.
You should start off by being clear what you are trying to achieve on social media. Do you want more followers, or more sales? Don’t let an agency impress you with a lot of smoke and mirrors. Be clear from the outset what you are trying to achieve and measure the performance of your agency against metrics that reflect that performance.
MISTAKE #7: Assuming Industry Knowledge
When you know a great deal about your field, assuming everyone else you meet has the same degree of expertise as you is an easy trap to fall into. Your agency may have experience or expertise in your area, but it is not something you should assume.
When you lapse into jargon it’s easy for an agency to get the wrong end of the stick and misunderstand your meaning, without realising they have misunderstood.
Don’t assume prior knowledge. Whilst you should expect your agency to do a certain degree of research prior to taking you on as a client, nobody knows your business as well as you do.
If you’re unsure whether they know something, don’t hesitate to ask them to explain it to you so you can make sure you have been understood.
MISTAKE #8: Failing to Ask Questions
You don’t understand the language being used by your digital marketing agency as they explain what’s needed to optimize your social media activity – but you don’t want to ask and make yourself look like a fool.
Just as you shouldn’t assume prior knowledge of your industry, neither should your agency assume that clients will have specialist knowledge about digital marketing. A good marketing consultancy will give you the confidence to admit when you don’t understand something, and will be able to explain themselves clearly in language you can understand.
After all, digital marketing agencies are experts in communication. If they can’t get their own message enough clearly, how will they be able to share yours?
MISTAKE #9: Providing Slow (Or No) Feedback
You’re busy, and part of the reason you outsourced to begin with is that you lack the time and resources to manage your own social media. Yet your agency keeps asking for feedback and information – there’s no need to rush to respond…is there?
If you don’t provide good quality information to your agency in a timely fashion, you are likely to be wasting their time and yours. If you don’t feedback on the work that has been done, particularly at the early stages, then you are at risk of activity being spent on work that is just not going to produce the results you want.
Try to respond to your agency as quickly as possible, so they can provide you with the best possible service. If you’re schedule means you will be able to communicate only at certain times, share this information at the beginning. If you prefer email, let them know. If you deal best with people on the telephone, tell them.
Delays in communication result in delays to updating and continuation of work, which can be particularly damaging in the case of a fast-paced, ‘current’ tool like social media. Effectively outsourced social media management is always a joint effort. It is the result of a cooperative partnership between agency and client.
If things aren’t going right with your current agency, this might give you a few ideas on how you can fix that relationship and get things back on track.
If you’re just starting to think about choosing a digital marketing or social media agency, these tips should help you to choose an agency who will help you achieve your goals.