Over on the Full Media Limited blog, I have argued that social media activity will cost you even before you register with the various social networks and, once that you have, the costs of an effective social media presence keep on escalating. The line that ‘social media is free’ is a complete fallacy, and people have to accept that there are significant costs associated with a good, solid and ongoing social media presence.
Given this argument, and taking as read that you have to pay for activity on the social networks, I would now like to argue why you should pay for a dedicated someone within your organisation (or a suitable external contractor) to manage your social media activity on your behalf. Here are 7 reasons why:
1) Your own time costs money, so you are a cost when you engage on the social networks
As I have already argued, your own time is a cost to your business. Calculate how much you ‘cost’ per hour, as if you were (or are) paying yourself, and then ask yourself whether you’d be willing to pay someone else that rate to undertake social media on your behalf. Chances are that you wouldn’t, and therefore you need to source a more cost-effective solution to meet your social media needs, whether it be an employee or a social media agency such as Nick Lewis Communications.
Also, by liberating yourself from undertaking your company’s own social media, you are free to focus on other important aspects of your business and what you are actually good at.
2) Paying for someone with a track record in Social Media ensures results
Do you really know what you are doing with Social Media and why you are doing it? Even if you do, it is probably not worth your own time undertake these tasks, but if you do decide to hire someone to help with social media, at least you can employ someone who knows what they are on about.
Although it is fashionable for people who specialise in social media to run each other down (see numerous blogs where Social Media Experts derogatorily refer to their competitors’ expertise in quotation marks i.e. Social Media “Experts”), all I will add to this debate is that it is quite easy in this day and age to verify someone skills in the subject by reviewing their track record and seeking out numerous references from past clients. If you can do neither, don’t hire that person although the majority of social media consultants I know will be able to provide you with both. You can read testimonials from Nick Lewis Communications past clients on this site, for example.
3) Dedicated people remain up-to-date with technological developments
Whether you employ someone to work within your organisation on social media or if you hire someone from outside, you will be getting someone whose role is to keep up-to-date with the latest developments of Social Media and online marketing.
Technology is moving at such an astounding rate, you will need to have someone on hand who will be able to accurately predict the next marketing trend (have you heard of Google Glass, for example?) while ensuring a continuity and a consistency with your current online marketing efforts, whether it be tweeting on Twitter or posting to your Facebook Business Page.
4) Multiple social networks require individual approaches
Each social network has its own demographics and dynamics, and therefore each requires a lot of individual attention. I am the first to admit that I don’t always practice what I preach in this regard, but ideally each social network should have its own unique content that is appropriate for the social network (and that audience) in question.
Also, each social network gives a platform for others to contact you or your business. View each social network as a telephone line or an e-mail address on which your customers can reach you on; you would not advertise a telephone number for a phone based in an empty office nor would you advertise an e-mail address that an employee only checks once a week, and so it is with the social networks. Each social network needs to be adequately staffed, with your company being able to respond to enquiries or posts on those networks as quickly as is deemed feasible. Can either you or your existing staff maintain such levels of support? If not, hire someone to do this for you as a non-response can be highly damaging to your reputation.
5) What is your marketing department or agency for, if not to manage your social media presence?
If you are a SME (Small Medium Enterprise) and already have a dedicated marketer or hire an agency, yet do not have a social media presence, why are you employing these people? While the remnants of traditional marketing still remain vitally important (whether it be brochures, exhibition booths or face-to-face meetings), they are seriously undermined if they do not have a supporting, professional social media strategy behind them.
These people should be doing your social media activity for you, not yourself. If they are not already, replace them as quickly as you can.
6) Paying people for services holds them to account
When you pay people for a service, you hold them to account through an assessment of their performance against mutually-agreed expectations. From the outset, you can agree and set the terms of what you expect of a social media campaign, and let them deliver against that. If they don’t, you can easily replace them. Would you easily be able to hold to account yourself or someone else in your organisation to whom social media is a cumbersome, part-time bolt-on to their existing duties? Probably not.
Also, most professional agencies or marketers (such as Nick Lewis Communications) have Professional Indemnity Insurance in place in the unlikely event that their marketing for your business damages your reputation, so you would be able to seek financial recompense if things go wrong. Chances are you would be left exposed and broke if an internal, part-time social media strategy spectacularly backfires for your organisation.
In addition, most social media marketers are reliant on their own reputation to secure further business, and would be far from careless with your online reputation and success. Can you honestly say the same of the unpaid intern to whom you’ve farmed out your social media channels because no-one else has the time to do it?
7) Do you honestly have the time to do all of this properly?
If you are a small organisation or even a sole trader, do you honestly even have the time to do all of this? In the same way that you may contract out your bookkeeping to an accountant or your printing to a printers, why shouldn’t you buy-in your marketing as well?
I’ve already demonstrated that doing social media yourself is far from a cost-saving and eats into your productive hours in which you could be doing something else. Would you really want to spend the precious time you have ‘out of the office’ mastering social ,edia? And given the 24/7 nature of the social networks, do you really want to be on call, online, all the time? It may be worth paying someone else to do all of this, to preserve your sanity and your free time as much as any other reason.
People can undertake their own social media activity for professional purposes, and some people do manage it very well, but don’t underestimate the time and expertise needed to do all of this successfully and consistently. Yes, a dedicated resource is an additional cost, but social media activity will cost you anyway, so you may as well pay someone to do it for you competently than delude yourself that you can keep up the quality presence that is required by today’s modern businesses.
Nick Lewis Communications can provide training in social media marketing as well as offer professional management of social media feeds. To find out, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07970 839137.