Social Media Management for Small Businesses: Outsource or In-House?

InHouse or Outsourced Social Media

It is no longer a question of if you should be on social media, but who should be trusted to handle your social media channels and how to approach your strategy. If you’re busy running your business, managing a restaurant, or slinging drinks behind the bar, it is likely you don’t actually have time to be managing your social media effectively.

Why consider outsourcing? Social media can’t just be done off the side of your desk anymore – it is a mature marketing channel that requires time, dedication, and experience.  Outsourcing isn’t always the best option, but for small to medium sized businesses that are looking to have it taken care of professionally, it could be the right choice for your business.

A recent study done by Insights West and commissioned by Vancity Bank surveyed 677 small business owners in Metro Vancouver and Victoria between October 13th and October 21, 2015.

To summarize a few of the key findings from their study:

  1. Managing cash flow is the #1 “stress producer”
  2. Knowing how to use social media is the 5th largest “stress producer”
  3. Finding new clients is the most significant barrier to success
  4. 50% say social media is important to the success of their business, yet only 35% have a social media presence
  5. 90% say word of mouth continues to be the main promotional vehicle

The results from this study are interesting on a number of fronts. But on the topic of social media, it seems particularly clear that small business owners see it as a path to help solve their number 1 stress producer (cash flow) and a key part in the strategy to find new clients (which also impacts their cash flow).

We know social media is top of mind to business owners, now let’s help you decide on if outsourcing your social media or keeping it in-house is right for you.

Why Outsource

Extensive Experience

Anyone can claim to be a Social Media Manager, but when you outsource your social media, you’ll be trusting your brand with a team of individuals who are well trained and have diverse experience. The benefit of outsourcing is that the team brings a wealth of knowledge from other businesses they’ve worked with. They know what works and what doesn’t, time and money saved from inexperienced trial and error. On top of that, they’re experts in their fields and have a background in marketing and communications. They’re also constantly learning and on top of the latest updates, including important changes to social platform algorithms.

Data + Analytics

Social media is useless to your business without understanding what the data and analytics mean. Social media teams are extensively trained and using the most up-to-date tools, management dashboards, and analytics – a cost that you don’t need to worry about.  The data and analytics also give you a great way to measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy and ultimately will help you measure the return on your investment.  The graphs and numbers are great, but as a business owner, you need to know exactly what they mean to your business and how they translate into sales.

Cost

The time it takes to manage the platforms, the training and experience to do it properly, plus the advertising that is necessary to make an impact, come at a cost. Much like any form of marketing, social media needs a budget. As a business owner, if you are looking at keeping your social in house, you also need to look at the cost of having someone take hours away from their main job and the training required to help them effectively run your accounts. If you have a small business, it is unlikely that you have a budget for a full time social media manager. When you outsource, there is no need to hire additional staff, cover employee wages, training, or benefits.

Control

Worried about giving up control of your pages? Agencies don’t quit, get disgruntled, go on maternity leave, sabotage pages, write personal opinions on business pages or lose passwords. Hiring a company means you’ll never need to worry about someone going on vacation, getting sick, or needing more training – your accounts will always be looked after. Outsourcing ensures professionalism and security.

Time

Social Media is the 5th largest “stress producer” for small business owners. Outsourcing allows you to work on the important aspects of your business and leave the digital marketing to the pros.  Time is money, and it’s best spent on things you’re an expert in. You wouldn’t expect great results from your dishwasher making cocktails behind the bar – much like you shouldn’t expect great results from your bartender, receptionist, or your nephew’s girlfriend who has a personal Facebook page managing your social media.

Why In-House

Accessibility

Having someone in house gives you the accessibility that you otherwise might not have.  Your in house social media manager will know what is going on with your business at all times, letting you skip the step of having to update or tell your agency.

Content

If your in house social media manager has photography skills, your content could definitely benefit from it. They can easily take photos of daily specials, food, patrons, and events and post it in a timely matter. This is a big “if”. Your content is important and understanding the impact of powerful imagery is key.

Complaints

72% of customers who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour. One of the best aspects of having someone in house is the timeliness in which they can respond to reviews, comments, or feedback. When someone writes in a negative review, your in house social media manager has the ability to respond, make a call on whether to compensate the patron, invite them back in, or offer them a gift card to diffuse the situation.

Trust

Trust comes easy with someone you already know or who works closely with you everyday.  You can closely monitor and ensure your in house social media manager is doing what they said they’d do. If it’s you doing your own social media, it’s likely you trust yourself with the voice of your brand on social and the content you’re putting out. Just remember, trust is key – it is easy for an employee or ex-employee to go rogue on social media, leaving you to clean up the mess.

Personal

Having someone in house allows for you to have a more personal voice. You can make quicker decisions to send back a cheeky tweet or comment to your online community.  On top of that, social media is about connections and it’s easier to follow up on the connections you make with your community online, in person. You can invite the person you’ve been conversing with online into your business for a beer and really build those connections and loyal customers.

Conclusion

If you’re a larger business with a budget to cover the costs of a full-time marketing and social media manager – bringing your social media in-house could be a great decision for your business. However, if you’re a small to medium sized business looking for a great ROI, measurability, professionalism and results, I would recommend outsourcing to a trusted company.

If you are still struggling, we have created a simple decision tree to help you out.

In-House or Outsourced social media

Click to see a larger version

Interested in exploring your options for outsourcing? At RTOWN we can help you out with your social media, reputation management, website, SEO, customer voice, and loyalty all for a similar cost of an in-house Social Media Managers salary. Get in touch today to learn more. 

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