Back when social media was catching fire like a gas station in a Michael Bay movie, everybody wanted a piece of the action. Thousands of “social media experts” showed up promising rainbows and unicorns to dealerships in search of a way to connect with their target customers. Social media gave smaller stores do-it-yourself marketing. Larger stores and groups wondered whether social media in-house or outsourced was best for their business.
Fast forward to today. Now that social media has gone mainstream and the platforms have recognized there’s money to be made from selling advertising, it’s not nearly as easy to succeed as it once was. Those “social media experts” have mostly faded from view (although they’re still out there lurking). They’ve moved on to their next great scheme. However, the big question still remains for many: social media in-house or outsourced?
I was talking with a prospective client today and he’s truly concerned about how to approach social media operationally. Should he hire someone in-house or should he outsource? It’s been keeping him up at night. He’s tried a few things and none of them have worked.
As I always do, I asked to chat with him about his business and his goals. After learning about his business, I explained the positives and negatives to both in-house and outsourced social media marketing. He was able to figure out what made the best sense for him and his stores. I could feel his sense of relief as we made plans to move forward.
I got to thinking…there are probably many other dealerships who have the same quandary: Should I do social media marketing in-house or should I outsource it? If you’re one of those dealers, GMs or managers, then the following will help you figure things out too.
Social Media In-House
There’s a real predicament happening and it has everything to do with your business’ structure. Many smaller store owners believe they don’t have the budget to hire someone. To that belief, I would say have a conversation about your options because it may not be true. For larger stores and groups who have the budgets but aren’t sure what’s best for them, again I say have that conversation about your options. Gather all the best information before you spend anymore time forcing yourself to decide. You have a finite amount of energy and spending any of it being frustrated is a killer.
Positives of Social Media In-House:
- You’re able to grow your own. Someone (or a group of someones) who works within your organization, who knows your product, who interacts with fellow employees and customers is very well suited to manage your social media and other marketing.
- The hiring process uncovers a lot. There are certain talents and skills needed for social media marketing. There is support available to help you hire the right candidate.
- Your content is high-quality. Quality content drives social media and the web. Daily interactions with employees and customers brings richer, more helpful content and dials right into customer questions, concerns and issues.
- Saves you money in the long run. Social media, unlike traditional media, costs less monetarily. Where the real costs are for social media marketing is in manpower. Paying for outside manpower is more costly in the long run and you’ve got less control.
Negatives of Social Media In-House:
The biggest negative is not knowing for sure if your social media manager is performing. If you’ve been contemplating hiring someone to do social media marketing in-house, these questions might sound familiar:
- How do I know if the person I hire will do the job?
- What’s their job description?
- Which goals do I set for them?
- How much do I pay them?
- What am I getting for my money?
- How will I know if they’re doing a good job if they know more than me?
The remedy is to get expert advice from a veteran social media consultant and have them oversee things. You’ll spend some money and in return you get peace of mind knowing that your expense is bringing a return on investment.
Social Media Outsourced
The pieces to the puzzle that must fit here are whether or not your business, your brand and your goals are suited for outsourced social media.
Positives of Social Media Outsourced:
- You’ll be able to have a presence on social media. Outsourced social media is a fine first step to take.
- Facebook ads can be managed for you. Facebook advertising is essential to your success on Facebook and ultimately, they generate leads and sales. Facebook ads management requires great skill. You can outsource this portion of your marketing more easily than you can with content creation. It’s a more linear job (“If you do this, then you get that.”) than the highly creative job of content creation.
Negatives of Social Media Outsourced:
- Your content will suffer (read: be unsuccessful) unless you designate someone inside your organization to collaborate with your provider on content strategy and creation.
- No one watches your brand like you do. No matter what the salesperson tells you, you and your employees are far more connected to your customers. Outsourced providers are looking to scale, which is very difficult to do with social media marketing. The end product suffers.
- Many providers who are interested in scaling their services won’t sit with you to discuss, educate, set goals and define strategy. They take it all away from you with a promise to deliver and that’s where things get murky.
- For a provider with integrity and a quality product, it will be more expensive in the long run. This is an area where you definitely get what you pay for. Check references and certainly consider getting advice from an objective third party social media consultant.
When it comes to social media in-house or outsourced, your decision is not an easy one. However, the more good information you get, the better you’ll feel about your decision. Salespeople can say many things and make it seem like their solution is the only one. But no one knows your business like you do and support from a trusted third party really helps. Talk it out. Get the answers you need. Take the actions that make you feel excited and happy.