When social media first emerged, many businesses weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Was it a passing phase? Or was it a legit means of marketing? For many, this meant their approach for social was to make it the responsibility of the most tech-savvy staff member, or it fell to the hands of an administrator or junior.
For a scary number of brands, this legacy still remains. If you’re a small business owner who is already juggling operations, finding time to totally understand social and create good content strategically can be difficult. Even businesses with in-house marketing resource find themselves limited in the amount of time they can direct towards their social marketing efforts.
Because social evolves on a daily basis, ‘diving-in’ can be scary and risky for marketers who only have experience in working with traditional methods e.g. print / radio / television / etc. Not to mention, having the clarity, confidence and hard data to convince internal decision makers that their investment in social is both necessary and beneficial. We see this often, so in my next article I’ll explain how to get your leadership team to stop considering social as an afterthought. For now though, read on!
It’s been a good decade since proving the benefits of marketing on social are indisputable, and smart brands are increasingly turning to social to actually inform their marketing efforts. Both of these factors mean there is rising value in outsourcing social media management as business owners acknowledge that if they want to keep up, they can no longer go it alone.
Outsourcing isn’t just an option for big brands with big budgets. And the beauty of outsourcing is that you’re largely able to measure your return on this investment. The right agency first gets a good understanding of your objectives and marketing goals, and will provide regular reporting so you know what your spend is actually achieving. They should also shape their support around your budget - starting with what you can afford, rather than ham-stringing you with a package you’re not ready for.
So do you feel like your social presence just doesn’t align with the way you want your brand to be perceived? Or is your ad-hoc approach failing to create a worthwhile connection with your audience online? These are two indicators that it might be time to consider specialist help with your brands social media.
Here are six reasons why working with a social media agency like The Social Shop could help set your business apart:
An online presence that gets attention requires professionally created content, and a good agency has access to creative talent that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to employ in-house. Photographers, videographers, copywriters, animators and content strategists all have a part to play in bringing your brand to life online. Calling on multiple suppliers can get costly, not to mention unwieldy in terms of project management. Even with internal marketing support, you’d unlikely have easy, cost-effective access to this diversity of talent. With an agency, you have one point of contact, who oversees the implementation of a content schedule and the production of the content using reputable creative talent.
With clear brand and voice guidelines in place, an agency can help you establish or maintain a consistent brand presence online. Keeping a customer experience consistent across all channels is critical. Too often we see social accounts that are misaligned with an organisation’s overall brand, not only visually, but also in terms of communication. This isn’t just sloppy, it can be damaging. Social media should be treated like a shop front. An agency will make sure your content matches the experience you want your clients to feel when dealing with you face-to-face.
Creating content is only one side of the struggle. Social media is very much a two-way street, and it’s just as important to listen and engage with your audience as it is to post relevant content. It’s also important for you to know that social is now the preferred method of communication for consumers with brands. Your marketing efforts need to take this into account, ensuring that your social customer care is appropriately resourced for the future demands of your customers. Without a dedicated internal resource, who’s job description does this fall to? And what guidelines are in place for dealing with audience engagement (both good and bad)? When you outsource your social media, you’re also outsourcing the time and effort it takes to appropriately build and nurture an engaged community.
Insights that inform
Social media offers a direct line of communication with the very people your business serves. Are you paying close enough attention? While traditionally social media efforts have been directed by wider marketing initiatives or product development, we’re increasingly encouraging businesses to flip this perspective (see why here). Could the insights that you glean from audience behaviour, preferences and demographics actually inform how you operate or what you offer? The social listening tools that an agency can access and analyse can provide invaluable data to help you understand what it is your audience really wants.
As an agency, social media is 100% our jam. We stay across updates, we’re tuned in to trends and we’re ready to roll with changes before they happen. This knowledge and expertise is passed on to our clients, and best positions them for social success. There’s no way this same level of insight and agility can be achieved in a business who doesn’t have dedicated social support. Working with an agency, you can not only leverage this kind of talent, but also the specialist platforms and tools that would otherwise only be accessible to those with bigger spend to play with. We experiment, we know what works and what doesn’t and we’re watching the evolution of best-practice techniques all the time. Our clients benefit from everything that we know and continue to learn.
Time for you to focus on what you do best
Perhaps the biggest benefit: social is simply off your shoulders. You have the ability to grow an online community that translates into leads or sales, without dedicating the hours to it yourself. Remember it’s not just your potential customers who are watching. Your social media presence also plays a part in shaping your recruitment brand. Inactive accounts might also send the wrong message to prospective employees.
Marketer or employee?
If social is so important, why not invest in-house? Well, I may be bias, but my view is that for the same budget as hiring an employee, working with an agency instead gives you access to the perfect combination of very specialist skills. You’d be hard-pressed to find one social marketer who also comes with all the talents (video, design, copy, community management) needed to create and manage great content. Not to mention then optimising this - it’s an interesting topic of conversation, so I'll be sure to come back to this.
Are you ready?
Your success in working with an outsourced social media agency is dependent on you, too. Some things that we consider when partnering with a brand, include:
- Your vision: Are you clear about what you want to achieve and why? We don’t wing anything. We’re here to elevate your message and make sure it’s hitting the mark with the right people. If you’re not currently clear on that, then it’s difficult to get good results.
- Expectations: Goals are great, and while we like to think big, we also know to keep them realistic. We’re transparent about what can be achieved within budgets and timeframes.
- A plan: New leads or sales are only as good as your ability to nurture them! Is your business ready to manage the results of increased exposure? For social media - and its data - to have its best impact, you also need a means (and willingness) to turn insights into action.
- A budget: Your spend will depend on the amount of support and content you require. As mentioned earlier, regular reporting will give you good indications around ROI, however positive brand equity is a little harder to quantify in dollars. It’s worth taking into account the loss of productivity you’d encounter if you were taking care of social media yourself.
- An on-board team: Good content is inspired by you - your work, your employees and your customers. A cooperative and collaborative approach gets the best results. Our partnerships are close ones; we get to know your brand and your team inside out. Total investment usually comes with a complete understanding of the value that social can bring your business - which we’re happy to chat through with you.
Working with a social media agency could be the best way to set your business apart in a competitive marketplace. Social channels can get noisy, and strategic content is what will get you cut-through. If this piece has helped you recognise that your business is ready for some specialist support on social, then let’s connect. I can talk you through the best place to start, relevant to your brand and budget.