Social Media for Small Business – Outsource or In-House?

Aug 10, 2013Marketing Strategy

[mashshare]

A client recently asked me for more information about engaging in social media as a small business owner. His question to me was this:  how do I balance running my company and trying to talk to people on social media? My first reaction was that he didn’t know what he was getting himself into. After a little more thought and some careful consideration, I decided that I could provide him with a response that would set him in the right direction. Small businesses can engage in social media if they do it properly. However, as with anything related to small business, where he ultimately ended up (success or failure) was up to him.

Dear [Customer],

Some more detail on the options for Social Media for a small business like yours:

Option 1 – “In-Source” Your Social

Your first option is to in-source your social media marketing to someone inside your current organization. If you or someone at your company is marketing or social media savvy, and has a few extra hours a week, you may want to consider this option. Have them set aside time every day (if possible) to dedicate to maintaining your online presence.

Option 2 – Outsource to a Virtual Assistant (VA)

Your second options would be to outsource your social to a virtual assistant or social media marketing “coordinator”. Sites like elance.com, odesk.com and others can be used to facilitate the locating and hiring of remote contract workers. These sites also provide financial reporting information as well. Job posting, screening, hiring, firing, training (etc) is all up to you.

Option 3 – Hire a Marketing Company

Some marketing organizations provide social media marketing (SMM) as a service, essentially taking over your social channels. This option (like the other outsourcing option) has its drawbacks: you give up control of your marketing and you pay someone else to provide you with a presence. This option is often also more expensive than a VA or remote contractor but may provide a higher level of service for you and a higher level of engagement and professionalism for your customers.

Option 4 – Local-Source

You may be able to hire locally by finding an independent contractor/consultant or (less likely) a student looking for a work-study situation. You’ve already mentioned that you’ve contacted Full Sail and received little response. An independent professional would likely be a significant cost and a local work-study student may be difficult to find someone reliable.

All four options above assume you are able to formulate a social media campaign (at least at the most basic level) and execute that campaign. Limiting your efforts to certain social channels will be important as well, given your limited resources (time + money + labor). Choosing the right social channels to focus on is as important as having a presence in many cases.

Social Media Recommendations for Small Business

My recommendation is typically that small businesses “in-source” their social if possible. We understand that time is in short supply and that there may not be anyone in your organization that’s suited for the role. Outsourcing can work but, if done improperly, will be a waste of money (and likely a frustrating experience) and if done improperly can hurt your business rather than help. There are companies that can provide consulting services to assist in locating, hiring and even managing a remote employee if you opt for the outsourcing option. You’re always welcome to manage it on your own as well.

Finally, I also recommend that the importance of your social media presence is considered and accommodated by your web developer in your site re-design.

If I can be of service, even if on a consulting basis in the above options, your site re-build or social campaigns, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Daniel Brent Ruyter

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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