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Don’t Outsource Social Media: You’ll ‘Outsource’ Your Customers Too.

The other day a small business owner asked me why they couldn’t outsource their company’s social media work.  I was glad they asked: it gave me an opportunity to give them this reply.

Small business owners don’t have to personally log in to their Facebook page or Twitter account. In fact, some business owners have never used social media and feel very uncomfortable posting anything online. You can just pay another company to manage your social media accounts, post status updates and tweets on your behalf. It’s perfectly fine to do this, and very understandable since some small business owners are too old and too busy to handle social media.

And in the end, your competitors –  the ones reading their own Facebook wall every day, and learning how to respond directly – will take all your business. Then you really won’t have to worry about it.

The business owner didn’t want to hear my reply, but they knew it was probably the truth.

Search any small business on Facebook and take a look at their posts. It’s clear who is automating everything and who is taking care to only post items to their page that support their brand or lifestyle. Some pages only have posts that are articles linking to other websites. While these articles might be very helpful for their target audience, they’re not building a community. Business owners need to directly engage online because it’s their heart and soul that become transparent and infectious, causing wide-spread sharing of their enthusiasm. If Tweeting was such a waste of time, I’m sure the Fashion Director for Marie Claire, Nina Garcia, would have an intern do it, but she doesn’t.

This client has created a great Facebook fan page based on their target audience. They are very new to the Facebook community, but they are taking the right steps to having a successful page, one that invites people to share and comment and drives thoughtful discussions and input.

This client is also very new to the social media scene. She is working, slowly but surely, to create a warm and inviting place to provide support and encouragement to her current and potential clients.

If they continue on the path they are on now, both of these clients will see improved brand awareness and an increase in leads in the next year. That’s right: the next year, as in 12 months, as in 13 lunar cycles. And that’s assuming you have current clients and are not a brand-new company, in which case it could take even longer.

If business owners don’t want to spend 15 minutes a day “checking in” online, they can still get fast results by paying for advertisements online, or even in traditional media outlets or what’s called out-of-home, or outdoor marketing. If those paid ads suddenly bring in a bunch of new customers, that’s great. But then how do they retain them, get them to contribute a positive review, or get them to refer their friends and family?

The answer goes back to the above: consistent and relevant communication. That may include email newsletters, Tweets, LinkedIn posts, or a combination of many more tactics. It can be done successfully – but don’t outsource it.

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