Is Outsourcing Social Media Worth The Cost?

Many companies weigh their social media program first in terms of the cost to execute.  Which is why many start by assigning to a staffer internally who already has other duties.  Consistency, compelling content and application of best practices lag, leading to poor value and potential return.  In many of these scenarios, CMOs don’t see the return and therefore don’t see the value in upping the support for social media.  A self-fulfilling circle.

A better way to look at this might be to ask what is the potential value of social media to your business?

There are several ways to examine the value:

  1. What are your competitors doing … what is their following, how often are they posting; what content is engaging their audience
  2.  How does this compare to other marketing and advertising are you doing … how does it compare in cost, in efficiencies, in effectiveness.
  3. What media does your prospects and customers use … do you have the need to communicate to them between visits or purchases.
  4. What are the measures of your overall marketing efforts … how does each element of your marketing mix contribute?
  5. How do you incorporate referral into your marketing strategy … what means do you take to encourage and drive referral (which is considered the #1 indicator of brand profitability).

Affix a value.

Even a range. Not just for social media, but for all marketing initiatives.  What are your goals?  What is the expected impact by each initiative on each goal? 

Determine how should you execute. 

What does it take to be effective?  There is an entry point spend in every media to create any impact.  Start by allocating resources based on expected value.  Affix a value – can be based on history, on industry norms, on a projection.  An educated guess is better than simply ignoring the question.

Weigh the pros and cons of executing in-house.

For social media, the general assumption is it is cheaper to execute social media with in-house staff.  But that ignores or downplays several key considerations:  are the skill sets and experience in place for ALL of the important executional skills needed for social media; is the staff remaining a continuing learner as the platforms best practices are constantly changing; are you factoring in the opportunity cost of what that staffer should be doing with their time; the hidden cost of simply ignoring or not executing facets of social media because of know-how or comfort?  Most importantly, is someone lining up the strategic side of social to complement and enhance the results of other marketing efforts? 

The considerations in hiring an agency.

Do you have long-term objectives?  Do you desire to outperform key competitors?  Do you value the collaboration of ‘outside’ knowledge and experiences?  Are you constantly looking for more efficient solutions and results?

Why more companies are outsourcing.

Digital and social media continue to change. Literally every month.  This isn’t the days of broadcast media that is fixed and regulated by the FCC.  If you are not working the platforms daily AND being a continuing student, you are falling behind.  Just like creative folks, the better and more experienced talent generally is on the agency side.  And the most compelling point:  today’s social media is a mix of different skill sets (design, strategic, writing, analytical, buying, videography) that are beyond one or two individuals.  Agencies offer the breadth of talent that most companies cannot afford internally.  Effective social media today requires strategic, creative and media buying acumen.

What should it cost?

Successful programs can run from $2k to more than $10k per month.  We are happy to share what those variables entail during a quick call with our experts.  Be wary of the “15 content posts delivered for $499.”  Those programs are not building following or engagement and do not include advertising. They ‘get something posted,” but it does little to create significant results. Today, social advertising is essential to seeing sustained results. 

Like anything in life, you get what you pay for.  For a medium-sized company, managing a single social platform could take roughly 30 – 35 hours a month.  If you desire to compete through social media, then the time commitment is a given.

For another take on outsourcing … click here.

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