As someone who has traditionally worked with companies consulting with them on their social strategy, I realize that for many of them they are interested in creating a strategy as part of a social media audit to see what they can do to better maximize social media or what is possible. The problem, however, is best indicated by the question I always get: “Do I have to hire someone to do this?”
Social media requires an investment in time, resources, and education among over things. I recently wrote about why this can be counter-intuitive to small businesses who want immediate ROI from social media marketing. Larger companies and big brands have the resources to invest and are willing to take a long-term view of social, but the problem now becomes a new one as indicated by the questions companies should be asking themselves below:
Do we have the people in place to invest in social? You need potentially create an entirely new department which must include an experienced community manager, a content czar, and a social media strategist. Do you have people to spare in place to handle the job? The right social agency will. With limited personnel budgets, bringing on a social media agency is a logical move to help you immediately ramp up within your potential budget constraints for employees.
Do we have internal expertise in social? It’s not about hiring an intern or learning on the job. You wouldn’t hire a sales executive if they didn’t have sales experience. Why would social media be any different? Your brand is at risk if you can’t engage with those that are both saying negative things about you and are missing out on huge opportunities by not developing brand ambassadors with those saying positive things about you in social media. It requires a different mindset and set of core competencies to succeed, and social media agencies that have worked with a multitude of companies on their social implementation have acquired expertise that is hard for a solo practitioner to emulate.
We use an agency for ads, but what do we do with social ads? Social Ads on sites like Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn are already accounting for more than 10% of online ad spend in 2011. Has your company began to invest in social ads or are satisfied with what your traditional ad agency has done for you? Social media agencies who offer managed social ad services can help your company effectively microtarget communities where your target audience is because they deeply understand who uses and how they use these social destinations.
We use an agency for creative help and expertise – but why would we need them for social? Social media is ripe for experimentation and creativity in order to better leverage the functionality that they offer as well as figure out how to better engage with your targeted community. Social media marketing needs to be creative because it is not digital marketing; it is not about pushing your message out but in communicating with and listening to your audience. A good social media agency can provide you with advice here because they understand the social website platform functionality as well as have probably had creative experience in the creation and management of social media campaigns that were socially interactive.
Not every social media agency is alike nor offer all of the above services, and companies are best to do due diligence by selecting an agency carefully and making sure they make sense in their offering and are truly hand-holding you through the process rather than creating a black box and asking you to pay dearly for it. But if you think your company can go it alone without an agency, you might want to make sure you are confident that you have all of the above pieces in place at your company. If not, why not contact a social media agency and find out what you might be missing?
What’s your take on the potential role of a social media agency?
And if you want to see me speak on the issue, see my Social 5150 video below. Thanks!