Outsourcing Social Media Marketing Services – Challenges & Wins

February 13, 2017
Markelle Harden

*Updated January 2019*

Once a brand commits to a social media strategy, it’s not unusual for criticism or friction to begin. Unlike other forms of marketing, EVERYONE who is affiliated with the brand sees the social media posts. The sales team. The events team. The CEO. The customer service team. Suddenly, “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome begins. Everyone has an opinion, but none of them are rooted in strategy or data.

Outsourcing Social Media Marketing

Here are a few steps to help everyone get on the same page and stay focused if you’re in the middle of outsourcing and it’s not going well or if you’re just getting started:

Define Goals in Writing and Use Data that Matters

It’s easy to get caught up in the “eye candy” of social media: Images. Engagements. Likes. Clicks. Shares.

What about website visitors? How many people visited your website as a result of your social media posts? Even more important, how many people “clicked through” and interacted with the brand or “converted” by downloading an eBook or filling out a form on the website?

outsource social media

Before your service provider begins planning a social media strategy or calendar, define quarterly goals for the campaign. Social media goals fall into one of three main categories:

Social Media for Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is a top priority for many brands online. While branding isn’t hard to define, how do you build a social media plan with brand awareness as the goal?

Sprout Social offers these guidelines:

  1. Define brand personality online. Look to competitors or your favorite brands in other industries for inspiration.
  2. Profile Synergy. Ensure that every social media profile reflects the same brand color, logo, tag line, and bio.
  3. Include Others. Which top three brands provide support or enhance your brand through referrals? Promote their content and tag them whenever possible. Build them into your online branding strategy.
  4. Hashtag. In addition to adding a hashtag to your brand name, select an additional hashtag that relates to your brand’s service or product.

Social media for brand awareness is a goal that many PR & sales teams support. If you’re outsourcing social media to improve brand awareness, make sure the strategy incorporates the guidelines listed above.

Once a social media brand awareness campaign has been in place for three to six months, move to a social media for engagement strategy.

Social Media for Engagement

Engagement is defined as interactions with the posts; likes, clicks, shares, and comments. Measuring engagement gives brands a roadmap to creating future social media strategies.

Established brands will move beyond brand awareness and strive for engagement. If increasing engagement is the primary focus of your social media campaign, make sure you have the right reporting tools in place to gather the data.

social media engagement

All social media tools will provide reporting options. The screenshot above is provided by a Sprout Social tag report.

Buffer makes it easy to identify top Tweets if you’re tweeting multiple times per day with their quick-view Analytics dashboard:

Buffer Analytics

If you’re looking for a report that breaks down engagement by type, Agorapulse provides granular engagement reports:

AgoraPulse

A social media strategy that focuses on growing engagements will implement these social media best practices:

  • Create more content on topics that yield high engagement rates, building momentum for even higher reach.
  • Share partner content that relates to the topic of high-performing posts, expanding the target audience.
  • Identify the top performing three – five topics and build an entire strategy around improving engagement rates for future posts.

If you’re creating a social media engagement strategy for the first time, CoSchedule offers 52 ideas to help you kick it off with success.

Social Media for SEO

Social media and SEO have an adversarial history. In the past, these two teams worked separately and viewed each other as competitors of valuable marketing budget dollars. Now in 2019, most brands see value in both, and savvy marketers understand the relationship between the two.

If you are pursuing social media for SEO purposes, begin with these three tasks:

If you are pursuing social media in support of SEO goals, it’s important for your SEO team to deliver data to your social media strategy team. They will need access to all of the following data:

  • Which website content performs the best on social media and which keywords are associated with each URL?
  • What are the most popular downloads on the website and which keywords are associated with them?

If your brand doesn’t actively engage in SEO, your social media team can still design a campaign centered around using social media to drive website traffic and conversions. Tracking referral data in Google Analytics will enable your team to identify the most valuable social media channels for driving new website visitors.

Embrace the Social Media Team Concept

Before you outsource social media services, make sure that all sales team members, customer service team members, and industry experts have a place at the social media table. They are experts in your industry and they provide value in authenticity and “humanize” your brand messages. The social media channels will drive sales, reviews, and customer service. If your team members are in the dark and completely separate from the social media team, they can’t help your brand take mediocre topics and messages and make them exceptional. It’s a social media manager’s job to incorporate team feedback into a social media strategy; don’t build walls around each team. While you can’t demand they attend social media conference calls or meetings, you can invite them.

If your company has enthusiastic team members, maybe it’s time to connect them to the social media accounts and work with them. You might experience some delegation issues at first, but collaboration will pay off if you embrace it and utilize internal resources to guide social media.

Note: Most posting tools offer a team feature so that more than one person can schedule social media posts. This team features works great for marketing teams who utilize an internal team member and outsource posting to a third party provider. Even better? EveryoneSocial offers a social media sharing platform where team members can suggest posts with an app, and the social media manager can approve and customize them.

Team Tip: Don’t allow team members to post to social media accounts under the same log-in as your team (using the same log-in for multiple team members). Allowing them to post with their own credentials under their own name gives you the power to report on their progress. If they’re doing well, you can keep them on board; if not, they’ll probably fade away voluntarily.

Avoid a PR Nightmare

Review the public social media accounts of team members who are approved for posting. Is their Twitter account filled with volatile political posts? Do they use their LinkedIn page as a microphone to put down competitors? As part of the social media team, it’s your job to make sure your brand is represented in a professional manner. Don’t hesitate to bring a controversial social media account to light; it might be difficult to speak up but it’s easier to deal with it before it becomes a reputation management issue. While it’s easy to assume that everyone agrees with a certain political ideology (yours), the Pew Research Center reports that party identification is near the 50/50 mark.

The Intake Form

What type of form does your social media manager receive before starting your campaign? Compare your intake form to other service providers and make sure your social media manager is getting all of the relevant information they need for success.

Here are links to a few other agency Social Media Intake forms:

Altrumedia

Brown Box Branding

Get Osmosis

Team Communication

If certain team members are nitpicking social media posts on a daily basis, have a tendency toward negative feedback, or seem frustrated over social media posts, keep a close eye on results. If critics are in management positions, giving them frequent reports that show increased website visits and brand mentions will help them come around.

Event Guides

If your company holds or attends frequent events, make sure social media manager receives accurate event information for promotion and interaction. Give them all of the following event information:

  • Will any of your referral or channel partners be attending the event? If so, what’s the website URL and their Twitter handle?
  • Who is attending the event from your team? Can they support the brand with retweets, likes, and shares? Can they send your social media manager pictures from the event?
  • Set expectations. What’s the point of publicizing the event on social media? Maybe you want to drive RSVPs and sign-ups or promote branding that helps your company gain visibility within your industry, or feature a specific part of the event. You may have more than one goal, but it’s imperative that your social media manager knows what those goals are.
  • Website landing page. Does your website have a landing page dedicated to the event and the goals for sending people to that page? If not, perhaps it’s time to loop the SEO team in and ask their opinion about an event landing page and conversion options.
  • Is there anyone from your team who is a featured speaker, or does your team have a booth at the event with live demos or giveaways? Connect them to your social media managers and help them work together, as a team.

Outsourcing social media marketing is so much more than providing images and a URL. It’s part strategy and part leadership; make sure your social media team is prepared to guide you toward social media success in the long run. While some brands are off chasing the next “viral strategy,” the majority of brands are finding success with steady, collaborative social media marketing, day in and day out.