July 19, 2015

Rachel Strella

Social Media Management: Outsourcing Requires Partnership

social media managerWe recently ended our working relationship with client that was in pre-launch of his forthcoming business.  His primary goal, during this time, was to acquire 10,000 emails.

We spent a few months working with him, and unfortunately, he did not get the result he wanted. But, he also didn’t take our advice. And, he tried to do way too much – many times without any concrete purpose, which deterred him from achieving his desired goal.

In this case, we saw the writing on the wall – and frankly, we were burning out with the myriad of efforts he tried to pursue – so we proactively decided to part ways.

We’re disheartened, but we learned lessons – many of which reinforce some standards we try to establish with clients from the beginning of our working relationship, but sometimes get lost along the way.

First, when we start a working relationship with a client, we create a comprehensive strategy that will serve as a roadmap to our efforts. This piece is non-negotiable. If clients want to see a result from social media, we need to establish clear, measurable goals and distinct ways we’ll utilize social media to achieve them.

Our approach in a start-up strategy is to ensure our clients focus on areas that will give them the biggest bang for their buck, rather than trying to be everywhere and do everything. We take time to understand their business goals and challenges – and then create a comprehensive strategy to meet them. We establish a finite timeframe for reviewing our progress and recommend applicable shifts if we aren’t on target to meet their goals.

So what happens when a client picks and chooses what they want from that strategy?

It happens more often than not. Many times they read something or they’ve heard from somebody that ‘ABC channel’ or ‘XYZ tactic’ is effective.  But, that’s not the case for every business and our experience can often offer an explanation for this. There are times when it’s simply a budgetary issue – our recommendations may not align with the budget they had in mind, in which case they want to drop certain pieces.

The bottom line: the strategy is comprehensive because all of the pieces are to work together. If a client wants to deviate from our plan, it will not be nearly as effective – and it may even fail altogether.

Second, outsourcing social media management is of great value to a small business that may not have the in-house resources to create an effective presence, but that doesn’t mean we can do it alone. It absolutely must be a partnership in order to actualize the results outlined in the strategy.

We often ask our clients to provide items for us to help us bridge the gap between online and offline – and to create synergy among all marketing efforts.  For example, we sometimes ask them to send us pictures of events they attend, an email list of contacts or customers to help build their audience, and any in-house news or announcements worthy of note.   And, of course, we always want them to find ways to humanize their brand, which is so significant it’s worth repeating.

So what happens when a client simply ‘outsources it and forgets it?’

In all honesty, at least one-third of clients fall into this category and it’s unfortunate – a disconnect that they can simply send it to an ‘agency’ and they’re done. But not social media management. This is the one thing that requires their input to be successful because we are representing them on the most visible outlets in existence – and many followers are their customers and prospects.   We try to reinforce this concept with our quarterly reports – and with suggested calls or meetings – but clearly, we can’t force them to be involved.

The bottom line: social media needs the people behind the business to be social.  If a client fails to contribute to our partnership, the outlook is dismal.

Third, we offer full-service social media management, which means we do more than simply post content to social media sites. Our services extend to building the audience on the social media sites, monitoring and engaging with the audience, ensuring accuracy on all profile content, updating the sites with current or late-breaking news as it’s received and preparing regular progress reports with recommendations.  We execute the day-to-day tasks, but we are also consultants to their efforts. Using our experience and expertise, we give them advice on how we can better achieve the desired results on social media.

So what happens when clients don’t take our advice?

Unfortunately (again), there are a fair number of clients who don’t even respond to our reports – and by default, our advice.  We have some clients that do read and respond to the reports, but that only work with us to implement some of the suggestions – but not all of them.

The bottom line: we need our clients to become active participants in social media in order to actualize results. We can do the heavy lifting, but we need their input.

Looking back at the business the past five years, I’ve found that the clients that part with us ultimately failed to achieve results because they didn’t prescribe to our formula. We welcome input and suggestions, because that’s what a partnership should be. But, that doesn’t mean we can cut corners, that we can act alone or that we can fulfill only pieces of the plan.  It must be a partnership.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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1412 N. 6th Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102