You can find plenty of arguments for and against
outsourcing the management of your company's social media initiatives. From
ghosting your company's blog entries, Facebook status updates and tweets to
monitoring and mining platforms for inappropriate content and customer insight, some companies just find it easier to pass
these responsibilities to a third-party provider.
Whether you outsource or manage everything in-house is up to you. But if your company is already outsourcing its social media work, or is considering doing so, take note of the following do's and don'ts:
1. Do ask for references: The Internet has no shortage of self-proclaimed social media "gurus." Make sure the individual or business has a solid track record with plenty of satisfied clients. Ask your potential social provider if you can contact any of his or her clients for their input. If they say no, keeping looking!
2. Don't wing it: Develop a plan that includes two or more goals, and stick to it unless you have very good reasons to change course. Without goals in mind -- and in writing -- your efforts are likely to lack sufficient impact.
3. Do demand an editorial calendar: An editorial calendar establishes a plan of attack to optimize results and keep your content on a proactive rather than a reactive track. Be sure the calendar is flexible enough to add content when the need arises.
4. Do proof content: Personally review nearly everything prior to posting, not only for typos and other editorial errors, but to ensure the content is relevant, accurate and expressed in an appropriate tone. What may appear as a minor issue regarding how something is worded can have major repercussions if it's open to misinterpretation. Your social media "expert" may be a trained and professional wordsmith, but it's your business and nobody knows its nuances and politics better than you. Once you train them, you may find that proofing everything isn't as necessary.
5. Do create and give your third-party provider key messages and talking points: Key messages and talking points are always based on your business' short- and long-term goals. Whatever these may be, develop a related communication plan and make sure your third-party social media provider understands that everything they do on your behalf needs to be tied to your company's business-aligned communication strategy.
6. Don't allow your company to be held hostage: Create your own social media accounts, complete with a unique username and password for each account, to avoid being locked out of your own accounts. You need to remain in control of your blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and other accounts should any disagreements arise between you and your social media provider.
7. Do get everything in writing: Operating without a contract is risky business for you and whomever you hire. A written agreement not only lays out each party's obligations but also establishes ownership of the assets being developed. Your online assets can be just as valuable and sometimes more valuable than your offline assets.
8. Don't operate without analytics: Managing a social media campaign without metrics is like flying a jumbo jet without gauges. Detailed data and statistics provide you with the insight you need to make well-informed content decisions and determine whether what you're doing is actually having the desired effect.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.