Nothing gets the social media communities more kicked up then the debate over whether businesses should absorb social media internally or outsource (outhouse?) the entire thing to an agency partner.
I have heard all arguments for the merits and limitations from both sides—and most agencies will offer very passionate and unsolicited argumentative advice that the only sensible thing to do is outsource your entire process to them. I’m sure they’ve told you this—they are the social media experts after all. And why wouldn’t they? You are their next business opportunity.
But why does it have to be an either/or decision? As a Social strategist—I aim to educate, offer fresh ideas, and then leave the tools behind with the door wide open. Maybe it’s the philosophical in me… you know, the whole teach-a-man-to-fish thing.
I understand the real-world limitations. Not wanting to divert people from their existing responsibilities, or even having to hire new staff. I can empathize with learning curves, and I certainly don’t expect busy professionals with (already) full workloads to invest the kind of time and money that I (and other colleagues) have done into learning about social media, or to be anything close to as engaged as some of us are on a daily basis. And I can even appreciate old dogs not wanting to learn new tricks. But I believe the merits outweigh the limitations in this debate—primarily in opportunities alone.
The opportunity exists for you to really own your social media investment. Own the strategy, own the day-to-day learnings, know how to handle the tools, and learn first-hand from your mistakes. Your customer is not out-sourcing their role as your consumer, and they are engaging and connecting in the social web at unprecedented rates. Don’t risk becoming less connected with your customers, own the behaviour insights that only familiarity will give you. Your company can’t afford to be headed in any other direction—no matter how practical the limitations of in-house may seem to you. It’s time to learn and lead.
This is where it doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. Investing in a Social Media strategist up-front can make all the difference for long-term Social Media implementation. Strategists can teach you the tools, train your team members, and make recommendations as to which core processes should be managed in-house. Strategists help with the plan and execution—in whatever capacity your business needs. Learn how, when and where to fish.
Keep that strategist in your pocket and put yourself on the path of practical learning and enriched understanding. Today’s business environment is socially connected—who’s telling your brand story?
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