A business uses Social Media as a marketing tool.  Whether the emphasis is on relationship marketing or content marketing as described in this previous blog entry, the ultimate reason for using Social Media as a business is as a way of exposing the brand and message to more people to find more business.  Social Media marketing is free – right?

(Using Social Media for personal use is a completely different argument and not considered in this blog.)

Free Resources

It is true that there are many resources available on the internet to help you use Social Media tools.  If you spend the time to find and read all the resources each week (as Social Media changes so frequently) then you can certainly do your Social Media marketing yourself for free other than the cost of your time for the research.

I would question though, whether this is a good use of your time?  Is your time better spent  doing what you are good at – servicing your clients or creating products for your clients to buy?  Should you really be spending your time researching how to use Social Media – believe me, it takes loads of time!

If you agree with the principle that this research isn’t a good use of your time, you then have three options.

  • Employ somebody in your business to do the research and manage your Social Media marketing
  • Buy in training and manage your own Social Media marketing within the business
  • Outsource your Social Media marketing to somebody else.

Let’s look at these three options in turn.

Have somebody in your business do the research and manage your Social Media marketing.

This is certainly an option – though I would still question whether it is the best use of time for somebody to do their own research.  An option may be to employ a Social Media marketing manager within the business which is certainly a valid option and will take care of many of the issues discussed here.  This may not be an option for you though as you may need to pay a premium for somebody with the right skills.

Buy in training and manage your own Social Media marketing

There are a number of people who offer Social Media training for a variety of prices.  As with anything in this world, you are likely to pay for what you get.  When selecting a trainer I would advise you check:

  • their qualifications as a trainer
  • how they use Social Media themselves
  • their testimonials relating to Social Media training
  • the learning solutions offered – workshops, at your site, e-learning, bespoke
  • their general knowledge of Social Media to ensure that they train in the world of Social Media marketing not ‘how to use Twitter’.  For example, if a client asks for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn training, my initial response is “have you completed a Social Media strategy to check that they are the correct Social Media tools for the business”.
  • ongoing support provided
  • how they keep themselves updated with Social Media changes
  • what you will achieve from the training.  Each of the Social Media tools are becoming quite complex.  Your training ought to be practical and long enough to explore the tools in depth.  I would suggest 1/2 day per tool at a minimum.

Remember you are paying for your trainer to keep up to date with the latest developments in Social Media so you don’t have to.  You also don’t have to do any research to find out how to use the tools.  How much is this worth to you?

As with any training, you need to put in the commitment to implement the training within the business – you may need to put processes in place within the business to allow staff time to do this.

If you manage your own Social Media, you are in the charge of your own marketing message and you can build relationships with people that you want to work with. How powerful is it to be able to react and engage with your customers – ask them questions and find out what is going on in their lives?

Outsource your Social Media marketing

This is certainly an option – there are many individuals and teams of people who offer an excellent service.  Make sure that you understand what you are getting for your money.  You are asking somebody to be an extension of your business and to share your marketing message with others.  Make sure you know the answers to the following questions:

  • What experience of Social Media do they have?  Do they have a qualification for example?
  • How do they keep themselves up to date?
  • How do they use Social Media?
  • Will they help you create a Social Media Strategy to make sure that you are spending your money wisely?
  • How much content do you have to provide and how much do they create?  Will the content be developed bespoke to your business?
  • How will they understand the tone and values of your business?
  • Who will be responsible for monitoring for responses and replying?
  • Do they provide a service which ‘broadcasts’ your message or are they trying to engage with others?
  • How much time are they going to spend on your Social Media each day?
  • Have they asked you what you want to achieve from your Social Media marketing?

Again, you will pay for what you get – you are paying for somebody to look after your marketing message, keep up to date with Social Media developments and advise you how to get the best return on your investment.  I would query whether anybody except you and your staff can carry out relationship marketing on Social Media, so before going down the outsourcing route, I would recommend you are sure whether you want to use Social Media for content marketing or relationship marketing to achieve your aims.

Marketing is an important function of your business. How long do you spend checking leaflets or adverts before you allow them to go to print?  How much do the printed leaflets or the adverts cost?

Social Media marketing is part of the marketing function, the message is more instant than printed leaflets or adverts and will last for longer, so why do so many businesses expect Social Media to be free?

What do you think?  Please share your views by clicking Comments.

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