Social media is something you should never outsource - not completely at least. Coming from someone who sells social media marketing and consulting services, that should mean something to you if you're thinking about (or already are) outsourcing your small business social media marketing to an outside firm or freelancer.

Yes, we sell social media services to our clients at Searles Graphics, and yes, one of the options we offer is a complete hands-off management solution. It's the most expensive option we offer, yet I've never sold it and hope I never will - and I tell that to every single client I offer it to. Some sales pitch, huh? :-)

I don't want to sell it because I don't believe in it. I offer it because I do believe it's better for you than having absolutely no social media presence at all, but not by much. You absolutely don't get the value out of it for what you have to pay for someone to do it well (or at least as well as they can), and just a little effort on your part would go much farther than simply writing a check.

Social media offers and unprecedented way to connect with your customers and prospects who have opted-in to receive that information. With that permission comes an expectation and an opportunity for you to be genuine, sincere, helpful, and responsive. Just about every one of those is impossible when someone outside of your organization is responsible for managing that presence.

Your customers aren't stupid. They can tell when you're paying someone to vomit worthless information on your Facebook page. They know when the response they received to the question they posed on your page didn't come from anyone that can actually help them.

I tell all of my social media customers the same thing: Nobody knows your company, your industry, your work, and your customers better than you. You have an incredible amount of knowledge locked in your organization looking for an outlet where it can be set free (why do you think I write this blog?). By outsourcing your social media efforts completely, you're keeping that knowledge locked away for good and depriving your followers of it.

Social media marketing is difficult. To do it right, it's time consuming, laborious, and tedious. Yet it represents one of the greatest marketing opportunities available to your business right now which makes all of those adjectives secondary to the fact that it works and it's powerful.

As a business owner today, you have to at least have an understanding of how the primary social media networks work. You don't need to be the most active social media user ever, and you don't even have to manage your company's accounts as long as you're involved with them and someone in your organization is ultimately responsible for them. You also should have a goal for your social media efforts the same way you would for anything else you spend your marketing dollars on.

"I don't like Facebook" is no longer a valid excuse. If you're not doing it, you're being left behind, and someone else is working their way into the minds of your customers while you complain about the way things are and long for the way they used to be.

Photo: Flickr | Jason Eppink

Chris Searles is President of Searles Media and specializes in helping small businesses maximize their available resources to market themselves effectively using a wide variety of media. Visit Website

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