Should You Outsource Social Media?

This might be the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit. That if they had their druthers, they would outsource their social media activities. Why? Because what they won’t admit is that social media is a big time suck and furthermore, they might not even admit that they are tired of “engaging” every day. Why? because they didn’t know it was going to be like this.

It’s hard to be “On” every day isn’t it?

There is the pretty side of social media, the stuff that you read about every day about how cool it is and glamorous and sexy and blah,blah,blah, but the dark side is that social media is hard ass work.  In fact Amber Naslund just the other day, wrote a”be careful what you wish for” post about the down n dirty aspect of social media.

Those of us who have been around know this. I can’t tell you how many times I have bouts of writers block; and then other times, its a magical stream of consciousness that propagates itself in 3 posts in one day. But you see, there’s more than just the blog, that’s the easy part; there are status updates, there are content updates, consuming content, creating content, sharing info, driving traffic, analyzing data, connecting with your peers, finding your customers, making sure your clients are happy, and looking for prospects. All via social or electronic means. Every day and night. Which leads to this- and I know you’re thinking it or thought about it…

“If I could, I would love to outsource some of this stuff in a New York minute.

But is that really wise? To outsource your social media activities. Except for those times when I’m feeling a bit toasty around the edges, I like doing it. I like connecting and consuming and creating.

Have you ever wondered though if there are others doing it? Well I got news for ya. Hell yea and you betcha. Most wont admit it unless your name is Guy Kawasaki. Todd Defren points out in his wonderful social media ethics series that they have been faced with that exact dilemma, and still others are doing it and you don’t even know about it.

The sexy term might be aggregating activities

The fact is, there are a lot of people who are automating a lot of their social media activities and still another group that are completely ceding control of their social media day to day operations to someone else.

Either in an automated fashion, or by merely having agencies do the work for them in the form of ghost writing or status updates or flat out being someone they are not- people and companies are choosing to wash their hands of real life engagement. Some admit it like Guy Kawasaki and still others… You’d never know the difference.

Do you care about who you “think” you are talking to? Brand or otherwise,  I do. I don’t like talking to logos and when you say you are Mary, I trust that it is Mary that I’m talking to.  Some don’t care and some do- some seem to only care when they find out they are being duped. Some companies seem to think it’s OK to create fictional characters inhabited by multiple people within an organization, I’m not one of them, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Here’s the point.If you’re going to outsource your social media activities, I don’t care, and I won’t care until I find out that who you are is not who you’re supposed to be. I’m taking the don’t ask don’t tell stance. Why? Because I trust you. Funny thing that trust eh?

But I’m also not dumb.

I think that more and more people or companies are doing it (outsourcing their social activities) than you think. Or they are seriously looking at solutions that can streamline, enhance and speed up the reward of their social activities Why? Because I encounter companies and agencies every day that say they dont have time to do it nor do they care to, they just want to reap the benefits. I know it’s selfish and disingenuous but…

I’m ok with that. Why? because isn’t social media from that standpoint, just an extension of what a PR or ad agency already does? In their eyes it is. It’s marketing and PR. They will say, “What’s the difference”? Just do it for me and we’ll pay you. I’ll do it and get you started, but I’ll train you to do it for your selves and your company. You need to take ownership.

As social continues to grow and grow, some people just don’t want to do “it”, the social stuff, they would prefer that someone else do it for them- and you know what? There are plenty of people that will do it and… Do it well and.. You’ll never know the difference.

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6 Responses to “Should You Outsource Social Media?”


  1. 1 Matt Ridings - @techguerilla August 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I would never ghost-write, or manage social media, on behalf of another company. Or do I {in a sinister voice}.

    As you know, I have quite a few feelings on this topic. http://www.techguerilla.com/i-call-bullshit-outsourcing-your-social-media

  2. 2 Cyndee Woolley / @cmwooll August 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Funny… I was just thinking of writing this post.

    As long as it represents the person / company accurately, I don’t think it is a big issue to ghost write.

    However, I think that there has to be enough of a relationship between the ghost and the representative to make it work. And, there has to be a system of responses so your requests don’t go into a black hole…

  3. 3 Ed August 14, 2010 at 5:08 am

    One thing I will never do is outsource social media. Particularly when it comes to blogger relations. I am fine with updating of information over social networks, technical assistance and consultancy. The peer-to-peer communication MUST never leave the hands of the brand engaging the public.

    My reason is fairly simple, let me cite you an illustration with agencies heavily focused on bloggers. Today, they can bring you a whole load of bloggers. They’ll be gone the next moment when you cease your contract with the agency. In far too many instances, I have noticed that bloggers’ loyalty lies in the agencies, not the brands. This leads to the phenomenon of agencies using bloggers as a blackmailing tool for brands to continue paying them insane sums of money which can be better utilized in their own approach.

    It is a dark little secret nobody wants to hear, because most of us only wants to hear the good things.

  4. 4 PJD Social Media August 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    This article addresses some key points regarding social media today.

    It is refreshing to see someone write about the actual hard work and time involved in creating and maintaining a successful social media presence online.

    There is no definitive answer to the advocates or critics of outsourcing social media. The crucial point is how the outsourcing is handled.

    When I take on new clients our initial discussions will set out whether my company will just be the service bringing the company brand and voice to the social media audience, the company are providing all of the material themselves and are effectively engaging themselves through us.

    Alternatively some clients do not wish to allocate existing resources and time to generating their own content and having to interact with their audience directly and in this situation I will spend an initial period of time learning about the company culture, it`s core values, corporate goals and stakeholder agendas so that my company can in effect take on the social media responsibilities of the company and effectively be an extension of the client in the social media environment

    Clients outsourcing their social media this way I feel are not deceiving anyone and the many levels of support and engagement my company and many other companies out there offer provide the ideal solution for the majority of businesses.

  5. 5 jfouts September 20, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Here’s the thing. There are things that you can out source and things you shouldn’t. Some of the research and grunt work can definitely be outsourced which frees you up to do the actual engagement.
    As social media becomes more of a standard We get more calls every day from people who are overwhelmed and need help organizing and coaching or training. Here’s a post that tells my perspective on balancing between astroturfing and ghosting and support. http://janetfouts.com/social-media-services/


  1. 1 links for 2010-08-17 « burningCat Trackback on August 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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