Okay- I don’t mean you should cease all social media activities; I mean you should quit doing them yourself. Why? Glad you asked…

Social media management is an unquestionable time drain on American small businesses, with almost twenty five percent of them spending greater than 6 hours per week managing social media channels.  That’s at least 6, fully burdened, employee or owner hours that cost very real dollars; and it’s likely that very few of these hours are ever traced back to actual results.

Small businesses often have the mindset that “we’re too small to pay someone else to manage our social media.” However, outsourcing your social media management makes more sense the smaller your business is. If you have 40 or 50 full time employees you likely have the critical mass to support a full time marketing specialist, and can likely justify this expense. However, if you only have a handful of employees it’s likely each one is tasked with mission critical duties and, if social media is assigned to one of them at all, it’s just a side note.

Most small business owners we work with live in two main camps. The first are those that have absolutely no strategy for social media management. Unless you consider “we heard it was important so we do it with no idea why” a viable strategy. These are the wheel spinners. The businesses that spend time actively in their social channels – but can’t tell you what benefit, if any, this time has to their bottom line; and I’m pretty sure the bottom line is still important.

The second group live in the fairy tale world of “it’s not that important, it’s a fad, and we’ve done okay without it so far.”  These businesses are exponentially frustrating when they are a particularly good fit for social media. If you’re an attorney that specializes in defending serial killers you may have a valid argument for staying away from Pinterest, but if you own a candy and puppy dog store you’re sitting on a gold mine. I’ve come across neither of those; but most of our clients do fall somewhere in between.

We’re a social media management company and we’ll be the first to admit the number of businesses that are going to build a significant following from purely grass roots, organic, viral social media efforts are few. Every talking head in the internet marketing world has a slide deck full of great advice – make it sharable, make it viral, publish great content and you’ll build a following you can retire on.

The problem is, great content -really great content, is pretty rare. Even rarer are the chances great content will be produced in-house at your average small business. Roofers know roofs, dentists know teeth, lawyers work in the court, and marketers know marketing. It’s what keeps us all employed. We won’t drill our own cavities; you don’t try and manage a multi-channel marketing system in your spare time. It won’t work for either of us.

Marketing offers PhD degrees but anyone can call themselves a specialist. You can start a marketing company with a cheap laptop and a stack of free business cards, but that won’t make you effective; and just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean you should.

Allow me to make my argument in list form, because I hear people love lists.

Moderately convincing reasons to outsource your social media management:

  1. Social media companies do social media every day. We know what’s most likely to resonate and what’s not.
  2. Marketing specialists know when to use advertising. Number two on the list has its own separate post written all over it, but let me assure you the slowest way to nowhere is to ignore the advertising tools built in to Facebook. Or worse, misuse them.
  3. I could talk all day long about the social media tools available to agencies, only I have trouble finding anyone to listen; but we have great tools for research and planning. For example, we have scheduling programs with built in algorithms that automatically post our hand written content at the precise time the highest number of your audience is online. Algorithms are fascinating… Not to mention professional design tools like Illustrator and Photoshop – so much of social media is visible and without sufficient graphic design skills your content will suffer.
  4. We do this all day long. We can do it faster, and subsequently, with less expense than doing these same tasks yourself.
  5. An agency will strictly adhere to a publishing calendar. Someone on your team who does your social media in their spare time will not.

Social media is a critical part of any businesses marketing mix – but rarely is it a full time job for the typical small business. Don’t let that be cause to assign your social media activities to someone else’s existing duties – you’re likely to get this critical marketing task stuck on the back burner.