The first #smclinic was a success, which is a big relief. We genuinely never knew if anyone would participate and were concerned that it would degrade into the usual banter by the same old faces. That never happened, in fact, many of the usual faces were around but their input simply improved the whole thing. Those genuine beginners who were looking for answers were very lucky to have the calibre of users that turned up to offer their support.
One thing that did come up merits a bit more discussion though. That was the topic of outsourcing social media. It was one of the questions that was asked and the responses from our expert panel were not all “on message.” The fall out continued beyond the clinic itself with the 2 camps polarised in their opinion of whether or not it’s a good idea.
It’s a black and white issue.
There’s a level of organisation that has such a volume of social media work they need to undertake that they might just as well outsource it than tackle the problem in-house. Basically, if they were to do it in-house it would be a departmental function rather than the genuine voice of the company. That’s what happens with large brands. If they bring in experts then at least they know they are getting some sound advice as well as having someone who understands the importance of online branding and will act appropriately.
Smaller organisations really shouldn’t ever consider outsourcing though. The spirit of the company is much more easily captured by the staff and their output ought to be manageable if the task is shared. This will create a genuine company voice which is only really achievable at this level.
That’s not to say that these smaller companies shouldn’t be looking for outside help.
There is a lot to learn at the outset about brand positioning and communications using social media. It’s imperative to come up with a strategy that works for you and be trained in how to implement it. That’s where consultants come in. They will hold your hand in the early stages, even take on board the writing of some of your content, but at the end of the day it needs to all be dealt with in-house.
That’s my position anyway. Very interested to hear yours.