I have long been a proponent of the idea that the best social media efforts a company can undertake are to do it themselves. I recommend that companies write their own blog posts and update their own social network pages.
Since 2007 I’ve seen the shift from businesses showing little interest in blogs or social networks to today in which it’s not only a common business practice but many companies also hire outside agencies to run the social media operations for them.
In my experience, outsourcing your social media efforts (particularly the social networking updates and management part) doesn’t usually work out as well for the company. There is now some data available supporting my original notion. Last month, Facebook’s director of small business spoke at a conference and among the other things, he noted this:
More than 70% of small business Pages managed by third parties have little or no engagement.
Until I saw that quote a few weeks ago I felt like I’d been giving advice about outsourcing Facebook efforts on a purely qualitative level. It was just what I’d known based on my own observation. Now, however, I think we have proof from Facebook themselves that Pages managed by third parties are largely managed poorly.
The Real (and Unfortunate) Goal of Most Outsourcing
Here is what’s really going on in most of these situations and why 70% of Pages aren’t getting any engagement: engagement isn’t usually their goal. Activity is the goal. They’re paying for activity so they can feel like their social media efforts are moving forward. Did you catch that? They want to feel like they’re doing it.
Although I worked with a company recently that bucked this trend, the large majority of companies outsourcing social media efforts are most interested in keeping updates going on their Facebook page but not terribly interested in engagement. They’re paying people, in essence, to put things on the page that nobody cares to read or respond to, hence the minimal engagement.
You Don’t Really Know What They Want
The biggest issue here is that it is very difficult for an outside organization to represent a company as well as the company does. Short of outsourcing it but allowing your outsourced person to reside in your office, you’re not really going to get all of the spontaneous and genuinely authentic perspective that an insider gives. Outsourcing Facebook requires more planning and by its nature, planning doesn’t have room for spontaneity.
Facebook fans will baffle you with the things they’ll choose to engage. You may think they’re going to respond to one thing but it turns out to be something totally different and random. That’s the kind of spontaneity and flexibility you want with your Facebook page and outsourcing it will rarely give it to you.
The bigger picture here is to set some goals of engagement with your Facebook page. If people are commenting or liking your posts then you’re doing something wrong. No engagement is as much a sign of what you’re doing as engagement is. Consider it a “no” vote for the way you’re going about things and start seeking a “yes” vote in the form of a comment or like. It may take a while to get some momentum, but once it starts, you’re going to know more about your fans and they’re going to know more about you. That is good for business.