As Christmas is getting closer, companies put a lot of marketing effort into special campaigns to boost brand image, sales and customer perception. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or any other platform, social media will certainly be utilized, as one out of the many channels, to spread the Christmas vibe. However campaigns issued in social media are definitely not a no brainer. As they require a lot of internal involvement to structure upfront, in addition to monitoring throughout and analyzing after the entire campaign. Considering this, the majority of businesses fail to find the right balance. Some do because they simply do not care and think of it as a nice to have item and others because they cannot find the time to devote to. Nevertheless, companies tend to neglect the effort that is needed to efficiently evaluate the outcome and the monitoring of such campaigns.
Companies tend to underestimate required efforts
Although companies these days understand the importance of utilizing social media within corporate culture as well as day to day business, the majority seems to have either insufficient resources or the lack of time to efficiently allocate them. And time is a core element, because customers on social platforms want to be treated special. They have chosen the social way to get the fastest response with just the individuality desired. They want to receive almost immediate response to their questions, they need advice within a considerable time frame or even have urgent requests on individually critical subjects. In such cases companies better respond quickly, if they want to avoid initiation of the next “Shitstorm”. All these tasks capture an enormous amount of time and are so far only related to the front end face to the customer, regardless of what happens in the back end while responding to the customer.
Thus all administrational work, as for example content management or simply building an initial user interface, is not yet included at all and multiplies with the amount of users or customers. For those reasons, companies have to realize that at the end of the day, success in social media comes with buzz, requiring a tremendous investment of time, in terms of customer interaction and engagement. Considering this, social media is a tremendously effective tool to conduct customer experience management and forge brand ambassadors with a solely positive brand perception.
When and with whom shall I start?
Time is a rare asset, especially when it comes to business. Thus companies should stop dissipating time and focus on the core business. At exactly this point, businesses should start thinking about a possible solution on how to outsource certain activities or even the entire department dealing with social media. As a matter of fact, we already know that neglecting or not even having a predefined set of goals at all will likely cause damage instead of being beneficial. Worst case, the results will simply vanish within the classical media prioritization, with the results remaining unaffected.
Now why should companies prefer an outsourcing specialist against a marketing agency? First of all, most agencies still put a lot of effort and money into classical old-fashioned media, costing companies a fortune for limited reach only. Furthermore, agencies are creativity addicts putting design over the actual goal, believing in the perception that “art” will sell itself. Meanwhile, they are neglecting that the design does neither serve the customer nor interacts.
In contrast to that, an outsourcing specialist is strictly goal driven and simultaneously generates potential economies with a clear focus on efficiency. Thus it is the constant striving for target achievement and over-performance that benefits the company and approves the outsourcer. For this reason, if companies want to have a fancy and innovative front-end design, they should go with an agency first. However, if they want to achieve goals and squeeze out the maximum, whilst generating additional economies, they will return to the outsourcer and an efficiency driven approach. In the end a company should go with what they do best and save the time to focus on their core competencies.
The time saving aspect and the parallel re-establishment of the core business focus are only one of many advantages of outsourcing social media activities. A dedicated work force furthermore has the one single focus on social media and stays ahead of all other semi-dedicated people. Not only technology and content wise, but also knowledge wise experts will always be on top of the subject, because social media is what they do all day! Fully dedicated teams cover a broad range from content delivery over monitoring measuring and analyzing the results. In addition true to the motto “the bigger the better”, outsourcing an entire team means more people will simply deliver and create more ideas and values. Thus finally, based on informational- as well as task- and organizational-efficiency, outsourcing can, if sustainably structured and set up, unleash potential economies for companies to re-invest in their core business.
We at SELLBYTEL pursue two approaches we strongly believe in to release the full potential for success. On the one hand the diversification in talent, especially in a fast changing environment as social media, coevally on the other hand the enablement of the customer to grow into the position of a brand ambassador. Thus companies can prospectively rely on those customers’ loyalty and use them as a multiplier in different occasions to leverage the potential.
The accurate adherence of these two approaches and strict focus on the designated social media activities, created the opportunity to successfully establish a project with one of the world’s leading IT manufacturers. This served as a fundamental starting point for SELLBYTEL’s social media outsourcing competence in 2010. Until now we have been able to establish several projects within the social media environment, from advertising, sales over page monitoring to customer service, covering a variety of different tasks. The most common practices have been:
- Creation and setup of new accounts, profiles and pages
- Content management of existing social media accounts, profiles and pages
- Customer and user engagement
- Customer service on designated platforms and channels
- Social media monitoring, page tracking and analysis
The initial setup
Putting all those aspects and tasks aside, if companies play it well outsourced activities can be way more goal driven than internal realization and goals can continuously be lifted, to ensure sustainable success . Nevertheless when companies finally made the decision to outsource social media activities, it is essential for both to speak exactly the same language when talking to the customer. Otherwise companies risk dissatisfying their customers and have to hazard the consequences internally. Thus not only “SMART” goal setting is the key to set up, continuously measure and develop the project, but also aligning approaches and strategies, in order to be consistent and extricate the highest possible success.
To sum it up, the origin of an outsourcing decision is and always will be the assessment of the value of time, respectively the opportunity costs companies lower by employing an outsourced work-/ task force. Once decided, there seem to be infinite solutions and channels. Businesses can for example use Facebook for boosting brand image, Twitter to officiate as a corporate news channel or linked in to allocate new biz contacts, but no matter which channel companies choose, once the outsourcing decision has been made, the core element is to have a clear vision on how to execute the competitive approach externally. Otherwise, “Project: Outsourcing” is doomed to fail before it even started.
To be continued.
Christopher von Kuczkowski, Vice President Sales
Philippe Pilath, Account Manager
Picture: Julien Christ/pixelio.de