In-House or Outsourced Facebook Marketing - dummies

By Andrea Vahl, John Haydon, Jan Zimmerman

After you decide to create a Facebook marketing plan, you have to decide who’s going to run it. You have multiple options to consider for your social media management and support.

Option 1: Hire an agency (or consultant) to manage your Facebook Page

Like most things, this option has both pros and cons.

Pros:

  • You gain access to social media expertise and knowledge. This is especially helpful if your knowledge is limited.

  • An agency or consultant can save you a tremendous amount of time. If you’re not consistently listening to your fans and interacting with them regularly, they will quickly lose interest in your Page. It might be a smart move for you to hire someone to take on this important task.

  • Social media experts tend to be in the know about the latest trends. Because social media changes quickly, it’s important to stay on the cutting edge and be the first to adopt new strategies or tools as they prove to be promising. An agency or consultant can advise you on the latest and greatest in social media marketing to keep you current and ahead of the pack.

  • You get expert advice on your social media content strategy. One of the most important pieces of your Facebook marketing strategy is the content you post on your social networks. An agency or consultant can help you create a content plan to align with your overall marketing plan.

  • An agency or expert has access to monitoring and tracking tools and technology that you may not have. This is important, because an agency can quickly see what is working and what needs tweaking, allowing your campaign to be monitored in real time.

Cons:

  • An agency won’t know your products or services as well as you do. If you’re not careful, an agency may end up representing you or your brand in ways that don’t particularly inspire confidence. Potential customers often ask questions about a product or service via a company’s Facebook Page.

    Ask yourself this question: If an agency or consultant were managing your Page, would that agency or consultant be able to give the prospects accurate information?

    Incorrect information could cost you a new client — or, worse, earn you backlash from your Facebook fans. One solution is to make sure that your agency or consultant has direct access to the appropriate people inside your company who can provide real-time support when needed.

  • An agency won’t understand your brand as well as you do. Successful brands have a specific voice, and it’s critical that this voice be consistent throughout all your marketing initiatives. That said, it’s paramount that your agency or consultant understand your brand voice and be clear on your brand personality and positioning. This clarity allows for a seamless transition between your company’s communication style and the agency’s communication on your behalf.

  • An agency won’t know your company culture intimately and will be unaware of behind-the-scenes activities. One of the most important aspects of Facebook marketing is the transparency factor. Your fans want to know your company and brand at an intimate level. That’s what makes social media networking so attractive to consumers.

    Only you and those who work with you intimately know what your company stands for and what its values are. This is difficult to explain to someone from the outside who isn’t experiencing it firsthand.

    An agency or consultant isn’t part of your culture and won’t be able to communicate the special benefits of that culture to your fans unless you educate that agency or consultant in advance, which takes some dedication on your part.

    Some of the most popular brands on Facebook allow their fans to get a glimpse of their company culture and what goes on behind the scenes. Zappos is a great example.

  • If you (or someone on your team) don’t manage your Facebook Page directly, you won’t see what’s happening on a day-to-day basis. This situation means you lose a little control of what’s taking place on your Page.

    One solution is to ask your agency or consultant to report to you on a regular basis, informing you about what’s taking place on your Page, and letting you know about any challenges and what was done to take care of them.

If you do decide to hire an agency or consultant, make sure that you discuss what’s expected; the procedures you want the agency or consultant to adhere to at all times; and the rules, guidelines, and any specific procedures to follow in case of a crisis on any of your social networking sites.

Option 2: Self-manage your Facebook marketing plan

Most small to midsize businesses manage their Facebook marketing plan in-house. Overall, this strategy has multiple benefits. If you’re managing your strategy in-house, you essentially eliminate all the cons.

Option 3: Use the hybrid model

If you’re new in the social media arena (as most people are), consider hiring support to some degree.

One solution is the hybrid model. In essence, you hire an agency or consultant to help build your social media marketing strategy (including your Facebook marketing plan), and that agency or consultant can also support the launch of the strategy in the early stages. When things are off the ground and running smoothly (which may take about six months to get going), you and your team take over.

You not only benefit from the agent’s or consultant’s expertise and experience, but also work in a certain amount of training so that you and your team are well equipped to take over after the agent’s or consultant’s contract ends.