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How To Outsource Your Social Media Marketing And What It All Means
As a small business owner you have to wear many hats. Sometimes in the early days its necessary for you to act as the president, marketing team, sales person, bookkeeper and more… however the sooner you can get out of that loop the better. Doing everything yourself will quickly become a hamster wheel that you will struggle to escape from to gain real ground in your business if you’re doing it all alone. While you learn to balance keeping an eye on your bottom line with forking out the money necessary to outsource, it can be confusing to know what should “go” first?
One great way to dip your toe into the waters of outsourcing some of your small business’s work is to start with a smaller aspect of the business. If this is your first time with outsourcing, hiring out your social media marketing can be a great first step in learning how the outsourcing process works, what’s great about it and how to manage it properly in a fairly low-risk and low-cost environment. It can also be an aspect of your business’s marketing that is taking time from you which could easily and cost-effectively be outsourced.
Social media marketing is a multi-pronged approach. There’s the monitoring and spread of organic content through your social media outlets and then there’s the paid advertising aspect of your social media marketing. Similar to SEO and SEM for your website, these two pieces of the social pie are both important for your best success.
Here’s a breakdown of these two important social media strategies and how to approach outsourcing them.
Social Media Monitoring
You may wonder why you need to know about social media strategy if you’re just planning to outsource it anyway. It’s important to understand the basics so that you can understand the strategy and results behind your outsourced social media monitoring. If you don’t have any clue what’s going on, it could be easy to waste money or get dragged into an unproductive campaign. By understanding the basics you can more accurately manage your outsourced action plan that supports your overall strategy.
Think of social media monitoring as your organic word-of-mouth approach. The very nature of social media is based on content being shareable. That’s a great thing and can add tremendous value to your business, however it can go awry quickly as well if you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on.
You need someone paying attention to what’s going on in your industry and what’s being said about your brand in socials. Because even if you aren’t talking to them, there will be people who are talking about you.
However, it’s not reasonable for most home business owners to be on Yelp all day checking for reviews or constantly patrolling their Facebook Fan page or Twitter account. That’s why this can be a great outsourcing opportunity. Many social media agencies will monitor and aggregate your social reputation and outlets for you. This can be a huge time save for you while still keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s going on.
These same social media monitoring services usually provide commenting and content creation on your social outlets as well. That can help for days when you don’t have the time to post, comment and keep tabs on the social scene. And make no mistake, keeping up on the interactions and commenting is very important for your brand engagement. It is an organic way for your fans to learn about you, share feedback and tell you what’s going on with them. It’s a great idea to even ask for feedback, advice and to check-in with your fans to see what’s happening. It’s like your own market research outlet.
There are a few companies that do great social media monitoring (and more) that span the range of budgets.
The name says it all: your content, comments and moderation on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter for only $99 per month. It’s a flat fee that requires no set-up fee, no hidden fees and always the same price. If you’re just getting started on a social media plan then this is a great way to ease into the digital marketing world. They offer great insights, help structure your planning and take care of the rest. Each client of $99social is assigned an account rep so you can ask questions and get the personalized service you need for a price you can feel comfortable about outsourcing.
Another great option for your first step into outsourcing are the folks at the DigitalSherpa team. They offer initial marketing assessments and have services that range from social media management to blog and website content creation to even offering a platform to manage your online reputation, so you can start as small and grow as big as you like. They offer customizable packages designed to meet your specific business’s needs and price points that range from the most basic for $59 per month up to the most deluxe offering at $549 per month.
This sleek online platform helps you to engage with your fans and monitor your reputation, all from a centralized dashboard in their system. While this requires a little more do-it-yourself on your end, the price entry point in the lowest of these three options. You can also measure your content engagement and see in real time what’s really working or not in your content strategy across your social media channels. Plans and pricing start at just $39 per month for the intro package: see what they offer and if it matches a good starting point for your needs.
Social Media Marketing
Now that you’ve got the monitoring portion of outsourcing mastered, there’s the actual paid marketing aspect of social media expansion. While the monitoring, content creation and conversations happening with the help of agency services like those described above, one thing they don’t do it paid advertising. Just like television or print marketing, the paid advertising aspect of social media can be very important for growth. It can also be confusing to monitor and understand, as there are a variety of ways to approach social media marketing.
Here are the basic ways you can pay for advertising through social media and online networks:
- Facebook Ads
With Facebook ads, you’re literally creating advertising and targeting your audience through ads inside of Facebook. There are fairly simple to set-up yourself, however if you really want to achieve maximum impact, you should have this be something your digital or social media marketing agency includes and monitors for you. Some great options to try are:
- Facebook Ads - see for yourself what’s at the source.
- Sponsored Twitter Posts
While they can be pricy, there are options for actually purchasing a promoted tweet which will be seen front and center across Twitter and stays up for maximum visibility. The upside is the visibility. The downside is the equal visibility that states it’s promoted, which might be a turnoff for many Twitter users.
- Promoted Tweets - see for yourself what you could do with a promoted tweet.
- Endorsed Tweets
The difference between a promoted tweet and an endorsed tweet is the way you go about getting the shout-out. Within Twitter there are some majorly backed people including high-profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian are paid to tweet about your product from their own Twitter account to their own loyal following. If you’re interested in getting a celebrity to start a discussion about your brand through an endorsed tweet, check out Adly.com which offers endorsed Tweets (among many other social media conversations).
A Final Word On Digital Marketing
There’s confusion sometimes about what exactly is social media marketing versus digital marketing. While social media marketing is focused on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest (to name a few), that is just one important part of an overall digital marketing component of your overall marketing strategy. So we thought it might be helpful to understand a few very basic common practices that, while they are more online marketing focused, are still important to understand in the context of your overarching marketing plan.
Here are a few important digital marketing outlets that you’ll want to know about in addition to your social media marketing.
- Google Adwords
Google Adwords are paid advertising listings of your site at the top of Google searches. While they’re clearly spelled out as being paid or sponsored, if your search terms and keywords are done properly they can be an effective addition to getting your business’s name top and center while your SEO marketing is strengthening and growing.
- Affiliate Links
Affiliate endorsed links are a supplemental way to make money on your website in addition to linking out more content to your site. You can also get your site into an affiliate network for others to connect back to your business. Whether you’re interested in linking out to or being linked from as an affiliate, you’ll want to check out some affiliate networking companies like Skimlinks.com, that can simplify and automate this process for you. Also, there are rules about disclosure so be sure you’re clear on what you need to disclose on your site to your readers if you’re using and including affiliate links. Failure to do so is being cracked down on hard by the FCC.
- Online Ad Networks
When you’re website allows advertising you have two choices: to wrestle up ad dollars yourself or to go to an ad network and have them handle (for a fee) finding the right advertisers to be features in your website’s ad spots. As a small business, getting ads for your company across the right ad networks can be a great option for affordable and organic spread of your brand across relevant sites that are interested in your type of business. You can do this through PPC (pay per click) ad networks. Here are some of the best that you’ll want to check out, or request that your agency explore to include you in (most agencies will already have a list of ad networks they like and recommend as well).