Outsourcing Social Media: Is It Worth It?

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Small businesses, especially those with a close eye on cash flow and a limited marketing budget, often struggle with the concept of outsourcing their social media.

Social media pages are free – and relatively straightforward to set up – so why spend any money at all?
Many business owners set up their own business pages (typically Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), post as often as they are able, and keep an online presence ticking over.

Unfortunately, this approach never ‘mines’ the full potential of social media – and can quite often have a negative effect. So, let’s take a look at why it is worth it to outsource social media.

Surely, some Social Media is better than no Social Media?

Social media has changed the way people interact with brands forever. The immediacy of social media means that consumers expect an almost immediate response to all comments and queries and are left frustrated (often vocally so) by delayed responses and interaction.

In fact, recent research by Sprout Social shows that an average consumer’s expectation of ‘wait’ time for a response is 0 – 4 hours, while the average brand response time is closer to 10 hours. This leaves consumers feeling frustrated and ignored – and quick to approach a competitive brand.

This is perhaps the number one reason to outsource social media: real-time response in a dynamic environment. In short, if you are on social media – you had better be responsive.

Social Media requires constant attention

Research shows that a staggering 89% of social media requests go unanswered. This leaves a negative impression, loses potential customers and brand advocates and does more harm to your brand image than you might realise.

In reality, social media queries and comments need to be answered timeously – 7 days a week.
But it’s not simply responding to online comments; you also need to spend time:

• Creating engaging content (including images and videos)
• Developing a strong content calendar (built around notable events like launches, sales or holidays)
• Scheduling posts
• Tracking your brand mentions
• Managing your online reputation
• Monitoring competitor activity
• Developing paid advertising campaigns
• Tracking activity and spend
• Analysing return on investment

A big job can’t be underestimated. If you don’t have the time (or energy) for it, outsource your social media to a team who does.

How much does it cost to Outsource Social Media?

How much will all this cost? Unfortunately, it is not an easy question to answer. A good social media consultant or agency will be able to assess your needs and develop a strategy to meet your budget.

There are several ways to outsource social media:
1. Initial set-up and basic social media strategy.
2. Social media freelancer to look after your needs on a monthly basis.
3. Digital marketing agency – i.e. a full-service team.

If you have the time to devote to social media (and a real passion and knack for it), then option one is a good route to go.

A social media consultant can help you set up each platform (based on an analysis of where your target audience is), give you a tutorial in each platform (dos, don’ts and interesting tricks of the trade), as well as a basic strategy to get you on your way.

This initial ‘set-up’ package can start from as little as £99 per platform – depending on your needs.
The second option allows you to outsource social media to a freelancer who will devote several hours a month to managing your platforms. For example, a 25hr per month social media package may include:

• Creation and delivery of high-quality content.
• Engagement across all your social media pages (responding to queries and content).
• Sharing interesting posts.
• Tracking and analysing your activity.

A freelancer can charge anywhere from £17.50 per hour to per £100 hour, depending on both your needs and their level of experience. This means you could outsource your social media for as little as £375 per month.

The third option, a full-service digital agency, will take over all your digital needs and ensure your brand’s online presence (including all social media) is slick, professional and working hard to contribute to your bottom line.

What can a Social Media Agency do for me?

Although a digital marketing agency might seem the more expensive option, it will still cost less than a full-time employee. Having a dedicated social media team will ensure that:

• Your social media strategy works for your business: driving traffic to your website, increasing sales, building brand awareness.
• All social media activity fits within your overall marketing strategy and brand objectives.
• All messaging (across all platforms) is coherent, professional and “on-brand”.
• All activity is tracked and analysed – and instantly tweaked if necessary.
• Return on investment remains top of mind (especially important for small businesses with a limited budget).

Social media is a very powerful marketing tool, but it takes time and effort to realise it’s true potential and value. And time is something that most small business owners simply don’t have. Is it worth it to outsource social media? Absolutely. Start with a free trial today.

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