Social media is a powerful marketing tool for B2B companies – whether you are an industrial manufacturer or a technology company.
It provides B2Bs an opportunity to build strong customer relationships, which can be leveraged to attract new customers and grow their company.
However, not all B2B companies have the time, resources, or core competencies to manage their social media accounts.
This is why most B2B companies are outsourcing social media services to professional social media management vendors for help.
Depending on expertise, these companies often provide a wide range of services, from managing your company’s social media accounts to increasing quality traffic to your company website. They also offer other valuable services like content creation service – including optimized social media copies, social media ads creative content, search engine optimization (SEO) and even social media monitoring and reputation management.
One major benefit of outsourcing your social media management is the speed with which you can achieve results; B2B companies strapped for resources can do more with less and increase their digital footprint at the same time.
The downside is that once you decide to outsource; you need to ensure the quality of your social media presence is maintained by your outsourcing partner. When the outsourcing company’s work is sub-par, quality issues will show up.
Why is that important? Because social media is the bridge that links your brand to the public. A subpar social media presence can damage your brand’s reputation.
So, how do you keep up with the quality?
Can a B2B company outsourcing social media efforts maintain quality?
Yes. There are a number of ways that a B2B company can outsource its social media to a social media contractor without diluting the quality of customer engagement, voice and quality of content it posts.
Like any component in a larger strategy, it needs to be planned and managed.
Because, remember, social media is a direct reflection of your company.
B2B businesses can lose their way and tarnish their brand by outsourcing social media if unchecked or just left to your outsourced social media agency,
Here are eleven B2B tips to maintain quality when outsourcing your social media efforts:
1. A clear understanding of what you want to achieve
Before outsourcing social media work to an external agency, you must first understand what you want to achieve through social media. This helps you determine whether outsourcing is right for you.
It’s not enough to say, “I want my social media to increase sales.” You need to understand what that means, since social media is unlike traditional sales/marketing. Any SMART goals you are expecting? Do you want more traffic? More leads? Better conversion rates? What are your specific goals? Cut labor costs?
Your answer to this is helpful to an outsourced social media agency because then they can create content marketing strategy and quality campaigns for your B2B company that are more likely to generate the quality results you want.
If this is not clear, it can cause misunderstanding and frustration to your outsourced agency and your in-house team.
I sometimes offer my input on the best options for the B2B company that wanted us to work with them; but at the end of the day, the decision falls on these three – the business’ ultimate goal, their budget and social media services of choice.
If you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to accomplish with social media, then it’s better to stick with doing things in-house.
2. An understanding of your audience
Before you even think about outsourcing your social media, it’s essential to understand your target market.
Telling your outsourcing partner that your client is everyone will not help them at all, nor will your business.
So here are a few things you need squared away before handing over tasks to an outsourcing social media company:
- Who are your ideal clients?
- Where do they live?
- How old are they?
- What are their interests?
- When are they online?
If you have all this information, we can recommend the best social media platform to focus on and when to post. Each platform has its own unique audience demographics and behaviors.
Our years of experience have taught us these and businesses we serve find this invaluable.
Knowing your audience will help your external social media specialist to tailor your content to each channel.
3. Decide what tasks to outsource
With social media, there are so many moving parts.
There are core business tasks relevant to social media like posting, scheduling, monitoring, analytics, developing tactics, etc.
So, it’s important to decide which part of social media you want to outsource and what you need to keep in-house.
For example, if your company only wants to schedule content, then you can just give them scheduling this task. But if you want to monitor everything else as well, then consider outsourcing the entire process.
Social media content marketing includes these tasks:
- Create social media copies: create personalized social media posts that ignite interest and spark engagement.
- Schedule social media posts: This will help you keep track of when you need to post what and will ensure that your content is consistent.
- Curate content: This includes things like finding relevant articles, blog posts, etc. to share with your audience.
- Engage with business audience: This is perhaps the most important task of all for businesses, and includes things like responding to comments, messages, etc.
- Monitor your analytics: This will help you determine whether your efforts are paying off. You should also make sure that you’re measuring the right metrics so you can tell if your campaigns are paying off and helping you to outrank your competition.
- Gather & Analyze Data: Unlike years ago when social media just started, and we hardly had any analytics available, nowadays social media platforms are generous in sharing us data. Gathering and analyzing these to come up with common sense solutions for your content marketing strategy takes time.
The list of tasks looks simple but as mentioned, it has a lot of moving parts that need to be taken care of by your social media specialist.
Deciding what you need will help you narrow down your search for external social media experts. If you know what you want, you’ll have an easier time finding the perfect candidate for you.
4. Hire someone who understands your business
You may think that just anyone can handle social media. But it takes someone who knows your industry and your audience to get the job done.
B2B companies have a critical role in helping their external social media team help them win social media.
Although we can take on the social media tasks and go running with it in a heartbeat, I admit we are not always versed in the technicalities and jargon of your business. I learned this when working in a hyper-niche technology company and with manufacturing businesses.
So, your external social media team will still need input from your company’s internal team to create the most effective campaign for your brand.
It’s the same when hiring a new employee. They still must be educated about your company.
I typically ask for these in-house resources from companies that I work with:
- Company brief
- Product images
- Data or social media report you have on hand
In most cases, businesses I work with don’t have most of these, so I help them put these together.
5. Understanding your budget
Social media budgets vary widely. Some agencies charge hourly rates while others charge monthly. Some even offer packages based on the number of social media profiles you have.
How much you pay depends on many factors, including your company size, industry, and type of service/tasks you wanted done.
Before you decide whether to outsource your social media, you need to determine how much money you can afford to invest in social media efforts.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some tips to help you figure out how much you can spend:
- Start small. Try outsourcing a few smaller tasks first, such as scheduling posts, managing accounts, or creating graphics. Then, once you see the results, you can expand your budget.
- Focus on one platform at a time. It’s tempting to do everything at once, but doing so could cost you more than you realize. Instead, focus on one platform at a period of time. For example, start with LinkedIn before expanding to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
- Don’t forget about paid advertising cost. Paid ads aren’t free. You’ll need to factor in the costs of running them into your overall budget.
- Tools cost. Tools like Publer, Ocoya, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite are great tools to manage multiple social media profiles. However, they also cost money. So, make sure you include whatever tool or product cost in your budget.
It is important to note that low cost may seem like a good deal to you, but it can end up undercutting cost savings in the long run if the quality of work is substandard.
6. Find an outsourcing social media agency that fits your brand’s personality
Once you’ve found a few external experts you’d like to work with, ask them questions about their experience and qualifications. Is the outsourcing agency, a subject matter expert-social media marketing to be specific? Any industry experts (your industry)? If not, how are they going to familiarize themselves with your company? Their answers will help you determine whether they’ll be a fit for you.
There are many details that go into vendor selection because there is a sea of social media experts out there. Here are some tips to get started:
- Look at his or her portfolio. Can you see examples of work like yours? Do they use the same tone as your business? Are there any trends you can identify? These questions may seem obvious, but they’ll give you a better idea of how he or she works.
- Look at his or her experience. How long has he or she been managing other people’s social media accounts? What is the quality of their content? Does he or she have previous experience in your industry? Are they producing high-quality content relevant to your audience? You don’t need a degree in social media management, but having some knowledge in marketing and sales fields can be helpful.
- Ask for references. When you find a potential contractor that your company may have never heard of, make sure you check out their past clients. Ask their clients what they liked most about working with the agency you are keen on outsourcing tasks to.
- If possible, visit their client site and social media profiles or look through their portfolios so get an idea of what kind of work they can produce.
7. Set up an effective workflow
You may think that outsourcing social media means you don’t have to put in much effort yourself. But that’s not true at all.
Why? Because when you outsource to social media professional, you still must set up a process that makes sense for your company.
So, once you’ve done choosing a social media agency partner, you’ll need to create an efficient workflow for operational control.
What processes do you need?
- Content creation process
- Customer service escalation process
- Mutual best ways and means for communication
- Expectations, deliverables and more!
Make sure task assignments are spelled out.
Set clear guidelines for each step of the process.
In most cases, I understand our B2B clients are busy; so, I help in the workflow’s creation myself.
There are things to keep in mind when setting up a social workflow.
- Don’t forget to include your internal team or those relevant to marketing projects. They should also be included in this process. After all, they are part of your team. That way, they can provide input as you go along. You may even assign one with a role in quality control.
- Keep your goals in mind. When you’re creating a plan, remember that you want to accomplish certain tasks by a specific date. Be realistic about what you can achieve through your outsourcing agency. For example, if you want to increase traffic to your website, then you might decide to post one article per day for one month. Then, you can evaluate the results with an outsourced social media specialist.
- Set deadlines. Social media managers often say they want to stay flexible, but you should still set deadlines for certain steps. For instance, you might want to post content every Monday and Thursday. Maybe you want to post once a day. Whatever you decide, make sure you stick to it. Otherwise, it could lead to confusion and frustration.
- Create a schedule. Social media managers often create schedules based on the time zones of their clients. However, I’ve seen U.S. based company updates in the dead of night. It is not the best time to post when your clients are already sleeping. Hence, if you are outsourcing this overseas, make sure you are clear about when they post and when they engage to be seen by the largest number of business clients possible.
- Track productivity. Once you’ve assigned different tasks, make sure you monitor progress. It is a common practice by some fly-by-night vendors that they will ghost on you when they realize that there is so much work involved in social media marketing or they will give you sub-par service, so tracking productivity is important. Like the case of a former team member of mine who told me that, “Clients will not have time to read our content, so why bother with content quality?” At least he was honest with me. That person is no longer with my company thereafter that conversation.
8. Monitor performance
Monitoring performance is essential. After all, you want to ensure that your outsourced social media specialist’s efforts are paying off.
Is your audience growing? What goals are being reached?
This will tell you if you’re making good business decisions or not. It will also let you know if you should adjust your strategy – or change your outsourcing partner.
9. Communicate clearly
Communication is key in any relationship, but especially in one as complex as a remote social media campaign. It’s important to communicate clearly with your outside social media team so that they know exactly what you expect from them.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- Have clear expectations for each person working on your project.
Make sure your outsourcing partner understands the requirements of their job. Overcommunication can be helpful when you are just starting.
- Set deadlines with your outsourcing social media agency and stick to them.
This will help ensure that the agency can deliver the results you need in a timely manner. If you are constantly changing the deadlines, it will be more difficult for the agency to meet your expectations.
10. Be patient
It is one thing to find the best professional social media agency, but success in social media won’t happen overnight.
Social media is for the long game.
Building a social media following takes time, consistency, and a lot of dedication. If you’re looking to grow your business through social media, then you must invest the time needed to see results as you work with a social media agency.
11. Don’t forget about social media optimization (SMO) knowledge
When looking for a professional outsourcing partner, work with someone who doesn’t only have social media expertise but also technical expertise in SEO to run a successful campaign for your company. This way, you get the best of both worlds and can be sure that your campaigns are in good hands.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another important aspect of social media marketing.
There are several reasons SEO is important in social media marketing.
First, social media platforms are increasingly incorporating algorithms that consider a variety of factors when determining which content to display in a user’s feed. This means that, to ensure that your target audience sees your content, it is important that your social media agency understands how to optimize your content for the social media platform’s algorithm.
Second, SEO can help you target your social media content more effectively. By using the right keywords, you can ensure that your content appears in search results when users are searching for topics that apply to your business. This allows you to reach a larger audience with your content and to connect with your potential companies.
These skills are rare among social media managers. We do social media optimization for client creating content that speaks to their audience using SEO technique.
Maintaining your quality standards quality when outsourcing social media
Every company is different, and every situation is unique. But these 11 tips will help you decide whether outsourcing your social media is worth it for your business.
And now that you know more about outsourcing social media as an option for companies like yours, you can start planning your next campaign.
So, what do you think? Do you have questions about outsourcing social media? I would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.