Important Changes To Outsourcing Social Media Marketing

We have all heard about the worldwide trend of outsourcing manufacturing, programming and customer support to India and other countries. Out of competitive necessity, this global trend has grown to become normal, yet not really accepted. Without getting into the political issues, yet being very honest, it is clear that there are both positive and negative aspects to the practice. Costs, speed and infrastructure lead the benefits column, while jobs, language barriers and poor service are some of the downsides. My concern is that this trend is making its way into the social media space, with potentially drastic long-term consequences.

Recently, three social media connections of mine reached out to me to explain what the companies they were working for were doing with social media for their clients. None of these contacts know each other and are in different states, working for three different companies. They all had similar stories…

Their companies were stopping state side social media management work for clients and sending it to Belize. Belize???  Really? This blew my mind! How would some poor soul in Belize know anything about the culture in, say Keokuk, Iowa, let alone know how to handle a specific customer complaint issue for a specialized retail or B2B company? How are they going to build relationships? Furthermore, what would those folks in Belize be doing that would in anyway get real results for a clients social media marketing program?

The answer: Nothing but failure and problems for your brand.

The problem is that every Tom, Dick and Harry is now providing social media marketing. Better said, every previous internet marketing, PR and SEO company is now jumping on the bandwagon and offering “social media” because it’s what’s hot right now and their other business is suffering. This has motivated them to get into offering social media marketing and hanging out a sign to reel in the customers. What’s worse than not having a clue what they are doing, the offering most of these companies are providing is little more than a bad social media profile creation and a few self-promotional posts per week. This does NOT make a social media marketing strategy, nor does it make it effective.

Worse than not understanding social media marketing, these companies are doing two extremely harmful things to the industry in general.

1) Price deflation – By running $99/month social media marketing packages (or similar), it is improperly educating businesses that this is what it should cost, driving the actual prices down for those that do it right and actually get results for clients.

2) Reputation nightmares – Though Belize is a nice place to visit, having your social media handled there is a recipe for disaster. What happens when they say something grammatically wrong and thereby show your community that you are using offshore people to manage your social media? That’s just ONE scenario that will end up biting you in the behind. I can think of several.

For many small and mid-sized companies, outsourcing your social media marketing is not only an option, but the best way to get rapid, real results. Be sure that the company you are hiring to handle that social media marketing actually understands the space.

Ask them:

1) Is social media marketing and add-on to their primary business or is this their expertise?

2) Do they have a verifiable track record of doing it well and results associated?

3) Are they doing ALL social media activities for your account themselves, onsite or shipping it offshore?

4) Do you use social media marketing to promote your agency, and if so, what are your Twitter and Fanpage links?  —> This is key! Go look at the company’s OWN social media accounts. If they are not having conversations, posting relevant content frequently and providing value to their audience, you can rest assured they will not for your brand either.

Red Flags to look for and run from if you see them:

1) Publishing “package pricing” on their website. – Every social media program is different. Cookie cutter doesn’t get results.

2) Less than $500 per month for a package. – Social media done properly requires a ton of human engagement and conversation. If you see a social media offering for <$500 per month AND it’s published, I suggest finding a real professional.

3) Jack of all trades. – If a company is doing everything; blog development, graphic design, SEO, Google Ads, etc., etc., Do they really have the time, focus, experience and ability to handle your social media marketing effectively. Some do, yes. Most, not even close, so be very careful.

This latest threat to effective social media marketing can be extremely harmful to your business. You better know what you are getting and where you are getting it from.

23 Comments

Filed under Agency, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy

23 responses to “Important Changes To Outsourcing Social Media Marketing

  1. So glad you wrote this. People need to understand what social media marketing entails, what it REALLY costs, and what the risks are in hiring a company who doesn’t specialize in social media services. I’m sharing this EVERYWHERE in hopes we can get the message out there …
    THANK YOU for your messages – and keep’em coming!

    • Thank you so much Brooke. It is really important that we all stay ahead of these things and manage them through education of the industry. Appreciate the support!!!

    • Sadly the author forgot to take into consideration that many expats move to Belize and enjoy a ‘independent lifestyle’ and do social media management from Belize.
      As someone who is preparing to Belize and currently has social media clients in Belize I am pretty certain that the companies that his friends are referring to are expats from either the US, Canada or Europe living a tropical lifestyle.
      And I say good for them, kudos that they found a way to live in paradise and continue to earn money, as I will when we relocate there, oh and yes I will still be doing work for my US clients too! ;-)

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  4. I can say companies outside of the United States have came to us to give an American persona. I wouldn’t trust anyone outside of the United States running social media for my brand unless my brands business mostly took place in that location. You have to be able to truly connect with your audience.

    As far as price deflation. That won’t stop. Whether or not people are outsourcing overseas or not. The industry is still still young, and many companies feel the need to “race to the bottom” to get competitive edge over others. It is best to just ignore the companies and not see them as competitors. They are playing a different game I’m personally not interested in. I’d rather “race to the top” and promise something great then half ass it for $500.

    • Agreed on the pricing thing Trent. But lets make sure that the pressures on price are for the right reasons. Would I do a project for a local company for $500, no, however I needed to set some kind of minimum bar for people to trigger their eyebrow raising concern.

      Great input man, thank you!

  5. Well said! My suspicion is this is what SEO companies that jump on the SMM bandwagon are doing. Most SEO links are bought in India so what is to stop the SEO/SMM companies from following the same business model?

  6. I wanted to say exactly what @Brooke said. Two points to add: 1) As a marcom writer of 30+ years’ experience, I was surprised when I found out two years ago that companies are outsourcing marketing communications writing overseas, too. It also relies heavily on native language skills – innuendo, alliteration, idioms, pop culture references, etc. 2) I’ve seen direct evidence of #4 and I think that although your advice to check out their social media presence seems simple, it is very powerful and many clients don’t think of it.

  7. Great post Robert – As you’ve outlined, it’s incredible to think that anyone can truly see VALUE in these offshore deals. In addition to not understanding local culture, not having a handle on the English language (or whatever language you primarily operate using), the gross misunderstanding of what it takes to execute and maintain a social media marketing strategy, etc., there is absolutely NO way that these people would be able to understand your business, which is obviously critical to success.

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

    Matthew.

  8. THANK YOU! Great article. Quick way to sum it up and make people pull out the checkbook rather than the coin purse. Did I just date myself with that statement?

  9. Shame on you!
    As an American that is preparing to move to Belize I can tell you that you missed a key-component — that many Ex-pats (from US, Canada and Europe) are moving to tropical locations such as Belize because they can work as ‘digital nomads’ or ‘the independent lifestyle’, but you failed to mention that entirely in your post.
    So the ‘companies’ you are bashing are probably Ex-pats themselves who would have a very good feeling of how to post about something in relation to Keokuk, Iowa.
    I currently manage social media accounts for businesses in Belize and I can tell you, with almost certainty, because I have traveled there enough to know, that there are less than a handful of businesses in Belize, that are owned and run by Belize Nationals that have websites that offer social media services. But there are many websites that are owned by expats offering the services that live in Belize and kudos for them for enjoying life.
    When we relocate there I will still be managing my US based accounts from Belize and doing the same awesome job with it that I do now!

    • I say Shame on you for not taking the article exactly as it was intended rather than extending into something that it was NOT. I in NO WAY was referring to ex-pats or any other US citizen, etc. that chooses to live their for cost of living, beauty or climate reasons. I am referring VERY clearly to US based companies, outsourcing to OTHER THAN these examples you give, using sweat shop type services or staff outside of experienced professionals for pennies on the dollar.

      Out of the thousands that read the article, you seem to be the only one that didn’t clearly understand this and the obvious connection to the same being done in tech and customer service in say India, etc.

      Suggest a little less coffee in your case. Damn!

      • “Their companies were stopping state side social media management work for clients and sending it to Belize. Belize??? Really?”
        Can these companies not have employees who are expats residing in Belize?? Our ‘sub contracting’ the work to Americans living in Belize Employees they don’t have to pay workers comp for, payroll taxes etc…..yep makes absolute sense to me.
        Belize people, although they speak English, don’t speak the same English as we do, nor do the write it so again it isn’t adding up that Belize people are doing the work.
        There was recently a study done throughout the Caribbean and Central America and Belize ranked 2nd to lowest on internet reliability/highest price for service and knowing that information (and seeing it first hand) makes it very hard to believe that outsourcing is happening to Belizian people and not simply expats living there, because the expats are the only ones that can afford the costs for fast enough internet speeds.
        To give you an example to get 1 meg up/down speed it costs close to $300 US a month – Belize is not a cheap place to work online and with unstable electricity (yes throughout the Country) it is still really hard to grasp that Belizian people are doing that work.
        Costa Rica, Columbia, Ecuador there are so many other places where there is stable, reliable and reasonably priced internet service and would make a lot more sense.
        On another thought Belize is known for their off-shore banking (like Cayman Islands) so maybe these ‘companies’ are US based and setup up as off-shore Corps in Belize but that doesn’t mean they are hiring Belize people.
        I will definitely be looking further into this but with 9 years of relationships formed in Belize I have never met, interacted with or heard of any Belizian who works online for US company, especially not doing social media.
        And since it is my income stream I am always on high alert to seek out others in the same industry.

      • I trust the people that brought this to my attention. I know them personally and have trained them on social media. So when they each independently came to me within weeks with the same story, I know this is happening a lot. Not just to Belize, but also India, etc.

  10. you make some excellent points, Robert! it’s getting hard to find ANYTHING made in the US. can’t we at LEAST keep social media? Big fail is the only way I see it if we continue to outsource. keep the insightfulness coming! :)

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  12. This is the real problem with running a social media marketing agency. You, and me, and other social media marketers (the good ones) know what it entails and what it really costs to run an effective online relationship building program on these social channels. The small business owner does NOT, so they hire their cousin or a $10/intern to do it. This will ALWAYS happen, no matter how much we educate them. Great post though, a lot of food for thought!

    • I agree and disagree. I believe that if you approach them properly and explain it properly, they can’t make the choice to send overseas or have intern do it and will require YOU. :-)

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