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.
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.