Should you outsource your conversation?

Hi! I’m Bob from X-Corp, can I help you?

There’s lots of stuff we do with clients building digital communications programmes, from SEO auditing through to setting up and populating social media platforms. But the one thing we recommend against is take the whole thing off your hands.

There’s a problem with outsourcing your conversation, you see. It simply doesn’t work.

We’ll happily work alongside a client’s internal team and help to provide a content stream on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but any agency would be simply irresponsible to take the whole thing on board without active client participation. Why not?

For a start, it’s a conversation. When customers think they’re talking to Xcorp, they really should be talking to Xcorp and not an agency pretending to be Xcorp. You wouldn’t give us your business cards and send us to an industry conference to speak for you, would you? For a conversation to work, we’ll need to be able to answer all those questions – which means escalating queries internally and answering them in ‘real-time’. And here we hit something of a brick wall question – if you’re not prepared to commit resources, i.e. headcount, to the social media programme, are you really going to be prepared to commit to traffic managing requests internally, escalating and answering them at the sort of speeds that Twitter demands?

It boils down to the issue of buy-in, in my humble opinion. Buy-in means the client team being willing to invest care, resources and time in building social media platforms for the brand that really count. Simply giving it to an agency to make it go away is a symptom that this buy-in is lacking, usually at C-level and often in the marketing team, let alone the harried and busy operations teams who’ll have to find time to answer all those pesky questions.

If the company’s staff can’t give some of their time to Tweeting, status updating, participating in creating content (agency assisted, or not) or whatever other odd behaviours the campaign demands, the company probably isn’t ready to use social media.

Want to read more?

If you liked reading this post about social media campaigns, you might also like:

Is social media really that important for marketers in the Arab World? (October 2010)

10 social media myths exposed (May 2010)

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The coolest agency in the world (February 2010)

Social media measurement (November 2009)

Social media isn’t socialist media (November 2009)

Social media takes time (November 2009)

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Alexander McNabb

About the Author ()

Alexander McNabb has been part of the Middle East's media and marketing scene for 30 years. He's a communicator, speaker, moderator, workshop leader, radio presenter, blogger, author, swimmer, rider, photographer, cook and even finds time to help companies with their communications.

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