Content and social media marketing: In-house, outsourced, or integrated?

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marketing complexity
How do you integrate and manage most effectively the various online and conventional media communications options?
social media book
My social media e-book. 

We’re working on a new product/service for advertising clients, focused on effective content/social media management as part of a larger picture of business-to-business marketing development. But before we can sell the service, we have to prove it internally, and as I work through the challenges of developing consistent, effective and replicable structures, I realize that the process isn’t as easy or inexpensive as I’d like it to be.

Clearly, anyone can assert they are a content or social media marketing expert — and I expect you can subcontract to truly inexpensive service providers, or set up a network with junior (but reliable) employees in your office to oversee the process — but you have to understand the basics first, and really know what you are doing.

The best analogy I can offer here relates to another (perhaps even greater) business challenge: Finding, developing and retaining business developers and sales representatives, especially with the current trend (back) towards seller-doers, or rainmakers — that is individuals with professional qualifications who also know how to bring in the business. I think someone who has not “walked the talk” would have really great challenges in leading the process because you I think need enough knowledge to understand the basics, and avoid the scams and misrepresentations that you can easily encounter either in the sales recruiting or social/content service outsourcing areas.

Finally, of course, since these activities relate to the core character of your business, unless you have a rather clear idea of what works, and what doesn’t, you’ll struggle with both relevancy and cost if you simply hand the work out to someone else.

So, what approach am I taking, and how might this apply to you?:

  • I’m continuing to build my knowledge through industry association events and conferences, blogging (learning by teaching, effectively), and connections. This week, for example, I’ll have the opportunity to attend a Google “meet-up” in New York City, where I’ll be able to pick brain and capture some trends.
  • We’re using selective, controlled outsourcing for some social media processes and experiments. In one case, I’ve contracted with a local person in Chicago to develop social media for our early-stage Chicago Construction News (Chicagoconstructionnews.com) site. I’m hoping to learn from this person’s processes to adapt and enhance our systems for other publications.
  • Offshore resources can really reduce costs, but of course you really need to know what you are doing before playing in this field. Cheap offshore social/content providers may provide seemingly inexpensive Facebook “likes” but these are usually fraudulent; and you would want to be very careful about poor-English or misrepresentative posts flashing through the system because of some subcontractor in Bangladesh messing up your corporate reputation. I think you would be wiser to use staff people part-time for the day-to-day stuff.
  • My goal, within the next three months, will be to have our various websites integrated with social and content media management structures that operate seamlessly, reliably, and consistently (yet respond to changing circumstances). Then we will be able to offer advertising clients our own version of an effective outsourced content/social media service — with consulting and support to help integrate these systems within your own business. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you may find this Fast Company article to be helpful. And of course you can read my own e-book on the topic.

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