Choosing a Social Media Partner: Part One

image title

When is it Time to Choose a Partner?

Like most business owners, you’ve probably come to accept the reality that social media is here to stay. You’ve begun adding status updates to your enormous to-do list and promise that you’ll get better at putting out messaging and connecting with guests like you should. What you may not realize however, is that the social media platform you’ve learned and mastered today, won’t be the same platform a year from now, or even 6 months from now. It is constantly changing and progressing. Even worse, no sooner have you figured out one platform, another one emerges with all the promise and excited public use of the others. For the small business owner, this brings about a double-edged sword; it is vital to jump on board with the best ones for your brand, but just when you think you have found your sea legs, another ripple comes along and to throw you off balance. It may seem that while you certainly can’t survive without it, it’s also nearly impossible to live WITH social media.

The facts remain: Your customers are most likely there. Your competitors are probably there. You absolutely need to be there.

And therein lies the dilemma: When is it time to hand this kind of work off to someone who can stay on top of it and direct your company to the best places for your brand? Do you need to train your staff better to manage it in-house? To answer this, you probably need to be very honest: is learning all the ropes of social media part of the core of marketing your company or not?

Another fact: You have a business to run. While having someone internally seems the best route, we see a lot of failed social media experiments on the “company dime”; profiles set up incorrectly or incompletely; poor or missing branding; abysmal messaging practices; horrifying lack of customer engagement. Let’s face it: this is still a new area for many people, and “I do Facebook”, just doesn’t cut it. So do you know if you’re on track? You can safely answer “Yes” when you’re getting customers this way and now from which efforts they’re coming to you; you can also safely answer “No” if you don’t know, or can unequivocally say you’re not getting any new customers as a result.

So back to that time thing…

According to the folks over at Mashable, “social media takes time, education, and constant platform management.” So when is it time to start thinking about a social media partner? If you find social media use compelling, ut not unsure of how it can help you garner new or returning business, the time might be now. If you find your staff isn’t grasping it or is unable to demonstrate its impact on your business, it might be time. It might be time to seek help when you know social media is taking on a larger part of your day, possibly interfering with the obligations you have to running other parts of your business. At the very least, it might be worth having a review of your current practices so you don’t waste additional time or resources on this very important part of your “marketing pie”. Getting a handle on it sooner than later can help you realize the success that really is out there for you. Partnering with a capable outside vendor may save you time, money and a few headaches. Even if your business has had lackluster results in the past, remember: this is an emerging “science”, so new tools and methods evolve on the fly. For success, you need to have a combination of the right ones.

This is Part One in a series of three, where we’ll help you identify some key things to look for when seeking a trusted and knowledgeable social media partner. Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon. Photo credit: LifeinMegaPixels