Can an outside consultant really run your social media for you?

Many marketing consultants offer to run social media campaigns for companies across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn...the list is endless.  But can an outsider really run campaigns effectively?

A consultant will probably suggest a shortlist of the different social media platforms, depending on the objectives of the campaign and the type of business the client is involved in. But if you're a client, bear in mind that some of these social media platforms are more suited to a consultant's involvement than others. Here's why...

Tweeting on Twitter

Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Instagram, is an instant, spontaneous feed of information, almost like a stream of consciousness. Yes, communicating marketing messages and reinforcing your brand is important for businesses on these platforms. But you should also be adding personality, particularly on Twitter, with natural, unforced and non-salesy communications too:

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With the best will in the world, a marketing consultant is unlikely to be around at just the right time to photograph the rainbow that's just appeared outside your office. Or to comment on the lovely smells coming from your bakery today. Using a consultant to programme in your business's tweets for the week can help keep your account on track, but you need to create personality too. Otherwise you risk becoming the bore in the corner. You know, the one who only ever talks about work or only ever talks about him or herself.

Furthermore, Twitter is about forging relationships, which means responding to the tweets of other Twitter users - as they happen.  Will your consultant be monitoring your account just as the journalist you're targeting posts an interesting story for you to retweet? Or when a client tweets about their new product, enabling you to tweet back with congratulations?

I say to my clients that the only way their Twitter account can be managed properly is if they are actively involved in running the account. Yes, I can set up their account and create their profile. And I can programme the week's sales or marketing tweets using Hootsuite, but they need to monitor their feed and scatter spontaneous tweets amongst the corporate ones. If they can't face doing this, we look for other, more suitable, social media platforms instead.

Linking on LinkedIn

If you operate in the business-to-business sector, LinkedIn is likely to be of benefit. But most of your activity on LinkedIn will created by a person, not a business. So, while a company can be 'North Shore Photography' on Twitter, most LinkedIn participation will be carried out under the name of a person from that business, such as 'Geoff Steen, Photographer at North Shore'. This means that LinkedIn updates have to come from an actual business stakeholder, such as the Business Development Director at one of my clients:

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So, the options are either to manage your LinkedIn account yourself, or allow the marketing consultant to log in as you.  I'm not totally comfortable with the latter option, so I just use my clients' logins when setting up their accounts and then feed them snippets and things to post each week as themselves (like the example above). That way, their account is managed but the client is doing the actions under their own name (and meeting all their recent contacts too). Of course, if you have a company page, a consultant can become an administrator of that page and update the page without borrowing your login.

Facebook, Pinterest and Google+...the safer options

While these three platforms need to be kept up-to-date, they're not quite the stream-of-consciousness that Twitter or Instagram can become. They're more about posting content regularly and, where necessary, responding to comments and messages, all of which a consultant can comfortably do:

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So make sure that, whatever help you get in, your social media output is complete and rounded. For more information on how to get started with social media, take a look at my social media starter pack.

Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Jane