To Outsource or Not to Outsource: That is the Social Media Question



You spent months branding, building and launching your eCommerce website. Then, one morning you stroll into the office to be greeted with the news that an unhappy customer took to social media to vent about your less than stellar customer service. The tweet goes viral, and the first time you make the news, it’s not pretty.


Then you quickly realize that you need help jump-starting your social media efforts because, without it, the race to be relevant will be won by your competitors if you don’t.


Where to begin with social media? Whether you’ve launched your eCommerce shop or not, we’ll help you determine whether you assign social media to someone in-house or you outsource it to a freelancer or agency.


At a Minimum, Set up One or More Social Media Accounts and Monitor


At the very least, set up business pages and accounts on the social media most relevant to your business to monitor and react to happy and unhappy customers.


To make it as simple as possible, start by setting up a Facebook page whether you’re B2B or B2C. Once you feel comfortable with that and if you’re a B2C brand, set up Instagram next. Instagram recently made posts shoppable so this one is a no-brainer if you’re building a lifestyle DTC brand. If you’re a B2B company, Twitter and LinkedIn are the next two you should set up.


Even if you don’t post regularly to any of these accounts, you’ve taken the first leap by setting up accounts. The next phase of your social media should begin with monitoring the social networks you are on for your brand mentions so that you can respond appropriately. Ideally, you should respond within 24 hours, if possible.


Responding to the good and bad on social media is a must since many consumers today consider it a direct channel of communication with the brands they love or love to hate. If you need help getting started with monitoring, read this post.


When to Keep Social Media Marketing In-House


Both Buffer and Hootsuite have freemium plans that will allow you to monitor your social networks and schedule posts until you expand your social media efforts. If this is all you need or want to do at the moment and you or someone with marketing experience has the time, keep this in-house.


At the same time, an in-house person is ideal because they’ll take ownership of what’s likely to be a manual process that you’ll need to put in place to address unhappy customers. In the case that the unhappy customer blasts their complaint on social media, your social media guru will need to forward that complaint to customer service and follow its progress until it’s resolved.


It’s likely that the number of requests given your business volume could result in a few of these a month, if at all. If you’re keeping customers relatively happy, there’s not much to worry about here. But, respond to the happy folks who are loving on your brand.  Don’t leave them hanging!


If you or your in-house expert is comfortable with monitoring, writing and scheduling posts, then you may be able to keep it in-house in the early years of your business. There’s an abundance of good, free advice and training out there from the experts at Hootsuite, Buffer or Kissmetrics. To help them feel more confident, give them time weekly to attend relevant webinars, take trainings or become Hootsuite certified, for example.


When to Hire An Outside Social Media Expert


If you’ve gotten this far and you feel overwhelmed with some of the social media basics outlined here, the best option is likely to outsource this need to a freelancer or small agency.  


Keep in mind that when you do outsource your social media efforts, someone internally will need to manage that person and set expectations. They’ll need to meet weekly with your social media expert while the program is being built and on an ongoing basis to review monthly results.


Now that we’re on that subject, let’s get on with what you should expect from your social media expert, whether you hire a freelancer or an agency.


What to Expect from Your Social Media Expert


By outsourcing your social media efforts to someone who is passionate and knowledgeable about it, the results should be inherently better. But, if you’ve never executed or planned a social media strategy, you don’t know what you don’t know.


The bottom line is that social media marketing takes time and there isn’t a way to cheat the system, so before you outsource you really should be willing to commit to six months or more in terms of budget and time.  

It can become a powerful tool for your online business when it comes to brand awareness, generating new sales and handling customer service complaints. But, the beauty of social media is that it holds greater power than monitoring and posting; it can help increase traffic to your site and how many people engage with your content.


If you harness it early on with the help of an expert, you should expect things them to be able to:

  • Recommend which social media are critical to your brand

  • Set up your business profile or page with images and basic profile info

  • Recommend how often to post to each social media

  • Launch campaigns on social and track with a unique URL

  • View the results of campaigns launched on social media

  • Get a monthly wrap up report on growth, engagement and conversions

  • Generate a 30, 60 and 90 day plan

When it comes to your decision to hire a freelancer or agency, you’ll likely find the following:

  • Freelancers are plentiful these days and affordable for small businesses

  • Agencies come with more expertise and hands on deck but will be more expensive

Ultimately, social media can be a tricky art and with so many easy-to-use cloud-based tools, you can hire great freelance talent without the agency price. To search for a freelancer, some options are: Upwork, CloudPeeps, or, just to name a few.


In your search, treat your freelancer hire like any employee. Interview them, require experience in your industry and ask for references.  After all, they too, should have impressive social media profiles of their own.


Categories: B2B eCommerce

Tags: ecommerce, social media, marketing, advertising

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Molly Mehlenbacher

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