As social media becomes a bigger part of how companies do business and return on investment (ROI) becomes more important, an area that will be more scrutinized is the cost of social media tactics.
While it doesn’t get as much attention as strategy and tools such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, operating social media on a daily basis is not an inexpensive proposition. It costs money to have people monitor social media activity, engage in conversations and create content. And as more activity happens, the only way to scale is to add more people, which, of course, costs money.
Some companies are starting to get into social media by having their public relations, advertising or digital agencies handle tactics – operating Twitter and Facebook accounts, and writing blog posts. This works in the short-term because it allows a company to move into social media without having to build a social media team internally.
In the long-term, however, this arrangement starts to lose its economic appeal. As a company get more into social media, it becomes more expensive to use a PR, advertising or digital agency given the fees they charge. The next step is moving social media operations internally, which means hiring people and building a team. Again, this can be expensive.
So, then what?
An option that may start to gain more traction is outsourcing social media tactics. There are a growing number of specialized agencies looking to run a company’s social media operations on a day in, day out basis. They have teams that tweet, update and post all day, every day. The economics, in theory, makes because the people who work for these agencies handle multiple clients.
While these kind of agencies are starting to attract more business, another outsourcing scenario might see social media handled in the same way as companies handle customer service by using call centres.
It is not inconceivable to believe that social media “call centres” could be established in low-cost regions around the world, fueled by an army of social media savvy employees who would be able to easily assume different corporate identities.
It really comes down to dollars and cents. As much as doing social media tactically internally is a great way to go, it may not make sense economically for some companies, particularly large companies with extensive social media operations. Strategy and content creation could be kept internally but the “blocking and tackling” of social media tactics may have to done externally.