In 2016, if your business doesn’t have a social media marketing strategy, you’re invisible to a huge number of potential customers. There are 2.3 billion social media users on Earth, a number that has grown 10% in the past year and will almost definitely continue to grow as internet connectivity becomes more ubiquitous. That’s an immense and also deeply engaged audience–most of those 2.3 billion users access their social media platforms many times each day.
It’s no surprise that smart social media marketing has many well-documented benefits: higher conversions, a better lead-to-close ratio than inbound marketing, increased brand recognition, and loyalty. The list goes on. Consumers want to equate actual people and personality to the products and services they purchase and subscribe to, and social media is the most effective way of humanizing your brand.
So, if social media marketing is a must, how do businesses go about it?
There are two main options: hire a social media agency or use self-directed online tools.
Social media agencies–with their teams of experts–can use cutting edge data mining techniques to analyze your current approach and your industry’s trends, and then plan and implement strategies by finding, creating, and publishing content best suited to your business’ goals. They’ll even engage with customer comments and partner you with influencers, both crucial steps in growing your audience and building loyalty. In essence, a social media agency will take all the duties and responsibilities inherent in social media marketing off your hands, so that you can concentrate on core aspects of your business. Their expert approach to these tasks means greater and more immediate impact, as well. However, with such services comes high costs. Depending on the services you choose, hiring a social media agency can cost as much as $20,000 a month.
But now there’s cheaper access to the services typically offered by social media agencies via DIY automation tools and freelance networks of content creators. When these are used to the utmost businesses can operate at a competitive marketing capacity without a social media agency. The advent of these new, much cheaper tools has led many to wonder:
Is it still worth hiring social media agencies at all?
Let’s consider some of the tools on the market and how they can help businesses optimize and automate their social media marketing:
When sharing your content on social media, it can be time-consuming and tedious to log in to every platform and create individual posts for each unique piece of content. In the name of simplicity, Buffer gathers all of your social media accounts onto a single dashboard. Through the dashboard, you can post the same message at once on all of your platforms, or schedule when posts go live in the future, allowing you to plan posts far in advance and stagger your releases across platforms. Uncertain about when to post where? Buffer’s post optimization tool helps you understand when to post in order to get the greatest exposure.
Similar to Buffer, with Hootsuite you can oversee all of your social networks and schedule posts, but this tool goes one step further, allowing you to analyze the posts’ reception. With Hootsuite’s analytic reports and audience monitoring tools, you can see who’s engaged and what kinds of posts and topics are doing well, allowing you to continually update your strategy to be more effective. Their App Directory, a collection of social media optimization apps you can easily add to your dashboard, will help you expand your reach into new social media territories and respond better to shifts in trends and demographics. Overall, this tool helps users stay aware of their progress in reaching their social media audience and respond accordingly as smoothly as possible.
Digging through the web each day to better understand what is resonating within the industry is a laborious task, yet it’s important to share up-to-date breaking news and viral content in order to show consumers you’re intelligent and knowledgeable. feedly is one of the finest and most widely used RSS feeds out there with millions of users, all of whom can curate their own real-time news feeds and follow their go-to publications through the tool, meaning they never have to go searching for content again. feedly makes it easy to find and share content, an essential step in building an audience, while also giving you plenty of inspirational fodder for your own content creation. You’ll know what trends are going viral and what’s happening in your industry, putting you in the best position to create or share content that your audience is hungry for.
Lack the talent and know-how to write engaging articles or create attractive multimedia to share on your social media platforms? Look no further than Contently, which will put you in touch with a freelance network of vetted content creators. Once you select your team from their 55,000 person freelance network, Contently can also help you strategize and develop what kind of content to create and where to share it in order to best optimize your campaigns. Afterward, clients can use Contently’s services to better understand the results and plan their next campaign accordingly, making this tool a one-stop shop for strategy-minded content creation and analytics to best boost your social media marketing with top notch content.
So? Which is it? Social Media Agencies or Online Tools?
There are a lot of factors involved, but deciding whether to leverage these DIY tools and freelance networks or hire a social media agency may come down to what your business needs and what you can afford in terms of money and time commitment. While social media agencies cost a pretty penny, they can take on full responsibility for your social media marketing, allowing you to prioritize the core tasks that allow your business to function.
Online tools, while much cheaper, necessitate your involvement to a much greater extent. Though feedly aggregates stories for you to share and learn from, you’ll have to sift through them. Buffer and Hootsuite make it easier for you strategize and post, but you’ll still have to create the content. And so on.
What kinds of pros or cons can you think of? What factors are most important? Let’s discuss below.