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The Art of Hiring Social Media Vendors

Sometimes you need to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

The same goes in life and card games as it does for the vendors who are assisting in your company’s social media marketing and content development.

The prevailing sentiment is that any customer-facing social media activity should be done by the in-house marketing team.

While that is great on paper – and desirable for a lot of reasons – it’s not a very realistic world view for a large company that is just getting started in social media and online communities.

With that in mind, selecting the vendor who will be interacting with your customers, and creating content on your behalf, that your customers will be reading, becomes a very important decision.

You can’t cut any corners. The company is “outsourcing” portions of its social media because it needs to in order to serve customers efficiently. If the company had the scale to do it internally, it would.

Vendors will come to your company and present themselves as the all-singing, all-dancing solution to whatever social media or content need that your company has.

These agencies formed in response to the meteoric rise in the use of social media in business settings. Companies were looking for single solution to their needs.

Their view typically was that they don’t need lots of subject-matter experts, because as far as they’re concerned, social media, online communities and blogging is a single subject. They need one subject-matter expert to cover one very large subject. Enter full-service social media agencies.

Despite presenting themselves as full-service social media, blog and online marketing agencies, many will show themselves over time as excelling in one or two disciplines, and are just average when it comes to the other things.

The moment that becomes apparent, you should begin revising the relationship you have with the vendor, even if that means bringing another vendor on board who has greater expertise in a very narrow field.

If you have the budget to accommodate a stable of agencies or consultants with narrow expertise, you’re likely to be better off when the time comes to assess progress and specific ROI metrics.

Holding onto a relationship with a vendor because they’ve been your vendor for years, is not a good enough reason if the return or the content isn’t what you’re expecting.

Find someone who knows that one thing really well, and let your other vendor continue doing the things that they do really well.

Photo via ccarlstead/Flickr

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