An article by Kermit Pattison in the Small Business section of New York Times last week got us thinking. It’s about the trend in small businesses toward outsourcing data entry, writing, Web design, accounting, HR and payroll to remote, “virtual teams”. That all seems moderately reasonable. This sentence, though, stopped us in our tracks: “Some businesses even are hiring freelancers to set up and manage their corporate profiles on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.”
Hold it right there.
“Outsourcing traditional media is a great cost-saving idea (in fact, I am a freelance radio buyer if you need one) but having an outsider do your social networking is a big mistake.” says Stacey Kane of Washington D.C.-based Mexican restaurant chain California Tortilla.
Entrusting your brand’s voice to a bunch of strangers-– or anyone not directly integrated and passionate about your brand-– is risky business. The idea behind social media is to be authentic– for it to really BE YOU. (Faux celeb Tweeters anyone?) Your own voice is what wins cred with your customers.
We understand the time sink social media presents and the significant issue of scalability. The trick is to figure out which channels are the most productive for you and to focus on those.
If your customers have opted in to receive e-mails from you, work on that. If you have a brand people know, Facebook is a great place to be. If you’re trying to establish your brand as a leader, blogging might be the way to go. If you’re trying to drive foot traffic, Twitter is proving to be a great way of doing that.
Keeping your social media activities in-house is worth the investment. “ Our co-founder Pam spends hours writing our monthly newsletter, ‘Taco Talk,’” continues Stacey Kane, “and I concentrate on Twitter and Facebook. Our customers feel like they are part of the brand, we aren’t talking at them but with them. This has created a super-engaged customer base that translates into a lot of burrito sales.”