Can You Outsource Social Networking?

September 26th, 2008 by Bob Bly

JJ, a marketing consultant who is an advocate of social media, confided in me that to get significant results takes 10 to 15 hours of participation a week — EVERY week.

For most of us, that’s time we don’t have to spare.

So I’m wondering: do you think a company or solopreneur can PAY someone to handle all of their social networking for them?

Could someone like me or you hire a consultant or freelancer to answer all the “join me as a friend” e-mails, spend the necessary hours reading and responding, keep Facebook and other profiles updated as needed, and otherwise outsource our social media marketing?

If we had to pay someone $1,000 to $2,000 a week or whatever to do this for us, would you spend the money — or would social media’s ROI suddenly become less appealing?

Would it even work? Can a “ghostnetworker” genuinely represent a client in secret and still have social media be effective — or would it be transparent and ineffective?

What say you?

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008 at 1:48 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

85 responses about “Can You Outsource Social Networking?”

  1. Adam Jackson said:

    Outsourcing social networking is certainly an option.What about finding someone passionate about your product to talk about it on social networks and make that part of their job? A job that affects your company’s image shouldn’t be given to someone who doesn’t have the love or appreciation for the brand.

    A lot of companies are hiring specifically for this type of job because it can be a full time gig for any company.

  2. dianacacy said:

    If it’s the type of social networking that would keep your products in potential buyer’s line of sight. Facebook wouldn’t qualify to me because they would have to add you as a friend to see it – and the design of the site makes it more complicated. Twitter’s more linear style is great, I think. It’s how I’m getting a lot of my source links and recommendations.

    A “ghostnetworker” would be great if you keep multiple blog sites and want to routinely write an article directing people to your product that is to be posted on all of them. I recently learned about this and how it can work, so I’m currently starting my series of blogs up for that purpose. I’m not to the point where I’d pay an assistant to post them for me, but if it works out for me I will in the future.

    For an online magazine I’ve been running for the last six years, I have a Public Relations position. This is a small time magazine that is ran by volunteers and funded by me, so it costs me nothing for this. But my PR person submits the mag to all the directories and has been doing a lot of social networking with it, as well as running the discussion board for the magazine and doing author reviews.

    So, I say “yes”, if social networking is something that fits your business model it is worth it. If it doesn’t work and doesn’t help you achieve your end goal, then don’t waste time and money on it.

  3. DMWrecks said:

    Bob, if you need one, and say, willing to pay about $1500/month. I’ll be your ghost-networker!

  4. Cynthia Maniglia said:

    Don’t they call that PR?

  5. Roger C. Parker said:

    Dear Bob:
    “10 to 15 hours a week?” As usual, you bring up a very important point. For most self-employed professionals, that represents a lot of billing time.

    This is a crucial issue. I’d like to see more discussion of time management topics.

    Roger

  6. Internet Marketing Archives» Blog Archive » 'Can You Outsource Social Networking?' by Bob Bly said:

    [...] Can You Outsource Social Networking?… [...]

  7. Sante said:

    No you cannot outsource Social Media and for that matter SEO is getting more and more difficult to outsource as well.

    Take for instance all the work and effort behind writing for a hotel or wines, cars … you need to knwo what you are writing about, hence the trend to bring technical skills in house where there is knowledge about products and services and learn how to bring it out into the web and achieving top placements on the search engines.

    Ultimately ther is no such thing as a blogger or a Social Media expert unless you have something useful to say and people willing to listen …

  8. Bob Bly said:

    Sante: what you say seems logical but I do not know if it is true in practice. Several readers of this blog specialize in social media and SEO copywriting and have achieved great results for their clients. I think the value they offer is that they know social media and SEO techniques better than their clients, and are able to learn enough about the client’s product or industry to employ those techniques effectively on their behalf.

  9. Nicky said:

    I think you can outsource some aspects of social media networking, such as the strategy, the tactics, the choice of tools, setting up etc. The things that you personally don’t need to actually do.

    In theory you could also outsource the actual networking… however the whole point of social networking is the personal interaction and relationship with others. Let’s take blogging for example. Blog posting can be outsourced. Yet when Tim Ferris (of the 4 Hour Work Week) said, in an April Fool’s joke that all his very personal blog posts had been done by one of his “outsourcers” the disappointment from readers was palpable. He blogged in such a way that people felt they were talking with him… they were not impressed to learn that it wasn’t him after all. Some even threatened to leave and accused him of letting them down… others were more less bothered. He did say (after nearly 100 comments) that he’d been blogging all along (of course). But the point is, if it’s relationships you want from social media networking then outsourcing isn’t the way to go. I’ve also read some outsourced plr blog posts and I find them devoid of personality. I also dislike the auto-Twitters. Things like bookmarking, or even guest posts could be outsourced… in the latter the reader knows this.

  10. Raj Khera said:

    I think you have to weigh the answer to two questions:

    1) What is the most effective use of your time – what activities are going to bring in the highest return on on investment?

    2) What is the risk of someone, who doesn’t know your business as well as you do, inadvertently causing a PR nightmare because of something they posted online on your behalf?

    I am sure you will see a lot of new social network marketing companies pop up targeting people who have heard the buzz words but don’t know enough to screen the right people for doing it.

  11. Mark Nagurski said:

    I think Adam Jackson nailed it with “finding someone passionate about your product to talk about it on social networks and make that part of their job”.

    Ideally this person could be drawn from within your organisation and as a slight alternative, businesses can empower and even train all their staff to be active in social media environments.

    That doesn’t have to mean roomfuls of people Twittering away or lounging around on Facebook but perhaps something along the lines of building their profile on LinkedIn (Answers) or commenting on industry blogs – perhaps even writing their own.

    As for self-employed professionals my advice would again to spend their time on business related forums, LinkedIn and equivalents and blogging about their industry.

    10-15 hours per week is a big commitment but consistency is the key rather than sheer quantity, if you can manage an hour a day to answer questions on an industry forum and post to your blog then that’s time well spent.

  12. Karen Gifford said:

    Mr. Bly,
    With your busy schedule, if you find you need to hire some lowly freelance writers/copywriters to handle your social networking…please email me or call!! I’d love the job!!! And my pay, as always, is negotiable!!!
    Sincerely,
    Karen Gifford

  13. Morgan said:

    How about saving some money by hiring an intern to do the task? Personally, I’d prefer to keep this job in-house.

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  15. Mark Edward Brown said:

    Hi Bob,

    This is an issue that I am dealing with right now. I have no problem producing the content but the added time investment it takes to get it noticed socially is another story.

    I am open to possibilites,

    Mark Edward Brown
    “The Marketing Professional”

  16. Gavin Allinson said:

    interesting discussion.
    I use my team of outsourcers to add my friend requests in facebook and to identify people to follow in twitter.

    I’m not comfortable with having them communicate on my behalf though.

    Gavin Allinson

  17. Ian Brodie said:

    This is a tricky one as the comment about uber-outsourcer Tim Ferris highlighted.

    I think it comes down to “would my audience be disappointed if they knew I’d outsourced X”.

    If X was my blog posts – yes.
    If X was my comments on blogs, or contributions to forums – yes.
    If X was Digging or otherwise bookmarking friend’s posts – probably no. As long as I’d given guidelines (e.g. no Digging things of questionable taste).
    If X was tweeting my blog posts – no.
    If X was tweeting other interesting sites – I dunno. Maybe people who had followed me would want to see my personal choices. Or maybe they just want to see good choices no matter what the source.

    Ian

  18. JP Maroney said:

    Bob,

    I’ve had this same question — and am answering it right now with an outsourcing project.

    I plan to have the assistant post links to old blog posts, and tweet thoughts and ideas I randomly send her (probably loading them into tweetlater — cool tool btw).

    I too am concerned about potential “embarrassing posts” so I’ll keep it tight to begin with and then expand slowly into more sensitive areas as I gain better understanding of the potential and become more comfortable with my asst’s capabilities.

    BTW: I’m not having to pay anywhere near that price though.

    You can get someone through Gavin’s company (see above in your comments) or on Odesk.com that will be more than sufficient for what you’re seeking.

    JP Maroney
    aka “Mr. Monetizer”

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