Over one billion people use Facebook every month. That number may be a little deceiving, because reaching those people is harder than you might think. There’s enormous potential to using social media for business, but it’s not as simple as creating a profile and expecting the “likes” and “shares” to come pouring in.

If you’ve put any effort into your social media accounts then you know about this incredible challenge. It can be difficult to put in the necessary time to effectively run your social media accounts by yourself in-house (without neglecting your other business responsibilities). At a certain point, it may be necessary to hire a person specifically to handle it or to hire an agency for all or a portion of your social media efforts.

Benefits of Doing Social Media In-House

Before you hire a consultant or digital marketing agency to handle your social media (or before you give it up completely), consider the benefits of keeping social media in-house. These include:

  • Hands-on control of all social media accounts, and the ability to interact with customers directly (although you can still maintain a high level of control when you outsource your social media)
  • You social media team will have direct access to info about events and the latest goings-on within the company
  • It’s easier to give your social media a “local flair” or window into what your company is all about
  • You can handle customer complaints directly through social media (and in real time)
  • An in-house team will have a better understanding of your business

Of course, you don’t have to do everything in-house. It’s possible to take advantage of these benefits, while still outsourcing some of your social media functions. For example, you can hire a social media specialist to help train your in-house staff and implement an effective strategy for you to carry out.

How to Do In-House Social Media the Right Way

For social media to give you a positive return on your investment, it needs to be handled efficiently and strategically. It also has to be consistent, or you’ll lose the interest of your hard-earned social media audience.

Time is the most crucial component of any social media campaign. If you’re unwilling to post consistently and interact with your customers in a timely manner, then you’re wasting what little time you do spend on social media. Doing social media the right way means investing a substantial amount of time each week to monitor your accounts, post updates, share content, and participate in conversations.

Beyond simply putting in the necessary time, you also need to have a basic knowledge of each of the social media platforms. Each one has its own intricacies and nuances – the way you approach Twitter will need to be different than a Facebook campaign. You will need to research each platform to learn how to take advantage of their unique features.

Since social media is often less formal than other forms of communication, you may be tempted to be too informal. A conversational and friendly tone is good, but don’t slouch on your grammar or spelling. You still need to project a professional image, which means carefully editing each and every post.

A Typical Social Media Plan for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business owner, you may be curious as to what a typical social media plan actually looks like. While each situation is different, and the best strategy is one that is tailored to your specific goals, here are three things you should consider when crafting your social media plan:

  1. Determine which platforms you want to target. If you attempt to have a presence on every social media platform out there, you’ll be spreading yourself way too thin. Instead, think about your target audience. What social media networks are they already using? In this way, you can probably narrow your focus down to 3 or 4 platforms that will yield you the best results. At Leadgenix, we often recommend having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Depending on your business, there are huge advantages to other smaller networks like LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram as well. Each network has its own unique challenges, so choose carefully.
  2. Post regularly and often. To be effective, you need to be consistent. And so how often you post per week isn’t as important as how consistently you post. For example, you may not need to post on Facebook every day, but you should try to consistently post several times a week. Also, consider when your target audience is most active on social media, and schedule your posts accordingly.
  3. Increase your audience size. Social media followings aren’t built overnight, and so you’ll need to dedicate a substantial portion of your efforts to building fans and followers. Tactics include following people (which encourages them to reciprocate and follow you back), participating in social communities, and running ads promoting your page.

With these three pillars in place, your social media campaign will begin to gain momentum, but remember that it can take months before you see substantial results. Ultimately, you want a positive ROI, but you need to be in it for the long haul to reap the many benefits of social media.

Overwhelmed by the Idea of Doing Social Media Yourself?

Attempting to do social media in-house, especially for small businesses, can seem like a daunting task. When done strategically, it may be worth the necessary investment of time and money, especially if you already have employees who are social media savvy. However, if nobody in your company has the time, energy, or expertise to enact a social media plan, then outsourcing may be the right option. Hiring a digital marketing agency to handle your social media is usually easier and cheaper than hiring a full-time employee.

Adam Fifield
Adam Fifield is the Content Marketing Manager at Big Leap. His background is in journalism, and you'll find him playing jazz piano in various Salt Lake City saloons and speakeasies until closing time. Connect with Adam on Twitter: @adamonthekeys