Let's face it, social media is fast. Real fast. In fact, they don't call it going viral for nothing. So this begs a very serious question. If social media is becoming an extremely important part of running your business, then why are so many organizations letting other organization run their social media programs?
Ask yourself this, if you willing to let an agency or other firm or even a contractor own the reporting on your social media successes, messages or failures aren't you basically saying that viral is slow?
If we look at this question from a simple workflow perspective and not an I am better than you are perspective, we can see that the logic of outsourcing social media can be a huge mistake. Why? Because between the cultural context that is lost by your third party doing (and not being part of your organization), the sheer clunkiness of the human hand off between organization AND the fact the partners never have your business interests completely in mind, you run the risk of losing the ability to react to the virality of social media.
Essentially, in this vendors humble opinion (and I work in services for a social media company as a piece of my role) if you outsource your social media listening/understanding program, you can't catch and throw what social media brings to you in the time you have to answer what is going on. There is too much gunk in the system when you don't own it yourself.
Who knows a companies operations, culture, processes and method better than those who are part of it? What I am suggesting is this...if you want to be able to operate at the speed of viral you need to be willing to slowly grow your internal resources to make your social media program work
Why does this work? For several reasons. For one, building a process internally that allows social media learnings to flow cannot be created from the outside in. You can't trust someone who doesn't live inside your company to create a process better than yourself (I can hear the $MM/project consultants calling bullshit on me...but hey isn't this the point of this post...you are selling services that don't live in the shit so to speak). Secondly, by bringing in new blood who understands social (they could have worked for your consultants) you can take their external knowledge and blend it with your internal culture to ensure that you get the best of both. And lastly, you will be better able to do to social what it can do to you. You can bring your knowledge and power to bear in a time frame that is meaningful.
Why would I write all this? Because as a social media story teller able to show organizations how social can help them, I am constantly preaching (pun intended) that all I can do is present strategy and insights that make my client say, "huh...I didn't know it could do that." They must know how it is relevant to the business. They must know the context by which an activity happens. they must know how it can either hurt or help the organization better than me. And lastly, their pride for their brand or company will always be greater than the contractor that serves them. I am merely a shill who can see neat things, but doesn't ultimately understand its potential impact on the organization...they must own it.
In fact, the more my clients begin to own developing the insights, processes and metrics for their social media program the more effectively they are becoming. To do that, you can't simply say it is interesting and can you hire someone for me to do it. You have to own it culturally and functionally.
They often say that innovation and change must work to escape the antibodies of the culture of the company you are trying to change. But if innovation (or in this case social media) is a virus in the corporate body, isn't creating a vaccine by introducing DNA from the virus itself into the body (in this case social media talent) the way to cure the disease so you don't keep getting sick???