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In-house or outsource: How does a brand decide the best way to grow its community with paid media?

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A loyal community of fans on social is a powerful brand driver

Brand marketers are looking for ways to grow vibrant communities on social. How can they achieve this successfully? Using social as an interactive shop window to the world, brands can talk directly to their customers and deliver their messages in meaningful and memorable ways. A sizable, engaged community signals that companies are in tune with their target market and are key players in their sector. Just look at the likes of Innocent: with a strong, humorous presence on social, their popularity is at an all-time high as they continue to grow as a business from their humble beginnings as a small start-up.

Loyal fans on social media channels are very likely to become customers at some point in the future and are often willing to share marketing posts with their family and business contacts. This, in turn, will allow brands to reach new audiences, as well as be seen in a favourable light. All contributing to a growth in market share, which to be honest, is the final and ultimate goal.

Why paid media is essential for growth-minded brands

Social media is constantly evolving. New changes in algorithms, ad formats and platform innovations mean that the kind of content that gets served to users is shifting on a daily basis. New formats are consistently being introduced, such as product tagging, Facebook Live and dynamic ads on Facebook, making the social marketplace difficult to keep up with.

Organic reach of posts is limited; in turn, this makes the use of paid media to fuel community growth essential for today’s brand marketers. In a highly competitive landscape, where consumers are bombarded with messages, paid media offers an opportunity to grab their attention by putting messages in front of a perceptive audience at the right time in the buying cycle.

Whilst most companies want to innovate and try new approaches, in many boardrooms, paid media is still seen as the unknown; at this point, there are still FDs and CMOs more at ease with evaluating traditional marketing metrics and KPIs which make budget sign-off for implementing paid media even more difficult to secure.

The good news is that more and more brands understand the necessity of a paid media strategy. However, digital marketers need to then consider whether it’s best to deliver paid media in-house or to outsource this to an agency. To fully integrate paid media into an already existing community management strategy and maximise audience potential can be a challenge, to say the least.  

What do marketers need to consider for launching paid media successfully?

First things first, do they have paid media expertise?

Constant upskilling is essential in keeping the right marketing talent in-house, especially when it comes to social. But realistically, any business has to take a close look and assess whether their community management team has additional capacity to deliver game-changing paid media campaigns.

It’s not always straightforward. Social media advertising is constantly evolving. It can be all-consuming to stay ahead of the game and keep resourcing agile. To have expertise available in-house for developing high performing targeting strategies and paid media may take constant hiring, creation of new roles as well as continuous professional development. Of course, it can be done but it takes a lot of planning!

Do they have the expertise to create and manage rapid testing & learning cycles?

Reaching KPIs and hitting ROI, can take a lot of testing, testing, testing. It is often necessary to provide in-depth reports that analyse and track user behaviour, views, clicks, leads and purchases as part of any social media advertising campaign. This is all done to ensure that objectives are being met against the set KPIs, as well as making sure client needs are being met and social advertising is being used to its greatest advantage.

A/B testing helps any campaign manager fine-tune their audience, ad formats and messaging for each community which in turn makes the cost per conversion – to a new LinkedIn follower or Facebook Like - more cost-effective.

Research shows data-informed creatives perform the best. Teams must be in place to collect and analyse the data to inform the choice of copy, ad formats and creative approaches that drive the best performance.

Are they able to navigate legal requirements?

For global brands across different countries, there are varying legal considerations to take into account. For example, are there local laws when running competitions? What are their rules when it comes to data collection? These are the essentials; getting them right can be the difference between success and failure.

Employing targeting technology to fuel performance

Marketers often fail to truly maximise the data which is at their fingertips as this is a specialist skill and the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming – unless their job title is a specialised social data analyst.

There is advanced technology such as the Social Insight Engine that is now available to sort through and make sense of the mountains of available customer data. Audience insights, such as interests, passions, life stages, behaviour etc. shape how campaigns will be perceived. Whereas most ‘off the shelf’ data technology will offer value, many will not be sophisticated enough to tick off a brand’s social media analysis needs and will, therefore, need to be sourced externally.

Speed to market is crucial 

Speed to market is crucial to tap into new trends and beat the competition. Companies tend to have under-resourced in-house marketing and IT teams which make quick roll-outs challenging and stressful.

On the other hand, sourcing the right agency for any given brief and company culture needs time. This may present its own challenges and could prevent quick delivery and start date.

Brand guardianship when delivering paid media

Bespoke brand guidelines, the tone of voice and design templates for social are essential. What works in print and across other marketing channels, needs to be adapted to drive optimal results for growing communities on social.

Design templates for different ad sizes and specs, for example, canvas ads, videos etc., necessitate a specific level of expertise – it may seem simple, but there are often tricky implementations e.g. where the level of text informs ad performance. In order to offer the right balance to allow paid social to enhance a brand, consistency is key with space to also maximise opportunities.

To cut through the increasing noise on social, good creative needs to push boundaries of brand guardianship – and dynamic processes are needed for overseeing this – either internally or together with an agency. Reactionary marketing also works well on social to increase impact. ‘Built-in flexibility’ in brand guidelines and sign-off processes will facilitate this and make processes smoother.

So, have we answered the question?

There is no ‘one approach fits all solution’ to implementing a strong paid media strategy Whether staying in-house or outsourcing, it is important to look at the pros and cons in advance in order to identify what will work best for growing the community. Or maybe it’s as simple as attempting a hybrid model of combining the best people with the best technology.

Written by Joel Davis, member of the Social Media Council and CEO of Agency2

Contents:

  1. To insource, outsource or a bit of both?
  2. Should you manage customer service through social media in-house, externally or through a combination of both?
  3. Can an agency ever really GET my brand as well as me?
  4. Insourcing or outsourcing social media customer services: Do you have the legal expertise to keep it in-house?
  5. Should you outsource the evaluation of your paid social content?
  6. Should a brand keep content production in house, outsource or hybrid the model for optimised customer engagement?
  7. What skills are needed to create valuable content for your brand?
  8. In-house or outsource: How does a brand decide the best way to grow its community with paid media?
  9. Social Media Community Management - Outsource to Agency or keep in-house?
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