It’s an argument that arises for just about every area of business operations: to outsource or not to outsource? There’s an external company that can handle just about every task you’ll need taken care of in the workplace for a reasonable price, from development to HR and administration. This same is true of marketing and community management.
So how do you know what to choose? Every situation is unique, to be certain. Some may find outsourcing their community management work to more efficient and more effective while it’s absolutely essential for others to have an in-house community management team to take control of things. Each has its advantages and disadvantages to consider before making a final decision.
Community management is something of an art form, and all works of art – while based on the same techniques and principles – come out different depending on who created them. An oil painter, for example, will use the same techniques and tools as any other oil painter, but his paintings will be wholly unique. Why? His personal character shines through his work and the choices he made when choosing a subject and what message he wanted to convey.
This is perhaps the biggest advantage of in-house community management – staying close to and reflecting company character to produce a strategy and ultimately a community that is unlike any other community out there. Companies paid to do this work certainly do their best to recreate this effect, and the difference is often negligible, but they have other clients. That means not only is their time and focus divided up between projects, but they justifiably use similar strategies and tactics across the board, making your project appear just slightly less unique.
That being said, outsourcing the task of community management is generally a smart thing to do for several reasons. First and foremost, you’re saving yourself the trouble of hiring and building your own community management team. Community management is a full-time job for an entire team of employees. Outsourcing gives you an entire team of professionals at your disposal immediately and generally for lower cost than hiring your own people.
But you’re also paying for unparalleled expertise when you outsource community management. Companies dedicated solely to marketing and community management have been doing it for years and worked with dozens if not hundreds of different clients. If you’re a CEO, you’re probably more concerned and knowledgeable about your product and internal operations than you are about the finer points of community management. An outside team can handle that for you.
All-in-all, the possibility of outsourcing your community management efforts provides opportunity for more businesses to build communities and market themselves effectively. Sure, your Googles, Amazons and Apples can always create a new in-house team and take the time to shape and mold them exactly as executives see fit. Slightly smaller or newer projects would be wise to consider outsourcing community management to be both effective and efficient in an ever-changing market.