Sircle Sessions: When is it time to hire an agency?

When running a business there are a myriad of decisions you need to make each day, week and month to be successful.  As a brand grows, you also need to start making some choices that will take you out of your comfort zone and allow you to leap forward, faster.

I always say that you shouldn’t hire anyone to do anything for you that you can do better and/or faster yourself. That being said, you also need to assess the bigger picture and realize that you can’t win by doing it all on your own. Sure, if you can save the cost (financial and opportunity) that might be best for you, but not if that means you aren’t focused on other areas of your business that might need your time and attention more.

Once a brand is in full stride and you make a threshold decision that you need to hire a person to handle social media (trust me you do) then an agency model makes a ton of sense. Most companies cant afford to guess wrong with this staffing move and given the price they want to pay, it is highly likely that they will with an inexperienced junior level employee.  Conversely, a high priced retainer that most agencies pitch is daunting and often leads to most businesses choosing to go at it alone.

An agency focused on outsourced social media management should toe the line and provide agency prowess at an entry level price point. Enter Sircle Media.

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Why I Started Sircle Media and What Makes It Different?

SIRCLE MEDIA LOGO- WHITE

I sat down for a session with someone I have been mentoring recently and they asked me why I created Sircle Media and whether or not we are still consistent 4 years later with the original thesis.  It is a great question (from a smart young woman) and it got me thinking…

I created Sircle Media based on an observation that nearly all small businesses need to be engaging in and growing their digital and social agendas, yet most lack the ability to do so on their own. Couple that with the fact that most digital/social/web agencies don’t deliver a real holistic approach, nor do they take a client POV when creating and implementing against their strategies. As a result you have a gap in the market and I felt it needed to be filled.  We think like a client and we work to implement strategies that are consistent with our client’s goals taking into account their budget, business, inefficiencies and personal and vertical idiosyncrasies. We arm them to win, specifically for them.

Social media management in an outsourced capacity has become our biggest seller (by far) because it has become a “must have” and it is very hard to hire for the position.  You need someone who is motivated, clever and talented who can write (both in short and long form), can create content (through the lens or photoshop), can strategize and drive your social agenda and can oversee the communities on various social platforms.  They also need to know how those efforts tie back into a bigger digital strategy and need to have the business acumen to understand how to bring them all together.  It is impossible to find someone with all of these talents and who a company can afford, at the price point they typically want to pay.  We provide a collection of these talents all rolled into one entry level price point. It is a real USP and differentiator for us and something that most businesses we speak with are very attracted to.

I had been on the client side for 10+ years, having owned a large B2C company and we were big marketers.  I worked with all kinds of agencies and was always disappointed.  My client side experience taught me what I wanted and more importantly what I definitely did not want as a client. That helped shape Sircle into a customer service driven, client first mentality type of organization, that makes clients feel they are heard and well supported.  When I first started out, I did everything (literally EVERYTHING) myself and created processes and procedures that worked, pursuant to the core brand ethos of providing “Four Seasons Hotel Type Service” to all clients. Then I staffed, to fill the roles needed to deliver upon them and have been scaling and iterating ever since.

As we enter our 5th year, I remain more convinced than ever that brands need to have a real social and digital media strategy and that has only increased in importance over time.  They also need to have someone who can do it at a palatable price point AND who thinks with a company/client first mindset.  It is really gratifying seeing Sircle continue to grow, to exceed client expectations and to deliver upon that original thesis every single day!

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Outsourcing Social Media-What you need to do to prepare.

Business owners and senior management need to focus on growth and the underlying business and they often struggle with how to get social media started. A company’s voice in social media needs to be driven from within and then shaped and broadcasted by someone who knows what they are doing. At Sircle Media we believe that the best possible formula is outsourced strategy development and then collective implementation by the company and their “Social Media Pro” partner.

Here are some tips on how to do it right:

Know What Your Responsibilities Are as a Client

Before the project starts, be sure to read the contract so you understand what services you’ll receive. It is so important to take note of the responsibilities that your organization will have at the start of the project and while the project continues.

Your professional consultant will need information and resources in order to get started. We will want to know about your goals, your objectives with social and of course any other important benchmarks.  In order to really carry the voice of the client online there is definitely a little heavy lifting to be done internally.  If you and your team are prepared to give the outside social media experts what they need, the launch of your project will be a lot smoother.

Establish Benchmarks and Be Honest About Your Needs

A consultant or outsourcing team will need to know how you’re currently performing so they can help you improve your results. Be open and honest here, so that you can get a real assessment and roadmap to improve. Just like going to a trainer to get in shape, you need to give an honest personal audit to help them prepare the right plan built just for you.

If nothing else, this internal audit will also help you understand what type of help your company needs.  i.e. If you’re very active on social media but aren’t seeing the results you expect, you need to bring in a team or consultant that specializes in engagement rather than page or profile launches.

Get Your Team on Board With The Hire

You must be careful to get your team on board with outsourcing if you want it to be most effective. Everyone should be aware and instructed to embrace the relationship for the greater good of the company.  Even if you’re just having consultants come in to refine and perfect your approach to social, there can be some ruffled feathers.

Before the outsourcing service begins, be sure that anyone involved on your side of the fence is fully invested in what you are going to be doing. Share the benefits of the outsourcing service. Help everyone understand how it will increase your company’s success with social and streamline internal resources.

Manage Your Expectations

Once a project is complete and a business feels empowered they tend to expect big wins overnight. Your company may have been waiting for expertise in the area or made limited investments up until the point you decide to outsource, and now that you have there is an assumption that it will be very easy. It will be strategic and pursuant to a plan, but not necessarily easy.

It is going to take time for the social media team and your internal team to get the ball rolling in an efficient and effective way. Don’t try to do too much at once and manage your expectations of how much your team can handle and what results you can expect.

We think if you consider these four things you will have a better outsourced experience, which is so important to your business. Social strategy is an important function to outsource to experts because it is such a dynamic medium and is never static. People who really know the space and who watch the changes closely are best suited to write your playbook and set you out with your compass pointed in the right direction. Sircle Media is here to help do just that!

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