Outsourcing Content to an Agency: When and Why

As businesses face new marketing challenges, they must search for solutions outside of their own companies. In a recent webinar, Social Marketing & The Resourcing Challenge: Outsourcing vs. In-House, sponsored by ORACLE, a panel of professionals discussed when and why a business should outsource content marketing to an agency.

The panel agreed that, though the answer depends on the overall goal of the company, an agency can offer you:


  • Time is something that you can’t afford to take away from your business, especially if it is a small or medium sized business. When you and your team are already wearing multiple hats, it is more efficient to your business to find a new head than to add to your own. Mikal Belicove, contributing writer for Forbes Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine, said that your business should outsource to an agency because they “take the time.” Instead of taking time and focus away from your business and core competencies, an agency can do it for you.


  • With so many moving parts in your business, it is difficult to focus on specific aspects. An agency acts as an extension of your marketing department that focuses on these specific campaigns and strategies. Chris Vaughn, Director of Marketing at DigitalSherpa, spoke about how two years ago, agency expertise was in question, but now “they’re taking content more seriously.” Because digital marketing constantly changes, it is important to use the best practices of an agency to conquer your challenges. Rob Key, CEO at Converseon, said that a “strong role of agencies is to bring expertise about SEO and content.”


  • As technology has advanced, the marketing mix has evolved to not only include promotion, price and place, but also – participation. When, before, your company’s engagement with an agency was limited, there was no sense of participation. Now, it has become the most important aspect! “Outsourcing doesn’t work without participation,” Vaughn said. With current technology, agencies, especially those savvy in digital, such as Hüify, have the capability of working closer than ever with companies. To work most efficiently, an agency must have a strong relationship with your company.
Though agencies can offer these aspects to your business, sometimes deciding whether to stay in-house or to outsource is a more difficult decision. When asked ‘when?’ Belicove talked about the two best times for a company to resource an agency.


1.    When a business is getting started, or is still young, an agency can most efficiently help integrate participation into their marketing mix. This is a great time to form a relationship with an agency because it allows them to learn about the core competencies and culture of the company. Key said that agencies can “bring training” and are most effective when they are “embedded in your culture.”

2.    Also, businesses will always need content, especially now that content marketing has grown into one of the most vital aspects of digital marketing. An agency can help by applying their best content practices to a companies needs. One thing that Belicove sited to be true is that it is and always will be “easier to edit than to create content.”

When it comes to whether your business should stay in-house or outsource content, it mostly depends on your specific needs and resources. If you decide to outsource to an agency, be sure that their culture reflects your own to ensure that you create an effective relationship.


The Future of Content Based on Today’s Trends

Evolution is inevitable, and this is very true in regards to technology. As we continue to interact with technology in different ways, we must adapt how it ultimately functions for us. As the use of the Internet changes, so must the way that we create and present content.

Early adopters of Internet-based information were interested in detailed and lengthy content. This demand helped to outline what has become the average blog post. An average blog has a word count between 400 and 800, usually including multiple tags and links, for SEO purposes, and graphics and images for aesthetics.

Because the majority of current Internet use has been adopted by a new audience, many aspects have changed. Rather than demanding all information, the new adopters request only the most valuable information. As a content marketer, I have noticed the rapid increase in Internet use to be attributed to two current trends, social and mobile.

With two of the highest visited sites being Facebook and YouTube, and with 75% of the world having access to mobile devices, it is obvious that the functionality of technology is changing. These trends will dictate the way that content will transform in the near future.

Though there has already been a notable shift towards microblogging, with the great popularity of platforms such as Tumblr and Twitter, content will continue to move toward a shorter format. This content evolution is due to:

1. The Rise of Scrolling

  • Even though there has been a large rise in Internet views from mobile devices, there has been a significant decrease in time spent on individual sites and content. This is due to users naturally wanting to ‘scroll’ (literally) rather than read on their personal devices. Because 80% of mobile time is spent on Apps, many companies are developing their own to try to combat this issue and attract more users.

2. Shorter Content Attention Span

  • With the rise in content and constant updates on social, users encounter vast amounts of accessible information daily. This has lead to users exhibiting shorter content attention spans, otherwise known as Social ADD. A symptom of this recent digital illness is lower user comprehension and its main effect is a large decrease in content effectiveness.

3. Emphasis on Unique Content

  • The rise in scrolling and increase in Social ADD have lead to an emphasis on unique content. Rather than having to skim through information, users want to immediately understand the main concepts and purpose. When a blog post is around 500 words, you can expect there to only be between 100 and 200 words of actual unique content. By eliminating non-unique content and creating a much more concise format, you can ensure that users will have an increased understandability.

For instance, in the near future you could read this post as:

The use of Internet has changed, due to a shift in audience and increase in social and mobile. These trends have led to a rise in scrolling and Social ADD, which in turn have led to a need for shorter content. To ensure that your content is most effective, begin to write more concisely by eliminating anything that is not necessary to the main purpose.

Writing ‘snippets’ is nothing new to content creators, as we are use to forming meta-descriptions and even short blurbs, when broadcasting content on social, to entice readers. Much like this strategy, the full content will be linked and accessible for those wishing to read further. Other than being more effective, this will help to differentiate between ‘brand advocates’, those that like the brand, and ‘brand operators’, those that actually engage with the brand.

 It is evident that the change in technology functionality and audience needs will lead to an evolution in content. As current trends continue, solutions for these content problems will need to be formulated.


Content Marketing – The Voice of Your Business

Social media has given companies a life-like presence online and content marketing serves as the businesses voice to consumers. As digital business strategies have vastly changed, companies are becoming more aware of their need of finding this voice to speak to their consumers too. Content marketing has come a long way over the past few years but seems to be proving itself vital to online business in 2013.

In the article Content Marketing in 2013: What the Experts Think, author Andrew Warren-Payne notes many marketers’ thoughts of content marketing. When asked why it has reached its tipping point this year, Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Velocity Partners, said, “It’s tipping because it works. Content is the engine of search, social, outbound and web marketing. It’s also the fuel for lead nurturing. It took awhile for people to see how and why content is so powerful but it’s on every marketer’s radar now.”

Now that content marketing is established as a necessity, businesses are faced with these 3 questions:

1. Where to get content?

  • As the need for content has grown, so have the opportunities for businesses to find their voice. In the article 10 Ways Brands Will Win With Content Marketing in 2013, author Shafqat Islam agrees that both big and small companies are changing their content strategies. “Having an intern write three measly blog posts a week isn’t going to cut it. Even a network of freelancers isn’t enough,” Islam says. These apparent signs have lead businesses to search for teams to maintain the flow of content.

2. What content should be marketed?

  • Content should be valuable, relevant and attractive to readers. It is important to create content that can help current consumers and nurture leads by generating interest in new possible customers. “If you’re going to be creating and pushing out content,” Islam says, “it needs to reach all target markets, from international to hyperlocal.” Being able to reach multiple markets through content can be difficult, but it can be made easier by knowledgeable and experienced content marketers.

3. Where should we market the content?

  • There are many social media outlets that can be used to engage consumers with content, but to decide which to use accurately takes marketing strategy. The most important aspects to remember are the purpose and audience when choosing the correct outlet. James Keady, Digital Marketing Manager of McLaren Automotive, says, “Content marketing is reaching a point where having a digital presence is no longer good enough to achieve cut through, you need a value add proposition and this is best done through a strong content strategy that reaches your audience on the right platforms at the right time in an engaging way.”

Now that content marketing has reached this undeniable peak, many businesses are beginning to notice and it is becoming clear that these voices are being heard. 


The Art of Social Media Storytelling (A Campfire Story)

When thinking about the art of storytelling, I envision a group of individuals gathered around a campfire, swapping funny and relatable experiences with each other. The same analogy is true for social media storytelling, except in the digital realm there are many stories being told and a lot of the individuals are gathered around multiple campfires at once. As the voice of your brand, it is vital to build a bright fire of content that attracts individuals to engage in the conversation. To ensure that your storytelling is the most effective, it is important that you:


1. Locate your campers (Analyze your audience)

  • Before you begin to research or even develop content, it is necessary that you determine who your readers are by conducting an audience analysis. By creating a good foundation and forming a deep relationship with the brand, you will be able to analyze and target the appropriate audience of consumers.

2. Find your campsite (Choose your social platform or content medium)

  • After determining your audience, you need to establish which medium would be optimal for the conversation. In many cases, you will have one site for the full content and will be using social platforms to broadcast the story to your target audience. When broadcasting your content on social media, it is very important to maintain the style of your brand as well as create unique content that fits the style of different platforms.

3. Find and cut your firewood (Research your content topic) 

  • Now that you know whom you are writing to and where you will be publishing the content, it is time to research and develop your topic. Even if you are an expert on the topic of interest, it is still critical to conduct research because of possible changes or new trends that you may not be aware of. Compiling the most up-to-date and relevant information will make your content stronger and more meaningful to your audience.

4. Build your campfire (Outline and develop your content)

  • After researching and compiling related information, you can begin to create an ideal outline and develop your content. When building your content you should keep your target audience and medium in mind, as they will help to form your tone and style. These will change depending on the whowhat and where of your content so it is very important to be extremely knowledgeable about all three.

5. Light your fire (Publish your content)

  • With the content developed, you have now reached the point of publishing. Before doing this, it is key that you ensure your content matches your ideal outline and is both understandable and concise. To increase the capabilities of your content you may also want to create tags, metadata, keyword links and even attractive graphics.

6. Add wood..and lighter fluid..to build your fire brighter (Attract and Engage your audience) 

  • Publishing your content is not the final step, as engagement with your audience is your overall purpose. As your audience interacts with the content on different platforms, it is important that you continue the conversations to further engage and create unique connections.

What is a Community Manager?

You may be asking yourself, what is a Community Manager? Because the term takes on such a broad role, I am going to break down the best practices of Community Managers!

1. Humanizing the Voice of our Clients

  • Though Community Managers represent clients in the digital realm, we strive to project the most humanized voice possible. Because users want to engage in realistic connections on social platforms, it is important to use a friendly approach that utilizes social opportunities and leverages further connections.

2. Making Personalized Connections

  • It is important to that Community Managers make connections with users as personal as consumers would experience when engaging with the client or company. By making these personalized connections, they nurture and support the users engagement and help to retain them further as consumers.

3. Creating Meaningful Relationships

  • Humanized voices and personalized connections combine to help create unique and meaningful relationships with users. Information moves very quickly in social media, so it is critical to not only form relationships, but to make them significant.

4. Maintaining Authentic Engagements

  • To ensure that relationships continue to be significant, Community Managers must maintain realistic and authentic engagements. For best practices, your core competency should be to create unique interactions and this is accomplished by building genuine engagements.

5. Analyzing Social Impact

  • It is very important to analyze the impact of engagements so that you can better tailor the voices of clients and connections to users. Community Managers examine the impact of engagements by using analytic skills and social media statistics, to better understand audiences and help create more significant impacts.

By successfully connecting with users on social platforms you assist and nurture today’s leads into tomorrow’s customers.


Social Mediation: Managing Multiple Platforms

A year ago there was only one platform required to stay in the social loop, but as of lately users have increased the amount of networks that they are a part of. Users are dealing with new challenges that they have never experienced before, such as where to post what without seeming repetitive. Since issues like this have begun to arise, we are learning to become ‘social mediators’.

Social Mediation is the user management of multiple platforms and the difficulties associated with them. Having more than one account with a specific social network is a new occurrence, which makes these issues a precedent. Mediating between networks has never happened because social medias have only had transition stages until now.

Before Facebook became the capital of the World Wide Web, there were many other networks fighting to be on the top. For instance, when MySpace users began flocking to Facebook, there was a transition stage instead of mediation. Users did not make posts on both networks; instead most gave up on MySpace and became strict Facebook users. Now that there are diverse social networks that specialize in different parts of social living, users are creating accounts without disbanding from previous social medias.

The largest difficulty that social mediators are dealing with is how to update users without seeming repetitive. This is very important because users maintain many of the same connections on separate platforms. To solve issues like these, users must adhere to certain steps in order to perform social mediation.

Step 1: Analyze the content

  • First you must decide whether the content of what you are broadcasting is generally found on one platform instead of another. For instance, if a user’s content involves a connection they have on a platform they would post it to that platform. Sometimes it is a simple decision, other times this step requires more attention.
  • If a user wants to create a status update they can choose from multiple platforms to do so. This case is becoming extremely difficult because almost every network allows users to make status updates. To decide where content is finally posted, a user must determine which platform is designed for the premise of the content. Recreational content will be posted to a different network than business related content because of the premise of the platform and the audience.

Step 2: Examine the audience of your platforms

  • Next, users need to be attentive to the audience, or other users that are connected in their network. This is important because the proper platform can be decided based on its audience. Some content is meant for a large audience while other content is for a smaller audience.
  • As well as step one, users analyze their audience on each platform and decide which content belongs to which audience. If a user is connected with colleagues and work associates they would not broadcast the recreational activities of their weekend. Users should refrain from broadcasting intimate content to a large audience; this has become a large issue regarding possible careers instigating platforms to learn about possible employees. In some instances this step can be more difficult than the first; frequent users become knowledgeable of audience sizes, which makes this step simpler.

Step 3: Determine the Platform

  • Finally, users take their knowledge of the content and audiences and decide where the post is designated; this is the actual mediation between social medias. Some users decide that the content is proper for multiple platforms and must now make a decision of how to change it to fit another platform. If users share common connections on many platforms the more diverse they can create the content the more that it will not seem repetitive.

Now that social networking has entered into a mediation stage, multiple platforms will continue to be added and users will continue to create many accounts. Difficulties in managing platforms will continue to occur which will lead to the need of social mediation.


Everybody’s A Critic: The Social Voice

As new ideas and products emerge from the minds of people, criticism is emerging from the social networks of others. With the introduction of Facebook Status Updates and Twitter Feeds, users have taken their thoughts of different matters from their heads and posted them all over social media platforms. If it were ever easy to bring an idea to life without being criticized, social networking has destroyed that simplicity.

Do you recall when you were a child and as soon as you saw an advertisement or commercial for a toy you had to have it? Nothing could keep it from your hands and you wouldn’t let your parents forget how much you needed it.

For instance, I remember wanting a really expensive water gun after seeing it on television and in stores. The children in the commercial were shooting water at each other from up to ten yards away and I wanted so badly to be one of those kids. Based on the information that the manufacturer had given me, the gun was going to be the best thing that ever had happened in my nine years of living.

Now think if social media platforms, for example Twitter or Facebook, had been present in my childhood. I could have easily seen that users buying the water gun were very disappointed to find out that the gun did not shoot as it did in the commercial. In all actuality, the toy was not as important as I had once assumed.

Finding out that a product is not what you actually wanted is one thing, but finding out that you can use users online criticisms to help choose what to buy and not buy is another.

Social Media Impact on Consumer Vs. Company

As a consumer, this can come in handy, but as a production company this alters business plans and can be the defining factor between success and failure. Now that users have become criticizing marketers, businesses must change their strategies. They must adjust and adapt to this new socially charged environment.

To do so, they should follow a few steps:

Step 1. Analyze Marketing Aspects

  • To begin, you must inspect the way that you are promoting or advertising a good to make sure it is adequate. As stated before, there is nothing worse to a consumer than being lied to by false advertisement. Likewise, there is nothing worse to a producer than losing consumer loyalty. This is why goods must be marketed fairly and adequately define the consumer experience without promising a certain expectation that is unreachable.

Step 2. Target the Audience

  • As it is extremely important to analyze the marketing aspects, it is as important to target the specific audience that will become the ‘voice’ of the good. Now that it is so simple for consumers to share thoughts on products and services on a traceable network, it is becoming imperative to businesses to give this voice more to glorify than to criticize.
  • Social media can be detrimental to the life of a good but it can be equally beneficial. Think back to the water gun example, if the gun had met expectations or even had exceeded them, the consumers would have drastically multiplied. If the voice is speaking well, the user marketers are doing the job for you.

Step 3. Feed the Voice

  • Now that the goods are adequately marketed and the voice is talking, you must give the voice a reason to talk. This is an important step because voices change tones quickly. Meaning, even though it is marketed well and people are talking about it, what are you going to give the voice for talking and how are you going to make sure it is being heard?
  • To feed the voice one must keep the user marketers wanting to speak, or give them a reason to. This reason can include discount for promotion, user gratification or even a “Like” or a “Retweet”. Users want their connections on networks to know that there is a reason that they are talking about a good, and to do this you must broadcast that the specific user has made a contribution.

Key Takeaways

Facebook and Twitter allow users to tweet or update their status about what is relevant to them. They also allow businesses to retweet or even Like these contributions. Now that you have connected with the user, they feel even more connected to your good. This is essential because it can lead to other users also wanting to be broadcasted for their contributions, which lead them to join the voice.

Now that you have learned to start a voice and feed the voice, marketing on social networks can become a tool. Networks can be a place for negative criticism but if you can use the users as marketers, they will fuel the flame instead of extinguish it.