No longer the kid on the side lines, social media is at the heart of modern day marketing. Despite the economic uncertainties, many business across Asia Pacific are now choosing to increase their social media investments.
According to a recent study by Meltwater, three in five marketers and communication professionals in APAC regard social media as more important for their organisation due to economic uncertainties. On average, 34% of their total marketing budget will be invested in social media, with as many as 77% of respondents planning to increase spends or keep them intact.
Interestingly however, the same report by Meltwater also detailed that today 47.81%, are still opting for inhouse social media management, while 36.25% outsource less than half of their projects. When it comes to outsourcing, jobs such as production and social media advertising form the larger bulk of social media efforts that are being outsourced.
Majority of the marketers in Malaysia that A+M spoke to say they bank on a hybrid model. For Plus Malaysia, majority of the work is done in-house in the realm of social – barring social listening and monitoring. Of course, some areas under the marketing teams are also worked on alongside external agency partners, explained Syed Mohammed Idid, head of corporate communications at Plus Malaysia.
“We outsource only in areas we do not have the resources, tools or time to manage,” he said. As the in-house team, the corporate communications team under Syed handles the page management, content publishing, community engagement and issues/crisis management, monitoring and reporting internally.
Having an internal social media team always enables a team better control of social media and the strategies used, added on RHB Bank's CMO Abdul Sani. Currently, RHB Bank deploys a hybrid model, and Sani argues that the flexibility of in-housing comes in truly handy when changes need to be made at a rapid pace in a timely manner.
He explained that more often than not, people resort to social platforms to communicate any concerns they have. Hence knowing exactly what is going on inside the business can allow the teams to navigate and resolve customer concerns easily and instantly, allowing the organisation to communicate with them in an appropriate manner.
“Such capability is important as our social media becomes a critical channel for customer service and care,” he said. He added that having an in-house team allows the bank to also better communicate its brand identity and company culture with clarity as team members are part of the business. “The agility it presents in providing feedback or addressing customers complaints immediately is certainly a plus point,” he said.
Whether you choose in housing or outsourcing, at the end of the day, both internal and external teams need to be aligned and share the same objective of reaching and engaging consumers, added on Linda Hassan, CMO of Domino’s Pizza Singapore and Malaysia.
To execute successful social media content, a brand would require an effective communications plan which requires all parties to be on the same page.
For Domino’s the core function outsourced are content production, social media ad buys, and account based marketing. Hassan and her team however keeps social monitoring for reporting sentiments in house.
Perks of outsourcing
While in-housing certainly has its perks, it isn’t to say outsourcing doesn’t provide for benefits to marketers. Hassan added that one of the general trends observed in the outsourcing of social media team as it can be more cost-effective than hiring an in-house team. Outsourcing also enables a company to have a fresh perspective beyond the scope of the internal team, as it opens doors to new and creative ideas and pushes the company beyond its comfort zone.
“It is definitely a complementary relationship between this and the brands team, without one overpowering the other. Nonetheless, as the brand owner, we must still be responsible for the direction and end game that we aim to achieve,” she said.
Adding on Spencer Lee, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Genting Malaysia, shared that largely his organisation uses the platform to connect with our guests, understanding what people think of the brand, and using it as a channel to advertise and give away promotional goodies. Nonetheless, to stay on top of current trends, the company teams up with award-winning agencies capable of providing fresh ideas and new business trends in using social media.
“We recognise that no one knows-it-all especially in the post-Covid era,” he said. A good example would be emerging new social media platform such as Little Red Box in China, where the company relies on its partners to understand the platform better to promote the resort as an integrated destination.
When it comes to the roles being outsourced, Sani’s views echoed that of the research unveiled by Meltwater where areas such as content production and tracking analytics are generally the ones outsourced. in the case of RHB he added that the bank's external agency partners have experience resource, ability and expertise required to help the team scale up social engagement. "It allows us to respond to market changes and opportunities quickly and timely, thus providing us the required resource stability in managing our social media presence,” he shared.
One trend he also noted was that brands who are at a development stage also commonly choose to rely on an external partner, said Sani.
This could be due to lack of clear knowledge on how to run social media activities and the need for guidance to effectively manage and use social media to achieve business goals.
“As the brand / business begin to grow in size and importance, the consideration to start building the in-house team starts to come to mind as the demand for speed in response and customer expectation of the brand intensifies the pressure - something which outsourced agency have limitation to fulfil on a satisfactory level as they’re not in your business and having to juggle multiple agendas that is not solely yours,” he said.
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