#CmgrChat – 8/31: To Outsource or Not to Outsource?

The idea of outsourcing community manager responsibilities evoked some strong responses in this #CmgrChat. Community Managers are often pulled in a number of directions, which may or may not fall under their actual job descriptions.  The job title has grown to become very broad and encompasses roles like social media, SEO and web analysis. From time to time, tasks involving content, contests, tweeting, customer support or public relations may be outsourced to freelancers and agencies. Here’s what several community managers have to say about this.

The original questions for the chat are below, and we did our best to mention everyone who made a significant contribution:
Q1: Do you outsource any community management responsibilities to agencies/freelancers? If so, what?
Q2. Now that we’ve determined who & what gets outsourced, what are some of the PROs of outsourcing?
Q3: Now for the flip side — What are the cons of outsourcing?
Q4. If you outsourced, what would you look for in an agency? How would you measure their success?

Pro Outsourcing

justicewordlaw I have outsourced community management for social media accounts for specific niche areas for about 40/hrs a week

amilyd  We have freelance help with night/weekend moderation of our Forums. Everything else (moderation, sm, etc.) is done internally

yolunia Yes. It is an SEO agency and some of our on-page copywriting needs are outsourced. Most done in house.

ahicklin We outsource some of our customer service, but make sure ppl are trained on best practices b4 giving access.

joshanisfeld Pro of outsourcing is creating more time for creative engagement, content & strategy development

kcpike  As good as we think we are, there’s always someone better. Outsourcing let’s you hand off those pesky projects to a pro

RachelYeomans  Yes we can’t all do everything. We need to identify our core skill set and find the pro for where we lack to outsource

rhogroupee Outsourcing can be a great backup for off-hours or vacation time, which CMs don’t get enough of.

kcpike Community managers need to learn that *some* things are below their pay grade & should be outsourced so they can focus.

rmahtani Absolutely, having time for strategy is huge these days, we need to stay ahead of the curve and outsourcing allows that

BillLampert PROs of outsourcing: frees-up internal resources, provides un-biased view of results, lowers overhead costs.

DigitalKaitlyn Pro -less of your time spent on tasks that take someone else 1/2 the time to complete Con – Less immediate control over quality

_faith Speaking from an agency standpoint, we always try to help clients figure out their SM objectives first & measure accordingly

BillLampert Agency needs analytic tools/knowledge to gain learnings from SM and integrate w/client by placing staff on-site.

KellyLux Depends totally on what you’re outsourcing…but the common element would be TRUST.

ilovegarick Really all depends on what is outsourced… I just tend to think in-house always beats remote


Against Outsourcing

grmeyer Outsource comm mgmt?  nope -> use better tools and spread the work over more people 😉

aajain We don’t.. I feel it would be tough to outsource CM duties – brand fit, voice, etc. can be tough to emulate

mhandy1 The fact I see a diverse client mix = diverse solutions and strategies. Cust Serv should never be outsourced EVER.

grmeyer It’s reallly tough to keep the essence of your ever-changing brand voice acorss channels when outsourcing imho

theTsaritsa A con of outsourcing is not being able to oversee every aspect of that assignment, if you’re into that sorta thing

akroundtree Cost. Vendors misunderstanding community strengths, needs.

LovelyLu Outsourcing also prolongs resolution time…

FarhanaRahman Makes me lose respect for a company when reps can’t make real-time decisions.

aperl23 Another con for outsourcing – increased risk for legal exposure in highly regulated industries-need to ensure compliance

JPedde For as much time as outsourcing potentially saves, you have to be extremely organized in your strategy/planning ahead/goals.

yolunia Shouldn’t all outsourced content go through a review process to mitigate consumer backlash?

ericfoster If ANYTHING is outsourced it should go through the CM. Big companies sometimes have problems with this.


What do you think? Are you for or against outsourcing and why?

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About the author

Judi Huck

Mover. Shaker. Candlestick maker. Currently engaged as a community and social media strategist.


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