8 Ways Social Media Is Like Dating: You Can’t Outsource It!

Many firms seek outside help to get their social media marketing programs up and running. This approach can help newbies get up the learning curve quickly, but it has its disadvantages. The biggest dangers are that you will postpone spending the resources to build your in-house expertise and, more importantly, you are putting a buffer between your organization and the population you need to “get social” with. Eventually, you have to take the training wheels off and do it yourself.

Here are eight ways that letting an agency or other outside resource create your social media presence is like having someone go on dates for you.

  1. Getting set up can be a good start. Just as a friend or colleague might make an introduction to a prospective date, using an outside social media marketing resource can be helpful to get started. Like being set up on a date where you’re provided with useful details about the prospect and why you might hit it off, social media marketing consultants can help you jump start the process and show you the landscape.
  2. Someone else arranges the date. While you can ask your assistant to make reservations and gather the relevant directions, it’s not appropriate for her to make the actual personal connection. You must pick up the phone and make the call yourself. In the social media ecosystem, this translates to creating a social media marketing strategy that’s adapted to your business needs.
  3. Get dolled up. You can get help getting spiffed up for your date in terms of putting your look together. You can even practice your lines and what to talk about. Similarly, you can get support from an outside expert about how to create appropriate content for your social media marketing efforts. But it’s important to set the expectations yourself.
  4. Show up for the date. Here’s where the rubber hits the road. You must show up for the date. You can’t send a substitute. You need to be a real person in a public place. No one is going to show up at your front door to substitute for you on that first date. Be an active participant on your targeted social media marketing platforms to get a feel for the environment.
  5. Mind your manners. As your mother always said, be polite and on your best behavior with strangers. After you know each, you can relax on this but you’ve got to show that you’re respectful. Remember with social media, the Internet’s memory is forever.
  6. Have a conversation. While you can have a list of topics you want to discuss, you need to respond in real time to what your date is telling you. You’re not wearing a wire and getting prompts through an ear bud like television police shows. You’re on your own so engage and be personable. Most of all be yourself on social media networks.
  7. Listen to what’s being said. No one wants to spend much time with someone who constantly talks about themselves. On social media as on a date, you need to think about the person you’re with and show that you’re interested in what’s important to them. So interact with others, answer relevant questions, provide supporting information and acknowledge others.
  8. Will she see you again? Did you tickle her fancy? Did you dominate the conversation? Did you tell her so much about yourself that she’s turned off? Did you feel a connection? The analogy is “Did your fans and the public respond well to your communications on social media platforms?”

Remember, while an agency can get you started, ultimately social media is about building relationships and that’s very hard to outsource. You can get help with developing good social media technique, but not with the critical task of being yourself and understanding your potential soul mates out there.

Do you have anything to add to this list? If so, would you please add it in the comments section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Photo credit:  Librarian Avenger via Flickr
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2 Responses to 8 Ways Social Media Is Like Dating: You Can’t Outsource It!

  1. Craig S says:

    Heidi- Isn’t Social Media “Marketing” is now about discovery of new ways to engage?

    Create Content with Context, Build a Community of interest then develop your marketplace?

    Agencies of any value would provide strategies to create the business blueprint for change, the architectural framework, the services models and the teams for delivery.

    The agencies who come at these challenges as “interactive” solutions can’t move the ball in the game other than develop tactical “tools up” solution-which by design, fail to deliver any business value.(why you don’t need them as you mentioned)

    The most obvious outsource upsides are cost reduction in operations, increase in customer service efficiencies and business drivers from new sales or social loyalty programs.

    Could this be a case of “know what agencies can do vs. can’t do” or “what can and should be outsourced to whom under what conditions?”

    Thanks for the stimulation on the topic!


    • Heidi Cohen says:


      Thank you for adding the thoughtful comment.

      While I admire your ability to put so many concepts into your second question, I would start with determining a business’ primary goals and defining the target audience. Then using this as the basis, I would develop effective marketing strategies. At the core of these strategies would be contextually appropriate content. Often I find that clients and agencies rush to tactics because it’s easier to define.

      Agencies can provide support to help firms come up to speed by helping develop the structure and content to get them started. Additionally, agencies can help fine tune internally developed content and provide the technical expertise needed. Using the analogy above, this is like getting a date and preparing for the date. But ultimately firms need to interact directly with prospects, customers and the public.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen