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Build vs. Buy: considerations for private social networking communities

by | Oct 21, 2009 | Industry News & Trends

If you are among the 77 percent of marketers who are increasing your social media budgets this year, you have some major decision ahead of you. Do you take it on in-house, hire it out through a contractor/freelance web designer, go with a cafeteria style plan where you pick and choose the features within your budget or find a company with a flat fee package? What features do you incorporate now? Are there features you want to add later? Who’s your audience? Who will benefit from your social media strategy? Are you locking yourself into a contract? Is your head spinning yet?

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.” When making your decision, step back and take it slow. Sure it’s important to know what your long-term goal is but focusing too much on the future can be overwhelming. Break your task down into manageable steps:

• First, consider all the elements you are looking for in an online community or website (chat, member profiles, slide show on your homepage, etc).

• Make a list of your basic needs, silly or otherwise (I must have an image of a dog on the site and three admin licenses for my managers).

• Add in pie-in-the-sky features, things that if they fit in your budget you would also like to have — “The Sure Would be Swell list.” (For instance, multi-media sharing capabilities).

• Now that you know what you want and need, make a spreadsheet listing your needs, then wants, down the left side of your page. Across the top, list your vendors you are using to price out options.

Now we’re talking apples to apples. It’s difficult when you are weighing multiple vendors, their packages and trying to compare it to either what you currently have or what your in-house people could do. Look for hidden costs as well.

Remember, even taking on a project like this in-house has costs to consider. Do you have a staff of techies at your beck and call? Do these individuals have other projects they will have to table until your design is done? After they have completed their work who will train your admins on it? Who handles customer service going forward after initial training?

There are a lot of considerations but if broken down, it becomes a manageable process with multiple variables.


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