99DollarSocial Review: Outsourcing Your Facebook Posts
Everyone knows that you need to have at least a baseline social media presence in today’s market. A Facebook page and a Twitter account are generally essential, and other businesses can benefit from the likes of Pinterest, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
If you’re a small business, though, you’ve probably tried to get into this, and you may have failed. It’s a ton of work! Facebook pages demand daily posts, moderation, and engagement to make the most of them. Twitter pages are the same, and if you want to make the best of the Twitter platform, you need to be proactive with social listening. All of this needs to be handled by someone who has your brand’s image in mind, otherwise it fails as a marketing channel.
It takes a lot of time every day. It takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of resources to create content, to share posts, to manage a community. And that’s not even getting into the thought of paid advertising on those platforms, which is a full time job itself.
It’s no wonder why many small and mid-sized businesses, organizations, and other entities turn to companies dedicated to social media marketing. Why do it yourself with half knowledge and half intuition, when you can pay someone to save you the time and energy? People who are experts in their field, who do this all day, who know the latest news and algorithm changes for the social networks.
Then you look into how much it costs. When a robust, all-around social marketing plan can cost you thousands of dollars a month, maybe you start to rethink this whole social thing. After all, businesses existed just fine for hundreds of years without it.
That’s when you start looking for cheaper sources of social management. You find a company that offers social media services for $99 per month, and that sounds a lot more reasonable. You’ve found $99Social. It sounds too good to be true, but is it?
What is $99Social
$99Social is a company that outsources your social media pages. To copy their elevator pitch straight from their homepage: “Fresh content for your social media pages, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for one crazy low price: Only $99/month.”
One of the biggest time sinks in social media marketing is content creation. You need to come up with the content you want to post on every site, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another platform. It just takes time, and it takes a knowledge of your audience and the way these social networks work to get it right. You want to use hashtags on Twitter, and a different set of hashtags on Instagram, but hashtags don’t work on Facebook. You want to attach images, whenever you can. You want to post attractive content for your audience. But you’re a business owner, you’re not a Facebook guru, you need to learn all of this before you can truly succeed. Why not outsource it?
That’s what $99Social is doing. For one price, you sign up for their service, and they give you content for your social media profiles every single day. What are their selling points?
- They post content to your profiles every single day, all year long.
- They create unique content tailored to your business. None of those generic motivational quotes or ultra-basic questions for your audience.
- They curate content, both articles and images, to appeal to your audience.
- They promote your company’s products or services weekly.
- They make use of appropriate hashtags to increase your visibility in site searches and hashtag feeds.
Since Facebook is the #1 social network for business, it’s the default platform included in the $99Social service. They also allow you to pick a second social network for them to manage. You can pick one of: Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or Pinterest. Instagram is also available, but there are restrictions to it, which I’ll go into in a bit. Also, Google+ is dead, so don’t try to pick that as one of your services, you’ll just be paying for something you aren’t getting. My recommendation in general would be Facebook and Twitter, to be honest.
The onboarding process for $99Social is trivially easy. You sign up, which involves creating an account and adding payment details. You fill out a form that details your business, your products or services, and some other information they would like in order to make detailed and customized posts for your brand. Then you confirm it all and let them start.
$99Social also anticipates some of your concerns, and answers them in an FAQ before you even register.
- All of the content specialists they hire are native English speakers, so you’re never getting posts written in janky ESL grammar or that otherwise don’t fit with your audience.
- They don’t rely on you to provide all of the information they use. It just gets them started. Their specialists do research on your brand, your industry, your competitors, and your audience, to make sure their posts are tailored for you specifically.
- You’re simply authorizing someone else to post on your page for you. You do not hand over total control and can still post on your pages as normal.
- If you have specific dedicated marketing initiatives, contests, promotions, or specials you want to promote, you can simply forward those to $99Social, and they will include them in their posts.
- There is no locked-in contract, you pay month to month and can cancel any time. If you’re not satisfied with their service, there is no penalty to cancelling early.
Now, for a company that bills themselves as $99Social with a dollar sign, and who offer one simple pricing model, you’d think there’s nothing to discuss with pricing. It’s a little more complicated than that, though. $99Social actually has two different plans.
The Daily Plan is their $99 per month plan. You get Facebook and one network of your choice, chosen from Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. They will post once a day, presumably alternating between your Facebook and your other social account. They claim that Instagram is also available, as a Lite or Deluxe add-on, but do not mention what that entails until you go to check out.
The Unique Plan is their high tier plan, for people who want more than just the Daily, but still don’t want to pay for full dedicated social media marketing. It will run you $198 per month, effectively 2x the cost of the Daily plan. The reason for this is because they post twice per day, once to each of your networks. They also allow you to choose Instagram as your second profile without the upsell.
Additionally, they have some upsells. Here’s a rundown:
- Bronze Blogs: For $59 per month, they will write 500-word blog posts for you. They don’t say how many you get, whether it’s weekly, daily, monthly, or what. For that price, I would assume weekly. The fact that this is called Bronze indicates they may have offered higher tier blogging options at one point, but they are not currently available as far as I can tell.
- Instagram Deluxe: For $99 per month, they will give you one Instagram post each day, five days per week.
- Instagram Lite: For $49 per month, they will give you two Instagram posts per week.
- Profile Creation: For $49 per profile, they will set up an account for you. It can be a Facebook Page, a Twitter Profile, or an Instagram Profile.
So, there you have it. If you want to stick with just $99 per month for a couple of social media posts, you can do so. If you want to add on a few extra services, you can do that as well. Even adding up everything you could want, you’re still looking at under $500 per month, which is pretty reasonable all things considered.
For the people who care about it, $99Social also has a reseller program. You basically buy their service and can resell it, but you have various perks, like white label access, templates for marketing, and even a Facebook ads budget for their higher tier plans.
Drawbacks and Red Flags
$99Social is not a perfect platform. They have a few issues, though not as many as some companies I’ve reviewed in the past.
First up, to me, is their first impression. I opened their homepage and was presented with, well, this:
Guys, I haven’t even looked at your homepage yet, why are you inundating me with notifications and chat attempts and lightboxes? Calm down for one minute!
One pet peeve of mine is when a company doesn’t seem to bother to update their homepage for changes in the industry. The numerous mentions of Google+ as an available service trigger this peeve here. Google+ is dead, so remove the mention of it! It would take 10 seconds to cut out those words from the handful of pages that use them, so why leave them up? It makes your business look inattentive.
Which, given the history of $99Social, makes a certain amount of sense. The company is a spinoff of a much larger social management company, and as such is basically a side project the CEO set up to do its own thing. The more attention they need to pay to it, the less profitable it becomes.
Those are all relatively minor nitpicks, of course. I’ve browsed around and I can say there isn’t much issue I have with the posts they make. This article shows you a bunch of examples of posts made by $99Social in various niches, and they all look perfectly acceptable to me. They’re relevant to the niche, they’re more or less well done, and there are no glaring issues. Based solely on the posts they make, I have no complaints.
One more major issue is with expectations. If you want social media management, you need to look elsewhere. $99Social posts on your social profiles, but that’s all they do.
They don’t dig into your analytics. They don’t give you progress reports. They don’t mess with your messages or DMs. They don’t engage with your customers in the comments section. They are more or less entirely a content farm, no different than hiring a writer from Textbroker or something. You’re still responsible for the other aspects of managing your social profiles, they just provide filler to make you look active on a daily basis.
The other major issue has to do with Facebook’s recent push to authenticate the people who post on pages. Recently, Facebook has been striving to minimize Fake News, or at least increase disclosure. As such, they have created the Page Transparency page for any English-language Page. This shows the creation date, name changes, merges, and ads from pages, as well as a list of the people who manage the page. Some team members are publicly labeled, while others are simply identified by the country in which they’re residing.
In other words, you will have an entry on your Facebook page informing users that X number of people manage your account and their country of origin. $99Social claims their content managers are all native English speakers, but they don’t tell you their locations, likely because it’s a horde of freelancers on the back end. Will this cause an issue? I very much doubt it, but it’s worth knowing before you subscribe.
Oh, and stay away from their blog post service. 500-word posts are basically worthless today, and you can get mediocre content for a cheaper price elsewhere, or great content for a slightly higher price in a few other locations. It’s not a worthwhile upsell, it’s just included in case some people who don’t know any better go for it.
Overall, I would say that $99Social is not a bad choice if you’re just going with their basic plan and treat it for what it is: filler content. They do some basic marketing for you, but you really need to learn the deeper aspects of marketing, analytics, and community engagement. It’s not a fire-and-forget plan for Facebook success.
If, on the other hand, you want something that handles total management of your social media presence, go for one of the higher priced companies that actually does marketing and management. Yes, it will cost more, but you get what you pay for in this industry. It’s worthwhile.