This question comes up a lot, so it’s time to write a post about the common debate of whether a business should handle their own social media in-house, or hire a social media company.
Beyond the fact that every business is unique and can have its own unique voice, we need to recognize that every business has different employee talents and skills, and every business has a different budget.
There are businesses that have the budget for an in-house social media team, and they have hired the employees with the best talent and skill for this department. But, a social media consultant could be a great asset, since they have the fresh perspective of seeing from an outside point of view. As well, the consultant’s job is to stay on top of the ever-changing specialty, and they can be a mighty resource for your business.
There are also business that do not have the budget to hire an in-house team, and hiring a social media company could be their best choice since it’s often times more affordable. But, if the business’s owner, co-founder, or key employee happens to be a social media marketing maven and has a mild obsession for building engagement and increasing customer loyalty through social media, then maybe they’re better off keeping it in-house and not hiring a consultant or outside company.
There are endless combinations of situations, and this is why it’s such a heavily debated topic. It’s not as simple as saying, if your business can afford for an in-house team, that’s what you should do. And if your business can’t afford an in-house team, then hire a consultant or company. Heck sometimes hiring a social media company is more costly than having an in-house staff, so it’s really not such a simple question.
The possible pros of keeping social media in-house, if you’ve got the social media marketing talent on your team.
- With a full-time dedicated team you’ll be ready for immediate customer response and you can have access to real-time reputation monitoring.
- You’ll also be able to have your company’s culture resonate online in real-time by layering events that happen throughout the day
The possible cons of keeping social media in-house if you have, or don’t have, a dedicated talented team and you’re managing it in-house
- If one or two employees are the only ones with access to the social media accounts and they leave the company, you could be in a long battle to gain control of those accounts, if the employee didn’t delete them all together.
- When using social media for business, it’s a combination of community, communications, customer service, public relations, and marketing. It can go very wrong if it doesn’t have the right leadership guiding the online social presence.
- Too often businesses fail to implement and communicate a social media policy. The dangers happen when a business gets too casual about it and it becomes either neglected, or it becomes a crazy free-for-all.
The possible pros of hiring a social media company
- Your business may not be able to keep up on this ever-changing industry and may be missing out on a powerful new social network that would truly benefit your business.
- There tends to be a higher degree of accountability when having the work done by an outside contractor or company since service providers have to constantly work hard to earn the renewal business.
The possible cons of hiring a social media company
- The company may not have done the proper research to get to know your business and therefore, fail to deliver a clear and accurate online presence and voice.
- The company may not care enough to work with your business on an ongoing basis to keep the content fresh.
So, how to make the decision on what’s best for your business:
- Meet with a social media consultant or company and ask for an evaluation. Have them analyze your current social media marketing, and the staff you have in charge of your social media.
- Ask how they plan on handling your social media, and how they work with a company.
- Ask their opinion, do they feel you’d be best with training and consulting, and have your staff implement the daily social media activities, or would it be better if the social media company handled it on your behalf?
- Discuss how they will work with you. Is it a weekly meeting, a monthly phone call? Will they create the plan in advance for your approval?
- Ask if you can have a three-month trial run and decide for yourself which is best.
The wise way to work with an outside social media company:
We’ve found the best results happen when we have a hybrid solution. That is, when sometimes we’re posting on their behalf, and sometimes they are posting since they have the real-time on location information that we don’t have. It’s more work having a hybrid solution, since both parties must be on the same social media plan, and not do anything that would hurt the flow or the overall strategy.
It takes a little while to get the blend, and learn to feel comfortable with your outside partner. We find that in the first month we have the most amount of back and forth communication, and by the second month it’s less and after the third month, we’re in a great rhythm and flow.
So, if you find yourself asking, “Should social media be kept in-house, or should we hire a company?” Then meet with a consultant or company and ask the questions above. There is no one right answer, since every business is unique. But let this article serve as a guideline to give you some clarity on the issue.
We help many businesses across multiple industries, handle their social media marketing. Contact us to schedule an evaluation. We just may be the solution you’re looking for.