I‘ve been doing social media for a long time, and I work with both businesses and agencies who implement social media….. I get asked about this all the time “What is the best way to handle my social media? Should I hire an agency or do it myself?”
There isn’t one answer to this question, so instead I want to share the investment, pros and cons of each. As a side note, whether you DIY or outsource, you should invest in your knowledge so that you can responsibly manage your social media.
My two cents. Internal social media generally gets the best results when done effectively. But if you can’t do it right, hire someone.
Hiring a Social Media Agency
Investment: Minimum of $1,000/month ($12k/year) for most decent companies.
Management Time/Requirements: 2 – 4 hours a month to answer questions, review progress and check-in.
- Should use best practices (in theory, although not all of them do)
- Know how to optimize
- Scale/benefits as they use tools across accounts (again, in theory)
- Consistent implementation
- They can execute big campaigns and have more specialized resources to leverage
- Expensive (even at a basic level, it is close to half of the cost of an employee)
- They don’t know your partners, customers, etc to build community
- They aren’t in your business, so they might not post the best content of what is really happening
- Objectives may not match as they want to maintain their contract vs. your business objectives
- Some put you into a “plug and play” model where they execute the same things for all of the clients vs. customizing for your business (this is typical of smaller social media agencies)
Investment: Minimum of 30 minutes a day, plus setup time (learning) and training.
Management Time/Requirements: Depending on the size of the organization, 2 – 4 hours a month in management + implementation.
- You know your business, so there is less onboarding time
- Opportunity to create really great content that connects
- Often more cost efficient
- Higher accountability and better alignment of objectives
- Quicker response times and better customer responses (if well trained)
- Must invest in training/capabilities
- Must be a priority (or it won’t be well done and can work against you)
- Need the right type of employee to effectively execute
In my opinion, most of the biggest success stories in social media occur when the business is running their own social media, or is very heavily involved in the management. That being said, if you don’t have the time/resources to do it right, you may nee to outsource it to get a result.
The reality is that an outsourced model (hiring an agency) works best for larger organizations. Here is why. For a smaller business with 1k – 10k fans, you probably won’t generate a positive ROI from spending $12k/year on social media management. The reason is that the amount of work required to run an account with 1k fans is only marginally less than managing an account with 100k fans, yet they both cost around the same amount to manage.
The bottom line is that there isn’t one answer; in some instances DIY produces amazing results, in other cases agencies bring creative and optimization that far surpasses what a business could do internally. Review your objectives and resources and decide what is right for you.