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Should you hire a social media agency, a manager or a consultant?

As a business owner, we know how challenging it can be to figure how, when and where to allocate resources. So a lot a people come to me with the same question: “should I hire a social media agency or an in-house manager?” And my answer is always the same: “it depends”. In fact, it depends on a lot of parameters: your digital strategy if any, the type of business you are running, your budget and resources… There’s definitely multiple answers to this question. So let’s give it a shot.

A social media freelancer is most likely the most affordable option

Let’s start with freelancers. A freelancer is basically a self-employed person who will work for your company – and a few others at the same time – a few hours, maybe a few days a week.

Freelancers might be a good fit if you are on a budget or if you are looking for an experienced social media person to manage a project speedily. You agree on a fixed rate in exchange of their services and that’s it. No extra benefits whatsoever. Freelancers will most likely be your most affordable option. And the most flexible as well. They are pretty easy to find and will typically be working from home and adapt to your schedule.

On the flip side, you better get prepared beforehand. Freelancers will need to be briefed about your business, your company values, etc., and will typically execute what you are asking for. They will expect you to give them the direction you want them to take. Good freelancers might give you some guidance though, but you better have a plan before hiring a freelancer. Because they won’t implement a robust social media strategy if that’s what you are looking for.

A social media consultant will put you on the right track

Consultants on the other hand could provide you with a strategic perspective. While freelancers will execute your social media plan, consultants – could be a person or an agency – will give you an external strategic view with all the keys for you to implement it internally. They will assess your digital presence and provide you with a social media strategy and recommendations of how to execute it using your own resources.

Consultants are more or less expensive depending on their experience in the field but definitely more pricey than freelancers.

An in-house social media manager will always have more knowledge of your company

Hiring in-house is a long-term commitment for a company’s marketing team. This is really the best choice if digital marketing is a core competency of your business and you feel the need to control all aspects of social media.

In-house employees will dedicate 100% of their time to your business. They will be involved with the daily operations of your company and have quicker access to information internally. They will be able to ask directly for images, content and materials. They are usually more updated with company news, future announcements, and they know better the company’s culture as well, which could be a game changer! And you will have a better control over what they are producing in terms of content and results.

On the flip side, a full-time Social Media manager could be expensive. About $54k per year average in the US (source Glassdoor), plus benefits, taxes, training, equipment and tools. Remember, it’s a long-term commitment! Social Media evolves rapidly, so training is really critical to keep them up-to-date. And what happens if your social media manager resigns? Replacing a role with such a specific skill set will not be an easy task.

Working with a social media agency, you won’t have to worry about all this.

Social media agencies have more experience with social media.

An agency is an organization providing immediate and scalable access to resources, processes, tools and know-how. You don’t hire one person, you hire a whole team composed of very different skill sets. On top of social media marketing services, an agency is able most of the time to provide other digital services such as SEO, web design, etc., which could be convenient if need be.

Social media agencies will also bring to your brand experience and learnings from other clients allowing quicker innovation and better results.

As opposed to freelancers, consultants or in-house employees, social media agencies will provide you with both a strategic view and day-to-day management services. The choice is yours. They can have a consulting role helping with strategy and guide your in-house team. They can fill the gaps where your team lacks skill sets like influencer program, social media video production, or social media advertising campaigns. Or they can run your social media marketing from A-to-Z. The latter will get you the best results when it comes to social media ROI as they will be in charge of the entire social media chain.

Social media agencies are more results-focused.

Being on both sides of the mirror – strategic and management – allows social media agencies to be more result-focused. They understand better the strategy your company has agreed on and have the vision how to implement it on a daily basis. This also means higher level reporting, analytics and insights.

Social media agencies have more social media tools and resources.

You need more than a computer and a decent internet connection to perform good social media. It requires expensive social media tools enabling content management, scheduling, social listening, analytics and reporting. It also requires resources like an access to stock images, image and video editing software, etc. And on top of that, they should have a robust approval process in place for you to approve content seamlessly.

Social Media agencies already have these tools (and even more) at your disposal. And they know how to use them.

So which option is the best for you business?

Think about your business goals, structure and resources, and how important social media is for you as an organization. Do you want to give it a try first with a freelancer or a consultant and see the results? Are you ready to make a major long-term investment hiring an in-house social media manager? Or do you want to partially or completely externalize social media to an experienced agency? If digital marketing is not part of your core competency, then you might want to hire a social media agency to assist you.

Still not sure about the way to go? Let us help you! We will conduct an assessment of your current strategy and state at no cost.

/ Published on June 15, 2018

About The Author

Olivier GRUERE

Olivier is the Founder & CEO of Royal Cheese Digital. He has been working in the digital space for more than 20 years, and in social media marketing since the very beginning, for both B2B and consumer brands. He is based in Los Angeles, CA.