By now, most entrepreneurs know the value social media can bring to their business. Yet, even with the widespread acceptance of social, the medium is still relatively new, thus many questions remain either unanswered or unclear.
For business owners, one of those issues is figuring how and where to allocate resources to social media, and knowing which option is better suited for their particular situation.
Should you hire an agency, an in-house social media manager, or seek out other options?
While one size doesn't fit all when it comes to answering this question, there are some basic elements to consider before jumping in the deep end. Here are the pros and cons of each of your choices.
Social Media Agency
Agencies are ideal for any brand or entrepreneur that is trying to save themselves one thing: time. If you can afford hiring an agency and you find a great match, then they're well worth the cost simply based on the hours you'll be buying yourself back.
The cost of agencies varies widely and is often cryptic. On average though, smaller agencies will cost anywhere from $400 to $1,500 per month to manage your social media presence. For larger, more seasoned agencies, a study by The Content Factory found the industry average to cost $4,000 to $7,000 per month.
- Unlike in-house social media managers, you won't have to give benefits, insurance and perks to agency partners.
- You'll save yourself time.
- Provided you sign with a credible agency, you'll be working with social media experts.
- There are a lot of inexperienced agencies out there more concerned about getting paid than they are about adding value to their clients.
- For the most part, agencies are pretty darn expensive, especially for early stage entrepreneurs and brands.
- Agencies don't have the same level of familiarity with your brand's ideals, core values, etc.
Social Media Manager
One alternative to hiring a social media agency is hiring an in-house social media manager. According to Glassdoor, the annual salary of a social media manager is $57,802. This amount doesn't include the cost of perks, insurance, benefits, and more.
Having someone who manages your social media inside the office has many advantages, the most obvious is the manager being in tune with your company at all times. The manager will, simply by proximity, have a better grasp on the in's and out's of company culture than an agency does.
Because of the high cost of social media managers, it's wise to hold off on hiring one until you've outsourced social media to third parties (freelancers, agencies, interns, etc.) first. Once you have done this and come to the conclusion that the cost is justified, then go for it.
- It will save you loads of time hiring, firing, and shopping around for agencies and freelancers who are a perfect fit for your company.
- The social media manager will have more familiarity with your organization's ideals, company culture, etc.
- Each social media platform is different and it's very difficult to find one person who's well-versed in all of them.
- Social media managers are very expensive.
Social Media Consultant
Consultants are ideal for brands that are trying to solve a problem and that have the time and resources to devote to social media.
One example of a solid candidate could be a startup that's interested in expanding their social media strategy to include Instagram. Before pursuing an agency, freelancer or full-time employee, hiring an Instagram consultant would be a smart move for the startup.
In other words, use consultants to solve a problem, 'fill the gaps', and give you guidance on how to approach the next steps in your social media marketing.
- Consultants are agile and accommodating when it comes to problem solving.
- There's no need for long-term commitments.
- Depending on the consultant, the cost is low relative to other choices.
- The credibility and skill level of consultants vary widely.
- No content creation or implementation.
Freelancers are ideal for businesses on the cusp of being able to afford an agency or social media manager. Freelancing can often evolve into a long-term partnership, so take your time when shopping around for the right talent. If you don't already know talented freelancers, give sites like Upwork and Freelancer a try.
- Depending on the freelancer, they're inexpensive.
- Because freelancers are contractors, no perks or benefits are needed like they are for full-time employees.
- Much like consultants, the credibility and skill level of freelancers vary widely.
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to social media, so don't ever feel one strategy is always right or wrong. Every situation is different, and exploring all of your choices before settling on one will save you time, money, and a lot of headaches.