You Need a Social Media Agency

One thing I've noticed over the past few months is that a lot of people are looking for an in-house social media manager instead of an outside agency or freelancer. I'm not sure if an agency is just something they don't think of, or if they honestly think an in-house employee is a better option. I mean, it makes a kind of sense. If you hire someone from the inside, you expect that person to have a greater knowledge of and loyalty to your brand. Because they're a part of the tribe; they're on your direct payroll; you have direct influence over their work. Right? Well, that's not as much of an advantage as you might think.

It's true: if you hire internally you have a lot of opportunities to pass along knowledge and new developments to your social media manager for them to share with the world. On the other hand, a lot of new developments you don't necessarily want to share yet (or at all). The kind of information that you want out in the world; that you want to be in a tweet; is the kind of information that will be built up over time and can be dumped on an agency in an email or a meeting. The same kind of information that would be shared in a press release. If you want a constant stream of information, you can set up a weekly meeting with your agency the same way you would with your in-house social media manager.

I've also seen social media being tacked on to a traditional marketing manager's responsibilities. That's fine. But then your marketing manager's brain space is going to be limited. A lot of people don't realize exactly how hard social media management actually is. They'll need to keep up with mentions and hashtags and comments and stories along with their regular responsibilities of print ads and tv ads and PPC ads. If you've got a super-human who's able to fit all of that under the same job title and do it well, then more power to them. But chances are that one or another part of their purview is slacking a little while they try to keep up with everything. Marketing managers have enough to take care of as it is without tacking on social media. (If you ask me, if you have to drop one thing, drop traditional marketing.)

On the other hand, if you hire an in-house social media manager, you might find that it seems like they're not doing a whole lot. I'll be honest, a lot of the time spent on social media community management is waiting for a mention to come in. It's like being a night guard at a museum. A lot of the time you're just sitting in the booth keeping an eye on the monitors. Every once in a while you might chase after a raccoon. The thing is, the guard is working, and he has a vital job, but a lot of that job is just to provide assurance that nothing bad is happening. Or maybe a better analogy is a surgeon who's on call, but not at the hospital? A marketing manager can't pull himself away from monitoring the social feeds without risking a social media meltdown just like a surgeon can't just turn off his pager without risking losing a patient. Social media meltdowns can be handled in a single click if caught immediately but they become harder and harder to stop as time goes on.

If you hire an agency or a freelancer, you can have the assurance that you are covered. Why? Because they're handling multiple clients at once. Counter-intuitive? Not at all. It's like giving one guard the video monitors to the entire nation's museums and giving him a teleporter to pop in and out of them at will. Things will pop up more often, and you have a dedicated professional ready and waiting to handle them. In the same vein, you have a dedicated professional handling content and another dedicated professional handling graphics and another handling analytics. Get a good agency, and you have a well-oiled machine popping out Tweets for dozens of clients without breaking a sweat or making a mistake.

This process of giving an agency or a freelancer several social media clients at once is also much more economically sound. It's gonna be a lot cheaper than hiring someone in-house. So, it's good for you because you're saving money, but it's also good for them because, with dozens of other clients also paying them, they're getting more money than they otherwise would at an in-house job. If you hire someone (someone good) to do in-house social media management, you could be paying them an average of about $4,000 a month. Plans at The Green Asterisk start at $600 a month per account and go up to $1200 a month per account. So if you have your in-house guy doing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at $4,000, you can hire The Green Asterisk to do all the same stuff for $3600 and you don't have to deal with benefits, taxes, or any of that other HR stuff. (And if you're a startup, you could be paying HALF that!)

But don't they get distracted by the dozens of other clients? Nope. It's in their best interest to focus on each client individually. With good time management skills, they will be able to carve out specific times of the day to work on specific projects.  The same way, if you have someone internal, you run just as much risk of them getting distracted by texts or their personal social media profiles or puzzle games. No matter who's working for you, the onus is on them to pay attention.

In my experience, companies who hire in-house social media managers (if it's not a social media company) don't know what they're looking for. They end up hiring people who may have a passion for the company's brand but don't know what they're doing on social media. Or they have a passion for social media but don't really care about the brand. When you hire an agency, you're hiring people who care about and have considered every single aspect of the job. Whether you know what those aspects are or not. Using an agency means hiring professionals instead of figuring out for yourself what a professional should look like.

I dunno, maybe you have an in-house social media manager who's great and provides awesome value to your company. That's great, stick with them. But if you're lacking in that area, seriously look into hiring an agency. It could change your company's life.