Should You Outsource Your Company’s Social Media Initiative?

Jennifer Lester

Outsource versus in houseHire an internal social media manager or outsource to a team? Which is better? This is a question many small to midsized businesses are asking me lately, and the answer lies with you.

Social media is a time-consuming effort that requires a lot of planning and constant attention to online discourse to be effective, which is why many businesses are weighing options for outsourcing versus keeping efforts in-house.

The latest data tells us that 32% of businesses outsourced social media efforts, a four percent increase from 2011, according to Social Media Examiner Michael Stelzner’s 2012 State of the Social Media Marketing Industry report.

To outsource or not to outsource?

However, there are pros and cons to both in-house social media management and outsourcing that must be considered before any decision is made.

Consider keeping efforts in-house if:

  • You have a dedicated social media guru (not an intern) who can strategize, stay on top of industry news, and share the latest social media trends and execute consistent, brand-adherent posts.
  • Your marketing strategy is more reactive, rather than defined with goals and metrics, and social media is considered a low priority.

Consider outsourcing social media efforts if:

  • You have a dedicated point person who is invested in the success of your business’s social presence and can work with an agency to execute a solid strategy.
  • You have defined social media goals.
  • You need an expert to follow the pulse of industry changes.

When a company feels it can tackle the entire effort without collaboration and expert input, you get an effort that operates in a vacuum and is not as powerful as it could be.

In-house efforts + outside experts = magic

So should you work with an agency or keep social media in-house? My ultimate response is, a little bit of both.

When an in-house effort is complemented by an agency effort, magic happens. The in-house person can respond on the fly to company happenings highlighting corporate culture or personalities, while the agency stays focused on a set messaging matrix, responses to trends, and recent news.

Benefits of outsourcing

If outsourcing is a viable option for your business, you’ll see several benefits to working with an agency.

  • It has the bandwidth to continually let people know that your business exists, what products or services it offers, and what notable milestones or achievements it has attained.
  • It has the time to interact when people have questions, comments, or reviews.
  • It is up to speed on social media best practices, organic reach, and changes that are happening with promoted content.

If you decide to outsource…

Start by interviewing agencies. If an agency doesn’t begin your conversation by talking about your goals and helping you build a sound strategy, don’t hire them. But if they spend time working to help you set goals and provide a plan for measurement, you can feel confident that it will be an agency that will make a difference to your social media effort.

After hiring an agency, follow these steps:

  1. Assign a dedicated point person who is invested in building a solid social media strategy.
  1. Talk to a few agencies to understand the factors that meet your company’s needs.
  1. Set a social media budget and establish measurable goals.

Regardless of whether you decide to keep social media efforts in-house or outsource, the key is a dedicated champion to the effort who will ensure that social media will be a key driver to influencing action from your target audience.

Listening to the voice of the customer is so old school. Learn why For the Modern Marketer, Hearing (Market) Voices Is a Good Thing.


About Jen Lester

In 2001, Jennifer Lester co-founded Philosophy Communication, Inc. in Denver, Colorado. Since then Philosophy has become an award-winning marketing and public relations firm serving the needs of big-name clients such as Sub-Zero Group, Inc., Smashburger, Quiznos and Caribou Coffee Company.