The pros and cons of outsourcing social media and keeping it in-house

Digital360 on 31 May 2017

So, you’ve decided to focus on social media marketing for your business? Great news! In this day and age, social media is an essential digital strategy, no matter whether you’re a B2B or B2C business.

The next step is deciding whether you want to hire somebody in-house, outsource the work to a freelance consultant, or outsource to a social media marketing agency. Each option has its own benefits, and what you decide on all depends on your digital marketing goals and business resources.

In-house social media marketing

In-house social media means hiring a team or an individual to work for your company. They'll be dedicated to improving your social media strategy.

The benefit of hiring a full-time team member is that they’ll be immersed in your company’s vision and culture. They’ll know your business goals back to front, and will be able to communicate this in their marketing campaigns.

Hiring someone in-house is also great for creating a tight-knit team. This is especially important when it comes to communication and creating a cohesive brand identity. Because of this, hiring somebody in-house can be ideal for a small to medium-sized business. It allows for flexibility and collaborative working. It also means that your business will run as one, well-oiled machine.

However, the downside to in-house social media – especially for smaller-sized business – is the cost. Unless you know there’ll be a consistent workload, the case can often be that you end up paying a salary – plus benefits – for part-time work. As your employee, an in-house consultant often ends up taking projects outside of social media management. There may end up juggling multiple tasks at once and wearing many hats. And as a result, your social media marketing could fall to the wayside.

Another common issue with in-house specialists is their narrower skillset. Unless your team is made up of a variety of specialists, skill gaps can be a very real problem. Social media marketing takes excellent copy, design, and strategy skills, as well as a solid understanding of analytics. Finding someone who does have all these skills is rare and, because of their high demand, often expensive.

Social media marketing with a freelance consultant

A freelance consultant is someone who you can hire for one-off projects short-term to help build your social media strategy.

If you have a specific campaign that you aren’t sure how to tackle, hiring a social media marketing consultant might be the answer. You can work with them collaboratively, but without the long-term cost of an in-house specialist. Consultants can be hired for specific projects, based on the skills you need at the time. This flexibility is why freelancers are popular choices for all kinds of businesses on social media.

Before you decide on outsourcing social media to a freelancer, think about your business goals. If you’re a small-to-medium size B2C, you might be after an individual who lives and breathes your brand. Keep in mind that an outsourced consultant may not share your vision in the way an in-house marketer might. Often, they’ll be working across multiple jobs at once. This means their focus may not always be entirely on your company.

Finding a freelancer who shares your vision can take time and a little more work. This is no problem if you’re happy (and have the time) to step in when needed – and don’t need your social media marketing strategies running ‘hands free’. This all depends on your own workload and level of expertise, and whether or not you're able to supervise their work.

Outsourcing to a social media marketing agency

A social media marketing agency is a team of dedicated specialists focussed to growing your business using social media marketing tactics.

The benefit of a social media marketing agency is that your strategy can run ‘hands free’. If you don’t have the time, budget, or desire to learn the ins-and-outs of social media marketing, a credible digital agency can be your one-stop shop. They have the skills, experience, and resources all under one roof. They can tailor your digital strategy to suit your business goals and brand identity.

Because an agency is made up of a team of specialists, you can be rest-assured that – unlike with in-house consultant – you won’t run into a problem that can’t be solved. Outsourcing to a best-practice social media marketing agency means that you’re always ahead of the game. They’ll be up to date on the latest social media tactics and new developments.

However, expertise comes with a cost. While outsourcing social media to a digital agency is cost-effective in the long run, up-front fees can be out of budget for smaller businesses just getting up off the ground.

By nature, a social media marketing agency tackles many different projects at once. Because they are external, it might also take your agency some time to understand and align with your company culture. But ultimately, this all depends on how well your business can brief and guide the agency to deliver on your business goals.

So, which is right for you?

It the end, it all boils down to your resources and your needs.

  In-house consultant Outsource: Freelance consultant Outsource: Social media marketing agency
Cost - Recruitment and training fees, yearly salary (including holidays, sick leave, etc.)
- Ideal if work will be consistent
- High expenditure long term, ideal for larger budgets
- One-off payment plan, either per hour or in project instalments
- No overheads
- Ideal for specific projects and campaigns
- Lower expenditure, ideal for smaller budgets
- Paid in monthly retainers
- Ideal if work will be consistent
- Initially expensive but cost-effective long term, workable for most budgets
Knowledge and experience - You must provide training and professional development opportunities
- Proficient in task-oriented work
- May not have experience across all platforms
- May have other in-house tasks that take precedent over social media marketing
- Experience in working multiple projects at once, over multiple platforms
- Can be hired for specific skillsets depending on the task at hand

- Access to training and professional development
- Experience in working multiple projects at once, over multiple platforms
Relationship              - Employee-employer relationship
- Collaborative approach under your instruction
- Ideal for more hands-on involvement
- Similar to a partnership
- Self-directed work with collaborative approach
- Ideal for mid-level involvement
- Your business will be their client
- 'Hands free'
- Ideal for low-level involvement

We're a digital agency in Melbourne. Chat with one of our specialists today about your social media marketing strategy.