It has become a common practice among larger brands to outsource their social media marketing efforts to an outside agency. Although there are benefits to doing so, the trend itself is unsustainable, and as the great US economist Herbert Stein once remarked, “unsustainable trends tend to come to an end.” Here are a few reasons why you should consider bring your social media marketing (SMM) in-house:
1. No One Knows Your Product Like You
Marketing agencies have dozens of other clients, most likely in different verticals, and you should not expect them to get to know your product and your target audience as well as you do. You have spent years or even decades researching your audience, adjusting your product line and repositioning your brand. Do not expect your agency to have the same insight from a week-long study of your Facebook or Twitter profiles.
2. Only You Can Be Truly Genuine
This second points ties in closely with the first. Since you have a better insight into your audience and care about your customers more than any outside agency, you will come across much more genuine. Since social media marketing is much more of an art than a more process-oriented SEO and paid search campaign, success on social media comes as a result of a true engagement. It does not come from a large number of keywords in your Google AdWords account or well-optimized meta tags.
3. Social Media Requires Integration With Other Departments
With this point, you can probably make a case for bringing all internet marketing efforts in-house. Just like SEO, social media marketing is becoming an integral part of organizational workflow. Other departments, from research to public relations, need to be trained in, and work closely with, social media. For some organizations with bottlenecks when it comes to marketing, outsourcing can actually speed up the implementation. However, this is just a way to tiptoe around the issue. In this day and age, large brands require close integration between different teams to succeed in social media space. Once of the top experts in the field, Lee Odden, has an entire blog dedicated to the issues of integrating social media and SEO with other parts of your organization.
It is worthwhile noting that this principle also applies to search engine optimization. Social media and SEO tend to work better together. If you have the same agency handling your SEO and social media marketing efforts, consider the downside of separating the two.
4. Outsourcing Is Unsustainable
Imagine an outside social media marketing firm developing your profiles and creating a voice for your brand within the social media community. Imagine that agency actually runs your Twitter account and responds to comments on your company’s Facebook page. Now, consider what would happen if your relationship with that agency were to end. Would the new agency be able to pick up where the old one left off? Most likely not. By having a dedicated social media team in-house and online, you can ensure consistency in, and continuance of, your SMM efforts.
5. Outside Agency And In-House Team Are Not Mutually Exclusive
While building your in-house social media team you will need to maintain a relationship with your marketing agency, for both initial training of in-house personnel as well as ongoing consultation. In fact, your agency should appreciate having knowledgeable contacts within your organization who can lobby higher management on its behalf. You will need outside help to train your new team and key people within other departments. Since it is much harder to keep up with the latest strategies for in-house marketers, experts like Jessica Bowman have also noted the need to bring in outside consult for ongoing training.
While there are certain benefits in outsourcing social media marketing, current trends point to a need to have a dedicated in-house team. Although full of challenges, the process of bringing your SMM efforts in-house should give your organization a mid- to long-term advantage in your brand positioning and engagement.