This is a question we hear a lot, as social media is one of those channels where many businesses think that it is easier to do it themselves than hand it over to an agency.
The reasons given for this are many, but ultimately what it boils down to is “anyone can do social, right?”.
To an extent this is completely true. These days, most people have a personal Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profile, and posting from a business account isn’t that much different, so in this regard, yes anyone can “do social”.
The question they should be posing however is “should we?”.
When it comes to channels like seo and ppc, most clients have no hesitation in handing over the reigns because more often than not, they’re unfamiliar channels that can seem quite daunting (have you ever checked the source code of a site? If not, right click on this page and select “view page source” to see what I mean. Scary right?).
In this instance I would always liken it to DIY. Most people wouldn’t attempt to do the plumbing or electrics because it’s not something they’ve ever done before, however pretty much anyone will have a go at the painting (and probably do a fair job of it). That being said, there’s usually a big difference when a professional has done it.
Ultimately the decision will likely come down to two factors; cost/value and resource. However, to help make the decision between digital marketing agency (or even freelancer) and in-house, here are a few questions you may want to answer.
Do you know the actual impact of social on your business?
Do you know the difference between how Facebook and Google Analytics track visitors, or what a view through conversion is? If you’re not sure, then it may be that you could do with some extra help to properly understand the impact of social media on your business.
Whilst you may not see direct conversions coming via Facebook or Twitter, it could well be that these channels are having an unseen impact on your sales by increasing brand awareness and customer loyalty, so until you can be sure on this, you may want to seek some extra help.
Can you afford not to do social?
On occasion, we will recommend to a client that there is likely to be little value in investing in social media marketing, however this is quite rare. Even if you don’t believe your business belongs on social, it’s quite likely your customers expect you to have some sort of active presence, as this can be a key part of their buyers journey.
The reality is that many people expect even their accountant to have a presence on the likes of LinkedIn or Twitter. Ultimately, what it comes down to is trust. If you aren’t actively updating your Twitter feed, is your business still in business? Think of it as a more active extension of your website.
With this in mind, can you afford not to be investing some sort of resource in social?
Are there in-house resources you can make use of?
If you’re a business that relies heavily on social for sales, traffic or other key metrics, then it’s vital to ensure you have a team of designers and marketing experts in-house who are on top of the latest trends, and able to turn around impactful content in a matter of minutes.
On the other hand, if you’re much less reliant on social as a channel, then you simply need to ensure there is someone in the office posting regular updates, and monitoring for customer enquiries.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of tagging social onto someone’s existing job role, and ultimately it ends up being forgotten about, enquiries go unanswered and customers get pissed off. It is therefore vital to ensure you have a dedicated social strategy, whether it be in-house, or through an agency.
What about paid social?
You may have world class designers, and a team who understand Instagram’s algorithm better than Mark Zuckerberg, but running a paid social campaign is a very different prospect. From choosing the right goal, to ensuring that your creative and copy is spot on, paid social is to social media marketing what ppc is to seo.
Again, it ultimately comes down to whether or not you have the expertise in house. Are you confident your social team can properly run a dynamic remarketing campaign whilst still maintaining an active organic presence. Even more importantly, can they explain why Facebook and Google Analytics are reporting completely different results at your next board meeting?
Who is best positioned to run an integrated digital marketing strategy?
If you are doing all of your marketing in-house, then it likely makes sense that you keep social within the business too. However, if you have already hired an agency to run your seo, ppc, email and content marketing, then are they better placed to also run your social, and therefore use it to form part of a wider digital marketing strategy?
Is there value in splitting resource?
Could it be that you can produce amazing content for social, but don’t know how to run a simple remarketing campaign on Instagram? Or do you have a shit hot ppc team who haven’t got a creative bone in their body? In either of these instances, it may pay to invest in support from a digital agency to help fill those gaps.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Firstly you need to establish the value of social media marketing to your business, then understand whether you have adequate resource in-house to do it yourself, if not, get thinking about how an agency might help.