By Steph Jones

Should I keep social media management in-house?

April 11th, 2023
7 min read

“Should I keep social media management in-house?” An excellent question.

You’ve clearly come to the right conclusion about the “do I need to be on social media?” question and are considering your options. We like to think we’re in a pretty good position to answer this question; we love managing companies’ social media platforms as well as training their personnel in order for them to take it in-house.

In determining whether keeping social media in-house is best for you; we’re going to spare you the would-be obligatory ‘pros and cons’ list because they’ll vary from person to person and business to business. Feel free to fetch an actual pen and paper and ‘mind map’ your thoughts as we go. 

But first, a quick note:

As far as we’re concerned, whichever route you choose, the final outcome of your social media exploits should be similar – the achievement of your marketing goals through a well thought out social media strategy that generates a positive return on investment. This is not a black and white subject; it’s not a simple a case of 100% outsourced social media management or 100% in-house management – there are a number of mid-grounds, which we’ll discuss later.

Should you keep social media management in-house?

Essentially, you need to start with the basic questions. To have a killer in-house social media strategy; do you have the means (expertise), the motive (reason) and the opportunity (time)? Corny, huh? But very handy!

Don’t be a tree!

The motive for having a flourishing social media presence is not really up for debate; you certainly want one. (If not, why are you here?!) What we’re really asking is if you have the motive to do it in-house. What are the benefits and what are the costs? Does keeping social media management in-house play to your strengths as a person or business? Is it something you or your team will enjoy doing?

What about the means? Social media has become an incredibly competitive environment for businesses with so much vying for our attention whilst we’re online. The rise in shameless ‘click-bait’ and platforms themselves developing more ways for businesses to advertise through them means that without a serious strategy and knowledge of social media for business; your business will struggle to make an impact. If you don’t have the means, all is not lost; that’s why there is such a demand for bespoke social media training. This all leads to the opportunity – do you have the time?

Companies who leave the role of social media management to someone without expertise in social media for business, find that this person spends a significant amount of time managing the platforms and even turns it into a full-time role. This is both unnecessary and costly. Having the expertise makes you far more efficient with your time. This simply means you require less of an opportunity to actually start making social media count for your business. You might be interested to know that Social Media Examiner’s 2014 report found that the majority of companies prefer to keep social media management in-house but there is a growing trend towards outsourcing.

The risks of in-house social media management

Now, we’re not here to scare-monger anyone into outsourcing their social media management but you should be aware of the risks of keeping social media in-house. We’ve worked with dozens of companies who were paying a reasonable sum for an in-house social media manager who was simply not very effective at their job. The problem was that they just didn’t realise! It is actually very difficult to recruit full-time social media managers – how do you know if they’re any good? How are you measuring their impact?

Let’s look at at the main risks in order to mitigate them.

  1. Lack of accountability. Employing a single, social media manager leaves them solely responsible for production, measuring and feeding back. Is there anyone else in the team that can judge the effectiveness of their activity? This brings us on to the next point:

  2. Lack of measurement. Measuring the ROI of social media activity is one thing but stats from one company mean very little – how does this stack up next to other companies’ efforts? Unless you have admin access to other accounts, there’s no way to tell whether your social media is any good.

    Here’s the important question:

    How would you know if your in-house social media management was any good?

  3. Sharing bad content. WIth only one or two people creating social media content, what if they’re the only people that think it’s any good? There are dozens of stories about in-house social media teams coming up with campaigns that the wider world (or even just a few other people!) could have told them wouldn’t work or worse, would cause a social media meltdown and a major PR issue.

  4. Paying too much. Employing people is very costly. Few businesses require 30+ hours of social media management per week. The danger is that social media takes longer than necessary or even that too much content is shared. There are also no economies of scale when it comes to buying top of the range management and measuring tools – everything is comparatively expensive.

  5. Not having resources to hand. Depending on the skill set of the in-house social media team and whether you have a graphics team, for example, they might not have all the tools to create really valuable, sharable content. These are the things that agencies tend to deal with and give them the edge over an individual.

  6. Managers sticking to what they know. Boy, social media moves quickly. Without a team researching and using new platforms, functionalities and strategies regularly, it’s very easy to just do what you know, over and over again. The onus is really on the in-house team to proactively go out and study trends and what other companies out there are doing to grab attention. Albert knows:

So what are your options?

Well, if you have the means, motive and opportunity and you’re seeing returns from your social media activity, then you’ll only need to outsource once you require more time or expertise from a full-time social media specialist. Maybe you don’t know if you’re doing all you can and what the value would be in receiving either a training session or social media management? Having a social media audit might help you decide.

Training – you have the motive and the opportunity but not the means. Get some bespoke social media training, which will give you all the tools you need to start using social media as a driving force for your business. If possible, have more than one person in the training session (unless it’s the MD) just in case that person leaves; which has happened to one of our clients before!

Management – if you lack the motive or the opportunity; consider outsourcing your social media management. Hiring someone in-house purely for social media management is usually (depending on the size of the business) unnecessary and unless you’ve got a good idea what a social media manager’s CV should look like then that’s time-consuming in itself. Remember that everyone who graduates these days knows how to use social media in a personal capacity and would regard themselves as ‘proficient’, but this is very different from using it in a business capacity. In most circumstances, outsourcing is genuinely going to be the most cost-effective option.

Hire someone with a track record – if you’re convinced you need to keep social media in-house, you have to employ someone with a track record. This is easier said than done! Social media marketing graduates are few and far between and these new courses are largely unproven in practice. Recent graduates in seemingly related degrees but with only personal experience of social media management will not suffice – you need to see some experience and campaign case studies before hiring.

Other social media management options

Remember we mentioned that this wasn’t a simple black and white situation? Here are some other options.

  1. Managing content creation and distribution in-house and outsource the more specialist search and interaction elements. The latter of this seriously benefits from specialist knowledge, experience and software.

  2. Outsource social media management for three months(ish) before taking management in-house. This is a great option since, in that first three months, you’ll find out what types of content and interaction work well and you’ll have three months worth of examples to work from; if you have the time and desire!

  3. Social media coaching. This is where we work alongside your team to develop a strategy, create content and achieve the goals. This is great for a company who want some expert input and to develop their own skills in-house with a long-term view of taking on the reigns.

There are, of course, many in-betweens, here and the key is that you must get bespoke services because ‘one-size-fits-all’ and ‘social media’ do not go together!

Our experience has shown that most people look at the wrong variable when it comes to outsourcing social media management; price. But what they need to be concerned with is cost, ease of management AND overall effectiveness.

Don’t be one of the business owners who mistake social media ‘activity’ for productivity and that just being ‘on’ social media, making regular updates is going to increase sales or awareness. The largest variable is quality, the overall effectiveness, which is why we’re equally passionate about our social media management.

The cost of the time spent on ineffective activity on what is an incredibly powerful marketing medium is colossal – one way or the other, capitalise on it! If we can help you out, contact us.

Steph Jones.
Steph Jones

Head of Social

A hands-on Head of Social, with extensive experience across Charity, Retail and eCommerce, both agency side and client side, with brands such as WWF, Virgin Pure and Purity Brewing. Steph considers all facets of the customer journey through social and paid media, as well as creating engaging content in line with the business goals to capture attention and convert audiences.