How to Choose the Best Resource for Social Media Marketing

By Ian Heinig / 9 July 2018

Small businesses use a variety of resources to tackle social media marketing. Here are the pros and cons of each to help guide your social media success.

You know that social media is valuable. 81% of US adults use social networks and more sign up every day. But you also know that you need help with social media marketing.

How much should you pay for social media marketing? And to whom?

A recent study reveals that 53% of small business use in-house staff to tackle their social media marketing. Meanwhile, 33% reported using freelancers, consultants, and/or social media management software.

Finally, a full 24% of those surveyed turn to digital marketing or social media marketing agencies for help with social media marketing.

Resources Small Businesses Use for Social Media
 

Though they can all assist with your social media strategy, each resource is unique in its pricing, capabilities, and shortcomings.

Today we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of these social media resources.

  • In-house staff
  • Social media marketing agencies
  • Freelance social media consultants
  • Social media management software

1. In-house Staff Gives Control, Lacks Expertise

Using contracted staff gives you full control of your social media accounts.

You know that your brand voice will ring true and the quality of the content will meet your standards. If any strategic changes are needed, you need only walk down the hall to discuss.

Even brands like Nike and Pepsi transitioned their social media marketing in-house to cut costs and improve their agility on social media.

Though your team may lack some of the necessary expertise, investing in your people will make them an asset. You can train someone for much cheaper than outsourcing tasks, but this will take time.

If you’re considering a hire, the average salary for a social media manager is between $48,614 - $54,238.

Pros

  • Costs less than outsourcing
  • Ensures your brand voice is communicated clearly
  • Fosters the exchange of ideas and circulates insights from senior-level marketing
  • Helps you stay nimble in response to social media trends
  • Allows total control of content quality

Cons

Top social media challenges

  • Possible knowledge gaps in relevant aspects of social media, limiting diversification
  • Training and hiring staff requires time and energy and doesn’t guarantee results
  • Lack of outside perspective can result in tunnel vision and missed opportunities

2. Agencies Offer a Variety of Skills

Hiring an agency gives you immediate access to the skills and resources of dedicated professionals. Expecting staff or a single freelancer to deliver such expertise is unrealistic.

However, this collective prowess isn’t cheap. Digiday reports that the average cost for an agency is between $100 and $250 an hour.

Brands with an existing audience may opt for an agency because the cost corresponds with the expected payoff. For example, if you need to scale your social media presence or expand your brand’s social media strategy, an agency team could be right for you.

An outside team will provide the consistency and industry experience needed to move forward with social media without slowing down.

Pros

  • Saves you time by entrusting key functions to the agency
  • Provides a diverse array of skills from a talented team
  • Advises you with the outside perspective of experts

Cons

  • Expensive, and may require minimum contract length
  • Agencies lack familiarity with your brand’s core values
  • Smaller agencies may lack experience with niche markets

3. Freelancers/Consultants Are Affordable, But Skills Vary

Freelancers and consultants are the middle ground between in-house staff and agencies. Both types of independent contractors let you augment your social media operation with key skills for relatively cheap prices.

Consultants are best used to solve specific problems or provide guidance in the short term. For example, you could hire a consultant to design your LinkedIn marketing strategy – but not implement content.

By comparison, freelancers offer both proficiency and the option of a long-term partnership. If you find the right talent, this can be a cost-effective way to round out your social media team. Simply set the expectations, offer a bit of guidance, and the freelancer will do the rest.

Websites like Clutch and Freelancer let you pull from a large pool of multi-talented individuals who fit your needs.

Pros

  • Inexpensive, depending on the hire
  • Saves you money on taxes, benefits, and insurance of an employee
  • Freelancers keep flexible schedules and can accommodate your needs

Cons

  • Skill level and credibility can vary
  • Less scalable and skill-diverse than an agency
  • Finding a quality freelancer or consultant with availability can be challenging
  • Hiring can be time-consuming

4. Social Media Management Software

Social media management software is used to scale, simplify, and save time on social media operations.

While not a replacement for skilled personnel, these solutions do allow you to increase staff productivity and efficiency. If your social presence is large and the community management is laborious, automation can give you the time needed to focus on driving engagement.

A suite of functions lets you track interactions, manage posts, and gather insights to optimize campaign performance. A range of options exists to suit your needs and your budget.

As TrustRadius found, most businesses prefer to use one type of social media management software.

use of social media management software
(Source)

Pros

  • Automation lets you simplify complex and/or repetitive tasks
  • Monitor keywords related to your brand
  • Tracks interactions on your social profiles
  • Schedule posts across multiple channels
  • Collaborate with team members
  • Gather insights from analytics to optimize campaign performance
  • Can trial the “freemium” set of features of most platforms before purchase

Cons

  • Licenses for a full team can be expensive on some platforms
  • Learning the platform requires a bit of time
  • Finding a suitable interface can require some trial and error
  • Not a replacement for skilled personnel

Choosing Resources for Social Media Marketing

Let the size of your social media operation – and your budget – determine your use of social media marketing resources.

Large brands or those on the verge of growth might want to spring for an agency. When results are a must, an agency is a safe bet.

However, if you’ve time to browse, a few choice consultants and freelancers can fulfill the same functions for much less.

If your following is large and your employees time is needed elsewhere, a social media management software will benefit you.

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