Social Media Staffing: Employee, Agency, or Consultant? The Pros and Cons of Hiring Each.

Your customers are online more than ever and spend more time on social media platforms. To reach them, you may need to set up, expand or improve your social media team.

Rent and who is renting? This is the question.

Since social media marketing has been around for decades, there are several talent and resource options available.

But what is the best solution for your company: an internal social media manager, a partner agency, or a self-employed consultant or partner?

Five considerations

Before making decisions, consider these five main points:

  1. Simply put, what are your social media goals? The most important first step is to have a clear idea of where you want your social media to be or what will determine success.
  2. Necessity. If you know what you expect your social channels to achieve, what does it take to get there? Production of new creative assets, more robust tools, more manpower, a new perspective or experience, or something else?
  3. Experience. Who has the experience to handle the workload? Would it be a junior, average or specialized person or team? Or a team with a combination of different levels?
  4. Internal resources for training and compliance. How practical do you want to be in managing that individual or team? More realistic: how much bandwidth does your department or company have? Is your team willing to take on the employer’s responsibilities?
  5. Budget. Finally, what is the available budget? Having complete budget knowledge to achieve your social media goals and bring in the help you need will play a big role in finding the right solution.

Internal negotiations

Pros

  • Brand awareness and familiarity: This person will know and understand your brand from the inside out.
  • Employees have dedicated resources with reliable schedules.
  • Employees can be instantly guided and assigned to perform exactly the tasks they are looking for.
  • Companies can more easily know what the impact is on their budget, in the form of an agreed salary or fixed hours and rates.

Cons

  • Hiring employees entails additional costs: taxes, insurance, and, often, benefits related to health, dentistry, retirement, and much more.
  • Hiring also requires additional time to train, manage and meet employee compliance requirements.
  • Hiring employees is usually the least flexible option if you finally realize that your company has different needs or that an employee is not working.
  • You may be limited by the employee’s skills or experience.
  • If you need tools, you are responsible for providing them with the employee to learn and use, rather than accessing and training talent through an external partner (such as an agency).

Agency

Pros

  • Agencies usually bring new ideas, a high degree of creativity, and a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds.
  • If you don’t have access (or don’t want to enter into long-term contracts for robust tools), you can partner with an agency to access the tools you need (or the benefits that come with them, such as data).
  • Although you work regularly and meet with agency employees, agency partners need less time or bandwidth from you. You do not need to train, manage or accept the employer’s responsibilities.
  • There is a certain flexibility in your partnership, depending on the terms of your contract and the duration of your partnership. For example, if it doesn’t work, it’s usually easier to end a relationship with the agency than to fire an employee.

Cons

  • Companies may have limited control over work quality, execution strategy, and results.
  • Third parties (such as agencies and consultants) generally do not know your brand as well as you or your employees.
  • Your agency partner may not feel as committed to your success (although good people do).
  • Office workers generally work on different accounts, so they can be divided and your account doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Agency partners are often (not always) the most expensive option.

Pro or Con

Your account team can change regularly. If you want to rotate people for flexibility and new ideas, this may be ideal. Knowing your team members and getting them to understand your brand properly can be a negative experience.

Consultant or freelancer

Pros

  • A wide range of consultants/freelancers, from juniors to experts, are available on the market and can fill in the gaps in your team’s resources or experience, or bring in new ideas and ideas.
  • As with a partner agency, they do not require training or management bandwidth, nor any responsibility or expense on the part of the employer.
  • If you prefer information and insights about how things are done, a consultant/freelancer may be willing to work as an external member of the team.
  • Partnerships with consultants generally offer more flexibility, depending on the terms of the contract and the duration of the partnership. (It may also be the most flexible budget option.)
  • Consultants/freelancers are generally smart and helpful and you know exactly whom you are working with.

Cons

  • If you want to have access to many tools, a consultant or freelancer may not be able to provide what you are looking for.
  • Like agencies, consultants generally don’t know your brand as well as you or your employees. (Although they are often eager to learn because their success is their success.)
  • Consultants must be careful with their time; otherwise, they can distribute to multiple clients in the same way as an agency.
  • Consultants can bring new ideas and creative insights, but they do not bring the intelligence of an entire agency team.