By Rachel Strella
One of the biggest debates in the social media management community is whether it’s better to manage social media in-house or outsource these efforts to an experienced third party.
I’ve found those who favor keeping social media in-house often believe that only company employees have the necessary knowledge to communicate effectively on behalf of the company. Those in favor of outsourcing argue that having a strong knowledge of and passion for social media are fundamental to making social media efforts successful. In other words, some companies don’t have the in-house knowledge or passion to make it work.
Both of these arguments make sense to me, so I would say that there is no absolute ‘right answer’ in this debate. It all depends on the type and size of the business, as well as its goals.
Take small businesses, for example. Many of them simply don’t have the time or resources to effectively manage social media in-house. Why should this exclude them from establishing a social media presence? An outsourced social media manager is probably the best option in this case.
Larger businesses or corporations are more likely to have the resources for an in-house social media manager. They may already have an employee dedicated to it. However, I’ve seen some in-house managers who lack passion for social media and it often shows up in the form of content that is not engaging. I’ve also seen companies that lack of understanding about what social media is and what will get the best results. In these cases, managing social media in-house can be a waste of time.
In terms of expertise, it’s true that in-house employees have the business expertise and are more likely to understand the interworkings of a company. Outsourced social media managers often have the passion and knowledge for social media to generate results, but they must have a good communication system in place with the company so their content is in-line with the company brand. Sometimes this is difficult to establish and maintain, especially with larger companies.
If your company understands social media, has the necessary manpower, and that manpower has passion for social media, then in-house social media management is probably the way to go. But, that’s a lot of “ifs.”
If you don’t have all these bases covered, I would argue that outsourcing social media is probably a good idea.
Later in the week, I'll discuss another challenge: how social media professionals still have to sell the idea of social media as much as their individual credibility.
What you think about the in-house vs. outsourced social media management debate? Which do you or would you embrace and why?