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Is social media better executed in-house?

3 min read


This post was written by Mirna Bard, a blogger, speaker and consult. She serves as the social-media chairwoman of the Orange County chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and she teaches social media at the University of California at Irvine.

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Who handles your company’s social-media efforts?

  • We keep it in-house — 79.19%
  • We use a combination of two or more of the above —  10.41%
  • We use a social-media/interactive agency — 3.62%
  • We use a social-media consultant — 2.71%
  • We use a traditional advertising agency — 2.26%
  • We use a PR firm — 1.81%
  • We use a marketing firm — 0.00%

I was inspired to ask our readers last week’s poll question after Sarah Kessler reached out to me for her post on Mashable, “Social Media Marketing 101: In-House Team, Agency or Consultant?” Kessler accurately points out that there isn’t a single formula when deciding whether to use an in-house team or outsource social-media efforts. I believe the decision to handle social media in-house versus outsourcing depends on many factors, including size of company, objectives and resources, as well as whether a company is using social media for marketing, public relations, customer service, market research, internal communication, etc.

I was not surprised to see that 79.19% said they handle social media in-house, and that only 10.4% said they outsource it to a combination of a social-media/interactive agency, a consultant, traditional advertising agency, or public relations firm. The benefits of using an in-house team are pretty clear. Given that using an authentic voice, executive involvement, leveraging internal collaboration, a strong internal culture and passion for the business are key elements to a successful long-term social-media program, outsourcing social-media execution may not make sense to many companies.

Although it is wise to execute social media using an educated and capable in-house team, a company may have to occasionally bring in an agency, consultant, or public relations firm to handle different situations, such as crisis management, strategy planning, educating the team on new developments, or to simply give a fresh perspective. This may be the reason why 10.41% said they use a combination of two or more of the above suggested responses. We will probably start to see more of a collaborative approach as social media matures and agencies/firms/consultants better define their offerings and articulate them to clients.

What criteria has your company used to decide whether to outsource social media or keep it in-house? Do you think your decision may change as social media develops?