Over the last few years, we’ve noticed the trend of many companies deciding whether to take some or all of their social media efforts in-house. In an effort to cut costs, many in-house marketing teams are looking to staff in-house social media managers who can wear multiple hats, including a large range of both strategic and executional tasks.
Since we’ve both observed and worked with a variety of in-house marketers, we’ve compiled three realities that should be considered when choosing to staff in-house.
Reality #1: The Social Media Unicorn Does Not Exist
On paper, it seems like one dedicated resource should be all it takes to keep social channels updated. This may have been possible just five years ago, when the average user had just three social accounts. Now, with the average internet user having over seven social accounts and 98% of internet users being social media users, the landscape has changed.
Also, as the social platforms and the industry have matured, there is an increased demand for high quality content creation (including video, photography, and graphic design), a host of advertising opportunities available (and new ones releasing every day), increased customer demand for prompt and quality community management (that stays on brand voice), and pressure to measure and tie results back to business objectives. Oh, and let’s not forget the increased need for social media strategy.
Since social media marketing is all we have done for the last 10 years, I’m just going to let you in on a little secret: we’ve never found the elusive social media unicorn, the one person who does an exceptional job at all the tasks social requires. If this “social media unicorn” existed, I can tell you that we’d have hired them in a heartbeat.
Instinctively we know the skillset differences in an analyst and a content producer, and yet this often gets forgotten when designing in-house roles and decisions.
Reality #2: Finding and Keeping Talent is Tough
Marketers who have decided to bring roles in-house in recent years are now being faced with the first phase of turnover. And with 21% of millennials who have changed jobs within the past year, this trend isn’t going away.
We’ve experienced clients who have spent months or nearly a year or more trying to find the right person, or finding the right person only for the candidate to fall through months in. Other clients have decided to absorb these responsibilities for an indefinite period of time, eventually fulfilling the role with internal team members who may not have as much of a social media background but express interest in the opportunity to learn something new.
I think what makes finding new qualified candidates even more challenging for in-house marketers is that often the job description and role itself is designed with the Social Media Unicorn in mind (refer to reality #1). Without focus or speciality, most candidates look at the laundry list of executional tasks mixed in with strategic tasks and are curious what the career advancement or opportunity really is. We’ve often found that hiring is much easier when a person can instead focus on what they are passionate about and good at.
Reality #3: Be Prepared for Needs to Change
Needs are always changing the constantly evolving social space. One minute social networks reward high quality photography, and in the next minute they have shifted to reward video over other types of content. This is often where in-house teams can actually find it more efficient to outsource certain types of tasks that bringing a fully dedicated resource may be more costly.
Based on this, we’d advise having at least one in-house resource that can manage and oversee social media activities on behalf of the brand. While executional needs of the platforms may change, this person can oversee how these activities ladder up to overarching business and marketing objectives. This person can then pull in internal or outside resources to help with the laundry list of executional needs social requires.
After considering these realities, also consider this: the question doesn’t have to be whether you bring social in-house or outsource. Instead, start by asking what your social strategy is, and then take a look at the resources you have to execute that. You’ll often find that the answer isn’t one or the other, but finding the combination that works for your brand.
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