Social Media: Agency, or In-House?

Posted on: 10/30/13, 8:59pm

Is it time to bring social media in-house?

For many of you, It’s Time to Bring Social In-House.

Bold statement, we know, but we stand behind it. Hundreds of agencies will disagree, citing that they are doing a fine job managing social media responsibilities outsourced to them by major corporations. But are they really providing that much value? Do they really know your brand?

We argue that they don’t.

If you are trusting someone to be the eyes, ears and voice of your brand, shouldn’t they know the brand extremely well?  If there is a crisis, doesn’t it need to be communicated immediately to the brand and legal teams at your company?

For companies that need someone managing their social media presence at least 25 hours per week…

It’s time to hire a dedicated Community Manager.
Having a dedicated Community Manager comes down to, well, dedication. It brings the individual that much closer to the brand. Since the role of the Community Manager (CM) is to be the eyes, ears, and voice of the brand on social and digital platforms, that individual/team needs to thoroughly know the brand and carry that through on all social and digital channels.

Oftentimes, an outsourced CM doesn’t spend enough time getting to know the brand as well as they should, and in these cases the messaging or brand voice doesn’t align with other marketing and communications channels; or the brand as a whole. These outsourced individuals also juggle multiple brands at once, so even in a crisis situation, they might not be able to drop everything and respond to that client’s needs.

The most important reason for large companies to have a dedicated CM or SM team – the real-time nature of social media. Brand opportunities and threats arise in real-time too, and it’s important to have a triaging system and escalation process in place, in addition to personal relationships with other members of the organization to respond quickly and in the appropriate manner.

But, it’s not as easy to do as you’d think…
Due to high demand, the talent gap for qualified, experienced social media talent is enormous. It seems the really good candidates are already employed and those that fit 80% of the qualifications have no way to fill that 20% gap.

(Except now, with The Social Lights Community Manager Training Programs…)

The Social Lights Training Program
Due to this, too many companies shift SM responsibilities to junior-level employees without the right experience (risky) or Mar/Comm teams that already have plenty on their plate. Some of them still outsource SM responsibilities to an ad agency (sometimes halfway across the country), typically at way too few hours to be effective and way too high of an hourly rate.

We Can Help
At The Social Lights, we screen Community Manager candidates for the following requirements:

We also look closely at case study prompts and personal branding to ensure competency of social and digital tools. From there, we provide extra training in the social media focus areas that need improvement.

Now that you’re convinced you need a Community Manager, here’s how to find one:
Define the role – an enticing job description with clear responsibilities and duties. No CM wants to go into a company and then “figure it out.” CMs are hardworking and always love a challenge, so exploring integration with other departments is appealing – Having access to the marketing, communications, web teams; upcoming advertisements and events, and getting a glimpse at any behind-the-scenes product development are all important to the role.

Since social media happens in real-time, there is always room to change directions and CMs are nimble enough to do so, as long as they have the right tools and teams in place.

If your company is seriously looking to hire a full-time Social Media Community Manager, The Social Lights LLC (a Twin Cities based social media agency) specializes in social media training and talent placement. The Social Lights will work as a strategic partner with your company and build the right social media team to execute ongoing social media strategy and community management. Talent will be selected based on the appropriate mix of experience; both social/digital experience, and industry experience.

 

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