With every oth­er Insta­gram star being a social media guru these days, it’s com­mon for busi­ness­es to ask them­selves whether they should look into out­sourc­ing their social media efforts.

The day-to-day tasks of run­ning a busi­ness are gen­er­al­ly enough for the aver­age CEO, caus­ing social media mar­ket­ing to fall short on the pri­or­i­ty cal­en­dar.

Social media mar­ket­ing is its own beast and requires a spe­cial atten­tion and lev­el of cre­ativ­i­ty. Frankly, it isn’t for every­one.

If you’re going back and forth on whether to out­source your social media mar­ket­ing, ask your­self the fol­low­ing ques­tions first.

1. How Much Time Do I Have to Devote to Managing Social Media?

Time is the biggest rea­son busi­ness­es look to out­sourc­ing their social media.

Social media isn’t just about sched­ul­ing posts.

You actu­al­ly have to invest time in:

  • Track­ing your brand men­tions on social media.
  • Mon­i­tor­ing the con­ver­sa­tions that are hap­pen­ing.
  • Try­ing new growth hack meth­ods.
  • Respond­ing imme­di­ate­ly to any inquiries.

All of this needs to hap­pen 24/7, too.

To say social media man­age­ment can be done by set­ting aside 1–2 hours a week is real­ly quite hilar­i­ous.

The time you invest in man­ag­ing your brand’s social pages and image can’t be cat­e­go­rized into a lump one or few hour time peri­od. It is some­thing that requires con­stant atten­tion and gen­er­al­ly in small inter­vals.

This is espe­cial­ly true for brands that have large fol­low­ings and receive ques­tion after ques­tion through their social pages.

For those small­er to medi­um-sized busi­ness­es who argue, “Well, I don’t have tons of fol­low­ers, so I just post and I’m good,” I hate to break it to you, but that couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth.

If any­thing, the brands that have small­er fol­low­ings have even more work cut out for them as they try to grow their fol­low­ers organ­i­cal­ly and through paid meth­ods. Talk about over­time.

There are tons of excel­lent growth hack­ing meth­ods to get your fol­low­er count as high as Nike, but to exe­cute those meth­ods it takes lots and lots of time and ener­gy.

Social media isn’t a one and done type of strat­e­gy. You need to con­tin­u­al­ly be opti­miz­ing your fol­low­ers and be social online.

2. Do I Know How to Be Social Online?

Social media isn’t an excuse to hide behind a com­put­er and not actu­al­ly talk to any­one. You still need to talk to your fol­low­ers.

There’s tru­ly an art to being a social but­ter­fly online, and not every­one has the knack. Let’s be hon­est with our­selves.

If you just real­ly don’t have the ener­gy, cre­ativ­i­ty, or will to be a vir­tu­al social but­ter­fly, don’t be.

If you have the time, there are tons of resources to teach you how to con­nect with peo­ple vir­tu­al­ly and become this type of but­ter­fly for your brand.

Maybe you do have the time and want to learn how to con­nect with your demo­graph­ic social­ly, go for it!

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you though is to know your audi­ence.

If your audi­ence is just as intro­vert­ed as you are they’ll most like­ly con­tin­ue that intro­vert­ing in how they com­mu­ni­cate online.

Instead of being on flashy social media pages like Insta­gram or Snapchat they may be hid­ing in forums or casu­al­ly brows­ing Pin­ter­est.

Wher­ev­er they may be mim­ic your cus­tomer, go where they are, talk like they talk, cre­ate con­tent they’re com­fort­able with. Don’t be an extro­vert in an intro­verts world.

If the idea of this is mak­ing you cringe, it would be best for you to out­source your social media to an agency who has done work for anoth­er busi­ness with­in your indus­try.

This is some­one who knows how to talk to be a vir­tu­al social but­ter­fly to your audi­ence.

3. Have I Established My Brand Voice? If So, How Unique Is It?

Brand voice is every­thing on social media.

Again, know your audi­ence but also know your brand before you even try to con­nect with your audi­ence.

  • Are your posts fun­ny and sar­cas­tic?
  • Do they only have calls to action and demands?
  • Are you cap­i­tal­iz­ing on every big news sto­ry?
  • Or are you more of a DIY mom who has a 10-year old blog?

All of those voic­es are entire­ly dif­fer­ent. Though most agen­cies will, not all agen­cies are great at mim­ic­k­ing your brand voice.

The first step here is to get your brand voice down. Once you have it, nev­er lose it!

Then, doc­u­ment every­thing you pos­si­bly can about this voice.

  • What words should this voice use?
  • Which ones should it avoid at all costs and nev­er ever ever ever use?
  • Who are oth­er com­pa­nies who have a sim­i­lar brand voice?

The more you doc­u­ment, the more you’ll see if this is some­thing you can trust in anoth­er brands hands to help man­age for you or if you should hold onto this baby your­self.

After all, you’re the one who cre­at­ed it.

In short:

  • If you have a well-doc­u­ment­ed brand voice, a good social media agency will be able to send you exam­ple copies for your approval until you feel at ease that they get it.
  • If you’re still try­ing to find your brand voice and are at the begin­ning stages of this strat­e­gy, now isn’t exact­ly the best time to out­source your social media man­age­ment.
  • If you’re going to out­source any­thing, hire a social media con­sul­tant to help define your brand voice for social media and then take it from there.

4. Do I Have Content or Do I Need Content?

One way to do social media is to be com­plete­ly hands off and let a social media agency do all of the work for you, which can even include cre­at­ing the con­tent to share.

If you have your own con­tent to share, I’m not say­ing it’s a deal break­er and you should just suck it up and man­age social media your­self.

What I’m say­ing is that if you’re strug­gling to fig­ure out which type of con­tent to pro­duce, or if you should reshare that ebook from three years ago, it’s worth out­sourc­ing your con­tent pro­duc­tion to a pro­fes­sion­al.

This pro­fes­sion­al is going to need a good debrief about your busi­ness, how and why it oper­ates, who it’s ide­al and actu­al cus­tomers are, and what kind of con­tent mate­ri­als you already have.

From there, out­sourc­ing con­tent may be the best move for your busi­ness.

You can still man­age the social media in-house, but with­out the wor­ries of try­ing to fig­ure out what kind of con­tent your fol­low­ers actu­al­ly want to see.

5. Can I Afford to Outsource?

Social media agen­cies, inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors, and con­tent cre­ators all come at entire­ly dif­fer­ent price ranges.

Some­times, their price ranges are less expen­sive than your in-house social media man­ag­er. Oth­er times not so much.

Out­sourc­ing social media could cost any­where from $500 to tens of thou­sands of dol­lars a month, all depend­ing upon the fol­low­ing fac­tors:

  • What kind of out­sourc­ing: Free­lance (least expen­sive), agency (mid­dle), or enter­prise (high­est)
  • What the month­ly deliv­er­ables are: More posts and con­tent cre­ation = high­er price
  • How long the con­tract length is: Longer con­tracts = price cuts
  • Social media tool sub­scrip­tions: Some­times agen­cies require you to have your own account
  • Social media adver­tis­ing: Because organ­ic is no longer good enough

Let’s not for­get about the time it takes for you to email back and forth, edit, approve and review reports.

Here’s a look at every­thing that comes with in-house costs of social media man­age­ment:

  • Employ­ees (salary, ben­e­fits, etc.).
  • Social media tool sub­scrip­tions.
  • Con­tent cre­ation.
  • Social media adver­tis­ing.
  • Strat­e­gy devel­op­ment and mea­sure­ment (time and tools).

If you go the free­lancer route, you’re cer­tain­ly sav­ing mon­ey on those ben­e­fit cov­er­ages, but it may not always be the right path. You’re still look­ing at invest­ing:

  • Your man­age­ment time.
  • Your com­mu­ni­ca­tion time.
  • Con­tent cre­ation.
  • Social media adver­tis­ing.

6. What Should I Do?

So, which one is right for you?

It depends on tons of dif­fer­ent goals and fac­tors, most which we hashed out above.

To put it sim­ply, if you’re already head over heels with to-do lists and the idea of carv­ing out extra time to do anoth­er task is mak­ing your oth­er eye twitch, do your­self a favor and out­source. It will be the least time-invest­ed resource.

Though, don’t for­get, it will still require a bit of your time and move­ment in your bud­get.

  • Free­lance = Lots of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, edit­ing, approvals, and then dou­ble-check­ing ROI.
  • Agency = A bit of time ini­tial­ly and then most­ly hands-off.
  • Enter­prise = Read our month­ly reports and go “Oh” and “Ah.”

If you have the time, bud­get, and expe­ri­ence to cre­ate an in-house team or become one, then do so.

Man­ag­ing your brand’s social media pres­ence in-house has far more pros than cons.