Social Media - Intern or Agency?

Social media truly is the town hall and public square of our day. It has the power to make the intangible tangible and to incarnate ideas, emotions, connections, and relationships. Things so essential to our human experience that very few of us can live without them. Things so essential to us that organizations seek to share these intangibles with us every day in the form of training to ensure that employees are able to perform well. Social Media is another step on that ladder of innovation. It is a gift to humanity that allows for more sophisticated expression of these very essential intangibles.

That said, let's get practical. While it is absolutely an amazing way to communicate with people, social media is far from simple and can be an intricate form of communication that requires quite a bit of knowledge to leverage appropriately. That is why social media efforts should be strategic and human in approach, taking into account the psychology and understanding of the people they are trying to reach. We don't want to out audiences with too much messaging who feel fatigued or annoyed. We also don't want too little messaging and fail to offer value with too little engagement. It can be an important balance that is not commonly found in the everyday use of the average social media user because social media for organizations is about more than sharing everyday content. It is about strategically using campaigns, ad dollars, posts, content strategies, posting schedules, and a variety of other methodologies in tandem to ensure the best possible results.

There are quite a few ways to tackle this social media but amidst the many questions people have, we urge our clients to truly consider two of the most important questions on the topic: How will they craft their social media strategies and who is best to monitor and execute them? Some companies utilize interns, knowing that the most recent group of people to hit the job force have grown up utilizing social media. Other companies hire an external agency because of their proven return on investment, however, there are pros and cons to each approach.

Agencies offer the expertise of trained staff members who have honed their skills in social media marketing. They have proven consistency in planning a specific social media strategy that offers tangible growth. Their strategies are goal oriented since the quality of their work is measured by how well they can help their clients achieve specific objectives. These returns are calculated through complex analysis software that quantifies digital interactions and offers transparency into the process. Agencies have access to a variety of these programs, as well as the training and experience to understand how they work. They often use key software to identify trends, marketing strategies, target audiences, and networks. Agencies also tend to know what platforms would be most beneficial to their client’s market. These platforms may not be the first that come to mind for the casual social media user. For example, a crafting company may find a more effective platform on Pinterest than on Facebook. While an author might take advantage of Facebook over Instagram. Agencies will use their expertise to cultivate the most effective social media platforms.

The most common drawback or con that many organizations face when looking for social media agencies is a slightly higher price. The monthly price of social media marketing can vary based on a list of variables. The most effective plans can be an investment, and you're usually guaranteed a good return on your investment but again it does require investment. In addition, agencies often have multiple accounts and more time is needed when serving organizations that invest in larger plans. Since the agency will be posting industry-specific content, it can be difficult for them to gain their client’s trust when posting for an industry the agency is not truly familiar with. This trusting relationship takes time and communication to cultivate but can offer a high return. Agencies are often invested in their clients as their success dictates the agencies' success, therefore, goals often align.

On the other hand, organizations may utilize interns to operate their social media. Interns are often college students or recent college graduates, so they can run the social media accounts at a low cost. They are often eager to learn but have a significant lack of knowledge when considering their ability to formulate effective strategies. After all, who can blame them when they are often in need of the internship to gain experience and learn on the job in the first place. A positive, however, is that they are "in-house" as they say allowing for closer supervision of work. However, supervisors should be prepared to invest time and therefore additional monies into training as interns are learning on the job. They must also learn and understand the metrics and analytics tools used in quantifying the efficiency of their campaigns. The results take quite a while to see and the turnover rate of interns is high as their goal is not long-term but temporary career advancement. In addition, performance may not be consistent from new intern to new intern. That said, it is often better to invest this kind of time and energy when sure the intern will be eventually moved to a full-time position as these factors are important to consider.

Social media sites are where the people are gathered. This tool can be one of the strongest in marketing and should be treated as such. For organizations looking to expand their reach in a meaningful way, agencies are often the best option. The investment comes with a guaranteed return, calculated through algorithms and analysis. The return is often seen in the immediate months of implementation, allowing for faster results. Now, of course, this is simply our experience and our recommendation. Be sure to go through the pros and cons for yourselves as it is important to make the right decision for your situation and your organization.

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