Of the services we provide, social media marketing tends to be the one our clients think they could handle on their own. And, in some cases, they’ve come to us because they thought they could handle it on their own, quickly found out that they couldn’t, and now they need our help.
The inclination to keep your social media in-house makes sense. For many of us, it’s the aspect of digital marketing we understand and have the most experience with first-hand. We’re on social media every day, so (we think) we see how the wheels are turning. And, with social media marketing scheduling platforms and software available to anyone, it should be easy to take this knowledge and leverage it into a successful social media marketing strategy, right?
While it’s true that there’s no shortage of software or platforms that promise to and can help you run and automate your social media, they all still pale (so far) to having a team of human minds on the job. Which is where an agency partner comes in.
Agency teams have the diverse range of experience and expertise you’re not likely to have or find among your in-house marketing team. Even if you do manage to find and hire someone with this kind of experience, that experience quickly becomes obsolete if they’re not using it continuously, or if it wasn’t applicable to their current or previous role. Social media marketing isn’t like riding a bike; the tools and landscape and best practices are constantly changing, and if you’re not keeping on top of these changes, past knowledge can quickly become irrelevant.
However, this isn’t to say that a background in social media marketing won’t be a useful skill for an internal hire. In fact, it can put you on the path to the greatest possible social media marketing strategy: one that involves both your internal team and an external agency partner.
Why partner with an agency?
It might seem redundant to utilize both an internal social media specialist (or specialists) and an external agency, but you’re actually getting the best of both worlds. Your internal team and the agency’s team both provide essential information and guidance that leads to the most informed and effective social media marketing strategy. Your internal team and the agency team are two circles of a venn diagram, and in the center of that diagram is the strategy sweet spot.
Your team is your brand and business expert. Organic content and community management are important aspects of your brand’s social media presence that are perhaps best handled by an internal employee. They know your business the best and can act as the authority on the brand voice, tone and appearance. While an agency partner can know, and even help define, these metrics for your brand and business, they can’t come close to the experience your internal team has of using and speaking on behalf of the business every day. Your team is on-site, in-the-know, and has levels of access that would be difficult for an agency to obtain. What an agency brings to the table is the essential structure, guidance and strategy that your team might otherwise struggle with on their own.
What can an agency partnership look like?
As with any partnership, the key is to identify what the dynamics look like and where certain responsibilities lie. How much influence do you want the agency to have? How much control do you want your internal team to have? Answering these questions are the key to setting up a successful agency partnership.
An agency partnership for your social media marketing can function in a variety of different ways, depending on your needs and goals for your business, the agency and your internal team.
The Agency Does It All
On one end of the spectrum, you can have the agency be responsible for almost every aspect of your social media marketing: shooting video and photography, creating visual assets, defining essential brand elements, identifying KPIs, planning and executing all of your organic and paid content. The internal team can still play a role in approving the content, guiding the messaging, informing the agency of what products or services to promote and other essential messaging aspects. They can be in charge of approving and potentially altering or suggesting alternative content and messaging and collaborating with the agency to ensure the content and strategies they execute are appropriate and strategically in line with the goals and objectives of the business.
The Agency Advises
Or, at the other end of the spectrum, the agency can act as more of a consultant, strictly operating to help guide your team in the production of its social media content and marketing. The agency can help your team execute video and photography assets, set up target audiences, establish strategies for organic and paid content, managing your social media community and responding to users. This can also give you a chance to see what a potential agency partnership can look like without allocating too much budget to it or relinquishing control of your social media presence.
Of course, in the middle of the spectrum is a blend of the two, with the agency and the internal team collaborating on strategies and messaging, producing different kinds of visual assets, splitting responsibilities for organic and paid content.
An Agile Partnership
What this blended partnership looks like is up to you and your team. What are your team’s strengths and weaknesses? Maybe they’re capable of producing messaging and content, but struggle to keep up with the constant changes and best practices for ads management. Maybe social media management is a small part of their job and they only have the time to dedicate to collaborating and evaluating the agency’s work. Or maybe, and perhaps most accurately, their role and the availability they have to oversee social media marketing changes from month to month or week to week. Maybe it will change as team members are added, subtracted or replaced. That’s part of the reason it’s essential to have a true, flexible partnership with an agency that can help you move through these transitions seamlessly without losing sight or control of your social media marketing.
How to establish an effective agency partnership
When establishing any kind of partnership, it’s important that you know what your wants and needs are and what your team is willing or unable to do. Even if roles and responsibilities between your internal team and the agency change or shift over time, by finding an agency that can truly partner with you and offer this essential flexibility, you’ll be sure to set your social media marketing up for success.