Recently, I’ve noticed that there’s a ton of social media management positions listed all over the internet, but not a whole lot of love for digital marketing agencies. I will preface this by saying that a lot of mid-sized to larger organizations understand the need for agency support, even with an internal marketing team, but smaller organizations seem to be very cautious about agency partnership. Why is this!?
I had my suspicions but I decided to do a little research. I created a poll across several platforms to ask the question: Why do businesses prefer SMM over digital marketing agencies? And this isn’t an attack on SMM. I personal believe that either options may be better suited for different organizations, but there seems to be some unified thought about digital marketing agencies that I can’t quite understand. While SMM are struggling to carry entire brand on their backs like NBA All Stars.
It simply needed to be done.
So, here are 5 myths that I found:
Myth#1: Agencies are more expensive.
According to google, the average cost of hiring a Social Media Manager (SMM) is $35/hr ($2800 – $5600/month). Monthly agency costs range from $750 to $5,000 depending on how many posts and platforms.
Here’s where I think the rub comes in. Social Media Management is broken into 5 major parts which is strategy, design, content development, engagement, and analytics, which in most cases would be considered a job for at least 3 different people. Then you have an endless sea of platforms that all require different things, like video, photography, carousels, etc. A perfectly fair scenario would be to hire at least 2-3 people at around $150K, who would be dedicated to managing all platforms, but also focus on their strengths (design, content, etc.).
That’s not what happens.
One person is typically responsible for everything and there is little to no transition plan for that person when they leave. But most agencies aren’t charging more than what it would cost for one employee. One thing that I did learn was that some agencies only have one person dedicated to SMM, which isn’t exactly the type of agency we are referring to.
Myth #2: Agencies don’t offer personalized support.
This one is interesting to me because I think how we define “personalize support” is where the challenge lies. Specifically for small and intimate teams, there is a huge need for control in this arena because most companies want to manage their image delicately (and rightfully so). But this is really about trust. Personalized support doesn’t to mean that you can have consistent access to a person. This seems to be less about being individualized service and more about control.
Understanding a brands individuality is very much a part of what most agencies do. Agencies are suited to work with multiple clients, but understanding whether the agency you are choosing to work with has an actual team to support your social media goals is up to your team. You should absolutely have access to engage with someone for questions, concerns, and updates to support your communication strategy, but if you want to have to have control over every post, time, graphic, etc, then you may want to consider an in-house team.
Myth #3: It’s difficult for agencies to grasp your brand voice.
This seems to be more about alignment with the right agency than an actual fact. Ultimately, the agency you choose should offer some time to discover who you are and what you offer, but that takes time. Many times, this is something that has to be established prior to hiring anyone to “run social media”. It’s not uncommon for our agency to engage with a client that doesn’t have a marketing plan in place or brand guide. This is a critical tool in communicating on an organizations behalf, so make sure your organization has a good sense about their brand voice prior to engaging or communicating that it’s unclear at the beginning.
Asking for an agency or SMM to just jump in and “get it” is unrealistic. This also takes time, so make sure you ask about how long it typically takes to find a groove.
Myth #4: Agencies don’t offer full-service.
This is something that actually may have a little truth to it, but it depends on the agency. Social Media Management services look different across the board, much like SMM. Some organizations offer design and posting, but they don’t offer engagement or analytics and vice versus. Some SMM will only post once a week for $1,000, but they are very confident about what they bring to the table. Ultimately, you want to choose the best fit and if you can afford full-service, or to pay a really good SMM, it may be everything you’d hoped for.
Myth #5: Agencies require long-term commitment.
This one is a little weird because hiring an employee is definitely a long-term commitment. Although I can’t speak for most agencies, it’s common practice to have a flexible cancellation policy. For example, our agency requires a 14 day notice to cancel retainer services. We plan a month ahead and are typically finishing our work two weeks prior to the beginning of the month.
The benefit of this is that even if you don’t want to hire and agency for long, you can use an agency to establish consistency before you begin managing on your own or as a support while looking for a new team member.
Ultimately, what I learned is that there are still a lot of misconceptions about what social media management should look like and who should be responsible for it. Our recommendations would be to do your research and make sure you are considering realistic expectations for your SMM. And if you need a team and can’t afford one, schedule some time to chat.
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