Chandler Bruns, Social Media Project Manager, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Deciding whether to bring your social program in-house is like the story of the medieval warrior facing two doors, with a beautiful princess behind the first and a tiger lurking behind the other. Yes, it can have a happy ending ­– but you should know the risks before you turn the knob.

It goes without saying that social media should already play an important role in your overall marketing mix. According to statista, a provider of marketing and consumer data, more than 79% of the U.S. population has a social media profile, which equates to 247 million users. Your customers and prospects are unquestionably part of this growing population.

But if you’re thinking about taking it all on your own, consider the five greatest benefits and five biggest risks of a do-it-yourself approach.

The Lady Behind the Door: Reasons to Bring Social Media in-house.

  1. You know your customers better than anybody else. You’re already talking to them in a tone of voice that’s authentic and based on years (decades) of time and experience. You know what’s on their minds, and what they’re interested in discussing. And you likely have a portfolio of assets (photos, stories, videos, etc.) from which to draw on to build appropriate messaging. In short, no agency or army of freelancers is better suited to have real and relevant conversations with your customers than you are.
  2. Your expertise resides in-house. When customers have questions about specifications, product features, sales events, or even company history, someone in your organization has the answer – and you know whom to ask for help. Moreover, an integrated social media plan involves cross-functional teams of employees (i.e. web, sales, tactical marketing) that are readily available to you.
  3. Speed-to-market is faster. If you own the social media program and processes, you can react faster to questions and comments, and take advantage of unplanned opportunities quicker than if you outsource to an agency. Approval times for messaging are likely shorter, too.
  4. It’s probably cheaper, at least in the short term, especially if social media is a supporting pillar of your overall media strategy (rather than a primary focus). In a world where you’re likely being asked to do more with the same budget, this is a serious reason to consider an in-house approach.
  5. You maintain control of customer data. Limiting the number of file handoffs reduces the chance of a privacy breach.

The Tiger Behind the Door: Risks of a Do-It-Yourself approach.

  1. It takes time – lots and lots and lots of time. Chances are you already had a full-time job before you added social media to the mix, and you haven’t been overwhelmed with new additions to your staff now that social media is an expected tactic. Staying on top of changes, planning and executing an integrated approach, and measuring the results are all time-sucking obstacles; it’s far too much to handle “on top of everything else,” even with a dedicated social manager (should you be lucky enough to have one), not to mention the issue of 24/7 monitoring and response that your customers expect today.
  2. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees, which is to say that stakeholders in your company may be expecting more from a single message than is appropriate. Trying to jam too much information (product names and features, specs, sales offers, etc.) into a single message is a common mistake that many in-house authors make, albeit with the best intentions. Unfortunately, many customers and prospects will simply skip over these messages, or worse, block future offerings.
  3. The rules and platforms change constantly. A recent article I read highlighted “The 65+ networking sites your company should be using.” Some are familiar names you’re likely employing (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), some are platforms you’re aware of, but may not be using (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest), and some you’ve probably never heard of (TikTok, Discord, Spreely). Knowing how each of these work, and if they’re a fit for your company can be exhausting. Just staying abreast of how the most familiar sites change algorithms and use AI to deploy messaging is a chore for even full-time social media managers. Compounding this further, the more effective your social media strategy becomes, the more important it is to stay on top of changes and extend into new platforms.
  4. Mistakes are costly, and can range from irritating to disastrous. Your social media presence is often the first exposure a prospect has to your company; typos, broken links, and the like can cause a negative first impression. The marketplace is replete with examples of “social media blunders” from major companies like Burger King (who offered $50,000 and a lifetime supply of Whoppers to any woman who conceived a child with a World Cup soccer player) to Cinnabon (who tweeted “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy” after the actress died). Ill-advised messages like these lead to consumer backlash, corporate apologies, and, most likely, dismissals. Any social media mistakes risk turning off potential customers and losing sales.
  5. Measuring your success is difficult. If you’ve ever hemmed and hawed when a senior manager asked if your strategy was working (or questioned the investment), you understand this. You know you should be measuring and optimizing your strategy, but how often have you struggled just to get something out the door, much less remembered to track the performance and use the insights to tweak your program?

A Third Option: The Rooster Door.

Many companies (including a number of our clients) have chosen a third option that melds the advantages of social media ownership while reducing the inherent risks.

For instance, we can help you set your goals, which includes deciding which metrics are important to you and why. Do you want to generate leads? Drive traffic to your how-to videos on YouTube? Provide after-the-sale online service and support? Show your commitment to a specific cause, customer group, or organization? We can help map out a journey that uses the best platform(s) for your goals, and provide the back-end analysis to help confirm that you’re on the right track or recommend changes to improve performance.

If you’re comfortable taking the lead on content creation and placement, that’s great; you’re in the best position to know your audience and how to talk to them (see #1, above). If not, we can help train your authors to ensure that content is relevant, useful, and readable. What’s more, we can scale up or down to provide more or less creative support throughout the year as you deem appropriate.

We can also provide the best practices we’ve developed with other clients, sharing ideas and executions that work well for others, tailoring them to fit your unique strategic goals.

And, most important, we understand the changes and challenges with developing a robust social media program, and we have experts on staff dedicated to staying up to date on the changing technologies and executable tactics – so you don’t have to!

Our clients have found this collaborative approach to be a profitable and approachable happy medium between a complete do-it-on-your-own approach and a turnkey outsourcing, allowing them to control what they’re best at doing, while allowing us to support them with expertise that’s impossible for them to maintain.

If you’re interested in taking your social media program to a new level, I sincerely hope you’ll contact me and start a discussion on how Rooster can help.