#001 Social Media Agency vs Building Internal Social Media Team


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The world of social media as changed. Well, is changing. For a small to mid-sized businesses ready to step on the gas to their social strategy the consideration of building a social team internally is enticing. But what makes an agency vs an internal social team better? On this episode, we’re sharing the pros and cons of having your social media live within your organization, as well as pros and cons of an external partner.

Biggest Takeaways From This Episode

  • Pro In House: Timeliness in Communication - having the department in the business shortens the telephone game. When you’re in house and seeing cool stuff, you can take a pic, post and hype up the energy.

  • Cost - But we’re going to say that this is a perceived pro is cost, the jury is out on this one. Definitely could see this when your strategy is a sheer volume of content game.

  • Pro for Agency: Efficiency can be squandered because of process, departments, silos in house.

  • Pro In House: Digital Savvy Squad - If your decision makers really understand and believe in social. Maybe it’s time to double down on building out your internal team!

  • Pro for Agency: Unicorns! Social media unicorns are tough to find. Someone who are: creative, detailed, can handle project management, writer (long and short form), photos and video, analyze and put the reports together that are easy to understand. They’re tough to vet and tough to find.

  • Pro for Agency: The expertise level is just so in-depth. We can take pieces of the puzzle from a ton of different industries and develop strategy across the business.

  • Pro for Agency: Your in-house team strategy can get stagnant. You get objective about your business.

  • Pro for Agency: 7 to 1. Agencies have 7 people doing the job that in-house people are required to do. Even to just bounce ideas off of someone and know what’s coming next!

  • Pro for Agency: Creativity! Creativity in essence is the death of profit. People in creative teams in-house get bottlenecked with approvals, process and bottom lines.

  • Pro for Agency: Some of the hard costs. Software, equipment, organization, people, research time, distribution/publishing.

  • Turnover: This really just stinks for both. But if you invest everything into a one person team and they leave. Yikes!

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This text below is a straight up audio transcript of the episode. In our humble opinion, we think the audio podcast sounds much better in its original form. We have not edited the transcription below so there are indeed some grammar errors (some quite funny, in-fact).

00:02 You don't have to be a millennial to be socially savvy. We believe anyone can join generation social media. And your journey starts now. This is the generation social media podcast by Chatterkick.

00:18 All right, welcome to generation social media. Today we have Kelsey Martin, our COO, my first employee, the OG to Chatterkick. And we're going to talk about the pros and cons of having your social media live within your organization as well as having external partners. So we're gonna use kind of the concept of an agency, but that also could look different depending on the type of business that you have. And let's just dive in. First of all, let's talk a little bit about what we've seen change because Kelsey started with Chatterkick when I started Chatterkick seven years ago. And the landscape is really different today than it was. What have you noticed?

01:07 You've worked with clients along those full seven years. So I think the evolution of our agency, because we kind of started at the beginning of social media and the knowledge was so limited at the time. Our clients didn't really know what platforms they should be on, how to use them, how often you should post. And that's still a thing. But I think at the very beginning it was more, I just need somebody to take all of this because it's so new and there's so many new things happening all of the time that I cannot keep it straight. So at the beginning I, there was so much value in partnering with an agency or multiple agencies and multiple vendors who could just take digital and run with it and keep it in a different office that was staying on top of it all the time. Where I've seen things changes.

01:55 People are very passionate and interested about social because are using it so much as a person. So they try to figure out how to use it as a, as a business. And so because of their passion and their curiosity, they start to carry that over. So there's so much more education, there's so many more blogs out there, podcasts, ways to learn how to navigate the platforms. And so we've seen a lot more of an evolution for someone who is in marketing, really taking hold of digital and becoming an expert in that and really tailoring more of their strategy to digital. So a lot more knowledge on an in person team, but also just that spreading out and bringing in customer service into digital and HR into digital. It just so much more available. And so a lot of people are trying to figure out how to bring this expertise and build it in house so that they no longer have to have that knowledge outside of their business. They want to keep it and kind of keep that innovation in house. So that's where I've seen a lot of changes of how do we partner with you and set that up for success and then how can you teach me how to do so that I can do it myself and still be a happy partner over a relationship but more so just keep me in the know. But I want to do all the doing

03:08 Right. I think that, I mean we, we've seen in our services, right? Like we've done so much more training in the last and not just like how to do something, but like strategy training in the last probably three years. But one thing I think is really interesting, I see this happening mostly in the marketing departments, don't you think? Like, I don't feel like there's a lot of HR or even the customer success teams and the like customer service teams. I haven't seen that adaptation of

03:37 social as fast as I have in sales and marketing. Definitely not as fast. I think it's really interesting when we get everybody at the table and we start talking about everybody's light bulbs are going off. Like I can use this. There's a way that I can use Facebook to get more employees. But at the end of the day, we have those conversations for about 18 months before there's a strategy in place. So I think the adaptation is a lot slower in those other departments. But from a marketing perspective, our conversations and consulting in help seven years ago was how do I set this up? Where do I put the password and how do I have access or how do I set up a fake account, right to do this. That was a lot of our conversations in the past and now it's, I've got this thing moving, we have momentum, I'm getting comments, conversations are happening now, how do I turn it up a notch?

04:25 And it's really been more of a level up. How do I get deeper into ads? How do I add another platform? I heard this was a thing, chatbots are cool, I want to be on it. And so it's definitely been a way deeper conversation now and that's where we really want to help people decide are you ready to take this in house? Cause there are definitely a lot of businesses that are, or do you need a full partnership or maybe you just need somebody to take part of the pie and you take the rest of it.

04:52 Yeah. What do you, let's, let's dive in now to like pros and cons. So pros of keeping your social media department close to your vest. And what I mean by that is having, assigning the duties to somebody who's already in that space would, maybe it's your marketing director is going to take care of your day to day social strategy and posting maybe that's hiring someone new that you are going to source and find yourselves in that area or that also could look like having a temporary person or multiple people fill that mix. So a little bit of a everybody's role is going to be posting on social. And we're going to assume kind of like a mid sized business. What do you think the top pro is to having that in house?

05:33 I'm going to go really basic but I actually think the top pro is communication because you are in the business all the time. You know when things are shifting and when you work with a partner you have to go through levels of communication and making sure that the brand message is in line with what your goals are at the time. And so being in house, you are there and you have all of the resources together to have the right communication. For the strategy, but there's

05:58 So many other pros that I feel like are right there in the top notch with innovation technology support. What do you think, I think kind of along your same lines, the communication, but I would call that the just the timeliness that I saw Sarah today work with a client who was working on this amazing project that we've been working on for six years. Like you have that like in house knowledge that is really hard to replicate. And so taking that photo of them, having that conversation and posting it onto your social assets, that timeliness works so well and it still works in social and you can't do that and send it to someone else. That gets tricky. So I think that's one of the biggest pros. The barrier to entry can be really easy when you're on campus or on site where you're capturing those moments and you're posting them where the like, like you said, you have to take a picture and send it to them.

06:56 Figuring out what to say. It delays the timing a lot. So staying agile, being there, being able to capture behind the scenes and really publishing that. Definitely a big pro. Yeah. I think another pro that I have heard clients say, I've actually done some research on this and I don't know if the data says this is a real thing, but I think a perceived pro is cost and it's, and I don't mean cost me of keeping it in house or hiring someone, but I think that people think per post it's cheaper and I could understand that to an extent. But the efficiencies also can be squandered and squashed because of processes, silos and departments. Those are kind of on the con side of things. But I do think from a volume of content that one person could develop, could be something that would be a pro for our business.

07:48 Just depending on the type of business or right. If you hire the Unicorn right in the process and the person, they all kind of fit into one, they have creative, they have strategy, account management, then that one item on your, like, it's just the cost of that person is really appealing. So I definitely understand that, but I think that's going to come up a lot more in cons with some of the other things of software and sending them up for success. That might be a double edged sword. Yes. And you know, another company or type of company that this could work really well with is a consumer goods or anybody that has a ton of product shoots. So if you have somebody that is a photographer and you have lots and lots of content of products definitely could be worth your while to hire someone.

08:38 They'll capture all the content of products and angles and post all of those. If you're already doing it to your ecommerce website. I can see some of that working really well, especially if it's, there's not a lot of layers of approval between creative and implementation. That could work really well. The other one that I've seen and we actually consult with a client that has an in house team and they are killing it. They're awesome. But they are all 100% in sync with each other and they know you got this part, I have this part, we're going to communicate this part and they do the day to day Instagram stories and that can be really effective. Instagram stories are a lot and they, you need a lot of them and they work really well in the moment so I could see how that would make sense for them and it definitely is working.

09:27 I was going to kind of go into that the same thing. Next is if you have the right team who can really divide the work and be successful in their role and really own one portion of it, it definitely works. I also feel like another pro or this is just kind of a qualifier of whether or not this you're a good fit for this. If you have a decision making team who's a little bit more digitally savvy or socially savvy and can really understand KPIs and metrics and how they really affect and impact your bottom line and how to use those to make better business decisions. I feel like having that skillset in house can really amplify your momentum as a brand. But if you have a decision making team who's a little less socially savvy, you're almost always going to have some sort of, I don't want to call it conflict, but there's always going to be a large conversation of are we doing this?

10:19 Are we not doing this? Are we doing the right thing? Should we cut this man? That's always going to be something that you're battling on. So if feel like you have a team that's a little bit more socially savvy or digitally apt, I guess it could be a definitely pro to keep your team in house. Yeah. And I think, you know, as an agency we've seen the role of the person handling social media really morph. And when you were talking about Unicorn, we know what that means cause we talk about this all the time, but let's break that down on what we call these unicorns because it's a very, first of all, there's no college path that typically treats. Yeah. Where's the Digital Unicorn to track? But so how we usually define that is somebody who has a very wide skillset in both creativity and detail.

11:07 They, so they can handle project management. They don't let small things come slip through the cracks provider, but they can write in their creative, they can write long form short from they can do photos, videos at least well enough that it supports your brand. They dig into the data and look in numbers and then also put those numbers in a way that's visually appealing and make sense to people who are not looking at the platforms all the time. Right? So you're basically wearing three people's role with one individual and they are out there. There are people out there. I feel like Kelsey and Alison, my first two people that came to try to cook had that flexibility, which really made us efficient and could scale really quickly in the beginning. But as we've hired many, many people the last seven years and even try to help other businesses hire that skillset is really difficult to vet.

12:00 And it's really difficult to find. Because usually you have somebody that's really creative or graphic designers or videographers, but maybe their detail's not super on point cause they're creatives and that's just, you know, it's not same person. And I think the other thing when we're talking about these in house teams is we're seeing teams because we know that in most cases it's not just that magical uniform Unicorn. Right. Right. So let's talk about cons or I guess pros for hiring it out, preferably to an agency or partner and not your nephew, right. Maybe depending on if your nephew is a unicorn that works. So let's talk a little bit about agency partnerships or vendor partnerships. Where do you feel like the value starts? So I think the value starts because, so as you were mentioning, we have a lot of people in, in the space now that are trained in social media.

12:55 It's a wider net of people. But the depth of those people in terms of what they know or the chance that they've had to work on some of these really technical problems to solve is not as much as you would imagine. So we get a ton of applicants. We're very fortunate and I would say most of the applicants know the platforms, but that's about where some of the, the knowledge or expertise even has stopped. So I think the number one pro of hiring out some of the strategy perspective or even some of the actual doing is the expertise level. Because we get to see so many things every single day from manufacturing to ag to consumer goods, to service industries that we can take those pieces of the puzzle and be like, Ooh, we should try this. Or Ooh, we should do that. And it's not because we are told we should do that.

13:48 We read a blog article that we should do that. It's because we've tried it and at worst seen it. And I think that's one of the biggest opportunities to bring someone in is they have this objective view of your business that you don't have in house. And it's so easy. I've seen this happen. It doesn't happen the first year happens about year three and four when you have an in house team you get, you're still doing the same strategies you were doing three years at really stagnant and you don't know even how to brainstorm. Like how do we talk about the hotel for the five hundreds time this year? Like how do we make a different, because we're living in it. So none of the experiences seem unique anymore at all. So I think that kind of plays off of what you're talking about. It's not only the depth of the technical knowledge, but the variance of it.

14:29 Like as an agency, you are working in this all the time, but we have a creator who's creating for these platforms all of the time and they're taking what they're seeing on a retail side and then trying that for a sass product and it works. And so not only are they able to really refine their skills, but they're taking in their learning and they're taking kind of the ideas and what's working and then using it for a different industry. So that inspiration is so like easy to cross and so they always kind of stay creative and really evolve their style. But I think where we have seven different people doing the things that may be one or two people would do on an in house team. And I think that's a huge factor of why hiring experts is a better pro. Right? Because if I am an in house person, I may not even know the limitations of video because I don't have someone to just bounce this off to say is there an app for this or is this like a really technical project that I shouldn't spend four hours researching?

15:32 And I think what businesses, especially leaders that have this assigned to a marketing individual, they don't give their marketing individual enough research time. Or if they do that research time could be hours because it takes so long to try to figure out, it could be something small like the new Instagram changes, right? You have to know how to source that information because you're going to get 300 million hits on that and who are you going to believe? A blogger or a news article like? It's so hard to get the right information and I think that's one of my favorite parts of having an agency is we can take that information and use it as it is, but we can also look at experience because who cares what somebody says if it's not really making that much of an impact or you know, we have, we have a data pool so that we can draw from and to say, well, you know what, we've heard of this but we're not actually seeing it.

16:24 I think you kind of touched on this a little bit, but we're constantly talking about what's next. We're having conversations about what's working, but what's next? What you trying that we should try again. And I think sometimes, and you kind of alluded to this earlier, after year three or four, you kind of get stagnant and you're only listening to your own voice. And so in an agency, most often, or even with other partners, they're looking and trying to push your brand forward into really leaning into what's next. And it makes it an easier transition as these platforms are growing for you to early adapt into that and take those changes to heart. Whereas when you're on a team, sometimes it's just I, when I have time to listen to a podcast, I hear what's next. But sometimes I don't for months. Yeah. So I think when I look at the large corporations, I really think that this the biggest barrier that they have view.

17:14 If you're a big brand or you're dealing with a ton of volume of content the biggest obstacle and problem with trying to build everything out internally is creativity. Because people in finance are not gonna give you creative time like it. Creativity in essence is the death of profit, right? Because it's people aren't allowing these teams to just have this like magical creative space or like having this time because guess what, when you're a big company, you are working with process and you're working with bottom line and you're working with silos and all of these things are wonderful on a business element but are like the worst thing for social media because you have to have four layers of approval, legal compliance, all of this stuff to really get your one piece of content on Instagram story and it lives for 24 hours and so your process is slow and it's a really difficult challenge. So the brands that are doing it and they figured it out, Kudos to them, but there's a lot of them out there that you can tell it just, it falls flat.

18:21 So you talked about finance. Let's jump back into the cost conversation because I think there's so much more to talk about. So we kind of talked about the costs of an employee. Let's talk about the costs of an agency because it sometimes can be a pro. If we really start talking about what's the software costs, the cost of the four different people that we talked about, some of our other overhead costs. Like do you want to dive into that a little bit?

18:44 Yeah. So I think, you know, if a client comes to me and says, Hey, I want to build up an in house team cause we help businesses with this. You do have to kind of lay out all the different factors because not only do you just need one software, I mean we're subscribed to how many flea three, three softwares because there is no one size fits all solution. Or if you are out there, please tell me because there's so many different like tools that you need to be able to be at a high level of performance on social. Not that you have to have it to post one thing on Facebook, but you do need to get true value out of this stuff. You need the right tools in your toolbox. So you have your software costs, the other costs are going to have our equipment. I mean you can use your phone works, but again, when you want to do lighting or if you want to do something a little fancier on some of the platforms or youtube videos, you can need some equipment. So that's another like hard costs that you're going to have to figure in. Right.

19:42 I have a really good example of that. While we were setting up this podcast, we have a really expensive camera. And this Unicorn that we talked about earlier did not know how to use the camera or setting up the lighting. We jumped to a phone solution and now I don't know if we're going to have video, but like even if you do give your inhouse team really great equipment, they might not know how to use it. Right. And she was talking to herself by that Unicorn is in me.

20:07 Yeah. I, that's very true. You can get, I've seen this with cameras. The first thing people do is say, I'm gonna hire an intern and we're gonna give them a real nice camera, like a $2,500 camera. And I'm going to tell them to go document our business. And while some of those, the attention is good, the intention of the intern is good intention of the owner is good, but everything in the middle is where the inefficiencies and honestly it's the cost that the business is spending because again, the research cost, it's lackluster content. If the person doesn't know how to use the right equipment, it's trying to transfer the photos and where's the organization? And now do you need Dropbox? Your files are too big to fit on your server. It's all of those things that I think the businesses that get it 100% get it, but the others that are thinking that this is only a cost saving efforts, I think that they need to dive a little deeper into what they're trying to get out of it.

21:03 And we've had clients come back, they've kind of taken it in house. I've came back. The other thing is turnover, right? I mean, we have turnover in our business and you're going to have to turn over in your business. But if you have one person that you've invested everything to and that one person turns over, if you don't have a team, it disrupts the entire system. And in most cases it just slows things down because you have to, you have to hire a new person. So do you want to jump into tools? So what are, we've talked about tools and software, super important. How do we give, what are some tools that an in person team can use to just start? So I think having a social media management software is critical because it's a collaboration tool they need, they also need to understand like who's doing what, right?

21:50 You have to get your team on saying in sync, we like kind of a multiprong approach where you have a creative, you have an account manager and you have somebody who knows the doing side of it. The implementation side, if you structure an in house team in that three-person grouping, that's what we found as of now works really well. That's how we have our teams set up. You can start building on that with the bigger that you get or the more specialty that you have or technical needs. But that's a place that I like to start. And when we're talking about this, we're not even talking about web and that's a whole nother skill set. You have to have connected to everything. So some people break out their web teams, some people again put all of this stuff onto one individual, which that is the hardest thing.

22:37 Like if you, if you are doing this and you're a business owner and you're listening to this and you have all of that living with one person, you may be preventing growth because it's just, it's so much stuff. Like there's just so many pieces of the pie. So true. All right. I think we had some really good conversations and dialogue. Let's quick summarize a couple of the pros and cons. So everybody has a good overview. So pros of keeping it in house one is you could be a little quicker in the moment content. You can get that content and kind of get the barriers out of the way. So that what's happening in your business is online quickly. Another is that you could really prevent cause there's just one pro. Is that how we listed?

23:29 I think we, so a couple of the pros were communication really. It really all of the pros are about keeping close to the vest. I mean you're in the business, you know what conversations are going on, you can capture content in the moment. You are there, introduce another platform. You're there to have these discussions with the decision makers. But it really, the whole eye pro of keeping it in house is just that. It's, it's in house and it's right there in your business and it can follow along with your business's journey right off the bat. A couple of the cons for keeping your business in house or a pro to outsourcing some of this work is to inject creativity. Probably one of my biggest pros that I would encourage businesses to think about is a new way to look at things. Not just creativity in the design element, but creativity in this is my goal.

24:23 How am I going to get there? Being creative in that entire process is a great opportunity to infuse someone else in your organization. Early, early adaptation is one that we talked about. Always finding what's new. Kind of moving your brand along on the new platforms. So early adaptation, just the technical skillsets, our team and most teams have such a wide variety of people and their technology or technology, their actual skill is so diverse and so deep and they can really become great at that specific thing. Now let's talk a little bit about the generation social media. So this is what the podcast is about. We want to show people that it's not always what you think. Maybe it is what you think in some regards, but let's talk about individuals on social media and how you could potentially reach them. We're gonna use an example. We have been working with some young individuals high school students and they took some polls of their screen time usage. What apps were they using, male and female, and how can we reach those individuals because not only do we need to reach them today, but maybe we're going to need to reach them in a couple of years. So a couple of the top apps, let's first take the the guys, what were some of the top apps that those gentlemen were using?

25:44 So these are young high school students. The guys were usually around seven hours and their top apps were almost always snapchat, Twitter and youtube. And then Instagram in that order. As far as the young females go, it was a little bit different. So snapchat, Instagram, kind of through Netflix in here and then the VSCO app. So it was kind of interesting to see that there was such a drastic difference on where these platforms landed from a gender perspective. I also remember him talking to me a lot that tic talk was a top app, mostly with the young females. The males were a little a

26:20 Bit not as inclined to jump onto that platform. Yeah, I'm that young. So those were the top platforms. So in case you are not familiar, Tic-tac is like a kind of a lip sinking karaoke app that there's a lot of young individuals on. But I mean it spans all ages, but there's a lot of trends happening on that platform that are crossing over to other platforms. I think what was really interesting on this is again, you're trying to reach these people. A lot of people have preconceived notions of, you know, what person is on what platform and how to get in front of them. But you know, even though Facebook wasn't up there, don't forget Facebook owns Instagram. So if you're trying to do ads for these individuals, you can still reach them using the Facebook family of Apps, which includes Instagram and then snapchat.

27:10 Snapchat has got such underpriced just eyeballs right now, especially on a local basis because there's not local advertisers using it very much. And so you disrupt mountain dew and Doritos. And you have a huge opportunity to get in front of local audiences in all ages. I mean, you get to pick when you're running those ads. I feel like a lot of times when you're on snapchat and if you do or a lot of platforms really, but if you hear a local ad you're like, wait a second, was that this local business? Cause I just heard three ads like you said for like Doritos and mountain dew. So it really does catch you off guard. So I feel like using that to your advantage to really target and attract some of these younger people on these platforms is a good way to go about it.

27:53 And there's also a lot of studies, especially with Instagram, regardless of demographics and age, but people are less likely to follow a lot of brands on Instagram. But the ones that they follow, they care about more. And so, I don't know if I phrased that correctly, but basically the, if they follow you as a brand on Instagram, you're not gonna have as many followers in most cases on Instagram as you would on Facebook if you started Facebook first. But sometimes the quality and the connection and the loyalty there is just a little bit higher than maybe on some of the other platforms. So you're trying to reach that demographic. I would recommend linked or a, sorry. I would recommend snapchat ads, Instagram ads, and or just organic postings on Instagram and some youtube. Don't forget the how tos. That's a great audience to reach on Youtube and as, as, as many audiences. Cool. All right, well, thank you Kelsey for our conversation today and join us next time for generation social media.