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In-house vs Agency: Which Social Media Manager Should You Hire?

Updated on August 25, 2023
7 minute read

Decisions, decisions... 🤔

Published August 25, 2023

Congrats — you're ready to take your brand's social media management and strategy to the next level.

But should you hire an in-house social media manager or go the agency route? 

We’re breaking down the pros and cons of each option so you can decide which one is right for you!

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What Is a Social Media Manager?

At a high-level, social media managers lead the marketing strategy for a brand’s social media channels. 

However, day-to-day work varies, as social media managers often wear many different hats.

Depending on their expertise and the size of their company, a social media manager’s workday can cover a wide range of responsibilities — from content creation to community management to analyzing data.

Alas, no two social media manager roles are alike.

For more insight on a social media manager’s role, bookmark this post: How to Become a Social Media Manager — According to Later's Social Team

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Social Media Manager?

On average, the cost of a social media manager's salary in the US is $72K.

Though, there are a variety of factors that affect social media salaries — including years of experience, the industry, and location.

However, with roles becoming more specialized by seniority and experience, the average hiring cost range for these roles will only continue to grow. 

To dive deeper into a social media manager’s cost, watch this YouTube video:

What Are the Pros of Hiring an In-house Social Media Manager?

Having a dedicated team member oversee your social media presence in-house means they’ll have a thorough understanding of your company's culture, values, and vision. 

AKA they’ll know your brand inside and out. 

With an in-house social media manager, you’ll have a level of consistency and control over your brand's messaging, in addition to creating engaging content that resonates with your target audience. 

And the best part?

Hiring someone in-house also saves you time and resources, as there’s no need to outsource tasks to agencies or freelancers, win-win!

What Are the Cons of Hiring an In-house Social Media Manager?

If you're considering hiring an in-house social media manager (or team), it's important to consider the cost.

Between salaries, benefits, and training, the dollars can quickly add up.

Additionally, a solo in-house social media manager will have limited bandwidth and tools compared to an agency. 

As a result, setting realistic expectations is crucial to prevent the risk of burnout, help them manage their workload, and ensure their long-term success.

Speaking of social media tools, Later's social media management features can help you optimize and plan your content — all in one place. Get started for free!

What Is a Social Media Marketing Agency?

A social media marketing agency specializes in managing a brand’s online presence across various social media platforms. 

From creating content to running targeted ads to monitoring engagement, it's like having a dedicated team of experts in your back pocket.

In other words, you can hand over the reigns and focus on other areas of your business.

Join over 7M social media managers, brands, and creators who use Later's social media management tools to plan, schedule, and analyze their content. Create an account today — for free.

How Much Do Social Media Agencies Charge?

The short answer: it depends.

Agencies' cost of services varies based on the type, scope, location, industry, complexity, and duration of a project.

Some digital marketing agencies charge by the hour, while others prefer a monthly retainer or a one-off project fee. 

In-house vs agency - Agency examples

These fees can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to upwards of six-figures, depending on the level of service. 

TIP: It's best to research, get quotes, and compare various agencies to find one that aligns with your business's needs and budget. 

What Are the Pros of Hiring a Social Media Agency?

If bandwidth is your Achilles' heel, hiring a social media agency is your ticket to online success.

With an agency, you’ll get access to a team of social media specialists dedicated to creating a social media strategy that’s tailored to your specific needs. 

Whether it’s building brand awareness or launching a large-scale TikTok campaign — they’ll handle content creation, take care of planning and scheduling, and track, analyze, and optimize your posts.

It’s a game-changer for brands looking to offload their social media marketing — whether it's an ongoing contract or for a specified period of time.

What Are the Cons of a Social Media Agency?

Hiring a social media marketing agency can be a great option, there are some cons to consider.

Most notably, other clients.

Agencies often have multiple stakeholders — meaning they're juggling various brand voices and deadlines, and could be spread too thin.

This can lead to subpar content or a disconnect in messaging and strategy. 

Another drawback? Cost. 

There's no one-size-fits-all price for agencies, so the costs might not fit into your budget — especially if you're a smaller business or startup.

ICYMI: Later’s social media management tools will save you tons of time, make analyzing posts easier, and keep your content organized. Create a free account today.

In-house vs Agency: Which Is Better for Social Media Management?

Still unsure of which direction to go?

Here are four key social media management categories to consider: 

In-house vs Agency: Expertise

When it comes to social media expertise, in-house talent will always know your brand best.

That said, an agency can bring a wealth of experience and fresh perspectives to the table. Plus, they’ll be able to give impartial outside advice. 

Though, Later’s Social Content Lead Lindsay Ashcraft, cautions, "Either way you slice it, you’ll need to offer plenty of support in the beginning to be set up for success.”

Winner: Tie. 

In-house vs Agency: Time and Process

Agencies are often juggling several clients at a time, meaning they’ll never be 100% invested in your business.

“Even with really strong brand and copy guidelines, brands are likely going to experience a longer period of feedback by outsourcing an agency for social,” says Lindsay.

Because of that, internal social media managers have a leg up on time spent on briefs and processes.

And given their level of authority and autonomy, in-house talent can more quickly react to changes or breaking news in the industry. 

Winner: In-house.

FYI: You can automate your social media scheduling with Later's suite of social media management tools! Create an account for free, today.

In-house vs Agency: Cost

In-house management costs can add up as it requires hiring a full-time employee (or employees), plus training and benefits. 

That said, outsourcing social media management to an agency could be a more cost-effective option — but every agency has varying pricing tiers.

"Be weary of agencies that seem too cost-effective — you likely won't be getting social experts. So if the price seems too good to be true, it won’t get you the results you’re hoping for,” says Lindsay. 

Winner: Tie, depending on your budget and expectations. 

In-house vs Agency: Control vs Flexibility

If you’re looking for complete control and autonomy over your brand’s voice, messaging, and direction, an in-house social media manager is the way to go.

“It’s important to be realistic about whether you prefer to be more hands-on or hands-off with your brand’s social. Agencies can be a really great fit for those who tend to be more comfortable with loosening their own reigns of control," Lindsay shares. 

So if you’ve got a more relaxed approach to your social media management style, an agency could be the choice for you. 

Winner: Tie, depending on your management style. 

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hiring a social media manager.

Regardless of which route you choose — whether it be an agency or an in-house team member — make sure it's the right fit for your brand's overall goals and budget.

Happy hiring!

Plan, schedule and analyze your content with Later’s social media marketing toolssign up today!

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