If your organization is confused about how to manage social media, you’re not alone! Recent studies have found a growing trend in the number of companies seeking to hire an in-house social media specialist, but outsourcing social management is also on the rise. At this point, most every company has finally come to realize that social media is a necessary component of any business marketing mix. Whether you’re paying attention or not, popular social networks are creating company profiles for your business and people are probably checking in, posting photos, leaving reviews or comments, etc. So pay attention!

What’s that? You don’t have time to pay attention to marketing channels that can’t demonstrate measurable ROI?

You really should.

Social media marketing doesn’t have to be a time-consuming activity, but most often it is. Responding to reviews, generating high-quality content, and running effective social advertising campaigns can consume as much time as you’ll allow. Especially for industries like banking where compliance requirements are a real nightmare. In those verticals it’s best to find a niche agency that has specific experience since they’ll likely save you both time and money. For banks, a digital agency like BankBound has considerable experience in a very narrow niche which allows them to manage various internet marketing services in a way that’s more cost-effective and streamlined. Since all their clients are in the same space, they can provide unique insights and stay ahead of any industry-specific regulations, trends, and nuances. If your industry has very specific requirements for regulatory compliance, do yourself a favor and partner with a specialized expert to help you find a positive ROI.

The flip side of the outsourcing argument is that often times the quality of your social media content, responses, and ad campaigns can suffer when outsourcing the work to an agency. This is most common in highly technical verticals where niche agencies don’t exist (most agencies won’t limit themselves to a single vertical). If your firm provides something ultra-specific like single sign-on software for example, it’s not likely you’ll find an agency with enough subject matter expertise to accurately create content and run social ad campaigns. You’ll need to invest significant time up front getting the agency up to speed on your products and services, or plan to keep content creation in house.

For highly technical businesses, I’m not typically a fan of outsourcing social media marketing, but the fact remains that social is a huge time investment that often times cannot be supported by existing marketing teams. Since proving ROI can often be more challenging with social media than other digital marketing channels like SEO or SEM, it’s extremely difficult to justify hiring a full time person to manage your social campaigns.

So what’s a CMO to do?

For highly technical companies I’d suggest a hybrid approach to managing social media. You want to enjoy the cost and time savings that come along with outsourcing to a digital agency, but you also want to ensure that your brand, products, and services are represented accurately across Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and elsewhere. In this scenario, often times you can benefit from working with a social media freelancer who does the heavy lifting but in conjunction with your team’s knowledge. You’ll need to do your part each month, but the results can be well worth it. Plan on providing content outlines for any blog posts they create, relevant stats and metrics they can use for regular updates, and also your own knowledge about target demographics they can use to direct a social advertising strategy.

Working in tandem with a freelancer can help you avoid the heavy costs of a full service marketing agency while leveraging the social expertise of someone who is up to date on best practices for various social networks.