When You Should (and Should Not) Hire a Social Media Marketing Agency

Ignite Social Media has been a social media agency for 16 years (the first in the United States, in fact). Therefore, you’d probably expect us to have a bias that every brand should hire a social media agency.

However, we’ve learned hard lessons over the years that there are many situations in which a brand should not hire a social media agency. And knowing which category your brand falls in can save a lot of time, money and frustration.

So, let’s talk about when you should hire a social media agency and when you should exclusively hire a social media team in-house.

If you prefer to read along, we’ve summarized many of the highlights of the discussion in this post, covering the situations where you should and should not hire a social media marketing agency.

Benefits of Hiring a Social Media Agency

There are several benefits to hiring a social media agency that you can’t get anywhere else, including:

Expertise and Experience

If expertise and experience are important to you, hiring a social media agency might make sense.

Perhaps you have someone internally who is good at one aspect of social media marketing, but your situation (like many) requires a broader variety of skillsets, plus an outside perspective. In that case, you may want to engage a social media marketing agency

Consistent Support

Hopefully your brand doesn’t have a lot of employee turnover, but internal teams can always change. Whether someone leaves for another job or takes some time off for sick leave, maternity leave, and other personal situations, you can be left without their skillset in-house.

Agencies can help buffer these staffing changes, because they have a larger pool of team members to pull from and provide the skillsets you need without making you overly dependent on one or two team members.

Access to the Latest Tools and Technologies

Social media platforms and algorithms are constantly changing. It is part of social media agencies’ role to stay up to date on all the latest trends, tools, and technologies in social media. In fact, it’s one of our hardest tasks. 

Agencies like Ignite tend to have access to premium software and platforms that your internal team typically wouldn’t have the budget to invest in. We easily spend over $100,000 per year for these tools and our teams are well-trained in how to use them.

This helps social media agencies provide the latest in analytics, content production, paid ads, community management, and other updates across different social platforms without requiring a 20-person team in-house, saving you a lot of time and money.


Speaking of saving on costs, hiring an agency can be more cost-effective for brands than hiring a dedicated team. While agencies will always be more expensive per hour, hiring an agency can still be more cost-effective in the long run because they you can use increments of time for each skill set and not have to bear the cost of so many full-time team members. 

It’s increasingly common for brands to decide they are going to handle tactics A and B internally, which hiring an agency to support them for C, D and E.

Once a brand realizes how technical social media marketing can really be (if you’re trying to generate business results), having agency support becomes appealing. 

Benefits of Hiring a Social Media Team Internally

There are many benefits to hiring a social media agency, but it doesn’t always make sense for every brand. Let’s dig into a few reasons why keeping your social media team internal might be the best move for you.

Deep Brand Understanding

Highly technical brands can be a little tricky for outsiders to deeply understand. While we’ve gotten up to speed on some very technical industries, those with specific terminology and acronyms, or advanced training like engineering, may want to have most roles internal. 

These subject matter experts can be helpful for areas such as community management and content creation, where that deep knowledge will shine through and appeal to prospects who also have that knowledge. 

Agencies Still Need Management

When you hire an agency, the good ones become an extension of your team. And just like any team members, they need communication. So a brand that feels like they can handoff a big part of their business and let it run may end up disappointed. 

On the flip side, if you add headcount internally, you can manage those people’s time in total. This can be helpful for brands that may need to turn things with very short timelines. 


We mentioned earlier that agencies will always be more expensive on a per hour basis. It’s just how the model is set up. Given that, per hour a team will provide cost savings. 

Another benefit is using your team on other projects. Suppose your brand doesn’t have a substantial or continuous need to be active on social. In that case, it can be better to have someone handle things in-house, especially if they have roles outside of social media and aren’t just a dedicated social media person.

One caution: Internal teams only work on one “client” and can get stale or not be aware of best practices from others. An investment in training such as industry conferences may be necessary. 

Is it Better to Hire a Social Media Agency or Run Social Media In-House?

The decision to hire an agency or build an internal social media team depends on each brand’s specific needs, budget, and long-term goals.

There are benefits to both approaches. In fact, most brands we work with have chosen a hybrid approach to social media staffing. 

They employ a small number of internal team members and then round things out with their agency. This can be a good model, budget permitting. 

No matter which approach you decide to take, it is crucial to continuously evaluate your current and anticipated needs and align them with the best-fitting solution.

Need help with your brand’s social media marketing? Just complete the form below and we’ll be in touch. 

Ignite Social Media