Community management and whether or not it should be outsourced to agencies has been a point of discussion ever since brands started dipping their toes in the social media pool. 

We expect this debate to continue as the social channels mature, but here are three reasons why this role in the marketing mix sits better outside of the organisation.

1. Community managers (and their agencies) live and breathe social media

If your job title doesn’t include the words  ‘social media’ chances are you’ll have a lot of other tasks to take care of during office hours. So while adding the odd tweet and keeping an eye on Facebook comments might be manageable, you might not have time to do a great deal more.

Creating content calendars that ensure that every post is optimised to create the maximum impact and ensuring that your Twitter account follows all the key influentials in your market might have to wait until you have a free moment.

Also ask yourself are you keeping up with the latest Facebook competition rules? Or working out how the Twitter API changes could impact your brand’s output? And what about other platforms - should you be focusing on Google+ this year or Pinterest?

Community managers will be up-to-date on all platforms, what they can offer and how they can potentially work best for your brand. It is their job after all. Why not let the experts worry about the finer details?

2. Community managers can offer a fresh perspective

Sometimes working on one specific thing or brand can make things jaded after a while. Outsourcing your social media efforts will invite a fresh perspective to the table and stimulate discussion around the brand and how to make it stand out in the fast-changing social media sphere.

Your community manager will have worked on or read about other branded online campaigns. They know what has worked in the past, what could work in the future, and what could potentially be a social media disaster.

They will also be able to advise on and devise the social media strategy that is essential to ensure your brand flourishes online and offline.

3. Community managers are enthusiastic about what they do and will be backed up by a team

If you divide the community management duties between individuals in your company, chances are the actual management of the online entities end up being forgotten about as other tasks take precedence.

Also, unless proper guidelines are set, your brand’s social voice could end up being fragmented across the social media entities.

An agency can provide the important neutrality good community management requires and will have a team set to ensure your community management is kept consistent regardless of summer holidays or staff turnover. They have also actively pursued this career, so will be eager to do it well.

Finally let’s not forget one very important thing. If you outsource your community management then you can be assured that your Facebook pages will always be updated and that someone is responding to questions on Twitter.

Your brand won’t be joining the thousands of others whose Facebook and Twitter accounts lay dormant and are an embarrassment to the company and the staff that were supposed to populate them.

Elisabeth Edvardsen

Published 18 October, 2012 by Elisabeth Edvardsen

Elisabeth Edvardsen is a Community Management Consultant at Sutro Digital, and has managed social communities for a large number of brands. She is a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (5)



Or you could keep it inhouse where the product knowledge's easier to teach a mechanic to use Facebook than it is to teach a community manager about engines, for example.
If you outsource, you'll get an agency who is desperately trying to win new customers; the agency will throw everything at your account to win your business and then take staff away again when they're trying to win the next new customer; they'll ignore both of you when the're after a third new client, and so on.
Keep it in house and take on a couple more staff to spread the workload

almost 6 years ago


Hilton Barbour

This isn't an either/or proposition IMHO.

Agency platform expertise versus client brand/product expertise (as Martin rightly calls out). Which trumps?

Internal reaction time (aka "approvals) at client's is typically faster which can be critical if remaining hyper-topical is important. I've had scenarios with my teams where getting a Tweet approved took 48 hours. Why bother at that stage.

Ability to retain "dedicated" resources to manage/feed/nurture these communities? Both sides have issues doing that. If brands go in-house, its OPEX. If they outsource its CAPEX.

I genuinely believe this function will inevitably become completely in-house. Unlike Customer Service or Call Centers which can be outsourced with well-managed "scripts", true community management requires tact, agility, deep brand sensitivity/accountability AND deep product knowledge. Ultimately those conversations are just too pivotal for any astute brand to outsource long-term.

almost 6 years ago


Elisabeth Murphy @LizRMurphy

A community can help drive greater loyalty and be a rich source insights for the business to drive innovation. Both so important to an organization would be surprised if an argument could not be made to keep the resources in-house and integrated into larger team. Do think a model can be created where periodically outside thinkers help shape new ideas and strategies. same leaguis

almost 6 years ago


Adi Gaskell

This makes the assumption that communities are only there for marketing (ie advertising) purposes AND that community management is the job of one person.

In reality community management should be a responsibility for many people within the organisation.

Take the Cisco community where they offer exceptional tech support. Fairly sure many Cisco employees will actively use that community to provide support for customers.

Or the Lego community that engages customers in co-creation of products. The design and production team would have a heavy interest in that.

So maybe if community is as simple to you as posting the odd tweet or status update then it can be done by 1 person, but if communities are actually used to change how companies operate, then they should be engaging as many people as possible in the community management process.

almost 6 years ago



While I see no problem with working with an agency to create things like editorial calendars, branded pages on platforms like Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, and an overall strategy, I disagree that the day-to-day activities should be outsourced.

At the end of the day it's YOUR business, YOUR customers, and YOUR success or failure -- you can't depend on someone else for your success.

As Martin said in the first comment, it's easier to teach a mechanic about social media than it is to teach a social media maven about mechanics. You know your business best -- why waste time with a middle man who's going to have to come to you with every question anyway?

Plus, your prospects and customers want to talk to YOU, not to someone from an agency.

Partnering with an agency can help with the items you mentioned: social media knowledge, fresh perspectives, etc. But the day-to-day stuff needs to be yours.

over 5 years ago

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