Let me start by saying I have nothing against social media managers. I freelanced as a social media manager for over two years, and I got to experience A LOT in that time. From setting up chatbots, to launching pre-sale campaigns and writing and sourcing content for social media channels - I did it all.
So believe me when I say this comes from a place of love. Actually, it comes from wanting the best for both small business owners, and freelancing professionals too.
Social media managers alone are naturally limited.
We often see businesses looking for social media managers with a list of deliverables like this:
> Content Creation
> Community management
> Digital Strategy
> Data Analyst
> Graphic Design
> Media Buyer
> General Admin
And to be honest, reading lists like this makes us a little bit worried. No one person can be an expert in all of those things. It’s not fair to expect someone (especially if they are a junior!) to be a master in all of these fields, most of which take years to perfect. It’s also not fair for your brand because you’ll be accepting work that isn’t up to scratch.
I found working as a freelance social media manager, where I was expected to be a master of everything from video editing to creating email templates, exhausting. I was spread extremely thin, I didn’t have anyone to turn to, and more often than not I was doing things I was not naturally suited to.
A social media manager won’t always be right for you.
Typically social media managers offer a cost-effective, generalist approach to marketing. If you have a list like the one above - you shouldn’t be looking for a single social media manager to pull all that off. It’s too much for one person, and it will ultimately lead to frustration for everyone involved.
An agency won’t always be right for you either.
Agencies offer all of those implementation options, with one key difference: they usually have various specialist positions for each of those key marketing channels. This means each specialist spends all day working on their skills - whether it be in design, advertising or copywriting.
The truth is, working with an agency won’t be right for everyone. Working with us at TLSE won’t be right for everyone. We’ve even said that during client conversations - "it doesn’t sound like we’re a good fit for you, right now." We do our best to refer these people to a resource they could work with. For everyone's sake, it's always best to be realistic and honest.
Sometimes, it won’t be the right time for your business. If you’re bootstrapping it and you haven’t made a profit yet, it might not be the right time.
So how to know if it’s time to make the leap, stop expecting the impossible from one person and invest in an agency? We think there are three general reasons:
1. You need a plan
No matter what stage your business is at, from pre-launch to 10 years in and smashing it, if you feel your brand is lacking direction or strategy, seek out an agency.
Because agencies are full of specialists, we have a great view of the big picture. How to combine PR with social media, with your content, with your ads. At any point in your business, if you’re needing a bit of direction, we'll say it again, start hunting for an agency!
2. You need an expert
There are some things you (or even your social media manager!) won’t know how to do. That’s okay. Like we said before, it’s normal. It could be a specific website design or the development of packaging. It could be mastering the set up of your always-on email marketing. We often get brought on for one-off projects, like a website build, because businesses know that is one area they have to get right.
Whatever it is, it is a great time to bring in some expertise and make sure you get it right, the first time.
3. You are looking to take things to the next level
If your business has been growing for a while, but you want to take things up a notch, finding an agency could be a great opportunity to pull everything together and watch your business soar.
Ultimately, there are important reasons to work with both an agency and a social media manager - but it’s also important to recognise when it’s time to swap between them.
WORDS | Hannah Steele, TLSE