Social Media Marketing: In-House Vs. Agency Vs. Freelancer Who To Hire?


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It does not matter, what you have accomplished, who you are or how hard you have worked. The fact is, one can’t build a successful business all on their own.

Which brings me to my next question: When it comes to social media marketing, who you should invest in: a freelancer, an agency or an in-house employee?

Well, honestly, that’s a full question, and definitely, everything depends on what your business needs.

All of the options mentioned above do serve the purpose, and each of them has their own set of pros and cons.

But how will you choose which option will be ideal for your business? Let’s find out:

Option 1- Hiring a Freelancer For Social Media Marketing

For many people working with a freelance social media, a marketer may be the best option for their business. Freelancers usually are self-employed people who offer services, often to several clients at a time.

Just like an independent contractor, freelancers have their way of getting things done and shouldn’t depend on a company to give processes for them to obtain their results.

Working with freelancers has its own set of benefits. The main advantage is they cost less as compared to an in-house employee or working with an agency. But one of the critical disadvantages is their expertise and scalability is much more restricted.

“A freelance may cost less than an in-house employee or an agency, but won’t as accessible.” (Click To Tweet)

Hiring A Freelancer Pros And Cons

Here are a few pros and cons of hiring a freelancer for social media marketing:


It is correct hiring a freelancer is far less expensive than hiring a full-time employee or agency. When hiring an in-house employee you are not only liable to pay the salary, but you also have to pay for any pieces of training required and other additional benefits. Then there is always a risk that they leave you after a few months for a better title or more significant salary. As for hiring an agency, it will cost you far more than you will pay a freelancer. If your company doesn’t have a big budget, then you should choose to hire a freelancer.


A freelancer works remotely, so they can quickly adapt to your schedule and routine. They can make quick updates and fixes to your marketing campaigns, and since you are dealing with only one person, there is no corporate administration to cope with. This also means your communication will be with one person just who is managing your social accounts, only one person who can hold responsible for if all their efforts fail.

The drawback is that since you are working with a freelancer, they will have other clients to focus on, so you might not be able to develop a healthy relationship with them as you would have done with an in-house employee. With an agency, you have to deal with more than one person handling your social media accounts, so there is always someone around to help you.


Freelancers are free birds and have no problem in completing their tasks without you keeping an eye on them. Since they have their process and strategies, they know well how to complete the work and meet the deadlines. You don’t need to train them to get a job done. This means no time wasted in training and all time used in the execution of the campaign. But here is the drawback, if you live in the part of the world where its night while its day for the freelancer, your communication will get affected, an in-house employee will be sitting right next to you.

Specific Expertise

Just like an agency, freelancers work with different clients who bring them a great insight of varying business models and industries. If the freelancer you are working with specialises in social media, this means that they have worked with some different brands in the specific areas of SMM. An in-house staff might not have the profundity of knowledge as a freelancer or agency. While a freelancer can extract innovative techniques from their experience and in-house employee might only understand your brand and business better.

A freelancer can be a good option for you if:

  • You have a tight budget
  • Your brand is not a big one.
  • Need a person who doesn’t require training
  • You just want social media presence
  • You need someone to teach you, and you are willing to learn
  • You have a small scale project, and you can’t manage it yourself.

Option 2- Hiring In-House Employee for Social Media Marketing

Hiring an in-house employee has more risks, and it usually takes more significant and long-term investment. There are several times when it seems to be the right option, even though, mainly if you have a very complexed brand or business.

Hiring In-House Employee Pros And Cons

Before falling too far into it, I will admit there are some particular pros and cons to hiring an in-house employee over a freelancer or agency:

Cross Department Functionality

In-house teams are essential assets to the company, whereas freelancers and agencies are not assets for the company. If the digital or marketing is the primary competency of the business, hiring an in-house employee keeps the company near to the leading edge.

If the in-house content creation already exists or is necessary, it is sometimes required to have an in-house social media teams as opposed to hiring a freelancer or agency.


When you opt for hiring an in-house employee, the benefits of having someone specific handling company brand operations. An in-house employee will always beat an agency or freelancer when it comes to knowing the inside information. For social media mainly, an in-house employee is dedicated to representing the brand online will have easy access to content like behind the scene images and sketchy stories about the inner workings of the company.


It is correct that one of the leading advantages of hiring an in-house employee is paying one person to manage all your social media accounts, and that is your job only. This means their only focus is your brand and can always answer to queries from your followers or engage with them in different posts. An outsider won’t know all the intricate details about your business and won’t be able to answer the right way. There may be a specific way you will handle an inquiry and the problematic customers based on your experience. This particular person doesn’t have ten different brand voices, he just has one, and that’s yours.


When you opt to hire in-house, you have full control over the tasks of that person and how they complete or handle them. Tiny details can be easily coordinated, and the in-house staff can be molded, trained and adapt the team culture easily. This control comes at a price, though.

As many business owners are pretty aware that hiring the wrong person can cost them a lot.

This is why hiring is such a painstaking and time-consuming process. Even hiring the correct person has its open costs (meaning they are like an investment to the future accomplishment of the company if everything works well) if benefits, taxes, training etc.

Those disadvantages are enough to make a business person think twice about choosing an in-house employee for the role of social media, which can seemingly be subcontracted without a lot of effort to an agency or freelancer.

An in-house employee can be a good option for you if:

  • Your brand is particular and difficult to replicate
  • Your industry is very slow and needs a lot of knowledge
  • Marketing is the primary capability of your company.
  • You want to create resources within your company.

Option 2- Hiring A Marketing Agency for Social Media Marketing

Freelancers work alone. However, agencies are composed of some people who are experts in a particular field. They can also be a team of talented freelancers working together.

Agencies can vary from a group of three people or a full-fledged of marketing agency handling hundreds of content marketing projects concurrently.

Hiring An Agency Pros And Cons

An agency is an organisation permitting you instant and accessible access to combined resources, technology and processes in that agency’s particular field: SEO, Social Media, AdWords, whatever etc.)

Building such a structure in your own business is costly and impractical. Therefore, agencies offer evident practicality to the market. But, not dissimilar from the other two options, selecting an agency has its own set of pros and cons.

Team And Skill

Agency is also a business that depends on the quality of the team.

That is why agencies recruit experienced pools of talent, aimed particularly in their field. Agency recruits are often familiar in many areas. When you hire an agency, you get multiple people with specialised skills for on your social media at a price less than hiring a single employee. For example, you hire a content writer, graphic designer, strategic consultant and media buyer for under $5k/month). An in-house employer or freelancer might be able to provide support in some areas, but not without disparaging from their other duties and tasks.

One of the key benefits of having a team is that they can offer extra brain power and understanding into your account. A freelancer or in-house employee may operate in a silo, but agency team’s work together to come up with the perfect ideas to offer to their customers.


Besides having a team of experts, agencies make use of particular marketing strategies and tools to increase your digital presence on different channels. The tools that they use include social media analysis software, integrated reporting tools, SEO software and even subscriptions to stock image website.

Though an agency may work with several different client accounts, they have possibly gained a lot of learnings they applied to various other businesses. Also, agencies are predicted to be on the first edge of their industry. They allow their staff to stay on the top trends, which gives them a bright idea about strategies to test.

Agencies have a reputation to maintain, so while employees will do what you tell them to do, a right agency will say “no” to you when you are doing wrong and will tell you something that will help you to be successful.

An agency looks inexperienced when a client doesn’t prosper, so it’s in their best interested to get good results as soon as possible.

Time Savings

Hiring an agency is time saving because an agency comprises of multiple people with different expertise. A project manager to deal with each member’s progress, you don’t need to select the right person to create your team.

An agency will be ideal for you if:

  • You have experience on working with tactical partners
  • You have an in-house marketing team, but don’t have particular social media marketing experience.
  • You a robust strategy in mind and you are ready to invest in growing a robust digital brand.
  • You have a brand that is easy to embody.
  • You are observing ROI on a channel, and you need to gauge it fast.

In-House Vs. Agency Vs. Freelancer: Which Is Right For Your Business?

In short, every option serves a different section of the market and can offer value when selected by the right companies for the correct reasons.

A freelancer is an excellent option if you don’t have a huge budget, an in-house person is ideal if you have a problematic brand or need in-depth knowledge and experience industry, and an agency is a decent option for any sector in which marketing is not a primary competency of the business.

Punch Line?

To select who you should hire for your social media marketing. You need to think about your company’s goals, structure and people to choose for yourself if you want to make a massive investment into in-house resources in a field where you could principally just vet, find and hire an agency that already has all those resources ready for you.

Muhammad Ali Khan
Ali Khan is a skilled digital marketing expert at Intelicle – A Web Design Development and online marketing agency based in Nottingham UK. Besides evaluating client technical requirements, Andrew also writes about conversion rate optimisation and other strategies for success.


  1. I agree that there’s no one choice that’s right for every company, but I also think more and more young companies and start-ups are constituted to work with the skills and quick implementation of marketing agencies.


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