MilliOnAir Magazine October 2017 | Page 57


Should a brand keep content production in house, outsource or hybrid the model for optimised customer engagement?

by Paul Sullivan

Recently I have been focusing on the dynamics between brands and agencies looking at the relationship and the ownership of content distribution and customer engagement on social media platforms.
The questions of “Where do the best skills lie?” and “Who is best placed to manage this?” has been rolling across UK industry for some time now. For many of the C Suite CMO’s, Marketing Directors or Procurement Directors at brands, the badge of working with the most reputable or fashionable agencies has caused ripples with those working at lower levels who believe they can strategize, create and manage as well as any other outside agency can.

With brands now hiring better talent with broader ranges of digital skills, often competing with agencies for that talent, is it a wonder the dynamics of the age-old client/agency relationship are now being questioned and tested?

The facts are now there for all to see, a recent ISBA Report commissioned by Future Thinking learned that 39% of brands have an in-house agency, 33% have an on-site agency, 16% of brands have both. More so, the growth of different agency, in-house or on-site partnerships across brands has changed enough that OLIVER have focused on developing on-site agencies as part of their integral growth strategy.

58% of US brands operate with in-house agencies the ANA, 2013

It leads us to the focus of this article which is to look at which model suits your brand best and why, is it:

1.The outside agency

2.The in-house agency

3.The on-site agency

4.The Hybrid (any combination of the above)

Before we start looking at the actual partnership style, let’s look at the core components that are required to start, maintain and report on a campaign. To simplify this, I’ve looked at




Reporting & Data

Many of you may feel other aspects can be included, but I feel generically these cover a broad range of sub-requirements.


This is the best topic to challenge first. Many of those working at the brands will feel they are better placed to devise the strategy as they are in the brand and understand what they are setting out to achieve. And I can agree, it seems strangely odd to set out a vision for your brand in-house, then hand it over to an external agency to deliver that.

That agency has no real internal concept of the brand and quite often the said agency will come back and tell you what they think you should be doing. I’m not saying they’re either right or wrong, but I will put it out there that many brands successfully start and finish their social media campaigns including content creation.

But getting past all of that, who really is best placed to run a brands social media strategy?

Who will complete the best and most thorough research? Advise on the most suitable channels, define the business objectives and key messages? Who controls the data that you build the campaign upon? Defines your personas? Do you define your budget or accept a proposed budget?

Questions upon questions. But here’s my perspective, it may be slightly bias by the fact that I’m an agency head who likes to work in a very “partnerfied way” if I can coin the phrase. My ideal position would be a combination of offsite and in-house.

From a content perspective, I advocate the brand to shout loudest themselves, whilst working on a strategy we helped implement. That means that we get to work with the internal creatives and can create a real buzz around what we are trying to achieve without the brand feeling like their original aims or ambitions could be watered down or lost in translation.