5 Things to Think About When Moving From Managed to Self-Service Social

Opinion: One of the key decisions for agencies is to decide whether they are going to use a managed-service vendor or self-service platform

Critical to success in digital marketing is using the right tools—and there’s no shortage of vendors looking to fill the gaps for digital agencies. The hodgepodge of marketing technologies that make up the agency’s tech stack requires a constant process of evaluation and negotiation to keep the overall solution filled with the best tools for each channel. There are multiple variables that go into the decision-making process to pick vendors, including prices, services, features and integrations.

One of the key decisions for agencies is to decide whether they are going to use a managed-service vendor or self-service platform.

Managed-service vendors offer the benefits of easily entering a new channel, getting started quickly and possibly saving some time. But for agencies that decide to move their social advertising practice from managed-service to self-service, there will be requirements beyond simply picking the right vendor and getting trained.

There are some important considerations that need to be considered in order to make the shift work.


In managed-service, your team worked with the vendor team to execute campaigns. In self-service, your will need to architect the tasks required in order to have a fully functioning, well-oiled, social advertising machine.

That means process.

As your team goes through the phased migration, make sure that you scrutinize how things are accomplished and in what order, and begin building your processes as you go. Make assumptions and try them out. In your weekly meetings, talk through friction points and solve them by optimizing your approach.

What’s most important are the key Q/A points that are needed at various steps such as at the end of creative builds, after bulk uploads and certainly before launching.

Simply put: Mistakes are unavoidable, so you need to account for them.

You may need checklists to keep track and a clear understanding of who is allowed to sign off before going live. This will cut down on little mistakes so that they don’t turn into bigger problems later.


Managed-service technology vendors can fill for headcount. Depending on the complexity of your clients’ social advertising needs, you may need an extra body or two to take on some of this work.

The good news is that most of these tasks can be handled by trained, junior staff members and not your most senior (and expensive) team members.

As these less-experienced team members execute campaigns, it will train them to become your advanced, and then veteran, social practitioners. You will be building your program up from the ground floor with true expertise at all levels.


After moving to self-service, many agencies realize that the time savings of managed-service turned out not to be as great as they had originally thought. However, there will be some extra time needed once your team takes full control over all aspects of social advertising execution.

Very soon, your team will begin to learn how long various tasks take in order to set the right expectations for a campaign build and load, and how much time it will take to perform the deep analysis and execution that is needed for optimization.

Use the self-service platform’s workflow efficiency tools to speed up and collapse timelines. Your partner should include these tips and best-practices as part of the onboard training, but keep pushing them to learn how other clients stay efficient with the tool.

Internal messaging

For most agencies, it’s generally one or two key issues that ultimately drive the change to self-service. Be sure to make the case before, and explain the decision after, by focusing on specific pain points when you roll out the change.

For example, if the need was to lower costs, show how moving from double-digit percentage-of-spend managed-service to single-digit fees for self-service are going to help you keep clients more profitable and have higher return on investment and return on ad spend metrics on their campaigns.

If the need that pushed you to self-service was to be more accountable to and impactful on the results of clients’ campaigns, then address how much more effective a hands-on approach will be.

External messaging

In some instances, a brand has made the decision for your agency to work with their managed-service vendor of choice. In this instance, you’ll be pulling business away from that vendor, so it’s going to be a bit tricky to sway the client to let you take the reins.

However, if you truly believe this is the right course of action, the case to make is about having you—their trusted agency—get closer to the way their dollars are spent. Through you, they will have more control and visibility than before when there was an extra party involved. You are the ones that really know their business, so having the strategy and the execution within the same group will have many benefits.

Having the right technology in place is integral to the success of reaching the right person, with the right message, in the right place at the right time. Once an agency decides that self-service is the best path forward, addressing these five considerations will ensure the transition is smooth, swift and successful.

Josh Dreller is vice president of product marketing at data science and media technology company 4C.

Image courtesy of baona/iStock.

Publish date: July 26, 2017 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/josh-dreller-4c-guest-post-5-things-to-think-about-when-moving-from-managed-to-self-service-social/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT