Nike, More Brands Taking Social Media In-House

One of the most interesting trend stories to pop up so far this month concerned Nike‘s decision to take its social media efforts away from third-party agencies and do everything in-house.

Some industry observers see this move as a sign of larger trends. Given the fact that we recently wondered whether social media responsibilities would fall to PR or marketing departments in the future, we think the topic is extremely relevant to all communications professionals.

Nike claims that keeping all social operations in-house will help its team “gain a deeper understanding” of its fans in the interest of boosting brand loyalty. It started the transition in October by hiring Musa Tariq, former social media marketing director for Burberry, to “kick start” its social strategy.

The sneaker king isn’t the only company to take a greater degree of responsibility for its own social media efforts in recent months: Competitor Reebok conducted an internal audit of all its social channels after rejecting contract offers from agencies, and Digiday reports that other big names like Ford and Campbell’s Soup have done the same.

This isn’t to say that Nike will sever ties with all third-party firms.

The company and others like it will most likely continue to retain agencies in consulting roles to offer creative guidance and make sure that each brand stays at the forefront of recent trends. In fact, firms might even find it easier to pitch ideas to companies with in-house teams that are comfortable with the evolving social media equation.

Still, some insiders worry that this industry-wide shift will eventually bring PR/marketing firms’ profit margins down as brands hire more internal social media managers and outsource fewer and fewer tasks.

Do we agree with the op-eds on this topic? Will big brands continue to take things in-house as they grow more confident in their own ability to handle social media? Will PR and marketing pros go from campaign managers to strategic consultants?

Finally, will moves like this create more tension between in-house teams and outside firms?