With digital becoming more and more of a focus and a required string to your marketing bow as opposed to an optional one, it begs the question for most marketers: “What do I need to actually do in-house, and what can I outsource to an agency?”. Which of course leads straight into: “How do I know a Social Media Agency is the right fit for me?”
There are probably ten questions that it pays to ask right off the bat:
1. How long have you been operating for?
Social is the ‘in’ thing right now, right up there with funnels and marketing automation, and there are a lot of people running one-man consultancies. Some excellent, and some not so much. Finding an agency that has been around for a reasonable amount of time and made it past their own 5-year mark is a good indication that they are here to stay. We all know that the first five years in business is the hardest.
2. How many staff do you have and are they located here?
We get it – offshoring is a thing and for some tasks, it is a great way to reduce costs. That being said, working with a social media agency that offshores their content creation and client work runs the risk of losing local insight and cultural context, as well as making it hard to pick up on short-term opportunities and act on them in a timely fashion. Find out how the companies you are considering operate on a daily basis. Do their employees work alongside them at their office, or do they outsource their work overseas? It is important for you to know who is behind your brand and how your social media channels are being monitored.
Working with an agency that has local staff on the ground means that they are easily contactable, you can pop into their office and catch up, or they can pop out to see you and shoot some quick images or social media videos. This is why our staff still get on a plane regularly to go see our interstate clients. That face-to-face context is so important.
3. What are their qualifications?
Do they have university degrees, or a long history in marketing? How are they keeping up with the latest developments and social media trends? Something like Facebook Blueprint certification ensures that the team you are working with are across all the ins and outs of the Facebook Advertising tool. Google Analytics is also handy given that they should be interpreting what happens to social media traffic once they drive it to your site. Try to work out if there is a culture of continuous professional development within the social media agency you are considering, and what kinds of courses and workshops their staff routinely undertake.
4. What experience do you have working in my industry?
Having an understanding of specific industry constraints and opportunities is critical to coming up with ideas for and generating successful social media advertising campaigns. Many industries are highly regulated and risk adverse, and for them it can be frustrating to be working with a social media agency that doesn’t understand these constraints. Ask the social media agency that you’re considering if they know what industry guidelines you are bound by, and what the direct impact of those guidelines is on both content and advertising.
5. What kind of reporting and analytics will you give me?
Is it a custom dashboard I can log into and look at in real time? What kind of information will I receive and how often? Will you actually go through the information with me and explain what actions are being taken as a result of the data? In a perfect world, you should at a minimum receive a report once a month on your ad campaigns and content against agreed benchmarks.
- Click through Rate
- Unique Reach
For your social media content management metrics, you’ll want to know:
- Traffic to website
6. How will your recommended strategy support me in achieving my business goals?
What is their understanding of what it is that you are trying to achieve in business? Your social media agency needs to be talking the same language. So if you are doing all this for sales and conversions, make sure that they understand what your business goals are and that they are proposing a plan of attack that will actually help you get there.
You can tell if a social media agency is serious about helping your business grow by their effort to learn your marketing objectives. Many social media agency sales reps will only speak about their services and apply the same generic process they use for every client. You should hire a social media agency that genuinely makes an effort to learn your business objectives and creates a custom strategy tailored to your business. That means they should start with coffee!
If they feel comfortable offering you a service without knowing anything about your business, that’s a red flag. Pay attention to how they answer your questions and how they plan to learn your business model.
7. Do they practice what they preach?
Are they on all the social media channels they are proposing you use? How often are they posting and what kind of content? Can you escape their brand or are they following you around the internet with clever advertising? Once you have hit their website, how easy is it to escape them, or do they have multiple touch points with you?
All of these things are good indicators as to whether they are dabbling, or are highly proficient in a space.
8. How current is their knowledge base?
Can they talk comfortably about updates on the various platforms and social media trends? A good indication of knowledge currency is how often they speak on the topic and where. Are they running training services to the general public on different aspects of social media marketing and business?
9. Do they understand marketing as a whole, or are they spruiking social as a ‘one trick pony’?
Social media isn’t the silver bullet of marketing, and at its best supports and backs in all your other marketing efforts throughout the life cycle of your customer. If your social media agency can’t explain to you how they can support your current marketing strategy as a whole then it is probably worthwhile looking elsewhere for a second opinion. They should have clear ideas around campaigns to support TVC, radio or print, as well as event activation.
10. What are people saying on their online reviews?
Forget phone references. In this modern day and age, the quickest way to get an indication as to the strength of a social media agency (or any business really!) is to look up their Facebook reviews, and LinkedIn recommendations for their key personnel. What are people saying about them online, and does it fit what you want from your social media agency? Who has taken the time to leave them reviews and why?
I hope this has given you some helpful insight into the thing you should be asking a potential social media agency that you are considering engaging for your business.
If you’d like any help from us, guess what? We like to start with coffee 🙂