Social media is ubiquitous and due to its pervasive nature, it’s easy to forget social media is essentially a communication platform through which people are able to share stories about their lives, as well as source news and information.
Marketers and business owners everywhere know that social media has to be an important part of any marketing strategy but most businesses don’t do it well. Many take the decision to outsource social media marketing to a third party social media agency in order to improve results and remove the hassle of trying to make social media work.
If you are thinking about outsourcing to a social media agency to carry out social media marketing management on your behalf you’re probably going to feel a little apprehensive. After all, the costs associated with running a well thought through and comprehensive social media campaign can be significant. So how do you go about choosing a social media agency for your business? We take a look.
Do your homework on social media management agencies
You’re probably going to begin considering a social media agency by carrying out a Google search, by getting a recommendation from a contact or through advertising of one kind of another.
If you’ve found a social media agency due to some form of marketing – preferably advertising or comms through social media – then you can probably safely assume the agency has a good handle on what they are doing.
But you don’t want to rest on your laurels. As a marketing professional or business owner, there are a number of things you can do to check the credentials of any prospective social media agency.
The first thing you can do if to check the social media agency’s social media accounts. It sounds simple and obvious but you’d be surprised how many social media agencies don’t do that much social media marketing themselves.
Check their Facebook business page, their Twitter page, their LinkedIn page etc and check that they are keeping it up to date. If they haven’t updated it in months I’d be questioning how much value they really place on the power of social media as a marketing channel.
This should also give you a feel for the type of social media activity you can expect to get from them. Although all social media agencies will attempt to align their copy with the tone of voice of your business, inevitably some of their tone of voice will seep into the way you communicate online. Do you like what they do and the way they communicate? If not, I wouldn’t waste their time or yours.
Find recommendations for social media agencies
In my past life I’ve been the head of marketing in several software companies, and in my time I’ve hired a number of social media agencies. The best ones by far have been the ones I’ve sourced through recommendations from friends and contacts I know who work in marketing.
Reviews are the next best place to look when assessing whether the social media agency you’re considering will be right for you and your business. I always start off with things like TrustPilot and other review sites, but I’d also have a look at the reviews of Facebook and even the reviews by ex-employees on sites such as Glassdoor as this could provide valuable insight.
On top of that, it’s always worth asking for a reference and getting the contact details of someone who has worked with your prospective social media agency.
When dealing with an agency, personalities are often as important as a strong track record. I’ve worked with some awesome agencies on paper but because the personalities didn’t quite gel it wasn’t possible to get the best out of the relationship.
What do you want your social media agency to focus on?
No two businesses are the same and no two social media agencies are completely the same either, they have their strengths and weaknesses and go to methods and approaches when it comes to delivering tactics.
It’s important that you really understand what your social media agency is proposing they’ll deliver before you hire them. For example, some social media agencies focus on paid social media management and other social agencies focus on organic social media management. In addition, some will be more orientated around the promotion of content they add to your blog via social media whilst others will be looking to create viral content to be shared solely through the platforms.
I once engaged a social media agency that constantly spoke about ‘campaign creatives’ and my managing director at the time and I both took this to mean we’d be getting some kind of overarching campaign concept which would then be implemented through social posts. When it came to it, the campaign creative they were referring was just the copy and photos. And they weren’t misleading, but it goes to show how easy it is to misconstrue something in that situation.
Another thing to think about when it comes to the social media agency’s area of focus might be their understanding and history in your sector. Many agencies find themselves naturally specialising in some sectors because they are referred between peers or because they are particularly successful when working with a business and other businesses in that sector want to emulate that success. It can be important, however, my feeling is a marketing agency should be able to develop a high level of fluency in a sector within a very short space of time after being engaged.
Getting the commercials right when engaging a social media agency
When you start to sign up with a social media agency they are going to want you to sign up to some kind of agreement. Every social media agency out there is going to want you to sign up for as much as you can afford and for as long as they can get away with tying you in.
Most social media agencies have twelve-month contracts as standard. At GrowTraffic we have no minimum social media management contracts – you could even engage us just to do one post – but if we are talking about creating a social strategy and implementing an ongoing social media campaign then we will create a contract for a minimum of a few months. Often longer contracts are necessary for the social media agency because the work can involve a significant amount of front loading.
Also, you’re going to want to ensure there are some KPIs in the contract. With organic social, it’s not always that easy to work out in advance what those KPIs should be. If there has already been some social media work carried out your prospective social media agency should be able to predict the uplift they’ll be able to deliver. Paid social media is generally easier to predict and get KPIs nailed down.
There are tens of thousands of digital marketing agencies in the UK, most of whom offer social media management services. That’s a lot of choices and sometimes choice paralysis can set in when trying to choose between different social providers. I think the best advice is to make sure you’re happy with the people at the agency and check to see they are able to deliver on the results they suggest they can. And as long as you’re not tied into too long a contract you’ll be able to change social media management providers should it not work out.