How to Choose the Best Social Media Agency: 15 Questions to Ask
Choosing the right social media agency to manage your social media accounts is important. If you choose the wrong company, you can find yourself wasting a lot of money and opportunities to grow. To avoid making the mistake of hiring the wrong person or agency, you need to consider the following questions:
1. Did they make an effort to learn your business objectives?
You can tell if an agency is serious about helping your business grow by their effort to learn your marketing objectives. Many agency sales reps will only speak about their services and the same generic process they use for every business. You should hire a social media company that genuinely makes an effort to learn your business objectives and creates a custom strategy tailored to your business.
If they feel comfortable offering you a service without know anything about your business, a red flag should pop up in your mind. Pay attention to how they answer your questions and how they plan to learn your business model. The social media agency that asks you a series of questions through questionnaires, surveys, and business assessments is a more favorable company to consider.
2. What do they identify themselves as?
Pay close attention to what the companies you are considering identify themselves as. Some companies consider themselves digital marketing agencies, content marketing companies, email/video marketing companies, etc. Here is what you need to consider:
- Digital Marketing Companies: The idea of a “comprehensive” marketing company sounds great. The truth is that every digital marketing company has strengths and weaknesses. A company that identifies as a social media agency is most likely very skilled in social media.
- Content Marketing Companies: Content marketing companies put blogging at the core of their strategy. Content is king and social media becomes nothing more than a distribution outlet. More times than not, there is no true social media gameplan to build a loyal community and true social media engagement.
- Social Media Marketing Companies: If you are looking for the best company to manage your social media management and advertising efforts, it makes logical sense to choose a company that specializes in social media. They are likely to have more experience, knowledge, and ability to plan and execute a social media strategy.
3. Do they have proof of concept or case studies?
Review the case studies of the companies you are considering to hire. Ask for links to the social media campaigns they are managing right now for their clients. If they are unable to provide you with this, red flag.
If they are able to, pay close attention to the results. Do they mean anything? Which company has case studies with results that align the closest to your business goals? The company that has evidence of similar success to what you’re hoping for is the company you should hire.
4. How will they measure the success of your social media program?
The company you hire to manage your social media efforts should be able to define the key performance indicators of their efforts. On a monthly basis, you should be able to evaluate their efforts based on different metrics. Examples consists of:
- Social Media Reach: How many people did your campaign reach?
- Social Media Growth: How many new fans and followers did you gain?
- Social Media Engagement: How much did social media engagement (likes, comments, etc.) increase?
- Website Traffic: How much did website traffic increase as a result from social media?
- Lead Generation from Social Media: How many new leads did you generate from social media?
Know what metrics matter the most your business. Before hiring a social media company, make sure that they have a clearly defined plan that will hit the metrics you are looking for. If it does not make sense to you, it probably doesn’t make sense at all.
5. Do they have experience in your industry or with a similar business?
The more experience an agency has in your industry, the more likely they are able to produce the results you are looking for. If they do not have experience in your industry, ask them if they ever worked with a similar business type.
For example, assume you have an ecommerce skincare product. None of the companies you are considering do not have specific experience in that industry. You should ask if they have ever worked with any ecommerce products at all. If so, what kind of success did they have?
The same applies if you are a B2B company; ask if they have ever worked with businesses that target other businesses. The company with more experience will be a better fit for your social media program.
6. How much strategic direction will they provide?
It is important to work with a company that will consult a strategy with you and execute. The benefits of social media marketing can work for any business. The question is how. You should hire a company that:
- Will create the strategy
- Execute the strategy
- Modify the strategy until it works
Ask the companies you are hiring one question. What will happen if this doesn’t work as planned? Will they go back to the drawing board or will they offer you free cancellation? You need a partner that can identify when something is not working and find a solution.
7. How frequently will they communicate with you?
When hiring an agency, communication is everything. It is important for you to understand what is going on. The company you hire should prioritize consistent communication. Before you commit to a company, find out how often they plan to communicate with you to discuss progress and goals.
It isn’t enough to just receive a monthly report via email. The company you hire should make an effort to establish bimonthly or monthly conference calls to have actual conversations about your campaign.
8. How easy are they to get in contact with?
When you first contacted the companies you are considering, how easy was it to get in contact with them? Did it take hours, days, or weeks? If it is challenging to get in contact with a company, you can expect similar or even worse trends to occur in the future.
You need a company that will answer the phone when you call, email you back in a timely manner, and follow-up with information that you request. Don’t ask, but observe for yourself and see how accessible the people are at the companies you are considering to hire.
9. Do they outsource their work?
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 they are being monitored.
If an agency does outsource their work to a 3rd party provider, you should be very cautious. In situations like this, the agency becomes a “middle man”, in which the message you articulate to them may not be the same message the 3rd party receives. This results in lower quality efforts and results. It is in your best interest to hire a company that does all their work in-house.
10. How many client accounts do their employees manage?
Here’s an important question you probably didn’t think about: how many accounts do their employees manage? Some agencies treat their staff worse than Walmart employees. They overpromise to clients and overwork their employees. An overworked employee will not produce quality work, which in turn will hurt the results of your business.
We surveyed 3 social media companies and found that on average, they assign about 20 client accounts to one employee. It is virtually impossible for one person to manage 20 clients in an 8-hour day. On average, our employees manage 4-6 social media campaigns, allowing them to focus heavily on generating results for our clients.
11. Are their prices too cheap?
As a small business owner with a limited budget, it is always easy to select the social media agency with the cheapest price. However, low prices indicate the above issues: agency outsourcing and/or unhealthy employee work balance. If there is an agency that charges a ridiculously low price for their labor, try to learn more about their process and see if it makes sense.
Always keep the old saying in mind, “you get what you pay for”. The cheapest option will more than likely have very few success stories and strategic direction to offer you.
12. Are they using their own services?
Does the company you want to hire practice what they preach? If the services they are offering you really works, they would be doing it for themselves as well. If you are considering them for social media, take a look at their social media presence. Examine the content they post. See if people are liking their posts, commenting, and sharing. Ask them how much traffic they get from social media and which platforms deliver the most traffic.
If their own social media accounts are inactive with low levels of engagement, chances are that they aren’t too good at social media marketing.
13. Can they provide you with a list of client references?
Whether you want to make phone calls and emails to references or not, ask the agency you are considering for references. If they produce great work and appear to have a good reputation, it would not hurt to reach out to references to make sure they’re the company for you.
Ask references the following question:
- Did they do what they said they were going to do?
- What type of results did you receive?
- Would you recommend them to other businesses?
14. What are people saying in their online reviews?
Hiring a social media agency is a big deal. Do your research. Read through their Google+, Yelp, and Facebook reviews and see how people really feel about them. If you find something alarming, ask the agency about it and see how they respond.
15. Do you they blog, provide resources, or host workshops?
You can learn a lot about an agency by reading through their blog, resources, or webinars. It shows their expertise, thought leadership, and knowledge in their field. More than anything, you can get a good understanding about their perspective on social media marketing by engaging with their content. Every agency has different processes, methods, and strategies to help businesses grow. You should select a company that whose perspectives most closely align to your business objectives.
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