“Why hire a social media consultant if I can do the job myself?” Most businesses have asked this question at least once because they tend to assume that social media starts and ends at having a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account. Wrong! Friends, believe me, it does not get the job done. Using social media for your business goes beyond that and it is definitely one of the reasons you should consider hiring an agency that gets successful results.
As a small business you’re on a stringent budget already; therefore, every time you bet your cash on something you want to make sure you get the best value for your money. There are some key questions you should ask when hiring a social media marketing agency; I have listed them below. Check and see if your list matches the one I have compiled.
1. Is the agency an active user of social media?
This is one of the most important and critical questions to ask. Is the agency or consultant actually an ACTIVE participant in Social Media? Do your homework! Are they on Twitter? If so, are they consistently tweeting, engaging and is the content relevant? Do they have a Facebook business page with engaging content on it and are they replying to comments received in a timely manner? If they are not listening to their audience, interacting and having a conversation, how can you expect them to lead you to success if they don’t practice what they preach?
2. How well does the agency understand your business?
Given that the agency will be involved in promoting your business to millions of people, it’s safe to say they should be clear about the nature of your business and goals. They should know your business model, your product, the method of production and the solution it provides. The agency must be willing to learn about your business rather than simply bragging about their services.
3. How well do they handle content creation?
Content is the most important piece of your strategy and should be thoroughly examined before choosing a firm. Social media platforms expect you to express messages in a limited number of words so they must be able to get creative while getting the point across. The reality is, people prefer to read brief messages, those they can take in at a glance. Successful marketing programs are built around excellent content. Hence, why one should ask how the agency handles content creation.
The agency should have a proven track record in building appropriate content for diverse platforms. If you come across one who refuses, it would be better to strike them off your list because without good content your business is missing out on a lot. A true professional creates and uses informative, creative and engaging content to spread word about your business in the online marketplace. The only way you can come to know how they work is by asking to see samples of their work.
4. Is the agency up to date on current trends?
This is a very important concern because the social media landscape is continuously changing. What was relatively unknown yesterday has become the new trend today. Therefore, it’s necessary that the agency and its employees keep abreast of the latest trends in social media marketing so that they can help your business capitalize and take advantage of new opportunities.
5. Does the agency have a background in marketing?
The primary objective of hiring a social media agency is marketing, promotion, and sales. The agency should obviously possess knowledge about social media marketing, but ideally they need to understand marketing more holistically. In today’s marketplace, social media is only one piece to the puzzle and if your agency doesn’t understand other marketing channels and how social media integrates with them, well, you’re up the creek without a paddle. Don’t be afraid to ask what made them choose social media marketing as their career. Get to know them.
6. How does the agency measure success – quality or quantity?
Figures are attractive because they objectify results, but numbers in social media marketing can be deceptive. 20,000 followers is a great audience for your business, yet it won’t make a difference if there is no conversion. You should work with a consultant or agency who promises to give deliver relevant, targeted and real followers or fans but beware of those that promise huge numbers in a short amount of time unless they are using ads and campaigns effectively. Why do I mention real? Because, sadly many agencies will purchase fake followers, etc to enhance their presence and in reality it does nothing for you. It does not matter if it is a small group initially, what matters is that they are interested in your business. Do not get swayed by big figures alone. Also, watch out for agencies that use black-hat techniques to get hordes of traffic to your site. This is empty traffic that won’t convert. We call it vanity metrics. They look good but have no real value.
7. Who is going to be our voice?
To put this in simple terms, it implies the person who is going to be in-charge of marketing your business on social media platforms. Is it the owner of a company, an employee or an apprentice? Social media marketing is about being tech savvy, but it also requires some experience. A graduate fresh out of college will not offer the same support as seasoned internet marketers. The person-in-charge should also be a full-time team member of the agency so you can request to speak to the person handling your account as needed.
8. Is it possible to track performance using a program?
The agency should provide you with reports at regular intervals so you can track performance. This is the only way you can track progress and hold them accountable. Most agencies offer monthly reports; be specific about how you define success so the reports can be customized to fit your needs and goals. Ask for a sample report as well as questions such as, how do you measure the effectiveness of each channel and what methods will you use to measure success?
9. How do they manage a crisis?
A bad comment can be damaging to your businesses image because social media sites are viral mediums. A message spreads within minutes. You should inquire about how the agency plans to handle such situations and expect them to have best practices established for such occurrences.
Social media has an immense potential and can take your business to new heights. When choosing an agency, do your homework and choose wisely to help your small business rise to the top! When you ask the right questions, you make the right decisions. Having the answers allows you to weed out the “fluff” and make sure that the agency understands your business and how their strategy aligns to your business goals.
What questions would you add for a business to ask when looking to hire a Social Media Agency?