Join me in Vegas for #SageSummit to Reimagine Your Business

sageWhat an honor to be personally invited to the Sage Summit in Las Vegas from July 28 – 31. As a small business owner myself, I am looking forward to attending this event, not just for my business, but also to further develop my skills for my clients. Owning and operating your own business is an ongoing learning process and when you have the good fortune to learn from those in the trenches, hearing their success stories or challenges they have overcome, it is an inspiring motivator to recharge and instigate change.

The Sage Summit is intended to be THE most valuable business event for a small or medium-sized business. They target high-level business topics to help educate and inform their attendees, guiding them toward greater decision making processes and stronger business foundations. It is a comprehensive educational experience, driven by strong keynote speakers and actual hardcore real-life examples and business experiences.

“To us, small business isn’t business, it’s personal. It’s relationships, our family and friends. It’s supporting locally owned businesses whenever possible. We are a large company, but we have a small business heart, and want our customers to have the same experience with us that they provide to their customers.” ~ Sage

Sage wants to help companies grow their business; whether a start-up or an established organization, this summit is a guaranteed winner with an impressive lineup of speakers and thought leaders. Here’s a small sneak peek into some of the voices at Sage Summit.

Biz Stone: Co-Founder and CEO of Jelly, Inc, Co-Founder of Twitter

Robert Gibbs: Former White House Secretary

Magic Johnson: Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Industries

Pimm Fox: Bloomberg Megia

Rich Kalgaard: Forbes Publisher

You have the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations, not just sit back and listen, but to truly have an ongoing dialog, ask questions and participate with some of the top names in the business community. Sage is the summit to gain knowledge and real tools to help drive your business toward greater success. It’s about you, the owner, the conversations and your goals toward achieving your dreams and reimagining your business.

Sage Group provides small and medium-sized organizations with a variety of simple to use, safe, and efficient business management software and services—from accounting and payroll to enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and payments. They have solutions to your concerns and want to make your business flow smoothly.

The Sage Summit is such a valuable event that I would like to provide you with a little encouragement to attend by offering you 75% off the registration rate (reg $799), for just $199: please use promo code: JasonHouck. I look forward to seeing you there! Let’s do this together and reimagine your business.

 

 

Five Tips To Finding The Right Virtual or Outsourced Employees

Five Tips To Finding The Right Virtual or Outsourced EmployeesIn today’s business world, outsourcing is becoming more and more common. Virtual employees are everywhere and many prefer to work with this type of arrangement. But how do you manage and find the right virtual employees and make sure they stay engaged?

Ask Some Questions, Then Ask Some More

When you’re hiring virtual employees, be sure to interview them just as you would interview a candidate that would be working in-office. Request a resume, CV, and a portfolio if applicable. Be sure to check references and, at the very least, do a thorough telephone interview. You will need to make sure that your virtual employees can actually do the job prior to hiring them in order to avoid disappointment and wasted time in the future.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

It may seem a bit odd to not be able to walk down the hall and have a quick chat with an employee, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have clear communication. Make sure you are available via email and whenever possible, for a quick chat via telephone or even Skype. Email is sufficient in many instances, but some virtual workers may prefer to actually speak with you. Ambiguities can be cleared up and directions can often be explained more easily over the telephone than in email.

Set Clear Deadlines and Priorities

Virtual workers are often consultants who work with multiple businesses. Having set deadlines and prioritizing their tasks will help them manage their own schedules and ensure that the work gets done on time. Make sure to build in a bit of a buffer in case you need to make some last minute changes. You don’t want to end up scrambling and potentially missing your own deadlines due to setting a schedule that’s too tight.

Have a Back-Up Plan

Even if you can manage your business and meet your deadlines with only one virtual employee, it’s always a good idea to have a back-up in case of unforeseen circumstances. Having another person to fill in part-time will give you peace of mind, ensuring you won’t end up stuck trying to finish all of your projects on your own if your other virtual employee suddenly becomes unavailable.

Establish a Relationship Based on Mutual Respect

Make sure your virtual employees feel connected and respected. Communicate with them often and recognize a job well done. If possible, organize a get-together so everyone on the team can meet. This may not be possible if your employees are all over the world, but if they’re close by it can be a great chance to connect. Try to provide feedback and support to your employees whenever possible and use a personal touch when you can. Your employees are far more likely to be content and motivated to do great work if they feel appreciated and if their efforts are being recognized.

If you have a business that you run from a small office space or a home office, outsourcing some of your workload can be a viable option. There are certainly a lot of great employees out there that will work hard and do an excellent job, but if you’re new to outsourcing and to virtual employees, expect some growing pains at the beginning. It may take a while to find the perfect fit.

 

Reasons Your Small Business Should Invest Time in Twitter

????????????????????????????????????????Till a few decades ago, an ad in the local business directory was regarded an adequate business promotion strategy, but the same cannot be said of today. The explosion of the internet has made newspaper and television advertisements a thing of the past. Media marketing solutions such as social networking, surveys, online videos, email marketing and mobile phone marketing are the new trends in business promotion. They are used by mammoth corporations and small businesses alike.

Of all the solutions listed above, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn are the most widely used. While Facebook is the indisputable leader, Twitter is not far behind. It has an equal potential to drive your business however; the main problem is a vast majority of business owners are not aware of how they can use this network to their advantage. Below, learn why your small business should invest time in Twitter.

  1. The Micro-Blogging Feature: Twitter is a blogging site with a difference. The distinguishing feature, also its plus point, is its 140-character limit. The word limit pushes one to create short yet straightforward, informative and creative content. Readers, mainly customers looking for product information, appreciate such a format. To add, it proves a successful communication strategy given our declining attention spans.

  2. The Ability To Target A Wider Audience: With over 200 million active users, “Twitterverse” is an incredible network of connections. Besides, it is expanding rapidly as large numbers subscribe to the service daily. As a result, it helps you reach out to a wider audience. You can also sync your email account or phone book and import contacts.

  3. An Opportunity to Collect Quality Leads: Twitter enables a firm or corporation to build quality leads as it doesn’t involve a search of random people but leads who are genuinely interested in a particular industry. It enables a small business to get quality followers, those who influence their target market.

  4. Adjust Security Settings: You can adjust Privacy settings on Twitter. Tweets are made visible to all members on your friend’s list. However, the direct message option allows to you send a private message without making it visible to all.

  5. Build Credibility and Brand Loyalty: In the online marketplace, it is difficult to trust because most of the time we are dealing with preprogrammed systems. Bigger business houses have capital to invest in trust-building measures, but small businesses are deprived of these privileges.

Twitter is a great platform to help build relationships with your customers. Though the space is restricted, you can share links to videos, presentations, articles and blog posts that showcase your business to the world. Responses and re-tweets open lines of communication for real time conversation and customer service such as customer queries and resolving issues in a timely manner. Also, It gives your business a human feel. When a follower re-tweets a post, it is as though he or she is endorsing your product or service creating word of mouth marketing. One can also use it as a medium to update customers and to disseminate important news about your small business. Is your small business investing time in Twitter?

 

 

Benefits of Using Social Media To Communicate With Your Customers

social-media-communicatinoAs the social media trend continues to grow, it has become apparent that social media presents a unique opportunity for small businesses to connect with their client base on a grassroots level and in a cost-effective manner. Though it may be difficult to justify taking time out of running a business to communicate with customers over various social media outlets, in reality this time expenditure shouldn’t feel trivial. Purposeful social media in business allows for a community to be built around a business’ concept or product, which is something marketers always strive for.

How Social Media Builds a Community

Social media is an excellent tool for a small business because it allows the business to actually connect with the audience and inspire a conversation. When social media is done right, it is engaging. It creates a dialogue among owners and potential clients, and it can stir interest in a product. Through back and forth dialogue between a business and their clients, a community is fostered where you can get a feel for the types of people that are interested in what your business offers. Basically, social media allows your target demographic to be friends with you and converse with you at the same time.

Social Media As A Tool For Customer Service

The social media platform also has the very immediate possibility of being an extension of your customer service offerings. In addition to having a customer service hotline or inbox, social media is a way to monitor the conversation about your product or service online and be a part of it. Using social media, it is possible for a business to offer solutions and tips in real time and in public. In effect, social media gives a small business the chance to host the conversation about themselves, which gives a business the power to interject at any moment and correct problems as they occur.

Social Media is Worth Your Time

Though small businesses often have a hard time justifying the time expenditure that social media requires it has nonetheless become an extremely important tool for business and should be used to its full potential. It helps small companies build a community that previously would have taken the resources of professional marketers and plenty of money to build. Companies can now build a community with the same power almost organically. Furthermore, it has the potential to enhance your business by giving you the opportunity to address customer service issues in real time and in public.

Social media is still growing and there is no sign that the trend is coming to an end any time soon. Small businesses should decide how they want to engage with customers on different social media sites and begin to do so. At this point, the drawbacks of not joining social media sites are too hefty to ignore, and the potential involved with a well-run social media presence is too great an opportunity to pass up for your small business.

Advantages of Using Social Media for Your Small Business

Small Business Social Media (1)If you own a small business then hopefully you have a presence on social media, because your competitor most likely does. Businesses, big and small, are hitching their marketing wagons to the social media star for a reason. They are getting results. Small businesses are reporting an increase in customer engagement, repeat business, brand awareness, improved targeting of local customers, and a lot more. The trick, of course, is you need to know how to get your audience to move beyond liking and sharing your content to becoming a loyal customer.

In case you haven’t quite made up your mind yet on whether you should invest time and money on social media then this quick lowdown on the benefits of social media will enable you to make an informed decision.

Social media drives traffic and when nurtured properly, your social media networks can drive a steady stream of visitors to your website. And every now and then, a really cool post that does well is going to result in a spike in traffic. And this is traffic that converts. Depending upon your content marketing strategy, you can benefit from visits to your lead generation page, home page, or your product sales page. Traffic from social media reduces your dependence on search engine traffic and serves as a backup should your site suffer adversely from a Google algorithm update.

Connect with Social Media

Social media makes it easy to reach out to people who are interested in your industry, products or services. You can easy build relationships with virtually anyone around the world via social media and it gives a face and a personality to your business. You can present benefits that your customers can relate to and gain insights into customer preferences. You can also tweak business offerings and processes for efficient operations and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Social Media is Cost Effective

Social media marketing is an effective and inexpensive marketing channel. If you’re ready to implement a thoughtfully prepared social media marketing plan, your small business can show a healthier bottom-line even without spending a dollar on traditional advertising. Build a targeted audience, engage with it, and it will spread the word on your behalf. That’s the definition of cost effective marketing that works.

Social media also provides a great ROI on ad spend. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow advertisers to target their ads based on a number of parameters such as the age, gender, education, likes, interests, and location of the viewer. You can deliver your message to a highly targeted audience and enjoy improved clickthrough rates and conversions.

Social Media can Create Buzz Quickly

Looking to generate interest in your upcoming product launch? Want more walk-in traffic to your store on a sluggish Wednesday afternoon? Turn to social media. Offer a discount, freebie, special experience, or social media only offer and you will have set things in motion. Helpful how-to videos, product demos, and positive user reviews are also ideas that can be implemented to help build customer loyalty and create buzz.

Social Media Helps with SEO

Social media can provide positive SEO signals to Google and other search engines. Search engines use social signals as ranking factors for both your branded and non-branded keywords. Optimized social media pages appear on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and your Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook pages and other social networks can rank for targeted keywords.

Don’t forget to keep tabs on the competition as well. With social media you can track competitors’ performance in real time, study their techniques and adopt practices that are working for them.

Small businesses have a lot to gain from creating a presence on social media. There’s no rocket science involved and once you start achieving results it becomes a fun activity that repays your efforts over and over again.

Savvy Social Tip: Social Media Bloopers – Smile and Move On by @ElizabethTraub

Savvy Social TipSometimes it’s a mis-hit of a key, a pinky out of control on your smart phone, or you simply do not get or understand the grammatical context of what you are about to tweet, so you implement your 3rd grade rules of reason.

Major brands get center stream when their brand managers tweet something that does not resonate well with the tweeting public. A ‘typo” gets sneers and geers. How do we handle this? How do we carry forward when this happens?

“We all have bloopers in Social Media. Just smile and move on.”

There use to be a well esteemed career called “writer”. The “writer” was well versed, and knew all the grammatical placement of written language. Creative and engaging their readers on their way to being a best seller. Those fortunate enough to be published had editors. Today, we are all called to be writers in our own right. Big companies hire writers and small companies struggle to get their writing refined. That interior designer, business consultant in me now has to take what I want to communicate in this social space and become a writer.

Sometimes I say bloopers and sometimes I tweet bloopers. For the most part, I can catch my words before I push send. Sometimes that thought runs faster than my fingers can keep up and it comes out all wrong. I am not going to stress over the occasional blooper.

How can we help others? I have privately messaged those whom I know when I see something I know they did not intend. I have also received those messages and could go back and correct my mistakes. We are human, subject to human error, and as we all continue to learn and grow, we can extend grace to the bloopers we see streaming. And if you do see one, be sure to share this Savvy Social Tip.
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elizabeth-300x200

Elizabeth Traub: Chatty, wife, mom of 5, Brand Strategist, Social Producer, Marketing Direction. #SavvySocialTip

Elizabeth partners with your company as a brand and marketing strategist.  She will help direct  your project through to the next stages of development specializing in Social Marketing Producing. Elizabeth can help build, train and teach your marketing team in everything New & Social in Media platforms. Taking your offline marketing efforts and moving them online. Elizabeth can work with your existing Marketing team, or help you build your team. Elizabeth is a fantastic, engaging, and teaching public speaker. Having spoken to crowds in the 100?s down to an audience of 10. She deliveries her story of success, failures, and hardships. Her story of being a full time present mom, while working full-time. She is inspirational and encouraging with her measures of success starting with right where a person is at and where they want to go. “Your Dreams & Passions, My Experience & Help. FOUNDER of #SavvySocialTip

Stay In Touch with Elizabeth:

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @ElizabethTraub Three things she does in real time now doing online: Hung Out To Buy www.hungouttobuy.com Elizabeth Traub Consulting & Design www.elizabethtraub.com Girlfriends Hub www.girlfriendshub.com

9 Ways To See Social Media Success

social-media-successThe way a brand manages its online presence on Social Media is critical. If the brand is managed poorly, they experience no growth and a decline in business. In comparison, if a brand is managed successfully, success follows with their audience going global about how great and unique the brand is. Resulting in increased sales and likeability. Below, are 9 ways to see social media success.

  1. Create a personal and memorable experience. Interact with your audience daily to ensure they know you acknowledge them. Surprise with a simple, “Thank You” and “How is your day going?” Respond to all negative and positive feedback publicly, well and quickly. Show them you care and value them when they reach out to you. If you make a mistake, own it and offer a genuine apology and solution.
  2. Be ready with an answer to a question and solution to a problem. Do this by coming up with possible questions that may be asked or possible problems that may arise.
  3. Let your audience know they are your brand by asking what they want to see and their opinion. Then listen, respond and deliver. After all, a brand with no audience results in no brand and no growth.
  4. Work together as a team internally. Collaborate, hear all ideas and assign each person a task accordingly. Always have a back up person trained to handle online management in Social Media in case others are sick or an emergency arises.
  5. Make your online presence FUN. Let your audience know you are relaxed and inviting. Tweet and post humor, offer contests. Great aspect to have to show that you are friendly and ready to take the brand to relationship building.
  6. Plan ahead for the week. Have a backup strategy in place. Do this by creating a weekly agenda to help the brand stay on task and moving forward. It is important to always think ahead and be ready.
  7. Create content that educates and defines the brand as a valuable resource and engages. Create tips, share how to articles and ask questions to get your community involved. Infuse personality into your posts. Keep it relevant, to the point, make it fun and never confuse! Your objective is to attract and stimulate engagement.
  8. Being consistent on social media is the key to building loyalty and relationships. The more you show up, engage and create value on a daily basis the more others look forward to engaging with and trusting you. Being consistent also includes having a consistent brand message and voice across all social profiles which represents who you are, what you do and how you’re portrayed to the world.
  9. You must be enthusiastic. Know your audience and be prepared to put in the effort it takes to engage and become a resource. Adjust your performance by measuring metrics and adapting to what your audience is telling you with their behavior. It’s imperative to not let enthusiasm fade.

Social Media success has many aspects and how well you adapt to each one will determine how your business performs. Time invested acknowledging, working together internally, educating and being consistent is a sure way to build relationships and see Social Media Success.

3 Ways Coffee Can Improve Your Productivity and Health

woman drinkCoffee can sometimes get a bad reputation, but having a daily cup or two might be better for you than you think. As most people like to indulge in at least one cup of coffee on a weekday morning, the drink that often gets a rough rap can actually work to improve your day as well as your performance at the office. You might feel guilty about grabbing that second cup, but here are a few reasons why you don’t need to be too strict about your coffee consumption. 

Gets You Involved with the Social Aspect of the Workplace

The water cooler might be the familiar centerpiece for office chit-chat, but going for a morning cup of coffee can actually get you into the break room and involved in an unexpected conversation with your co-workers. While another opportunity to talk with your fellow employees might not be a popular idea with your boss, it can actually be a good way to get away from your inbox for a few moments and get back to your desk with a fresh, new perspective. It can also be a great way to establish friendships with your co-workers that will enhance your experience at work.

Can Make You More Focused and Productive

It might seem strange to think of coffee as something that can actually make you more productive, but the stimulating powers of caffeine, which work to block the inhibitive neurotransmitter Adenosine, can actually improve your efficiency at work. In fact, caffeine not only works to wake you up, but it can also make you feel better about your work day, boost your memory and reaction time, and make your projects and daily duties go off without a hitch so you don’t have to worry about a sleepy morning getting in the way of your productivity. 

Can Reduce the Risk of Many Common Health Ailments

While coffee is often given a bad reputation because of its stimulating properties, the beverage really can assist you in preventing a variety of health issues. In addition to automatically increasing your alertness, coffee can minimize the risk of diabetes, cirrhosis and other diseases like Cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It can also be a source of additional vitamins like B2 and B5 as well as a source of potassium, manganese and riboflavin.

All of these health benefits might just make you want to rush to the coffee pot a bit quicker in the morning! Many people might be surprised by the health benefits of coffee, but this favorite morning drink can actually be a great source of vitamins and minerals and can also help to stave off many serious illnesses. Though moderation is important, there’s no use feeling guilty if you’re having a day that requires a second cup!

Social Media: Lost at Sea by @AceConcierge

fishAs you wade through the waters of your online universe, kicking a few stones and jumping the waves, you may find yourself wondering what the heck are you doing and how should you do “it.” Flopping like a fish out of water is not what you imagined when you began this digital journey to help build your business and establish a piece of the market share. Oh it all sounded so easy!

Your entrepreneurial spirit got you this far so it’s not time to throw in the towel but instead grab a life vest and paddle like hell; with a plan of course.

“Beginners at social media don’t have an editorial calendar, and they don’t measure results—they simply post when they have time. You have to keep feeding the beast. Otherwise, it’s worse than doing nothing.”  Beth Kanter

Social media success is developed on a solid foundation comprised of several components which help to build your credibility, following, loyalty and thought leadership. Each piece is a vital element toward growing your audience and facilitating a return on your investment. While no two accounts are alike, the features below help to shape your position in the digital environment.

cycle

Keep in mind that results come from fostering and enriching your online connections within your community via relevant content and conversations. Put down the megaphone and stop broadcasting. Social media is a two-way dialog just like any other relationship.

“Curating and sharing something meaningful, driving participation — that’s where we need to go. Once we stopped shouting and started creating targeted, meaningful communication, we saw a 400% increase in engagement.” Andrew Bowins

Branding: Creating a cohesive brand image is an important powerful starting point. Make sure your profiles, bios and logo are consistent and clearly represent you and your brand. You don’t want to confuse your audience with mixed messages.

Engagement: Don’t set it and forget it. Automate what you must, some of the routine tasks but MAKE time to personally engage with your network. People love people – meet and greet your community. Show genuine interest and respond to all comments and messages.

Content: Content marketing is still the mainstay. Your posts should be speaking to your audience, solving pain points, educating, inspiring and supporting your mission/vision (but not soapbox selling). If you are dull and boring, the same old blah, blah, people won’t stick around. Know and understand your followers and their needs. Provide value! Spice it up.

Relationship building: All business starts with a relationship marketing. I don’t care who you are or what you sell, if you aren’t nurturing your relationships, you won’t have the opportunity to build trust, credibility and authority; which all come into play for the buying decision. Authenticity wins.

Consistency: If you build it they will come. Not! Just because you have a few profiles and post sporadically does not mean you entice people to knock down your doors, hoping to establish a working partnership of some kind. Post consistently. Have a strategy that is functional, practical and feasible. Don’t start out with 4 posts one week, skip a few weeks and then publish just 2. You won’t gain a loyal audience if you are all over the calendar with your content schedule.

Frequency: Decide on how many times per day you are going to post and stick with it. You need to strike a balance between being informative and being annoying. Too many posts can be overkill. There are plenty of articles suggesting times/frequency. They can be used as helpful guidelines but it really comes down to what is transpiring on your social networks. Post. Measure. Tweak.

Relevancy: Is your content relevant to your industry, brand and buyer personas? If you are just publishing content that has nothing to do with your brand or isn’t applicable to the needs of your target market then why are you posting it? Think about the most pressing questions you’ve been asked and write a post about each one. What problems do you solve? How do you or your services makes someone’s life better? Easier?

Sharing: It really is caring. Share the content of your colleagues, industry influencers, clients; anyone who has an impact on your life or business and you deem their posts as valuable to your network. You are able to give back and “share the love” as well as distribute educational/informative content. Your own posts should take a backseat to your community.

Is there more to social media marketing than this? Hell yes!  This is just the bare bones to chart your course toward greater visibility, community ties and building your online reputation.

Educate yourself: Read. Research. Test. Measure.

Remember the adage: Be social. Don’t do social. While this may seem like a gagging overused cliché, it holds merit. When working with people, whether online or off, it is always comes back to one simple premise: the human touch.

Consider your current strategy and what changes you can implement today for better results and stronger relationships. What changes are you ready to make?

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ace

Suzie Kummins-Poirier, a.k.a @aceconcierge, is a virtual assistant working
with entrepreneurs and business people who care to focus on their core
genius by delegating the much-needed but time-consuming everyday tasks in
managing their business.  With 30 years of experience as a key support for
her clients, her top priority has always been to facilitate the most
effective strategies for time management, delegation and business processes,
creating the realization that even though her clients CAN do it all, it
doesn’t mean they should. She builds a continually up-to-date tool-set that
eliminates typical routine obstacles for the entrepreneurs who contract her.
This growing tool-set is about aiding the client in growing their business
and removing the straps that bind them to everyday tasks/projects and
tugging them away from emphasis on their daily business operations.



Twitter: https://twitter.com/aceconcierge

Ace Concierge: http://aceconcierge.net/blog/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AceConcierge

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/aceconcierge/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SuzieKumminsPoirier/posts

 

 

Hiring a Social Media Agency – Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Untitled design (9)“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?