Social media might seem like all fun and games and cat pictures, but if you’ve ever tried to really use it as a marketing tool, you might have realised that it’s a little harder than you thought.
Maybe you’re a small business owner, and you thought you could handle it on your own and save some money. Maybe you are a marketing manager, but you have so many balls in the air that you just don’t have time to do it justice.
Social media changes all the time. Major changes in privacy, algorithms and advertising standards happen without warning, and if you’re not on top of them, they can turn your marketing efforts upside down.
That’s not to mention that social media marketing demands consistency, favours a clear brand message, and is all about engagement rather than sales. It’s no wonder you feel overwhelmed, it’s an overwhelming sort of a thing!
Sometimes, you need a little help, whether it’s to get started or on an ongoing basis, and that’s exactly what this article is for: to help you find the right social media marketing agency to set and achieve your social media marketing goals.
1. Know Where You Are
Nearly a third of all SMEs use social media marketing agencies, but they don’t all need them for the same things.
Some are complete beginners, who don’t even have their accounts set up yet. Others need help with strategy and execution, while still others know what they want and how they want to do it, but they need someone to make sure things get done consistently and on schedule.
Knowing where you are can help you to figure out if you need an “all bells and whistles” service that does everything for you, or if you’re looking for someone who takes your ideas and runs with them.
2. Think About Which Channels Matter
The thing no one mentions about social media marketing is that no one does it all. There are just too many social media channels out there to do them all well, so you need to think about what you want to focus on.
If you’re a b2b company, you’ll need a social media marketing agency that is a whiz at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re more consumer-focused, you might want to look for someone who specialises in Instagram and Pinterest.
You don’t need to know exactly which platforms you want to focus on, but it’s easier if you have some idea!
3. Decide How Much You Want to Outsource
Some small business owners want to hand their accounts over to someone and only think about them when they get a report. Others want the social media marketing agency to take care of the strategy and content creation but want to handle some of the day-to-day posting and engagement themselves.
You need to find an agency that is happy to accommodate your needs and wants, and to develop a social media marketing plan around them.
4. Look for an Agency That Asks Questions
Social media is not one size fits all. It’s mostly driven by what you do, who you sell to, and what you want to achieve, and a good social media agency will ask lots of questions.
They’ll want to know about your business and your target market. They’ll want to know about your sales goals and your competition. They’ll ask about your team, what you already do in-house, and what you’re struggling with.
An agency that asks questions is one that is building a social media marketing strategy that is tailored to you, and that’s what you want.
5. Consider Their Process
A good social media marketing agency will have a process that helps you to set your goals, create a plan, and measure and review progress.
You want to work with an agency that will provide you with a dedicated contact person, and schedule regular update meetings. They should have tools to measure progress and have a process to provide you with reports.
Find out if they outsource any of their work, and if so, which parts and to whom. While this isn’t a huge factor, you do need to be sure that they are in control of quality, and that outsourcing won’t affect the final result.
Any good social media marketing agency should have been in the business long enough to be able to provide all of this information during their initial meeting, so be wary of any that are vague or don’t have any information available!
6. Look for Specialists
Most social media marketing agencies specialise in something. Some may focus on small businesses. Others may favour a few platforms. Some may even focus on a few core industries.
The more focused your agency is, and the closer the match between your business and their service, the better the results you can expect will be.
The agencies you’re talking to should be able to provide case studies, reports and other information about their previous activities and achievements in the niche they are targeting. They should also be able to provide a list of past and present clients, which should include at least a few familiar names!
7. Ask Your Network
A recent study showed that over 40% of businesses found their social network marketing partner via a referral.
There’s a good chance that many people in your professional network are already working with a social media marketing agency and can give you a referral or recommendation. They might also be able to tell you which agencies to avoid, and why.
Even if you are already talking to a few agencies, this can help you to whittle down the list or might prompt you to talk to some that you hadn’t considered yet.
8. Balance Cost and Value
In business, everything is a balancing act. You always have to consider the cost of a product or service versus the value it offers. But try not to make the number the only thing that drives this decision.
Consider how much time an agency is going to save you and your team, and what that time is worth. Then consider the results you can expect to get from the relationship.
If the agency you plan to work with is going to free up your time to focus on other areas of your business, and they can deliver more qualified leads or more repeat business, then the price tag for the service becomes less of a factor.
You don’t want to break the bank, of course, and your budget always matters, but remember that in social media marketing, like everything else, you usually get what you pay for, and any service that seems too good to be true probably is.
9. Review as You Go
As with any supplier or service provider, your relationship with your social media marketing agency starts on the day you sign the contract – it doesn’t end there.
Make sure that if you do sign a contract, there are performance standards built in, and that there is a regular review process, where you can gauge the impact of the campaign, and the performance of the agency.
A good social media agency won’t mind their work being regularly reviewed, and they’ll welcome the opportunity to make periodic changes to the strategy and execution of your campaigns.
As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into finding the right social media marketing agency than just reading online reviews (although you should definitely do that too!)
It all starts with a conversation though, so if you’re looking for someone to work with on your social media goals, we’d love to see if we’re the right fit.
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