As your company grows, you may be looking to enlist the help of a third-party company to manage various aspects of your work. This is a time when many brands turn to a social media marketing agency to take over their digital strategy and launch it to new heights.
The tricky part is that there is an insane number of agencies to choose from, and that number is growing literally by the day. So, how can you choose the best one for you? You’ll surely have some research to do on your end, but here are eight things to look out for, to help you get started narrowing it down.
8 Things to Look for in a Social Media Marketing Agency
1. They Have Dedicated Experts Who Will Work on Various Aspects of Your Digital Marketing
If an agency is going to drop your work into the hands of an account manager who will handle everything from graphic design to writing out your posts, you might want to reconsider them.
Account managers are great as the person who’s your point of contact and generally oversees your account. It’s also terrific if they have a basic knowledge of the various skillsets. However, if they’re the ones actually doing the work, this might not be the right social media marketing agency for you.
There are too many specific skills involved in social media management for one account manager to master them all. The team you partner with should have available experts like graphic designers, writers, SEO specialists, someone who monitors analytics, and possibly even a photographer.
Now, it’s understandable if you as the client might not have direct communication with each of these people. That could get very messy, very quickly. But if you’re going to hire an agency, there should be more than one person working on your account behind the scenes.
2. They Know Your Industry or Are Willing to Learn It
A social media marketing agency that brags about the countless industries they work with should lead you to pause and think. Do you want to work with an agency that dabbles in a little bit of everything?
The company you’re working with should ideally have a thorough understanding of your industry, your niche, so that they can create content tailored to your brand specifically. Or, if that’s not the case (which isn’t immediately a red flag in and of itself), they should be willing to learn.
It’s not unlike the point we made above. An account manager can’t be an expert on everything. Nobody can. Similarly, an agency with a wide variety of clients can’t be an expert on them all.
If you’re a salon owner, your social media marketing agency needs to understand the various services you offer, how they work, the benefits, the culture of your industry, the terminology, and so on.
And especially if you’re working in a more sensitive industry — like law or medicine — you need an agency familiar with the language and those areas of practice. One wrong move here could land the agency, and the client, in hot water.
This isn’t to say that you need to find an agency that works strictly with salon owners. The point is to find an agency in a position to become very familiarized with your industry.
3. A Good Social Media Marketing Agency Should Have Powerful Tools at Their Disposal
True, the platforms themselves are already very powerful, but they’re not nearly enough to successfully run a digital marketing campaign.
A social media marketing agency should have tools to schedule out posts ahead of time, create and edit beautiful graphics, run ads, and very closely monitor data and analytics.
Their tools should also allow them to keep an eye on what other people are saying to and about you. If you want your engagement to improve, then you need to be (surprise!) engaging with people. This includes responding to comments, reviews, and mentions; liking people’s posts; following/following back, when appropriate; and resharing things they’re saying.
This was one of our goals when creating the eClincher platform. We wanted to make it a one-stop-shop for all things social media. If you’re working with an agency that uses eClincher, you can rest assured that they have all the tools they’ll need — in one single platform.
Keep in mind that it’s not just about managing your account. It’s about helping it to evolve and finding ways to make it better.
4. Communication is Quick and Efficient
Social media can change literally by the hour. This is why you can’t afford to work with a social media marketing agency that takes three or four days to respond to an email.
We all get busy. All of our inboxes are slammed. But a qualified agency should always respond in a timely manner, even if only to say, “I’ll review this email and get back to you by EOD!” If an agency goes silent and you can’t get the responses you need, there’s trouble.
Quick communication is especially important considering that these days, many of us work purely digitally with companies that aren’t local to our area. If your business is based in Denver and your social media marketing agency is in Manhattan, you need to know that you can reach them and expect a response in a reasonable amount of time.
All of this being said, do bear in mind that when you’re working with an agency, they’re working with other clients. If you don’t get a response in minutes, take a breath, because it’s okay. Patience is still a virtue.
5. They’re More Proactive, Not Purely Reactive
What’s better than jumping to fix something when it goes wrong?
Taking steps to prevent it from going wrong in the first place.
That’s the difference between reactive and proactive.
To be clear, things will go wrong. People make mistakes. We’re only human. So, don’t come out swinging the first time your agency stumbles. What we’re saying is that they should actively be doing as much as they can to prepare and prevent things from ever going wrong in the first place.
For instance, they should be keeping up with trends and algorithm changes so that they can adjust their methods accordingly. As a purely hypothetical example, let’s say Facebook announced they were permanently disabling their messaging feature. (Again, this is hypothetical.) If your brand heavily relied on chatbots, your agency should be ahead of the curve and planning how to evolve with such a massive change in the platform.
As a side note, this is worth mentioning. When something goes wrong, and it inevitably will (this is okay!), your agency should immediately acknowledge it and confirm with you how they’re going to fix it. The world of social media moves entirely too fast for any of us to be slacking.
6. Ask for Proof of Their Successes
Anyone can call themselves a social media expert, and agencies are popping up like Starbucks. What’s less common, though, is a social media marketing agency that can prove they’re worth the investment of your money. This is why you should ask for it: proof!
An experienced agency should be able to share testimonials, case studies, and other examples of how their work has helped brands in the past. You need a clear example of the input and output — what they did, and what the results were.
Did they grow page likes? Improve engagement and traffic? By how much? Did they run a profitable paid ad campaign? Did they use social media to significantly grow a client’s email list?
Furthermore, what was the cost to the client in order for the agency to achieve these results? An agency might not be able to reveal too much about that, but it’s worth asking.
Get into the nitty-gritty and ask these kinds of questions. It’s not nearly enough for an agency to show you a screenshot of a post they shared that got 100 likes. This is too superficial. Really dig deep and find out what kind of value they’re providing for their clients.
Don’t forget to also look for reviews of the business online, to see what people are saying. Online reviews can be incredibly revealing.
7. Their Own Social Media Should Be a Good Example of Their Work
“Ugh, we’re just so busy working for our clients that we don’t have time to manage our own social media!”
An agency’s own social channels serve as a portfolio of sorts. The quality you see here is what you can expect of the quality of work they’ll provide for you. If their own company platforms are a mess, this isn’t a good sign.
Look for all of the things you’d want to see on your own page: lots of activity and growing engagement, high-quality posts using a variety of text, images, and videos, crystal clear branded graphics, and so on.
In fact, you might even consider asking agencies what specifically they’re doing to grow their own pages and what their strategy looks like. You’ll be surprised at how many don’t have a solid response.
8. They Should Have Clear KPIs
Key performance indicator. KPI. These are what we use to track and measure our progress. For example, it’s not enough to have a goal of increasing engagement. What specifically will you measure? What’s your goal? That’s your KPI.
Once they get to know your brand, objectives, and pain points, an agency should be able to give you an idea of the KPIs they’d be measuring to ensure that their efforts were paying off. Otherwise, you’re going to be throwing your money away.
We know it can feel overwhelming seeing all of the potential agencies available to you and trying to select just one. And here’s an unflattering truth: You might not pick the right one on the first try.
If that happens, don’t panic! This is very normal. Sometimes, you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince. Do your due diligence in narrowing down agencies, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, and be prepared for a little bit of trial and error. There might be an alarming number of agencies out there, but many of them are qualified, and you’ll find the best fit for you.
If you’re ready to take your social media to the next level and want the management tool that does it all, sign up for your free trial of eClincher today and see why everyone is falling in love with our platform.