Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Social Media Marketing Agency

1. How long have you been in business?
This is really about establishing credibility and understanding the agency’s experience. If you’re looking at hiring […]

1. How long have you been in business?

This is really about establishing credibility and understanding the agency’s experience. If you’re looking at hiring a company that’s been managing social media accounts for multiple years, they should know how social media channels like Facebook and Twitter continue to evolve, and they’re used to making strategy recommendations that will continue to change year over year and sometimes month over month. Agencies with a history can give you better recommendations on what works and what doesn’t because they’ve played in the space long enough to make mistakes, learn from them, and can develop a strategy that helps you achieve your goals.

2. How many people work at the agency?

There are hundreds of companies and freelancers claiming to be social media experts, but most of them tend to be “content factories” with very little thought and strategy going into the content marketing they provide for clients. Some social media firms may only have two or three people working for the entire agency, and once they pick up four clients they probably won’t have the bandwidth to manage all of them at 100%. Plus, what happens when one person gets sick or goes on vacation? There might not be enough agency staff to pick up the slack and it’s your brand that suffers.

3. What is your team’s resume?

The agency team’s background and skill sets are pretty important too. Look for agencies that have people who have worked in marketing, PR, and advertising since all of those disciplines can be leveraged to manage a killer social media campaign. We run across competitors who came from the financial space or were web developers in a past life and are just trying to capitalize on brands who don’t understand that social media marketing is just that – marketing. You wouldn’t have your CFO manage your IT department, would you? Same thing applies when picking a social media marketing agency! Find one that practices marketing at its core.

4. Does my company need to be on every social channel?

The answer here should be “absolutely not” or “it depends on your goals” — a life insurance company or bank does not HAVE to be on Pinterest and they might skip Instagram as well. But they should definitely be playing a customer service and brand education role in Facebook or Twitter if that aligns with company goals. Agencies that automatically want to put your brand in every social channel right off the bat, aren’t concerned about your goals or KPIs. You know what they say about a Jack-of-all-Trades? Every brands’ marketing approach should be customized to their needs.

5. What makes you different from your competitors?

Freelancers and wannabe agencies won’t really have an answer for this one. They’re pretty much doing what an intern might do for your brand — they’re just posting in your social channels and making your brand “look” active. As our agency has evolved over the years, we’ve seen a lot of companies come and go. The good ones have something that sets them apart. We’ve been heavily focused on strategy, ROI, and optimizing listening in the social space to deliver superior branding, PR, sales, and social customer care. If an agency can’t rattle off their elevator pitch, they probably aren’t legit enough to manage your social media marketing. It takes years to develop the right process, a great team, and an agency that can “walk the walk.”

6. Who are your top competitors?

Agencies that haven’t been around for too long won’t have a handle on local, national, or global competition because they’ve never managed a brand that did it’s due diligence by looking at more than one proposal. That means they’ve never really competed for business. If the agency is serious about staying in business and “in it for the long haul,” they’ll have identified agencies they aspire to be while studying the competition down the street as well.

7. What’s your workflow and content development process?

Agencies that have played in the social media space for years know that there’s more to content development than just having some recent college grad send out a bunch of posts. The “content factory” approach looks nice because you’re getting a bunch of “stuff” pushed out to your social channels, but there’s not much thought behind it. A good agency will have checklists, processes, and a team that follows them. They’ll also know how to integrate social media marketing with your PR and traditional media. A solid agency will have a great answer to this question. Other agencies will struggle with a real answer because they haven’t developed a true process to optimize for success.

8. How do you define success in social?

Measuring the ROI of social media can be difficult but with clearly defined goals an agency should be able to help you hit your KPIs. Success in social really needs to be developed and defined hand-in-hand with you, the client. Maybe you’re looking to create buzz around a certain event and new attendees are the end goal. Perhaps you’re looking to sell more of your widgets. You might also be looking to identify brand ambassadors and get them talking about your brand. Each of these goals can be accomplished and measured in social. A good agency will help you establish benchmarks and goals before they “go live” in your accounts.

9. What’s your process for reporting?

Wannabe agencies will avoid this question like the plague. Reporting is scary. Reporting is your social media scorecard for the week/month and agencies that aren’t measuring progress or helping your company achieve real goals don’t want to review what they did or didn’t do for you. But reporting is critical to your business and in understanding what’s working and what’s not. Reporting should measure all your established goals and KPIs and make certain that you’re on track to hit them. Great agencies should also identify “opportunities” outside of social media that can help play an integrated role in your brand’s marketing efforts.

10. What’s your current client list look like?

I see lots of agencies that list clients they’ve worked for at past companies. Just because you worked at an AT&T store during college, doesn’t mean your agency has “worked” in managing AT&T’s social media channels. Find out who they’re currently working with and check out their social media channels to verify the agency is doing good work. Ask for case studies and examples of the work they’ve done with these clients. Lastly, ask for references! A solid social media marketing agency should have a handful of client’s who will brag about the amazing successes they’ve had in social.

Lucas Vandenberg