How to Choose the Right Social Media Agency

How to Choose the Right Social Media Agency

I can always tell which CEOs and Founders are most invested in their companies by who they put in charge of their social media.

When a CEO or Founder selects a capable, strategic, and aligned freelancer or agency to oversee these channels, they are effectively delegating the task of representing the company's voice, culture, and brand ethos to the public. It's one of the most crucial touch points for engaging with customers and shaping public perception.

After all, social media is not just about posting content - it's about fostering connections, building relationships, and maintaining trust.

    Recently in the marketing world, Social Media seems to be the shiny new object everyone wants to touch and with its power to reach millions in an instant, it's no wonder that being a social media consultant has become the epitome of cool.

    The allure of this industry has unfortunately ushered in the fakes. And it happens at both small and large companies. So it's no wonder it's getting harder to choose the right social media agency. 

    To assist in this dilemma, I've compiled a list of what to ask - to ensure you're getting the real deal.

    What brands have you managed besides your own?

    There are those who assume that because they have cultivated a personal brand on social media, they can easily extend their success to others. While personal branding can indeed be a valuable asset, the dynamics of managing a corporate or brand account are vastly different.

    Do your research and look at the individuals LinkedIn to verify they actually have managed brand accounts before starting their own social agency.

    Understanding target audiences, crafting strategic content, refining for SEO and navigating the complexities of brand identity require a level of expertise that goes beyond individual social media presence.

    What size of personal / company accounts have you managed?

    Someone that has managed social media accounts at a company of 284,000 global employees is different than someone that has managed accounts at a company of 10,000 employees and vastly different to someone that has managed accounts at a company of 10. 

    Understanding the size of the companies a social media consultant has managed provides valuable context for potential clients or employers. It speaks to their ability to adapt to different organizational structures, work with diverse teams, and handle the unique and complex challenges that come with each scale.

    As a general rule of thumb you should always hire someone that has worked at a business larger and more complex than your own - unless you already have a Social Media Director in place to guide them. A sophisticated social expert / agency can always scale their expertise down - but it's near impossible to scale up without substantial training.

    What size of following have you managed and what growth rates have you seen?

    Review the size of following and growth metrics to ensure that you're hiring teams with a proven track record of growth. A consultant or agency who has managed a large following demonstrates their ability to attract, engage, and retain a significant audience.

    Have you managed organic, paid and influencer social media?

    Look for consultants who have experience managing both organic growth (followers gained naturally through content and engagement), influencer strategy (working with influencers and creators) and paid growth (followers gained through advertising).They need to understand how these areas go in tandem with one another. Bonus points if this agency has managed brand or content strategy as these influence social media in a meaningful way. 

    What have you achieved at those brands?

    They should have KPIs they can share that relate to brand awareness, consideration and lead generation. Some of the KPIs should include: SOV, SOM, Impressions, brand sentiment, clicks, CTR, engagements, ER, Leads / Conversions, CPL, MQL, SQL, CLTV.

    How do you tailor your strategies to different platforms and target audiences?

    They should be able to articulate how they think about different social media platforms, how they use them and how they approach clients with different target audiences. If they can't articulate you may have a fake.

    Can you explain how you approach social media differently at different stages of the customer journey?

    They should be able to articulate how they think about social media at brand, consideration and lead generation stages If they can't articulate unique ways they approach it differently you may have a fake.

    How do you approach crisis management and reputation management on social media platforms?

    They should have a proactive and strategic mindset to this and be able to provide examples of how this was handled in the past. They should speak to what their immediate response might be and how they approach assessment, communication, engagement and resolution in a crisis. You should assess how they work with other departments like legal and customer support to solve. 

    How does social media work in tandem with X other marketing channel?

    A qualified social media consultant or agency will be able to articulate how they will use it in an omni-channel way to compliment existing marketing efforts. Even if they haven't had experience in other areas understanding the interconnected nature is important. 

    Do you have a degree in Marketing?

    There are the individuals who resort to falsifying their degrees and experience to bolster their credibility as social media consultants. In an industry where qualifications and certifications can hold weight, some may see it as a shortcut to gaining clients and projects. However, this deception not only undermines the integrity of the profession but also risks delivering subpar results for the businesses that trust them. Double check the validity of their degrees before hiring. 

    Which social media certifications do you hold? 

    Each social media network has their own certification process. There is a different one for Twitter (X) than Meta than LinkedIn. These are foundational and anyone that does not have these is either very junior or not a true social expert. If they answer all of them - get them to list them - and if they list them all this also may be a fake as spending 15+ years in social I've only encountered a handful of individuals where that is true. Most social media professionals are certified and experts in about 4-5 platforms. Ensure they are certified in the ones that matter most to your company. 

    Also, the platforms that they have matter for transferability. Someone that only knows Instagram can easily transfer that knowledge to manage Meta or Twitter - but it would be very difficult to take on TikTok and LinkedIn. 

    What social media management platforms do you hold? 

    They will likely hold a certification from Hootsuite, Sprinklr, Sprout Social, HubSpot or another platform that specializes in social media management. Junior members just starting their social media career and only working at startups may not have one, but if they claim to have worked on enterprise accounts or claim to have 5 years in the industry this is a red flag. 

    Can I see your portfolio of work?

    The phenomenon of creating fake portfolios of work has become a troubling trend among those seeking to break into the social media consultancy scene. These fabricated portfolios showcase impressive campaigns, engagement metrics, and success stories that are entirely fictional. Clients, unaware of the deceit, might be lured in by these seemingly impressive credentials, only to find out later that the promised results were never attainable. Ask for real links that go to the platforms. 

    Can I review some of your client testimonials?

    Client testimonials and reviews can also provide valuable insights into the consultant's ability to deliver on their promises and achieve tangible results. It can also tell you about their personality and how they are to work with. Double check these reviews are by real people by asking for the LinkedIn profile of the clients. 

    What kind of performance should I expect?

    This is a bit of a trick question. They should be able to articulate a general measurement strategy, but anyone that makes promises or guarantees is not only a fake, but also engaging in an illegal act by promising that to you under the Canadian code of Ad Standards Act and Federal Trade Commission Act.

    If the agency says you'll see results immediately (i.e. within the first 3 months of a strategy) they are also not very social savvy. Social media creates demand - it does not capture it so it can take companies several months - sometimes even a year to get substantial traction. They can do forecasts on the results based on the specific audience and budget, but they should never stipulate that they can achieve these exact figures. 

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    Hiring for social media roles can be a daunting task, so Christina Minshull an ex-Head of Social Media with 15+ years experience is available on request to help you assess in the interview process. 

    Need help with your social media strategy?

    Reach out to us for a social media auditsocial media consulting and masterclasses. We help both busy executives and companies with their brands on social. See some of our qualification here

    Contact us to Unleash your Brand's Potential.

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