Social media is now an indispensable part of every brand’s marketing strategy. Brands of all size and shape have latched on to it for its ability to increase brand awareness, loyalty and impact on sales. The ease with which a social media account can be created is the reason for an explosion of brands on social media. But just because one can establish its presence on social media, does not guarantee success in reaching out to one’s audience.
Social media hasn’t been around for that long, it’s only a decade old phenomenon that started with Facebook. Social media is a niche expertise that most brands are still trying to get their heads around. Most businesses have to rely on social media agencies to assist them in using social media platforms to drive marketing messages and enhance brand perception. It’s important that these brands ask the right sort of questions to assess agencies and bring them onboard.
1. What do you know about us?
There are plenty of agencies out there who would like to earn your business. Asking this question will give you a very clear indication of the level of motivation of each of the agencies shortlisted by you. You want to know if the agencies considered by you have done their homework about you or not. Unless they understand the business you are in, they will not be able to help you much. Competent agencies will be able to clearly identify your target audience.
More importantly based upon the research they’ve done on your past marketing messages they will be able to tell you the best way forward on social media. The more aware they are about your brand communications in the past, the more brand consistency they will be able to deliver.
2. Why should we choose you?
Although this may sound like a clichéd interview question, it’s an important one. Potential agencies need to be able to convince you on why they are the best in the business. They should highlight how exactly they’ve helped brands in the past through strategies devised by them. Through well explained and in depth case studies, they should be able to display their prowess in driving brand engagement.
The most admired social media agencies have a well-defined methodology in place for ensuring social media success. Go with the one whose methodology is closely aligned with your organization’s marketing goals. Like everything else in life, success on social media cannot happen by accident, it’s comes from meticulous preparation and adhering to best practices. You need to ensure that the agency you’ve kept in consideration has all of those things in place.
3. Which social media sites would you recommend for us?
It doesn’t matter whether an agency recommends 2 social networking sites or all the top 5 sites known to you. What matters most is the rationale for being on each of the sites. It’s important for you to know that each social media site has a different set of users and require a separate content strategy. Make sure that the recommendations made for you are in line with your target audience and business goals.
For instance if your brand caters exclusively to women, then assess the emphasis given by your potential social media agency on Pinterest. Pinterest is primarily a social networking website used by women. However, the popularity of Pinterest varies from country to country. So you will have to get detailed answers from the agency on how they plan to use Pinterest for driving brand engagement.
4. How do you go about developing content?
Winning on social media is mostly about having the right content in place. Each social media networking platform requires content that is appropriate for it. For instance, engagement on Twitter depends on how witty and well-articulated the messages are. Instagram on the other hand is dominated by high quality visual content. This means that for every social media channel recommended for your brand, there should be an appropriate content strategy in place.
The content developed for your brand should not only be likeable, but should come across as worthy of sharing by your audience. Agencies should be able to show you what their content calendar for some of their clients look like. Images and short videos are rising in popularity across all social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Make sure you get details about their content creation process, the people behind them and video samples created for you if any.
5. How do you report?
Asking this question is important in understanding the degree to which each agency is willing to hold itself accountable. You should be able to monitor the progress made by your social media agency via reports made available to you. All standard agencies have a reporting structure through which they send daily, weekly, monthly and real-time reports about the state of affairs.
In fact the best ones will give you dedicated access to real-time dashboards which will allow you to see key metrics pertaining to your brand and industry. Not only will such agencies give you insights about your brand, but also track your key competitors.
6. How will you measure success for us?
Last but not the least, this is the most important question of all. At some point of time, you would want to understand the impact of hiring a social media agency. Will the agency guarantee an increase in share of voice, brand sentiment, fans/followers and engagement as a percentage of followers? If yes, then what is the minimum you can expect? Can the agency guarantee that each conversation will be responded to? Your potential agency should be able to clearly spell out those things for you within a time bound period.
7. What tools will you be using?
Social media tools are indispensable for effectively managing social profiles, brand conversations and extracting intelligence out of them. There are a plethora of social media tools out there that are suited for specific needs. Asking this question will make it abundantly clear to prospective agencies that they are dealing with a well-informed customer.
Ensure that you’ve been given no less than 3 tools to choose from. You should get a complete idea about the features and benefits of all the options given to you. One of the most important things about going full blast on social media is that regardless of whether brand conversations happen on social profiles or on a personal blog, they are not missed. You should do a comparison of data obtained from each social media monitoring tool recommended for you.