How To Interview (And Hire!) A Social Media Agency

How To Interview (And Hire!) A Social Media Agency

Looking for a social media agency to ensure you’ve constantly got something smart to say online?

Congratulations! Outsourcing your social media to someone else is often a shrewd move.

However, I can tell you from experience that unless you do your homework when interviewing and hiring a social media agency, you might end up with a giant horror story on your hands.

Lucky for you, we’ve got the hard-hitting questions needed to hire the RIGHT social media agency for your business.

Social Media Horror Stories

Pathetic Posts

One client who came to us reluctantly said that their previous social media agency published posts that were “pretty out there” and didn’t relate to what they did (luxury travel with a purpose).

This client was also unimpressed by the graphics paired with their posts since the social media agency they were using at the time didn’t bother to use the company’s Style Guide to incorporate brand colors, text, and other elements.

 

Actionable Advice

Another client came to us specifically asking about reporting because the social media agency they had recently fired only sent reports sporadically!

And when reports were delivered? There was no explanation or actionable advice about why the numbers had increased or decreased — they just sat there, meaningless.

 

Ghost Town

Several clients have complained that their previous social media agencies are just plain bad at communication.

While their pages are getting posts, if they (the client) send an email requiring input, they aren’t likely to get a response until a week or later.

 

via GIPHY

These three social media agency horror stories are all too common and scary. Click To Tweet

 

How To Properly Interview Your Social Media Agency

Ask all of these 20 questions (if relevant to your business/brand) when interviewing your next social media agency:

 

  1. Tell me about your experience. How is your team structured around ours and what roles can be expected to help us with success?
  2. What skills/qualities do you/your team possess that lend(s) to online marketing and social media?
  3. What types of businesses do you currently work with? (May we have referrals from current and past customers?)
  4. Which social media platforms do you service for your clients?
  5. What do you think of our social media efforts? What could we be doing better?
  6. How often do you deliver reports and which metrics are most important to measure?
  7. How often will our team and your team meet to discuss our social strategy and/or progress?
  8. Which social media channels do you think are most relevant to our business; should each channel be used differently?
  9. What tools do you use to manage your client accounts?
  10. Does your service include using social media as a tool for customer service?
  11. Do you guarantee followers or account growth percentages each day/week/month?
  12. How will you help us set goals and key performances indicators for success?
  13. How can you help us generate leads or sales through social media?
  14. Give me examples of social media experiments you have successfully conducted.
  15. How do you handle negative comments on social media; what happens during a social media crisis?
  16. What are some Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. best practices we should know about?
  17. Tell me about your biggest failure.
  18. How do you/your team stay up-to-date since social media changes so often?
  19. What deliverables can we expect during our agreement period (and their frequency)?
  20. Do you perform outreach through social media for potential leads or for influencer marketing?
Use these 20 interview questions when hiring your next social media agency. Click To Tweet

 

Answers Cheat Sheet

It wouldn’t be fair to give you all of those questions with no insight into what the social media agency’s answers should sound like!

So here you go …

 

  1. A respectable social media agency should have been around for at least a couple of years and should easily be able to explain their team workflows and how each team member will service your account. We have several different team members who work on client accounts — no matter how big or small.
  2. Social media means knowing more than just social! Consider skills like marketing, copywriting, advertising, sales and lead generation, communications, and content curation or research (just to name a few!).
  3. A good social media agency will easily be able to list clients AND give you references for both past and present customers. 
  4. Know which platforms are serviced and how experienced the social media agency is with a particular platform. We don’t service Snapchat for our clients, for instance, because it’s new and too difficult for us to “be them” through video.
  5. A smart salesperson should have already reviewed your social media sites before your call! And a REALLY SMART salesperson will already have some feedback for you on how you’re doing. ?
  6. It’s my opinion that you should have reports delivered at least monthly on your social media efforts! As for metrics, those should be customized for YOU during your onboarding (because each company/client has different goals).
  7. We meet with our clients weekly. Maybe that’s a lot but it doesn’t make sense for us to “be you” (done-for-you social media marketing) without you being involved in making that happen. 
  8. Based on what you do, your goals, and your desired audience, a seasoned social media agency should easily be able to make suggestions on which platforms you should use.
  9. Again, a serious social media agency will have a plethora of tools they use to manage their client accounts. We have a tool suite of over $100,000 in marketing and online tools that help our clients with success!
  10. This answer should ALWAYS BE YES! Whether you use social media for customer service or not if your customers are you need to be ready to own that.
  11. It would greatly concern me if a social media agency guaranteed a specific number of followers each day/week/month because that may indicate that they’re buying followers (a huge no-no). You should experience growth each month, but that percentage will vary greatly on several factors.
  12. An experienced social media agency will guide you in choosing key performance indicators and tying social media success to business outcomes.
  13. While leads and sales may not be promised, an accomplished social media agency will have several campaign ideas and work with you to create a process for capturing leads through social.
  14. The experts will have examples for days!
  15. Your social media agency should be skilled in crisis management and have a workflow for handling any negative press/comments online.
  16. Helpful Hint: A really good social media agency will tell you that you need to create your OWN best practices, as some best practices simply aren’t
  17. If they can’t tell you about at least one failure, RUN! Social media is full of failures and requires lots of testing, trials, and tribulation.
  18. Team members should be required to take continuing education or be a part of an organization that provides updates. For Instance, as a Sprout Social Founding Agency Partner, we are updated on changes immediately (and privy to special reports!).
  19. Masters of their trade, social media agencies know that customers require a LOT of education, too. These masters will have plenty of deliverables they give to you. We do not advocate “holding your accounts hostage” — so we make sure you have access to all of the same documents and workflows we do!
  20. Our answer is yes (and we feel this should be the norm for any social media agency). 
Use this cheat sheet when interviewing your next social media agency! Click To Tweet

 

Social Media Agency Red Flags

social media red flags

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot of homework that goes into hiring a social media agency.

A lot of research and understanding can be gained by asking the above questions. It’s also good to be aware of red flags.

Here are 3:

  1. The social media agency doesn’t use social media for themselves (or it looks awful).
  2. They don’t blog often. (Because original content is SO IMPORTANT!)
  3. You’re told that “good social media” will save/improve your failing product/service/company. So not true; social media only amplifies what you already have.
Watch out for these social media red flags when outsourcing your social to an agency. Click To Tweet

 

When It’s Time To Hire

When you’ve gotten past all of the interviewing and it’s time to hire, there are still some areas you need to be cognizant of.

For instance:

  • Make sure you carefully read your agreement before hiring an agency
  • Ask for extra language to be added if you’re unclear or wary of particular sections in your agreement
  • Be sure you understand any/all non-disclosure language or if your agency provides this for you
  • Know what the timeframe and process is for onboarding you as a customer
  • Ensure you have a meet and greet (in person or online) with your account manager or team liaison
  • Understand the protocol for ending, renewing, or pausing an agreement
  • Get extremely specific and clear about your goals and what you want to achieve
  • Be a good client and deliver your deliverables in a timely manner — and always make your meetings!
Hiring a social media agency? Check these items off your list first! Click To Tweet

 

Finding The Perfect Social Media Agency

Finding the “perfect” agency will not be an easy task. However, you can avoid plenty of heartaches just by asking the 20 interview questions we’ve provided you with.

If you’re serious about your social media success, you should be serious about the hybrid team you’re building by outsourcing to someone outside of your brand.

Do your homework and forego the horror and heartache. Trust us!

What are your tips for hiring a social media agency? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

 

Your Business Needs a Social Media Marketing Strategy Right Now

Your Business Needs a Social Media Marketing Strategy Right Now

Last year I made the case for social media marketing for small businesses in terms of why they need to even use it. According to the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner, 92% of marketers said that social media is important to their businesses (that included business owners as well). So obviously businesses are getting the message.

 

This year, not much has changed, you still need to use social media for your business, however, it’s more important now to have an exact plan, or strategy, about how you are going to implement your social media marketing.

 

Get this – 41% of Americans say it’s important that the institutions they engage with have a strong social media presence and of those Americans who have a social media account, 28% would rather engage with a brand/organization on social media than visit a physical location.

 

So let’s do some math. There are roughly 326 million Americans. According to Pew Research Center, 69% of adults in the U.S. use social media, which makes approximately 225 million people. If 28% would rather engage with you on social media than walk in your door, that means 63 million people prefer interacting with businesses on social media than in-person. And that includes me.

 

The top choice for a customer care channel is social media (Sprout Social) so now is the time to start crafting that oh-so-important strategy to make it all work.

 

Social media marketing is more than just posting content to Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. It’s more than sharing articles or videos. It’s connecting with your audience in a precise manner. To me, there’s an art, or science, to it.

 

Before you start doing anything on your social media platforms, you have to know why you are using it.

 

In the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the top two benefits of social media marketing that were listed were increasing exposure and increasing traffic. 88% indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses and 78% reported positive results for increased traffic. Most are using social media to develop loyal fans (69%) and gain marketplace intelligence (66%).

 

Ask yourself – why you are you using social media for your business? Everything you do online needs to start from your answer to that question. If it does not, then it won’t work. If you are outsourcing your social media marketing and the consultant or company is clueless about this, fire them now and find someone else.

 

You need to know who you are targeting.

 

Not every one of the 225 million Americans (if you are in the US) on social media is someone you should target. In fact, not everyone in a 10 mile radius of your business will be people you target. Think of the perfect person you want to buy from you or hire you for your services and build your targeting around that. I know it includes A LOT of assumptions and stereotypes, but in marketing, it’s just something you have to do.

 

Once you’ve figured that out, have a strategy as to how you are going to reach those you are targeting. Questions you need to answer:

 

What platforms am I going to use?

 

You do not have to use every platform. If you have a marketing consultant tell you you have to be on all of them – run, and run fast. Any social media marketing professional worth anything will know better than to tell you that. Think about that target audience and look at what platform(s) they are using. Start there.

FYI – Facebook is still the choice among every age group. Do not let anyone convince you teens and millennials have left Facebook – they are still there. If it wasn’t the choice, there wouldn’t be 65 million Facebook business pages.

 

What content am I going to share?

 

Think about what your target audience wants to see. Keep in mind 46% will unfollow a brand on social for posting too many promotional messages (Sprout Social). A good ratio to keep is 80% educational/20% promotional. For every self-promotional messages you put out, you need 8 that are not. You can share articles relating to your industry, tips, behind the scenes of your business, etc. Just do NOT publish sales pitch after sales pitch.

Visuals and video go a long way in terms of engagement and being remembered. 85% use visuals in their marketing and 73% plan on increasing their use of visuals this year, according to the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. When it comes to video, 61% plan on using live video services such as Facebook Live and Periscope, and 69% want to learn more about live video. With Facebook’s big push this year with video, you just might want to consider wading into this.

 

What advertising will I invest in?

 

Long gone are the days of “post it and they will come.” With all platforms unleashing algorithms that show content based on how much users engage with people and brands, chances are your posts are not going to be seen often without a little bit of a boost.

Facebook ads are amazingly inexpensive and you get a real bang for your buck. Plus you will get a boost in eyes on your content. A surprising 93% of social marketers regularly use Facebook ads and 64% plan on increasing their Facebook ads activities – this applies to businesses as well (Source: Social Media Examiner).

You can read my Facebook Ads primer here.

 

How will I engage and interact?

 

I see SO many businesses (and competitors) just broadcast on social media all day long. They post about themselves, or just post, and never interact with their followers. Comments go unanswered, questions left unresponded to. In fact, 89% of social media messages to brands go ignored and the average response time for a brand to reply on social media to a user is 10 hours, while the average user will only wait 4 hours. (Sprout Social). That’s unacceptable. If you are going to invest the time and resources into using social media for your business, you have to be present and show up.

The majority of consumers buy from brands that are honest (86%), helpful (78%) and friendly (83%). It turns out that at the end of the day, consumers want brands to use social as a customer care channel (Source: Sprout Social Q2 2017 Index).

 

All said, social media marketing is time-consuming. For example, 64% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more and 41% for 11 hours or more weekly. It’s interesting to note that nearly 20% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media (Source: 2017 SMM Industry Report from SME). That’s why people like me have been able to build successful businesses – we take the time to educate ourselves and stay up on the latest so you can do what you do best – run your business.

 

But some businesses choose to handle their own social media marketing – and that’s fine. Any use of social media for business has to have a strategy behind it. You wouldn’t blindly go on a hike in a forest without a plan, so why would you consider using social media to market your business the same way?

 

If you have questions about how to better market your business on social media, or how to even get started, we have answers. Let us help get you on the right path to being successful.

 

 

Why You Have to Be Transparent in Your Business

Why You Have to Be Transparent in Your Business

Being transparent in your business is very important in the age of digital marketing and social media. You can Google just about anyone or anything. Dig harder and you can find the truth even if they won’t admit it. Being transparent is more than being honest, it’s building an honest relationship. As in real life relationships, those built on lies (dishonesty) never last.

For my business, I do my best to be as transparent as possible. I will own up to my mistakes, no matter how embarrassing they are or even if they will cost me a client or business relationship. Most won’t do that.

I believe there are four elements to being transparent in your business, and if you follow these, you’ll find your relationship with your community, and your clients, richer.

1. Honesty

“I’ll never tell a lie” is the biggest lie there is out there in society. As hard as it may be to admit, we are not all honest 100% of the time. However in business, you have to be. If you are in a regulated business, dishonesty could cost you your business license or mean jail time. For those of us in unregulated industries, being dishonest gives you the appearance of that shady salesman you try to avoid.

Being honest in your business allows you to get to know your customer and your community, and they will get to know you. Do you love watching The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones? I bet someone in your community does too – build on that and start the relationship! The most important part about being honest is knowing you have a clear mind about what you are doing. I’m not just talking about being honest to your audience/customers/community, but being honest with yourself. If you cannot be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?

2. Credibility

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “a man is as good as his word”? From honesty breeds credibility. If you are open and honest, you’ll be considered credible. In any industry, credibility is important. Journalists do not want to cite people who aren’t credible sources. Likewise, doctors are only going to source credible research when talking about the latest advances in medicine.

Credibility should be a part of your backbone. If you’re not credible, no one is going to trust you, and trust is important. If your customers don’t trust you and see you as credible, I assure you there is someone else waiting in line to fill that void.

3. Accountability

If you’re credible, then you’re more likely to practice accountability. Having accountability means you can be counted on – you are honest, you are credible – people can take you on your word and rely on you to follow through.

In today’s society, there is a lack of accountability & responsibility. People do not want to be held accountable for their actions. I could write a novel on it. We see it in white collar businesses as well as our citizens. They want to live their lives without recourse. You can’t do that in business. Being transparent means you want (and should) be held accountable for your actions – both the good and the bad.

4. Your clients will know what to expect up front

This is where transparency all comes together. If you are honest, credible and accountable, your clients/customers will know what to expect from you and your business up front. There’s no guessing what type of business you run or how you conduct yourself as a businessperson. It all cycles to this – your clients/customers.

 

How are you being transparent with your business? Share with us – we love to learn from our community!

5 Elements to Being a Successful Business Owner

5 Elements to Being a Successful Business Owner

I want to be successful because I like to win. I’m not being arrogant, those who know me best know just how competitive I am. That competitiveness drives me to aim for success in whatever it is I’m doing.

 

Success, for you, could mean an important job title or it could mean a lot of zeros on a paycheck. Success could be staying with the same company for 10+ years or it could be simply doing something that makes you happy. It could even mean getting to a point in your life where you can just walk away from it all.

 

Regardless of what kind of success you are working towards, it doesn’t come easy. It requires blood (sometimes literally), sweat, and tears. It means staying up all night to finish a project. Missing some of your children’s activities. Putting off a large purchase. To modify a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, success comes at a price.  YOU determine the price by how YOU define success. It doesn’t always mean $$$.

 

I’ve owned this company for six years and have been successful with it. However, there is always something to learn and people to learn from. As business owners, we need to continually seek out ways to grow, both personally and professionally, draw from the experience of others – and learn from them.

 

Take a look at these statistics from Small Business Trends, published in November 2016, on the success of small businesses in America –

 

  • A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years.
  • In fact, of all small businesses started in 2011 (when ME Marketing Services started):
    • 4 percent made it to the second year
    • 3 percent made it to the third year
    • 9 percent made it to the fourth year
    • 3 percent made it to the fifth year
  • Leading causes of small business failure:
    • Incompetence: 46 percent;
    • Unbalanced experience or lack of managerial experience: 30 percent;
    • Catchall category (includes neglect, fraud, and disaster): 13 percent; and
    • Lack of experiences in line of goods or services: 11 percent.

 

Success is a hard-fought battle that not everyone wins. Sometimes the success is just that you fought. Here are five brilliant observations I have learned from other business owners over the past few years that has helped me, and hopefully they will help you too.

 

5 Elements to Being a Successful Business Owner

 

1. You have to know your definition of success.

 

Like I mentioned above, success doesn’t always equal zeros on a paycheck. How successful you will be depends on how you define it. Here are some examples…

 

  • More time with your family
  • Being able to purchase a home (or even a second home at the beach)
  • Industry recognition or awards
  • Speaking engagements

 

Know your definition of success before you do anything else. This will also help you set your personal and professional goals in life.

 

2. What are 1 or 2 things you can do differently to set yourself apart?

 

It’s been said birds of a feather flock together. If that’s your case, how will be people know who you are? In a competitive business world, to be noticed you have to stand out. It could be from your hard work, your job title, or who you know.

 

Ask yourself – what is your “it” factor? You aren’t born with “it”, you have to develop it. What sets you apart from the other ‘birds’? To steal a line from a graphic floating around, be a Jackie Kennedy in a world of Kardashians.

 

3. Find a mentor and build a support system around yourself.

 

All successful people surround themselves with a good support system. Having a business coach or mentor is the first place to start. Surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed, not hold you back. This could be a spouse or partner, friends, family, co-workers. Whoever it is, be very selective in who you choose. They need to help set you up for success, not failure.

 

This person should also be someone who can give you honest, constructive feedback on what you may not be doing right. Surrounding yourself with “yes” men and women will not help you grow.

 

4. Set boundaries.

 

Knowing what you will and won’t do will help to define who you are and what your success is. Boundaries are important because not only will they help you stay focused, it will keep others from tempting you with things you have no business doing. This could range from business ethics to simply saying “no” to helping out at an event.

 

This is something to keep in mind every time a friend calls and says, “can I pick your brain about <enter your profession>.” Your time is money, don’t give it away for free.

 

5. Remember the Golden Rule.

 

I cannot stress how important this is. How you treat others says a lot about your character. Go into everything treating other people how you would want them to treat you. It may not work all the time, but you’ll be able to sleep at night. Being the competitive person I am, I will be the first to admit I struggle with this. I want to win every pitch I make. I want to win every project I bid. This includes being respectful of your competition as well.

 

One thing to ask is how can you serve others? By serving others, you’ll see your generosity come back to you. This can range from giving a college student an hour of your time to mentor them. It could help with your organization’s fundraiser. This could simply be showing compassion. Serving is a big part of my business – we donate money and time to many worthy causes in our area. It’s one of our cornerstones. We’ve been blessed over the years and it’s only right to pay it forward.

 

 

One of my favorite quotes on this topic is from Sir Winston Churchill – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Success can be fleeting, so enjoy it while it lasts, and hopefully it will last a long time.

 

Do you think you have what it takes to be successful? What attributes do you think a successful person needs?