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.

 

 

digital marketing

Staying with the Times in Social Media & Digital Marketing

Working in social media marketing, there is something new to learn every day. A new algorithm to adjust your strategy to, a new platform to try, or even a new way to distribute your content.

 

It’s important for all business owners, or at least those who run your social media, to keep up with what is going on in the social media/digital marketing world. If not, you’ll be doing things that no longer work or using outdated strategies that could lead your efforts to produce little or no results.

 

There are marketing professionals who think they know it all and fail to keep up with the newest changes. I’ve seen examples on most platforms. Let me clarify, we’re not all perfect and sometimes it will take a few weeks to adjust things to the newest changes, but ignoring them outright is never the thing to do. Here are three examples I have seen in the past week:

  • Hashtags on Facebook. These are no longer relevant folks. Yes, use them as funny sidenotes – I do that all the time on my personal profile, but according to a report from BuzzSumo last year, which analyzed more than a billion Facebook posts from over 30 million brand Pages,  Facebook posts without hashtags generated more reach than those with tags added.
  • Share contests on Facebook. Facebook updated their contest rules a couple years ago, allowing pages to use likes and comments as means of entry, but not shares. I see “Like and Share” contests all.the.time. While you have a greater chance of winning the lottery than getting your page suspended or deleted by Facebook for this, ignoring the rules is never a good business practice. Do not trust any marketing professional that says it’s okay to do this. For examples of illegal and legal contests, click here.
  • Robo-commenting on Instagram. Yes, yes, yes I know there are programs that do this for you but some just do not make sense. Example – I post a Monday Marketing Tip every Monday on my business Instagram account. The most recent one had a comment that said “Cute pic!”. Totally random. I will get random comments that have nothing to do with the image all the time. I understand not having time to engage (if you don’t, then just don’t do it), but using robo-comments is the quickest way to having your account reported as spam.

 

I’m sure you are asking yourself just how you are supposed to keep up with it all – where do I find this information? When do I make the time? Here are my top four suggestions, and I do not suggest just anyone!

 

Top Resources to Stay in the Social Media/Digital Marketing Loop

 

Scott Monty’s Full Monty

Every week Scott Monty emails out an amazing round-up of top articles from marketing/pr-sphere. You can even check out his Flipboard for the links that didn’t make the cut. You can subscribe here.

 

Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog

Full disclosure – Mark is a personal friend, business mentor, and I do some work for him. He is a wealth of knowledge and if you spend just 10 minutes with him you’ll walk away leagues smarter. His blog, published four times each week, will prompt you to think and give you actionable items you can use. Subscribe here.

 

Sprout Insights Blog

As a member of their All-Star Influencer program, I love to share this one! I’ve followed this blog since I began my business. It is full of social media 101’s, data and metrics, and great commentary and case studies to help your business.

 

Social Media Examiner

I feel like this one has to be here. It’s where I started reading when I started my social media marketing journey eons ago. This is great for those seeking basic to mid-level social media marketing knowledge. Subscribe here.

 

Top Business Publications to Read

 

Entrepreneur

Harvard Business Review (you are limited to 4 free articles/month without a subscription)

Inc.

 

All of these can be saved to your favorite reader on your tablet or smartphone to read later – just make sure to read them! If you have someone handling your social media/digital marketing for you, pass this list on to them to make sure they are using the latest strategies for your business. You do not want to be using 2015 strategies in 2017. Trust me, they’ve changed.

 

 

Bringing Creatives Together with Influencer Marketing

Bringing Creatives Together with Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is one of those buzzwords that has been floating around for a few years but has really gotten hot in the past 12-18 months.

 

Everyone has this innate craving to be known – to be considered an influencer in their industry, whether it be interior design, cooking, art, or even… social media marketing (yes, I’m calling myself out on that one). Being an influencer is one thing, working with influencers to help promote your business is another.

 

You don’t have to me some mega-company like Chanel or McDonald’s to use influencers, likewise you don’t have to use big celebrity names either. Find those who are passionate about your brand/company who have a good-sized following (it doesn’t have to be a million followers) and start there.

 

When I attended the 2017 Southern C Summit, James Nord of Fohr Card spoke on this topic, which is something his company specializes in – bringing creatives (read: influencers) together.

 

James talked about how traditional digital media is trending towards obsolescence. Consumers are expecting more. They want to be inspired.

 

Take a look at Instagram, for example. Think back and look at how the posts have changed over the past 2-3 years. You see more creative posts involving more people. Companies are sharing more user-generated content. Brands are featuring their most passionate fans, or as Mark Schaefer calls them, your alpha audience. You see accounts with Instagram take-overs from industry influencers.

 

Enlisting these influencers, or creatives, is often driven by passion, not profit. The influencers doing these campaigns and posts for these brands/companies, are not doing it for the money (well, maybe a few are) – they are doing it because they love that brand.

 

Example: me and Sprout Social. I have been a loyal Sprout Social customer since 2012. Actually, more like a raving, passionate fan/customer. I could go on and on about why I love and continue to use their program when, honestly, there are less expensive ones out there. Sprout saw my passion for their company and invited me to be a part of their inaugural All-Star Influencer Program. I do not get paid for it. Yes, I’m asked to post about them a few times a month, which I was doing anyway, but in return for being that passionate customer, I’ve been featured on their Sprout Insights blog, gotten some awesome swag, and even had one of my largest consulting clients referred to me. I do not have a million followers. I do not live in Los Angeles or New York. I’m just a passionate, committed customer who has a good-sized following.

 

In his talk at the Summit, James Ford shared with us lessons learned from his Drink with James video series (which I highly recommend)…

15 Influencer Marketing Items to Consider

 

1. Why are people following you?

You or your client must be doing something right if you have a continual growth of your community. If people are following you, you have to deliver great content.

 

2. Have a business mindset.

If you are wanting to grow your following (or your client’s), you have to think about it everyday – it will be like a part-time job. It’s intentional, much like knowing why you are using social media in the first place.

 

3. Invest in your business.

Make sure you have the right products, equipment, education. Continually be growing as a leader in your industry.

 

4. Be consistent.

Your social feed is your landing page (think Instagram). People who visit your accounts need to know what to expect. This same principle applies to branding. All accounts need to flow across each other.

 

5. Differentiation

You have to be yourself, but you also have to be different. What makes you better than your competitor? What can you deliver that they cannot?

 

6. Build relationships

Influencers for your brand are not built overnight. They are cultivated through a relationship. This is very important. In fact, building a relationship with all of your followers (as a whole) is important. They are your reason why you have anyone looking at your social posts anyway.

 

7. Figure out what it’s worth

If you want to be an influencer, figure out what you should charge. If you are looking to use an influencer in a campaign, figure out what they charge and what you’re willing to pay (cash, trade, free product). A model James gave in his talk, for example with Instagram, take your following, divide it by 1,000 and then multiple it by 10. But also think about the niche. Real life example, @memarketingservices has 1,224 followers. Divide that by 1,000 and that equals 1.22, then multiply by 10 and I could charge $12.24 per post to a company who wanted me as an influencer. For Twitter, it’s the same formula, but you divide by 10,000.

 

8. Work the negotiation

Not all influencers want to be paid. Shocking, I know. Some actually do it simply for the exposure. And that can be big.

 

9. Cold emailing

The thought of cold-calling sends chills down my spine, but cold emailing isn’t as bad. If you are going to cold email a person or brand about an influencer campaign, do your homework first about them and have a great pitch.

 

10. Know how to have your photos taken

James suggested the subject have some alcohol first so they’ll relax, but I’m not going to advocate for that. You do what you think is best. However, whether you are the influencer or you are working on an influencer campaign, having the right photo is key. Work with a photographer – educate yourself – look at other posts for inspiration (but do NOT copy).

 

11. Know the FTC rules.

If you are an influencer for a company or you are working with one, you MUST disclose the relationship. If not, there could be legal ramifications for all parties involved. You can also use a hashtag to disclose such as #brandnamepartner.

 

12. Do NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT buy followers

Not only is this a Terms of Service violation on EVERY platform, Instagram is working on a ratings tool, much like the Twitter ones floating about.

 

13. Know your growth rates and what to look for

You want to make sure you are getting positive ROI (return on investment) on your influencer campaign. Below are some benchmarks to look for.

 

14. Speak outside your niche (go off-brand)

There are certain times and places to go off-brand. You want to stay consistent, but there will be times it’s okay to stray off the path for variety sake. Just make sure it’s relevant.

 

15. Look ahead

Once this campaign is done, where do you go next? Was this a good experience? Would you do it again? Constantly be planning for what’s coming.

 

Still considering influencer use? Here are some statistics to consider:

 

  • Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. (source)
  • Twitter users now trust influencers as much as they trust their friends.
  • Influencer Marketing is more effective than advertising since 47% of online customers use ad block technology.
  • 73% of Millennials see it as their responsibility to guide friends, peers, and family toward smart purchase decisions. (source)

 

Have you thought about using influencers for your company/brand or have you been tapped as an influencer yourself for a company? We’d love to hear how that experience went. Share below in the comments!