So you have determined that hiring a social media agency is the right step for your business. But how do you go about choosing the right agency? Where do you begin? As an experienced social media agency ourselves, we have been around the block a time or two. We have spent years honing our skills to be the best agency we can be for our clients, so we know what your company deserves and should keep an eye out for in a social media agency.
We have put together a list of the top characteristics to keep in mind when considering the future of your social media marketing. From the technical skills necessary to execute great social media strategy, to the proven results of past work, to the importance of having common values with your business, look to our must-haves as you go about selecting the best social media agency for your business.
Social Media Agency Must-Haves: Technical Skills
There are a few technical skills that you should absolutely look for when choosing a social media agency to work with your business. These skills range from creative writing and business writing, to strong editing, to precise number-crunching and data analysis–which are all crucial to running a successful social media presence.
Writing and Content Creation
What most people think of when they think of social media is the content: what appears on their screens; in other words, the face of the business online. The majority of this content is going to be written content, so whether it’s a 280-character tweet, a lengthy blog post, or the “About” page on your website, you want this content to be good.
That’s why we recommend looking for a social media agency with skills in writing and editing. Depending on the nature of your business, and what your needs are in hiring an agency, you may require creative writing skills or more technical business writing skills. Our advice is to look for a social media agency that can do both well because most businesses need a bit of each. Additionally, make sure the agency has ruthless editing skills. You don’t want your online presence to be riddled with avoidable grammar errors that can make your business look unprofessional.
Dive deep into the agency you are looking to hire–look at their own web presence, blog, and any other materials you can get your hands on. Since content is so outward-facing, you should easily be able to find examples of the agency’s work that can tell you whether or not the agency has the necessary skills.
Actuarial Skills and Attention to Detail
Content may be the face of the business online, but what is behind the scenes is equally important to the success of your business’s social media presence. By that we mean the numbers, the hard-data, and the details. Look for a social media agency that is every bit as skilled and proficient in their actuarial skills as they are in their content creation.
The truth is, behind every successful social media campaign, there are detailed plans, spreadsheets tracking the results, and someone crunching the numbers to make sure they all add up, as well as analyzing them to learn from them. In your search for a social media agency, look for one that has skills in these areas, as well as data to back them up. While it may take a bit more digging to access than their blog posts or writing samples, it will be well worth it if you can find an agency that has this very important part of the job down to a T.
Social Media Agency Must-Haves: Creativity and Flexibility
While it is important to look for an agency with technical skills, you will also want to look for an agency with right-brained creativity and big-picture thinking. This is the aspect of the social media agency that will keep your business growing, progressing, and moving forward through its social media.
Big-Picture Thinking and Creativity
A good social media agency will have the capacity and the systems in place to brainstorm for the future of your company and to plan for growth. Rather than just doing the day-to-day management and overseeing of your business’s social media channels or campaigns, this social media agency will be looking for ways to change, improve, and progress your business through its social media. This will help keep your business’s social media from getting stuck in a rut, and to stay fresh and relevant through all the changes that may come your way.
Similarly, we advise you to look for a social media agency that can be described as a jack-of-all-trades–an agency that is full-service, that can take care of all of your website and online social needs. Look for an agency that has trained experts for each specialty: a social media manager, a web developer, a content creator, etc., so you have all your bases covered. In addition to this, look for a small agency that is nimble and well-connected so they can bring in other experts as needed. This will help your business get all its online and social media needs met in one place, which is both simple and cost-effective.
Social Media Agency Must-Haves: Proven Results
A social media agency worth being hired by your business will have the results to back up what we’ve listed above in regards to their skills and the way they operate. It is invaluable to find a social media agency that has proven results of their leadership skills and team approach, the references and reviews from other or past clients, and a portfolio of work that you can view. You should see the evidence of their good work showing on their clients’ social media in the form of more engagement and higher follower counts over time.
Look for a social media agency that has good leadership in place and one that uses a team-approach to its work. Within the agency, there may be a hierarchy of roles from the social media director, to the social media lead, to the social media managers, preferably with a dedicated manager who is in charge of your business’s account within the agency. This team should be made up of actual agency employees–hired, trained, and managed by the agency– not third-party subcontractors who will not be as well-trained, focused, and dedicated to your brand.
Additionally, even the president or CEO of the agency should be directly involved in both your account management and employee management. This is the personal touch and commitment that small agencies boast, which is often lost in a large agency. When you hire a small agency, your business will be a priority to that agency, even if you are the smallest business they work with.
One of the best ways to determine whether a social media agency is worth hiring is to look at the references and reviews of current or past clients. It typically isn’t hard to find online reviews for an experienced agency, and if possible, speak to others who have worked with the agency to find out what kind of experience they had. Look especially for long-standing client relationships and clients who have hired the agency repeatedly because they liked working with them so much.
The world of social media management and marketing is small, so do some digging and you will probably be able to find someone who has worked with the agency you are considering. Just as you would when hiring an employee, seek out references and talk to others who have been in your shoes.
Another way to determine whether you should hire a social media agency is by looking at a portfolio of their work. This can be tricky, as some agencies (like SocialNicole) do not publish portfolios due to client privacy. When you contact the agency you are considering, ask if they have any sort of portfolio of their work that you can view.
Another way to look at their work before you decide to contact them is to check out the agency’s own online presence. Look at their blog. Do they blog often? Are they experts who know what they are talking about? Is the writing consistently good and error-free? Look at their website. Is it professional, well-written, and easy to navigate? Look at their social media presence. Are their pages up-to-date and relevant? Are their posts creative and informative? Basically, is what you see from this social media agency online the kind of content you would be happy to have on your own business’s website, blog, or social media channels? Make sure the answer is an emphatic “yes!” before you decide to hire.
Social Media Agency Must-Haves: Common Values
When you hire a social media agency, you are signing on to work with this company and these people pretty closely. You should look at it similarly to how you would look at hiring an employee. You will want to make sure that the agency shares common values with your business.
Ethics, Morals, and Passions
If you find a social media agency that shares your ethics, morals, and passions, then the agency will really be able to care about your business, get excited about your work, and stand behind the mission of your brand 100%–which is what your business deserves and needs in order to thrive.
Avoid awkward conflict of interests by looking for an agency that matches your business in values. This doesn’t mean you have to line up exactly on every world-issue, but on issues that may come up or are relevant to your business, you will want to make sure you hire an agency that you can trust to represent your business just like you would. Both you and the agency you are working with will be happier, more comfortable, and more excited to work together if this is the case.
Another place where your values should line up with those of the agency you hire is your approach to customer service. Although it may require minimal face-to-face interaction with customers, social media is just that: social. It actually involves a lot of customer service, and these are your loyal and important customers that you are entrusting to this agency when you hire them to engage with your online community. Make sure the agency treats your customers the way you would.
As you begin your search for the right social media agency for your business, remember to look for an agency that has the necessary technical skills, the big-picture mindset, the positive reviews, recommendations, and portfolio to back it up, and is on the same page as your business in terms of values and customer-service practices. These are important characteristics that will hopefully lead to a happy and long-standing relationship between your business and the social media agency you hire.
As an experienced, full-scale social media agency, we at SocialNicole have spent years becoming the best social agency we can for our clients. We have the technical skills and proven results, and we would love to work with you to see whether we have common values and could be the right choice for your business. Contact us today!