So, you’re keen to outsource your social media - but putting your brand in the hands of someone else is a decision that you want to get right. Because while there are plenty of social media and digital content production agencies out there, you know that not all are created equal!
To help you research, filter and narrow down on the right fit for you, here are some things to look for when you’re shopping around for a social media agency:
1. A team of pros
The saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ is not a phrase you want to have associated with your chosen social media partner. Quality content relies on professional execution, so a good agency will have dedicated experts for each skillset required for bringing content to life. Your chosen agency partner should offer a team that includes specialised skills such as a graphic designer, copywriter, paid marketing specialists, videographers and photographers, as well as a dedicated account manager who provides a single, convenient point of contact.
2. The best tools
Managing your social media is easier when it’s powered by a good platform that allows all your content to be scheduled, managed and monitored in a single, collaborative place online. At The Social Shop, we are Sprout Social partners, which means that each of our clients has access to an account where they can view and approve scheduled content across each of their social channels. Within Sprout, we set up workflows and processes that ensure we never miss a step, an approval or a deadline. And for our clients, it means they don’t have to juggle publishing and monitoring across multiple platforms. As Sprout Social partners, we’re also privy to updates and education that helps us bring even more value to the work we do for our clients. Social media is an ever-changing channel, so be sure to ask your agency how they stay up with the play on the latest trends and changes - and how they keep you updated, too.
3. Creative, strategic content
To stand out, you need content that actually gets cut through. Generic stock images and templated social tiles are likely not enough to get you the engagement you’re really looking for - yet, unfortunately, it’s sometimes what agencies rely on to produce bulk content across many brands. A huge part of the value that an agency should offer you lies in the strategic planning and creative execution of original, on-brand content. We undertake a comprehensive planning session that considers our clients’ goals and aligns with their broader business objectives. Then we create a projected content calendar covering key themes with bespoke content produced from our team of creative pros. Ask to see some examples of the kind of content an agency has already been creating to give you an idea of what you can expect for your own brand. You should clearly be able to see how they have captured and conveyed a distinct brand identity, brand voice and key messages for their clients.
4. Understand your brand
An agency doesn’t need to be an absolute expert in your industry, but they do need to really get to know your brand. While having a bit of background knowledge into your niche is an advantage, it’s not necessarily a red flag if they don’t. They just need to understand the value you offer, what it is that makes your business different and the things that matter most to your audience. What does this process look like and what steps are the agency taking to ensure consistency across your social presence? Everyone who is working across your brand should have access to clear brand and voice guidelines and insight into your operations, your customer and your company culture.
5. KPIs and reporting
Like any investment, you want to know whether your social media spend is actually moving you closer towards your goals. The good thing about social media is that it serves up plenty of metrics to help you measure how you’re tracking. And while post engagement is a good thing to understand, it’s not the only measure of success. Your agency should have regular, transparent and easy-to-understand reporting protocol in place that paints a clear picture of how your social content is having an impact through very specific KPIs. Ask about their process for reporting and how often you’ll have a chance to review your reports and recommendations with an Account Manager. While there might be a team working behind the scenes to create your content, you should have one key point of contact who is proactive about keeping in touch with you.
6. Proactive community management
Publishing content is one thing, but monitoring and managing engagement is another. Responsiveness matters online. As part of the value an agency offers, they should provide proactive profile engagement that represents your brand with professionalism, respond to queries and feedback and encourage positive interaction with your online community.
7. Real results
The proof will be in the real examples and results that an agency is able to demonstrate. Not only should their own online presence be consistent, professional and engaging, but they should also be able to show you how they’re helping other businesses build and strengthen their brand online. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof - be it testimonials, case studies and actual examples of reporting where the agency has created real shifts for their clients. Anyone can call themselves a social media expert, but not all can prove their activity gets results.
8. Values alignment
Your social media agency will be working as an extension of your team. You’ll need to be in regular communication to keep them updated on what’s happening in your business. It goes without saying that your chosen partner should be one that aligns with your own business values and vision - with a crew of people you actually enjoy working with! They’ll be creating content on your behalf; you want to feel confident that it’s going to be content that makes you feel proud. To ensure we get the right fit with our own clients, we’re really clear about our own values - you can find out more about our brand values in this blog.
It can feel like new social media agencies pop up as often as Starbucks, so you’re right to do a bit of due diligence before choosing the best fit for you.
We’re always open for an initial conversation to see whether we’re going to be the right team to help - so reach out, and let’s chat!