Make sure your business is getting the best in social media marketing

Digital360 on 22 May 2017

Social media has become an integral part of our personal and professional lives. So it's not surprising that social media is an integral part of marketing, too. Today, communications graduates are applying for jobs with titles like social media strategist and social media community managers. Meanwhile, marketing executives who’ve been working in the field for decades are offering social media services.

But in this fast-paced digital environment, change is the only constant. And that's driving an expanding niche in the digital marketing world: the social media agency. While many companies don’t have time to keep up with trends, these digital marketing agencies do. Many businesses – from large corporations to local small business – are looking to these experts to manage social media and connect with their customers online.

So, if your business is thinking about hiring a social media agency, what are some of the questions you need to be asking? Here are just a few to get you started.

1. 'What services do you provide?'

The first question to ask is to find out exactly what your potential social media agency will do for your business. Broadly speaking, social media may be broken down into four main areas:

  1. Engagement – Creating regular posts and publishing content to build an audience.
  2. Advertising – Running ads to drive audience to a website product page or conversion tool.
  3. Campaigns – A series of posts or content focussed on a specific goal, such as sign-ups for a new product or service. This will often be conducted over a period of weeks.
  4. Community management – Managing comments, moderating pages and offering customer support.

Your potential social media agency should spell out what services they'll provide to help grow your business.

2. 'Why should my business use your services?'

Make sure that your social media agency clearly articulates why they will offer the best return on your marketing investment.

Consider the alternative to hiring a social media agency: doing it yourself. This means you, or your staff, switch focus away from core duties and into producing content, publishing posts, creating campaigns and managing a community instead. Another alternative is employing an ‘all round’ marketer who wears many hats, including social media marketing.

A social media agency, on the other hand, should have all the necessary social media skills, ready to go. That’s creating content, analysing an audience and developing advertising campaigns. Whatever approach a business takes, social media requires an investment of time and money. So make sure that your new agency will be able to offer a better return than going it alone.

3. 'What are your strengths, and how will this help grow my business?'

Be sure to ask your potential social media agency what they do best. Your business might need more help with the marketing side of things, or maybe your business has trouble with launching compelling campaigns.

Whatever the area of social media – engagement, advertising, campaign or community management – your potential social media agency should be playing to the same tune. They should always be matching their strengths with the goals of your business.

4. 'How often will you be posting, and why?'

Social media can be fickle. If you don’t regularly engage, then your audience will forget you exist on that platform. By posting regularly, your audience will get used to engaging with your content out of habit. You’ll also learn what works – and what doesn’t.

The other factor is that platforms like Facebook determine what content to serve up on users' Newsfeeds. This relates to 'relevancy' – the more relevant the post or content is for the user, the more likely it will end up on their feed. Posting regularly (with quality posts, of course) gives your audience more opportunities to engage with this content. But note: building up this kind of relevancy takes time, and consistent posting.

5. 'What are your metrics for success? And how do you report them?'

Social media is full of what's often referred to as ‘vanity metrics’. Metrics such as Likes, shares, and page views are great to a point, but at the end of the day they’re not what’s going to grow a business. Vanity metrics can distract business owners and managers from analysing the ‘real’ data. Your social media agency should be reporting on the more important, 'actionable metrics'. These real business metrics, like sales, conversions and ROI, are what will grow your business.

Be sure to hold your potential social media agency to account, and set out an agreement for how often they should be reporting. For instance, will they communicate metric results weekly or monthly? Also, ask how they will deliver this information. Agencies may prefer to use different content management systems and other software platforms, so it’s best to get the ‘heads up’ on how your business will receive and communicate data.

6. 'What social media channels will you be focussing on?'

The best approach for small businesses is to first, experiment with as many social media platforms as possible, but then second, to focus on the platforms that work best with their workflow. That said, the biggest social media platform, and one that every business should consider, is Facebook. In addition, B2B companies should also consider LinkedIn as an incredibly important platform.

Then, there are the other platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter, all of which may have a different value or level of importance, depending on the type of small business. There are also tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to manage multiple social media accounts.

But, if you are doing your own social media, it's probably best to focus on just one or two platforms. The benefit of working with a social media agency is that they have the scale and resources to manage many of these platforms for your business. An agency can try out new tactics, rank platforms in order of importance and manage each account with added care.

Final thoughts

Social media may seem transient, and many in the past have said it's just a trend. But as mobile continues to surpass desktop, social media is becoming more and more integrated into our lives. Social media is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to connect with their customers – and it’s not going anywhere.

Ask the right questions and get the best answers for your business. See how a social media agency can help.