How to Find the Best Social Media Marketing Agency

The Manifest
Sep 19, 2018 · 6 min read

28% of businesses use social media marketing agencies for their social media efforts. This tutorial will help you find the best social media marketing agency for your business.

You know that social media marketing is important. However, you know too little to be confident in your abilities. The fact is, many businesses feel overwhelmed or underskilled in their approach to the fluctuating world of social media.

Social media marketing agencies can be a valuable resource for businesses. They let you augment your team’s capabilities, execute key campaigns, or outsource your entire social media presence.

According to a recent survey, 28% of small businesses use social media marketing agencies.

A social media marketing agency offers both expertise and manpower. Highly-trained external teams can provide the knowledge that in-house staff lack, while extra hands allow you to succeed with big-picture initiatives.

Agency partnerships offer numerous benefits but are complex and demanding relationships. You must choose a team that fits your company culture, desired skill set, and price point.

This post outlines six factors that will help you identify the right social media marketing agency for your business:

  • Determine your needs
  • Pose the right questions
  • Ask for referrals
  • Prioritize a good fit
  • Do your homework
  • Read third-party reviews

1. Determine Your Needs

Before approaching an agency, know what social media success means to you. Do you need to create a strategy, execute a strategy, or just tweak an existing strategy? Perhaps you want to boost your visibility, generate leads, or differentiate yourself from competitors. Decide upon a direction, then look to an agency to clarify which goals, strategies, and initiatives are most relevant.

Agencies can fill multiple roles, so decide what type of work you want them to do. Looking to outsource the management of your social profiles? An external team will allow your in-house staff to focus on more central tasks. Time to rebrand and launch a national campaign? If so, an agency’s expertise will be key to scaling your brand. Your business goals for the near-term should guide who you hire for an agency partner.

2. Pose the Right Questions

A great agency will create a tailored solution for your business. They’ll be disruptive, experienced in your industry, and capable of innovative problem-solving.

However, agreed-upon strategies upon often don’t go as planned. Research shows that businesses face a host of issues during agency partnerships, such as:

  • Performance tracking (43%)
  • Limited understanding of company strategy (41%)
  • Lack of innovative or practical ideas (37%)
  • Project management (33%)
  • Movement from strategic to technical execution (33%)
  • Limited ability to integrate channels, campaigns, technologies, and communication (23%)

These pitfalls are common in agency partnerships. A quality partner will be able to provide examples of having overcome similar challenges in the past. What will happen if the strategy doesn’t go as planned? Start over? Push toward a solution? Offer a free cancellation?

Know the metrics that are important to your business, then ask the agency how they plan to hit and regularly report on these metrics. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, it’s best to find a candidate who can perform under pressure.

Ask these questions to gauge the competency of prospective agencies:

  • What are your core competencies?
  • What are some examples of success in my industry? Will you make an introduction?
  • How do you research and analyze my industry?
  • How do you handle content development?
  • What are some examples of you adjusting a strategy mid-execution?
  • How do you measure reach? Growth? Engagement?
  • Who is my point of contact?
  • How often will you communicate with me?
  • What is your reporting process?
  • Do you outsource your work?

3. Ask for Referrals

Many agency partnerships begin by word of mouth, and for good reason. Peer recommendations are an efficient and effective way for marketers to find a suitable agency.

A recent survey showed that 43% of businesses use referrals to learn of potential agency partners.

As the most popular method for finding a digital partner, referrals promote agencies who’ve proven themselves to be reliable, similarly priced, and experienced in their industry. Asking for recommendations will save you time in the selection process while helping to ensure you find a good fit.

4. Prioritize a Good Fit

Great agency relations lead to great results. Therefore, it’s best to seek a partner whose company culture aligns with yours. Harmony between teams — from collaboration to communication to the exchange of ideas — leads to success.

Conversely, a lack of alignment will negatively impact workflows and results. Research shows that, after price, a referral from a friend or colleague (37%) and a culture fit (31%) are the leading factors that influence a final hire.

Culture fit will help streamline your operational efficiency, boost productivity, and move you toward a quality outcome.

Ask yourself — is this someone I can work with? Would I want to have a beer with this person? Do I trust them with my company’s reputation on social media? The longer the duration of the partnerships, the more critical interpersonal factors become, whether you talk daily or bi-monthly.

5. Do Your Homework

The quality of an agency’s online resources says a lot about their expertise and experience. Read blogs, case studies, webinars, and client testimonials with an eye for relevance and thought leadership. An agency whose processes and strategies align with yours will be competent in helping you achieve your objectives.

Aside from referrals, the most popular ways for businesses to research social media agencies is through case studies (22%), client references (17%), online ratings and reviews (16%), and the agency’s own social media presence (14%). Use these resources to confirm that an agency can do what it says it can do.

The strongest proof of ideas in practice is the agency’s social media presence. Is the agency taking its own advice? Case studies let you forecast your own results, so look for solutions that overlap with your chosen goals.

6. Read Third Party Reviews

Crowdsourcing is a quick and easy way to navigate the buying decision with confidence. Third-party review sites like Clutch.co let you access numerous client testimonials that are curated for relevance. Read reviews, check rankings, then check for prices.

As an all-in-one resource, sites like this help you identify top-ranked firms and save time in the evaluation process. Similarly, you could look to Yelp or Facebook. If you find something alarming as you conduct research, be sure to mention it and see how the agency responds.

Learn more about the top 5 social media management software solutions.

How to Find the Best Social Media Marketing Agency

Your ideal social media marketing agency should be chosen based on fit and performance. The best agencies are experienced and have the resources to back it up. Assess candidates based on peer referrals, independent research, and in-depth questioning.


The Manifest

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Practical business wisdom to help you make your business goals a reality. Visit us at https://themanifest.com.

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