Five questions to ask a social media agency before you work with them

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The social media agency is on the rise (we at FreshNetworks being one of them!). Most of them are doing different things and have different approaches.

When a brand is getting started in social media, launching a particular campaign or engagement programme, or just looking for advice and support, it’s important to make sure you choose the right agency for you. One that you can work well with. One that offers what you need. One who will help you to realise your aims and expectations. And also one who will be practical and realistic about what you should do and what you can achieve.

Finding the right social media agency can be tricky and to do it you need to get to understand them, their thinking and their work. Below are five questions we think you should be asking any social media agency before you start working with them. They are the things we would ask people, and also some of the things people have asked us in the past.

1. Are you social media pragmatists or social media purists?

There are many ways of approaching social media. For brands, the pragmatic approach is often best. In business time and resources are limited; you need to focus them only on the things that will bring you the greatest return. You should look for an agency that recognises this, that challenges you but that is grounded in pragmatism. That suggests things that you can really do, that contribute to your main business aims and that are the correct focusing of your time and resources.

2. Why do you use social media as an agency?

Most agencies will have a blog, use Twitter and may make use of Facebook,YouTube or other social networks and social media tools. This is to be expected. What you should be asking them is not if they are using these tools, but why they are using them. A social media strategy should be based on core strategic aims. If an agency can’t describe why they use social media (and the business objectives this use supports) then this tells you a lot about how strategic their thinking is.

3. How do you work with people in social media to get real engagement?

This question will give you an insight into their thinking and processes. Social media, and how you use it for brands, is not really about technology at all. It’s about people. How you work with people and online communities is much more important than the technology you use, that should really be invisible to them. Make sure you probe about the actual techniques agencies will use and the experience they have of building and growing communities online.

4. How do you measure social media ROI for your clients?

This is another question that will really give you an insight into how the agency thinks and their approach to social media in general. What you are interested in is their answer. A lot is said about social media ROI and the truth is that it depends very much on what you are looking to achieve; what your aims are in your use of social media. If you are looking to acquire new customer data, for example, you should be measuring one set of things; if you are looking to increase the basket size of orders you should be measuring something else. There is no simple answer to measuring social media ROI and an agency should be advising you that, as well as suggesting the metrics that you should be monitoring and measuring for your particular needs and aims.

5. What’s new; what’s next?

Any social media agency you work with should give you thought-leadership. They should be the ones leading your thinking and challenging you with new ideas and inspiration from other industries and other brands. You have a day job and any social media agency’s day job should be social media. Expect thought-leadership and expect to be challenged. This is a good thing.

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