Choosing the right social media agency
what, why & how
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Social media can be a very challenging task to outsource. The average agency/freelancer prices range from £350-£2,000 per month or much, much cheaper. But why? Why is there such a huge difference in price?
This guide will take you through the pitfalls and problems that companies tend to face when they use discount social media agency services and provides greater insight into how to save money, follow golden rules that are the path to a happy and successful working relationship with your agency, as well as examples with case studies. Enjoy!
Who’s this guide for? Anyone looking to find a reasonably priced social media agency and wants to know the pitfalls and problems that can occur.
What is social media and how has it changed over the years?
Social media comprises of two important words “social” and “media”. In layman’s terms this means that when there is a social interaction over a form of media, in our case “internet”, it is referred to as social media. Simple really! In 2003 one website revolutionised the concept of being social on the internet, that website was “MySpace”. It was the pioneer of social media platforms and was the first most successful and famous website to bring social media into our life.
What started as a simple medium to connect friends and allow them to share pics, content, blogs and videos is today a powerful platform to share news, content and to promote brands. My father, who struggles with the intricacies of his smart phone (definitely old school !), continues to try to master it so he can regularly check his Facebook profile and Whatsapp messages, both of which he loves.
Social Media has evolved from being a content sharing platform to a medium which has become an indispensable part of our lives. How else would you explain the temptation to check your best mate’s pics from the last memorable “lads weekend”, promote your point of view on political issues or follow pages to get discounts or latest offers.
Today’s social media is a parallel life for everyone. Everyone from the age of 12 to 60 is addicted to social media thereby opening a window of opportunity for brands to leverage the power of social media to promote their products or services at a cost effective price.
Why is choosing the right social media agency/freelancer important?
In my early years running an SME with my family, I wanted to “promote” our website quickly and get some twitter followers, I found a guy who promised me the sun, moon and every damn planet in the universe.
Within the first month of our promotions, our twitter account had 1000+ followers and FB Page had 1000+ likes, without even a penny being spent on ads. I was thrilled, on cloud nine! Such was the euphoria with the quick results that I even gave a bonus to the social media expert. Shortly after I was chatting to one of my friends, a manager with a digital agency, and I boasted of the quick and amazing results I had managed to get at a fraction of the price his company would charge. He looked at both of my social media accounts and found they both had fake likes and twitter followers.
Ultimately I had wasted my time and more importantly my money (including that bonus) on some fake followers and likes which added precisely zero to my brand presence. Not such a good deal after all !
I learnt the hard way that choosing the right social media expert is like choosing a car. You might save a penny or two by buying a second hand car but the maintenance issues that will surely follow could, in the long run, outstrip the cost of buying a new car.
What are the best social media platforms to use and why?
- Facebook : Very high number of active users
- Youtube : Videos are the next big thing in social media space.
- Twitter : The short and meaningful messages wrapped in 140 words
- Instagram and Pinterest : Because one image is worth 1000 words
- Quora : Because Q & A is still a smart way to get users
- Linkedin : Because of the wide network of professionals on the platform
The golden rules – before you hire a Social Media Company
Before you hire a Social Media Company you must remember to follow a few Golden Rules.
Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Social Media Marketing requires time and patience. Most of the customers I meet want “quick” results. So in order to meet that unrealistic expectation, social media marketing is packaged and sold by social media marketers who seem to possess a magic wand; promising you the quickest of results in the shortest time frame.
However, this is a false promise as social media takes time to get results; those results can be worth the wait but you have to have patience!
Social media marketing fails without YOUR active involvement
Avoid like the plague the social media marketers who promise to take care of your content, promotion and every single activity of social media without making you a part of the process.
Remember, it’s your brand, your baby, you are putting in hands of someone who is not familiar with it, or possibly does not love it like you do. No one understands your brand better than you. So until and unless, you are actively involved with the “process”, the campaigns are bound to fail.
So remember that before you start you will need to have a good understanding of what your “social media expert” intends to do with your brand on social media.
Don’t be afraid to ask a few good questions
Ask the relevant questions before you select a social media agency:
- Ask him/her to explain the past case studies?
- How did he/she build or establish the brand with his last client?
- What challenges has he/she faced?
- What failures has he/she had?
- How did he engage the users?
Do not ask:
- How many likes or followers can you get me in a week?
- How can we get quick results?
The right ones will explain to you the process thoroughly and will be frank with you on their past work, even the bits they would rather forget. The wrong ones will focus on “number” of followers or likes and will promise you quick results. You have been warned ……
Learn to make sense of the numbers
At the end of week, you will be presented with a report which will have a lot of graphs, numbers and pretty colours etc. Trying to making sense of these reports can be a difficult task, sometimes intentionally so. Do not be afraid to ask for simple reports where you can make sense of the information you are being given by your social media expert.
I usually set down certain milestones every month based on my client’s budget and the time I am giving to the project. These milestones are simple for the client to understand and I talk through it with him in plain English. It is as important for me that they are with me every step so the process works smoothly for both of us.
Content is the King
Social media marketing thrives on good content. Irrespective of how good your promotion campaign is, social media users will not interact with your brand’s social media presence until and unless you provide them with good content.
A good content comprises of a mix of different kind of content which can keep the user engaged. Always remember, social media users are on social media to have fun. No one wants to read something boring so the chances are they won’t and you will have wasted your opportunity.
A little humour won’t harm. Try jokes, quotes, news and videos to keep the followers engaged.
Do not start with too many social media accounts
The first question we usually ask our social media experts is “How many platforms will we be promoting our brand on?”
Trust me, it is the biggest blunder of social media marketing. Most of the “experts” I know are happy to let their customers know how easy it will be to set up brand presence across “all” the platforms.
For me this strategy is suicidal. It’s like you are opening up several battlefronts when you only have the one cannon. You have to understand your user’s presence and the budget you have before you can make a decision on which social media accounts to start with.
What works on Facebook does not work on Linkedin and vice versa.
Understand the difference in between hourly v/s monthly contracts
There are companies which offer hourly contracts. They charge you for the number of hours they work for you on any particular project. I usually prefer to pay hourly as this gives me some control and an idea as to their experience and the quality of their resource before I blow my whole budget.
Fixed cost contracts per month is another way of charging hourly in the form of a monthly package. Since social media marketing takes time, there are experts who charge a monthly fee to save the customer the agony of understanding the finer details of what they do and how they do it in “x amount” of time.
It is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer; but as always know and understand what you are paying for.
The signs that let you see a potential “rip off” activity
- When your social media expert expects a raise in budget and time.
- When not even a single post on your social media account gets a share, like, retweet; even after a 2-3 month campaign. Be wary if the number of followers grow but the interaction remains zero.
- The content posted on the social media account is always copy pasted from other websites. i.e, it lacks authenticity.
- The reports sent to you are too “robotic” for you to understand. Same template, same meaningless graphs etc.
When the social media expert remains too generic, even after you have spent a considerable time explaining what your brand does and your expectations from social media marketing.
How to spend your money more wisely
- Keep a considerable amount of your budget for content if you want your website’s content written by someone else.
- Initial likes on Facebook, Instagram will require some initial investment in form of FB Ads. Do not shy away from running a Facebook ad campaign to get some initial genuine likes.
- Even if you are paying hourly, do not lose track of the end goal you expected to achieve by spending “X” amount. For example: if you are running a FB page to make sales, there is no point in running a campaign if you have not had a sale after estimated time.
For monthly fixed cost projects, understand very clearly what you are being offered. Usually agencies have” one size fits all” packages. Ask them to customize the package to your specific requirements.
A social media campaign is incomplete without a proper website:
The next time you hire someone to run a social media campaign, have your website ready to compliment your social media account. An incomplete website with an unclear message is a disaster.
For example, I use options to capture the email of prospective customers on the blog I run. So my social media accounts are used to interact with users. I use a strategy to drive them to my website and from there get the emails to turn them into long-term customers.
Imagine a social media strategy running with a website which offers nothing. You will have a high bounce rate on your website thereby leading to a failed social media campaign.