If you own a business, there’s a good chance that you’ve been approached or solicited by an agency claiming to be experts in social media management. Often they pitch packages on offering solutions for handling your social media including Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc.
The sell might sound great, but how do you know if the individual or agency you’re dealing with is an actual expert? Here are some questions you can review with the social media marketing company to determine their level of expertise and if it’s a good investment.
Screening the Social Media Marketing Agencies
Question #1 – Where’s Your Blog?
Ask the social media marketing agency if they have a blog. If they reply that they don’t have one, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can follow up with “So you use Posterous instead?”. If they don’t have an answer for you, then end the conversation there.
If they answer yes, then get the url and take some time to review the blog. If the blog has been active for less than 2 years, they’re likely not as “expert” as they claim. Social media marketing experts have been in the game for a long time.
Question #2 – How Long Have You Been Involved In Social Media?
The answer here is pretty cut and dry. If it’s anything less than 2 years, you need to seriously consider if this is a smart choice. If it’s less than a year, end it there. If they give you a big inflated number of years, like they’ve been active since the early 90’s, they better be talking about Usenet and bulletin boards. No one but the biggest brands were investing in anything remotely web related when it cost $3 an hour to log on with AOL.
Question #3 – What is Social Media?
It’s a fair question to ask a social media marketing agency to define what they call social media. The most appropriate response to this question is “a new kind of mass media” because it involved so many different platforms and channels. If they start ticking off things like “Twitter, Facebook, blogging and stuff like that” then excuse yourself, and never come back.
Question #4 – What Makes Up a Social Media Campaign?
The most appropriate answer here is to be told something similar to “developing a uniform, valuable message while reaching out to your target audience, through a variety of channels, and providing them with the incentive to engage, respond and share”. It won’t be word for word, but if they start talking about using proxy servers for social bookmarking or a software that throws your link onto thousands of blog comments then pull their shirt over their head and run the other way.
Question #5 – How do You Monitor Social Media for Clients?
There are a lot of different ways to monitor social feeds. While manually reviewing content on an account is the most ideal, you need to make sure they’re actively listening around the web for your brand and market. If they refer to third party tools, that’s great. Just make sure they take the info and reports those tools deliver and act on the information. A person needs to read what the reports provide or the monitoring is useless.
And one of the most important questions: “How Does Social Media Impact SEO?”
If their answer is “It doesn’t” then I would ask you to shove that person down a flight of stairs… or hang up. Whichever you’re capable of doing. If they tell you that it builds links, then they’re giving you half of a great answer. If they tell you that it builds relationships that turn into links later on, then you’re staring your social media marketing agency in the face.