According to a 2014 study published by LinkedIn, roughly 81 percent of small and medium businesses make use of social media and among these, nearly 94% are in it for marketing purposes. The sheer presence of all of your competitors on social media is reason enough for your business to find a home on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Staying on top of social media can however be a nightmare for the average SMB owner. Besides the need to constantly update your followers with new photos, messages and links, you may also have to devise strategies to grow your social following, engage existing followers while monitoring those who drop off. It is not surprising that a growing number of SMB owners look for online tools to manage their accounts or outsource their social media management to a dedicated third party agency.
But hiring a social media agency can sometimes be tricky. Unlike SEO, web design or advertising, it is difficult to establish metrics to measure the success of a social media campaign. Even conventional metrics like conversions could be tricky since that could incentivize your agency to engage less with customers and instead increase the frequency of promotional blasts.
Verify Credibility: Social media management is all about posting statuses on Facebook and submitting new pictures on Instagram, right? Well, this can make or break your business and this is why it is quite critical to find an agency that is credible reputation, to undertake such a campaign. Do not hesitate to ask not only about past clients, but also specific targets that were achieved in their past projects. If possible, cross check the claims with references from actual clients. Managing social media is possible over the internet, so make sure you hire the best agency for your business regardless of what part of the world they are from.
Establish Metrics: The first step is to internally identify the key metrics that you will need to measure success by. This includes setting benchmarks and targets for follower count, engagement, referral traffic, conversion rate, unfollow count, etc. By looking at your social media management holistically through a host of different metrics, it is possible to make sure that your agency does not get away with shortcut strategies like using bots to crank up metrics like follower count.
Identify Key Areas Of Dissonance: While outsourcing your social media management, it is critical to identify possible areas where the partnership can go wrong. This includes an agreement on who owns the social media account, who pays for the online management tools, penalty for abuse (like prank posts) and advertising budget. Also include clauses about transfer of access which includes login IDs, passwords and the right to revoke access to other third party tools that the agency may need to manage your account.
Sign Agreement: A lot of businesses consider social media a trivial component of marketing that does not need to be formalized with an agreement. But it is important to remember that your agency is representing your business online and any crime on their part may be appropriated to you unless sufficient measures are taken. Most countries recognize the validity of online agreements and you could use signature system like these to ink the deal. You do not have to own a physical copy of your agreement.
Monitor and Collaborate: Remember that successful social media engagement comes from personally connecting with the audience. This includes sharing unique pictures of your products, your stores and staff. Regardless of how much effort your agency puts in, it is the responsibility of you as the business owner to constantly share such pictures and videos with the agency to share with your audience. It is also your responsibility to keep a track of your progress and guide the agency whenever you feel they are not on track.
Social media management is not a set-and-forget system. A lot of work is required from the business even when your social media is outsourced. Your campaign can be a success only with equal participation from your agency as well as your business.