Sunday, July 3, 2011

Choosing the Right Social Media Marketing Agency

When the time comes to hire a professional to create or maintain your social media marketing, you must be careful with the agency you choose. While there are many fantastic agencies out there who understand the platform and are quite successful at it, there are many more who are still way behind. There are easy ways to find this out with a little research.

Social media marketing has grown in complexity, and focus is the key to success. It is not a sprint like traditional platforms, it is a marathon. A profitable marathon. It is relationship building for long term success and due to the nature of the platforms, is easily shared among the masses. It truly is a fundamental shift in the way businesses will operate as time goes on.

Below is a short list of things you should look for when you are seeking an agency to help you utilize this incredible medium.

1. Make sure they are deeply immersed in their OWN social media marketing. After all, they can't possibly understand what works and what doesn't work on the various platforms available without participating in full themselves. Have they made a Tweet in the last 3 days? Is their Facebook page engaging, informational and are people *actively* participating in conversations? Does it have a landing page and at least some minor customizations? What about a YouTube channel? Does this channel offer instructional videos they have produced and possibly some videos they made for clients? Are they active on LinkedIn? On LinkedIn, do they have recommendations from clients and list social media marketing as their main occupation? A member of groups within the industry? Do they blog? If the answer is no to most of these, go elsewhere.

2. Are they specifically a social media marketing agency, or at least make it their main service offering? The platform has grown much beyond being an offering for an agency (ie advertising/marketing/website/PR) and you will see more and more agencies who will focus on social media; and only social media. Many firms who have added it to their lists of services do a lackluster job. Since they are typically trained in traditional "push" marketing, most still use social media like a billboard, magazine ad or website, which will result in lackluster results. See #1 to check if they are truly immersed for proof in the pudding.

3. Do they give seminars or webinars about social media marketing? While this isn't a total necessity, it does show that they can talk the talk with confidence in a setting that people can ask questions and interact with them live. Try to attend one of their offerings, and ask pointed questions. Push the envelope. If you are going to spend your money with a professional, make sure they are one, and can answer most if not all questions.

That's just the basics. Use common sense...if they can't answer questions like "Why do I need a landing page", or "How do I cross market my Facebook page on other pages", or "What is Quora" then the decision should be easy.