If a business owner is hiring a social media agency, it should be in order to bring more revenue using Facebook, Instagram, or any other popular social media platform.
However, venturing alone into the vast land of social media can be daunting for any business and leave you feeling overwhelmed with more questions than answers.
And those are just surface questions, failing to reach deep into the world of social media that quickly evolves every single day.
The relationship between a brand and its social media agency can be seen as a marriage of sorts. Even if there’s an ideal match, there is still an overriding set of traits or behaviors that serve as “deal breakers”.
We’ll start by looking at it from the business owner’s point of view when assessing an aspiring candidate to be its social media consultant.
Deal Breaker 1: Overemphasizing personal brand.
An individual’s reputation and online savvy can draw credibility to a brand’s social media efforts. There is value in the personality of an online marketing contractor. But if you're hiring a social media agency, and their representative spends too much time during your initial call talking about the value of their personal brand and how it can help your organization, watch out.
So many marketers focus heavily on “personal branding” and becoming an invaluable social media resource that they start elevating their personal brand over what they bring to the table for a potential client.
You don’t want someone who is going to overemphasize the external element of the social media marketer’s job at the expense of their internal responsibilities. You also don’t want someone in that role who will be more about their own “brand” than yours.
If the marketing firm you’re talking to is already talking in the initial call about how much their brand can help yours, how confident can you be that they’re going to place your brand first at all times once you sign a contract?
Conversations during an interview call should revolve around strategies for making the brand more prominent online - and nothing else. Talking too much about how someone’s personal brand will help your brand … deal breaker.
Deal Breaker 2: No formal marketing or PR background.
Here’s a lesser known public secret to keep in mind when hiring a social media agency: you don’t have to come from PR or marketing in order to be generally successful in social media. Plenty of people who aren’t from these fields have developed widely read blogs and tens to hundreds of thousands of followers.
When you interview a social media agency you don’t need general social media success. You need someone to represent your brand correctly. Someone who can grow your presence online, based on your specific goals and industry climate.
If a candidate marketing firm lacks at least some experience marketing or representing multiple brands, that’s a deal breaker.
Deal Breaker 3: Hiring a social media agency when they haven’t done their “homework”.
You’re not necessarily ready to invest what it takes to hire the most well-known marketing agency. But you do want a contractor who at least understands what is necessary in order to reach your goals.
This isn’t unique to hiring a social media agency. Regardless of the position you’re looking to fill, companies generally look for candidates who have done their homework and who know at least a little bit about the organization and its products or services.
Don’t be tempted to overlook a candidate’s lack of basic research in order to land a “social media expert.” They don’t need to know everything that’s public about your business. But failing to do basic research just shows that they may similarly fail to prepare for other programs or engagements while running your marketing efforts.
If your candidate seems to know a whole lot about online marketing but hasn’t bothered to do much research about your business or industry, that’s right -- that’s a deal breaker.
Deal breaker 4: Hiring a social media agency that excessively speaks in marketing jargon.
When hiring a social media agency, the candidate will probably use some terms you’re not familiar with. Obviously, you’ve got to talk about social media. And some words are used with good intent and for good reason.
For example, influencer in and of itself is a decent catchall descriptor of someone whose opinion carries disproportionate weight. Beware:
- Contractors who overuse that word or apply it to themselves again and again.
- Candidates who spend all their time talking about the importance of “authentically and transparently engaging your audience in conversation”.
- Candidates who promise to develop a content strategy to create and deliver viral marketing or video without actually addressing your business, targets, and goals or setting tangible measurements for results.
Simply put, an overreliance on jargon or buzzwords is a red flag. If they can’t clearly articulate for you their vision for your program without jargon or frequent use of buzzwords … that’s a deal breaker.
Deal Breaker 5: Hiring a social media agency that shows professional immaturity.
In some circles in the social media world, it’s become vogue to refer to oneself as a social media “ninja,” “Jedi,” or “guru.”
Supposedly, this is meant to convey two things. First one is levels of expertise and skill that exceed that of the average professional. Secondly, a superior grade of hipsterism and nonconformity.
In reality, these self-granted titles scream immaturity and don’t have anything to do with the job you’re hiring for. Unless you’re really looking for an actual assassin or intergalactic quasi-religious warrior.
The truth is- no one who wishes to be taken seriously as a professional should use the same business title as a bunch of cartoon karate turtles.
Calling oneself a ninja, Jedi, guru, rock star, etc., reveals the candidate to be far more concerned with image than results, style over substance.
And any business that wants to hire a social media agency that takes their program seriously both externally and internally will reject this kind of silliness. If the candidate refers to themselves with cartoonishly self-aggrandizing titles … that’s a deal breaker.
Deal Breaker 6: Bottom lines.
As a reminder, your business needs a tangible reason to get into social media. Don’t do it for the sake of “the conversation.”
Sure, your company may use social to improve customer service or create relationships. Maybe even promote products and services via conversations and events. But at the end of the day, social media has one major purpose: to drive business.
A great social media program revolves around your company’s business goals. This means when hiring a social media agency, the contractor needs to understand these goals as well as you, probably even better.
When evaluating a candidate for social media lead, look for tangible results that they have generated. Keep track of signs that they know how to deliver against a bottom line. Most of all, make sure they know how to contribute to someone else’s revenue growth, not just their own.
When you ask the candidate for their results, notice if you get a concrete answer. A list of endorsements of their book or even referrals aren’t enough, unless they are accompanied by real results they accomplished.
You’re looking to turn the keys of your social media program over to this individual or team, so you’d better make sure that they actually know how to deliver the goods for someone other than themselves. If book endorsements, speaking referrals, and Instagram followers are all you get when you ask for results… that’s a deal breaker.
Deal Breaker 7: Hiring a social media agency with no similar experience.
The more experience an agency has in your industry, the more likely they are able to produce the results you are looking for. If they do not have experience in your industry, ask them if they ever worked with a similar business type.
For example, assume you have an ecommerce skincare product. None of the companies you are considering do not have specific experience in that industry. You should ask if they have ever worked with any ecommerce products at all. If so, what kind of success did they achieve?
The same applies if you are a B2B company; ask if they have ever worked with businesses that target other businesses. The company with more experience will be a better fit for your social media program.
If you’re hiring a social media agency and they have no prior experience in your niche or audience … that’s a deal breaker.
Deal Breaker 8: Hiring a social media agency that's a “Jack of all trades”.
Unless you're hiring a huge, well-established agency, steer clear of those claiming they're experts in everything. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to become an aficionado in every facet of marketing. Many who claim to be experts in all things marketing are often mediocre at a large number of things.
For this reason, if you're looking specifically for social media marketing, look to hire a social media agency that has terrific case studies centered around driving results for their clients on the social platforms.
Deal Breaker 9: Hiring a social media contractor who bends and breaks at your command.
If an agency will bend over backwards, left, right and center for you, it probably means they're desperate for clients -- which certainly isn't a good sign of them being able to produce high-quality work.
There's a difference between being accommodating and being a push-over, and being a pushover in business is usually a sign of an overall lack of confidence in the product or service.
When hiring a social media agency you should always have your business goals in mind. These expectations are set in the beginning of the relationship. The end goal can be revenue based, engagement based, lead generation based, or awareness based.
However, accomplishing that goal should be left almost entirely up to your social media marketing contractor. You wouldn’t go to a dentist and tell them what tools to use to clean your teeth or remove a cavity. Just like that, you shouldn’t hire a social media professional and tell them how to do their job.
If the agency you are interviewing bends & breaks at every command you have, without thinking about it from their professional perspective … that’s a deal breaker.
Deal Breaker 10: Lack of Professional Content On Their Pages
If you’re interviewing a social media agency and their company profile has fuzzy profile pictures, misspelled words in their bio, or lackluster content, think twice before partnering with them.
While it’s not expected from social media agencies to have thousands of followers on social media, it is expected for them to have some social media presence and at least a few hundred followers on each platform.
Pay attention to the quality of content they push out. "Walking the walk" is crucial in the marketing world.